We’ve talked a lot about black-hat SEO tactics before on our blog (specifically in this post here). One thing we really haven’t discussed is just how many misunderstandings there are about SEO’s importance and significance in web design and development. The answer is: way too many.

The fact that people still have these misconceptions is a huge problem. Having been in the website industry for so long, we know all too well how costly it can be for businesses to continue misunderstanding SEO or applying practices of it to their website that are actually more black than white-hat.

It’s about time we straighten out what’s what about it. Here are seven of the hugest SEO misconceptions we really need to address.

1: I can get to #1 on Google in a day if I use SEO

False, false, false! The truth is no one, we repeat, no one is guaranteed to reach #1 on Google. The reality is that those businesses you’re seeing on Google’s front page got there because of one simple practice: HW&E—Hard Work & Effort. Money also helps, but if you’re reading this and your business is a small one, it’s likely you will not have enough money to bump those advertisers off of their #1 rank on Google but you can rank higher by doing things properly.

By Hard Work & Effort, we’re talking about all of the tasks that are white-hat SEO tasks: keyword research, creating and publishing unique and optimized content and web pages, building responsive websites across many devices, giving ease of access to customers and visitors…you name it, they’ve got it. If you’re just starting out and want to get to #1 on Google’s front page, this is what it will actually take: hard work, and lots and lots of time. Anyone who tells you otherwise, that getting to #1 can be done in a day, is spreading incorrect information. In fact, if anyone ever guarantees you that they can get you to #1 on Google, run – run fast! There are too many other factors that can come into play as well.  The #1 spot is simply not for sale.

2: I don’t need SEO to get traffic or leads to my website

False! Unless you’re selling a product or a service that is so popular already that traffic is a non-issue, your website needs SEO. If your business is a start-up and you’re so brand new that nobody is familiar with your business right away, you are going to need all of the help you can get to improve visibility. SEO is something your new website cannot lack, because without it you are practically invisible to visitors and even search engines alike.

3: I should have paid advertising instead of SEO, there’s no difference right?

This is also false. As good as SEM (search engine marketing) can be for some websites, if done improperly or without foresight and good knowledge of its intricacies, you could lose what money you’re trying to save instead of gaining it back tenfold through sales, click-throughs, and traffic. If you’re reading this with no idea about what SEM is or you still think it’s no different than SEO, stop reading right now and check out our other blog post on the subject of SEO and SEM. The two practices are very, very different from one another. Brushing up on your knowledge about each practice will make all of the difference.

4: Keywords and links are all there is to SEO

Actually, SEO is a lot more than just those two things. Yes, keywords can help with the optimization process, and yes, back links are an important factor of SEO when done correctly (see another blog post we wrote based on those), but there are other aspects that matter a great deal. Your business’s NAP (name, address, and phone number) when it is applied to directories correctly and consistently actually plays a part, as does all of the content you create, optimize, and publish on your website, your blog, and even on your social media. So, no, SEO is much more than just keywords and back links. You need to also remember that keywords aren’t something that you can just choose out of nowhere.  Google will derive the actual keywords of your web pages from the content that is on them.  SEO efforts need to match that.

5: What worked for so-and-so’s website for SEO will work for mine too

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to SEO at all. There are many white-hat tactics that can be applied, and sometimes it only requires one to two of those tactics to improve a website’s ranking and value to both regular visitors and search engines. Other times it takes a great deal from everyone on the team to make these improvements. It all depends on how old or new your website is, or if it’s custom-made or not.

6: I should optimize my website and create my content only with keywords that apply to my industry

This is why keyword research should actually be conducted—not everyone is searching for the exact same thing online. Yes, you’re probably an expert in your field, but sometimes that can actually hurt a website’s chances of being found and even of sales being made. We know that some terminology in your industry is second nature for you to use. However, that is not the case for those who really need to use your website: your customers and clients. They’re not searching for specific terms you use so much as general and casual ones. The same goes for your content. So, bottom line, optimize your website for your customers, not for search engines or even yourself.

7: There, my website has SEO now, I’m done

Nope. That’s not how SEO works. It’s not just a one-time-only task; SEO is a process. Your website needs to be consistently optimized, the keywords you select need to make sense, the links need to work, the site map of your website needs to function properly, your website should be responsive, new content needs to be posted, traffic needs to be directed to your website, social media should be set up and actively used, and maintenance and backups of your website needs to be done regularly. That’s why we mentioned before that no one can reach #1 on Google in a day—because SEO is not a magic trick. It’s HW&E. Hard work and effort.

We know this is a lot for you to process. Given how often search engines change their algorithms and how often the guidelines of SEO seem to change day by day, to anyone who’s not a professional at website building or a marketer, trying to understand SEO can be frustrating. If this sounds like you, we can help. Contact us at V3 Media. Let’s go over what it will take to improve your website’s optimization together.