Despite the increasing maturity
of the SEO industry, there are
still many unfounded beliefs,
practices and tactics that
website owners adhere to in
an effort to top the search
engine result pages (SERPs)
and oust their competition.
Regardless of how many times these myths, half-truths
and lies are repeated, they will never help an
enterprise optimize its digital efforts. Let’s debunk
four of these fallacies.
MYTH #1: Organic & Paid Search
Cannot Play Nice
Many website owners fall into two types: those
who choose between SEO and paid search advertising/
marketing and those looking for the “right”
balance of the two.
Digital marketing technology company Kenshoo
and digital marketing agency Resolution
Media explored this topic in a Sept. 2013 white
paper, The Search Sandbox: Paid Plays Well with Organic.
When analyzing the relationship between paid and organic
search marketing for a major retail division of
Hewlett Packard (HP), Kenshoo found definitive evidence
that running paid search alongside organic results
provided positive value.
“This research puts to rest the controversy over
running paid search advertising for brands that have
strong organic coverage,” said Aaron Goldman, chief
marketing officer at Kenshoo in a company statement.
“Our study shows that visitors arriving from paid
search are more profitable than those arriving from organic
search, even when you take into account traffic
The report found that paid search drives
higher net revenue per visit (NRPV, which is
paid search revenue minus the direct media
costs from those clicks) than organic search.
Plus, even with an organic result at first position,
consumers still click and convert on
paid listings 39.6 percent of the time. Perhaps
even more importantly, Kenshoo reports
that paid search is the only viable
option when organic results fall off the first
page, garnering 93.1 percent of a keyword’s
click share (percentage of total clicks
achieved when both a paid search and organic
listing appear together).
Even if NRPV was equal, having an extra (paid)
link on the SERP is more valuable than having just the
organic link, according to the search marketing company.
By leveraging a paid listing, for example, it takes
up space where a competitor’s ad may appear. There is
also value in the data that marketers can collect from
paid search, such as the originating query or keyword
that initiated the ad. Kenshoo recommends companies
figure out where the gaps are in their organic search
presences and use paid search to fill in those holes.
Kenshoo, and other well-informed agencies,
subscribe to the truth that smart marketers are those
embracing holistic approaches to search engine marketing.
They are also likely the ones getting the most
out of their investments.
MYTH #2: SEO is for Search Engines, Not Users
Search engines are evolving; and the richer, more dynamic
experience they want to provide users is also
changing the way companies need to approach on-site
“SEO is not about gaming the system; it’s about
making great content and great sites that provide value,
are structurally sound and easily navigable by user and
search engines alike, as well as demonstrate viable authority.
It’s not easy, but it is absolutely worthwhile,”
said Smarter Searches Internet Marketing Director
The recent Hummingbird update is the perfect example
of Google’s affinity toward user-centric search —
providing quicker, more relevant information to users.
This algorithm change also marks the beginning of a
new formal, broader use of semantic markup in the digital
By using schema.org markup, for example, websites
are essentially providing additional layers of data
to enable search engines to associate their sites with
user queries. More specifically, since the Hummingbird
update addresses how “conversational” or
“voice” search queries (that take into account context,
location and more) can be more useful for a searcher, site owners must provide an immense amount of information
to be included in their results and semantic
markup provides the optimal way to do that.
Hummingbird Feeder: Discover five semantic markup use-cases
to implement today at wsm.co/seonectar.
MYTH #3: Social is not the New SEO
SEO and social is becoming one of the most effective
marketing combinations. The only surefire way to leverage
the new social-SEO is to create relevant, rich content
that consumers want to consume and, of course, share,
like, retweet, +1, etc.
“There’s a saying that says ‘Correlation does not imply
causation’ and this applies to SEO,” said Smarter Searches’
Herda. “If you create great content, people will share it. If
your content gets shared, it must be great.”
While there might not be an absolute direct correlation, it’s
not difficult to see that share-worthy content can benefit your
total digital presence (wsm.co/sharethis8).
MYTH #4: SEOs Are Scammers
This industry is closing in on two decades and SEO still
doesn’t have a governing body. Companies rely on forprofit
companies to tell them what they can and can’t do
on their websites — at least if they want to appear atop
the SERPs. Over the years, many black and gray hat agencies,
consultants, link builders and more have polluted
the industry, leading to the common misconception that
SEO is a dark art and an industry made up of liars,
cheaters, scammers and spammers. Even to this day, according
to Herda, it is the most common concern that
SMBs have about the practice.
The fact is, according to Herda, that legitimate SEO
agencies can do great work. Similarly, many of the agencies
that have stood the test of time have evolved into integrated
marketing agencies, taking holistic and white hat
approaches to Web success.
“The spirit of SEO is to improve your website so that
it ranks better,” said Herda. “When done correctly, this
means the user engaging in search is getting a better experience
when visiting your site because your site is more
relevant to their queries.”
The Truth Will Set SEO Free
In the end, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting
your business higher in the search rankings, but by leveraging
a 360-degree strategy to SEO and looking at content
creation, social signals, marketing mix and user experience,
you’ll be living, working and optimizing in SEO truth.
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