10 Small Business SEO Lies You Must Stop Believing Today - Typical emails and phone calls contain one or more misleading statements.
10 Small Business SEO Lies You Must Stop Believing Today
Our clients get these emails and calls from sketchy SEO firms , heck, even we get them.
"I'm Calling From Google"
"Be #1 on Google - Guaranteed!"
"You Need to Submit Your Website to... (insert search engine here - that all use Google or Bing that will index your website just fine without their help)
And there is a bridge I want to sell you.
So we thought it might make sense to compile a short list of the most common small business SEO lies that are all too often told to business owners.
Google Changed Their Search Algorithm and You Must... (insert fancy sounding BS)
Google changes their search algorithm about 100 times a year. And yes, sometimes there are major updates, such as splitting mobile and desktop search returns, or the Google "mobile-first" update. Also, Google has introduced many features into the listings such as events, rich snippets, featured snippets and more.
But it's easy to give you the impression that they have "the secret sauce" to take advantage of the very latest update.
SEO is Worthless - You Need to Create Links
What they are referring to is called a "backlink". Backlinks are commonly referred to as incoming links, inbound links, inlinks, or inward links that lead to your website.
And yes, if the local news does a story on your business they may create a link to your website. That's a "backlink". Or, if you hired a web designer, way down at the very bottom of your business site, in tiny type, there is a link to the designer's site. That's a backlink. It's any hypertext (clickable or touchable) that leads to your site from any other site.
But the calls and emails your receive are from "link farms". These are servers full of low value sites (no one visits them) that have a few lines of text and a link to your site.
The problem is these "link farms" land you in trouble with Google. Sometimes really deep trouble too. Try asking Ask JC Penny. <---(Backlink for Search Engine Land).
Yes, Google uses backlinks in the algorithm - but they also realize that most small business backinks come from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc..not USA Today or CNN, so the link farms are very easy to spot.
And you get penalized by Google. So you go DOWN in the listings, not UP.
You Must Utilize H1 (and of course you're not)
Higher ups at Google (such as Matt Cutts) have mentioned over the years, that Google does NOT require H1 on your site or pages. As far as Google is concerned, H1 and H2 are equal, and either is fine. Besides, most of the major platforms (such as WordPress), automatically give the title of your page an H1 designation, so in effect, in most cases, you need do very little.
But they can make it sound dire that you are "missing out" on a big SEO secret.. They are lying.
You Are Missing an XML SiteMap
Close, but "not really". An XML SiteMap is a map for Google (or Bing). The most common misconception is that the XML sitemap helps get your pages indexed. The first thing you need to get straight is this: Google does not index your pages just because you asked nicely. Google indexes pages because (1) they found them and crawled them, and (2) they consider what they found to be of good enough quality to be worth indexing into the search returns. Google will find any page as long as 'robot text" is on. (Robot text settings allow you to hide a page from Google)
Pointing Google at a page and asking them to please index it doesn’t really factor into true SEO at all.
We Work For Google - Google Partner - Know People at Google...
Here is the US, Google certifies businesses as Google "Partners" only for Google paid advertising such as AdSense and AdWords.
There are NO SEO Google Partners for Organic Listings.
Since most ADWORD Agencies also provide standard organic SEO services, it's easy to be confused. Especially when they promote their SEO services as "Google Certified"
"I'm calling from Google".
As a matter of fact, Google does NOT call businesses about SEO. There are NO Google Partners for SEO, and Google employees don't know and DON'T TELL. It's an algorithm with well over 200 parameters. Google employees don't know it...much the same as Coca-Cola truck drivers don't know the cola formula either...
The Top 5 Small Business SEO Lies You Must Stop Believing Today
Our Methods Are Secret
Ah yes...some sketchy SEO firms ditch trying to sound knowledgeable by tossing around fancy phrases and just tell you ...well... they can't tell you. It's a secret. Typically, they tell you they do things "in the back end" or "in the coding". In other words you can't see what they are doing, they don't tell you what they are doing - because they are not doing anything..
And business owners fall for it.
We Have Decoded Google's Algorithm
Yep...at the very bottom of the cereal box, they found the secret decoder ring and have successfully decoded the Google search algorithm!
Except... they haven't. And besides, it changes nearly every day.
Keywords - Keywords - It's All About Keywords
Yes. Keywords are important. Maybe not quite as important as a long, long time ago, but important nonetheless. But today, you also need to know the difference between keywords and search queries (also called long-tail).
A keyword is an abstraction that is extrapolated from multiple search queries.
A search query is the actual word or string of words (long-tail) that a search engine user types into the search box.
Popular keywords are very difficult for a small business to get on the first page.
Sunglasses? Fat Chance. Aviator Sunglasses (maybe) Aviator Sunglasses for Women in Albany? BINGO.
If they are talking Keywords, hang up. If they are talking content marketing for long tail search queries...you may want to talk to them (or us).
Keyword - Sneakers
Long Tail - Puma Sneakers
Long Tail Search Query - Puma Clyde Blue Suede Sneakers Dallas
The bottom line is it's easy to scare you about keywords. For most small businesses, battling over keywords is a losing proposition. Utilizing content marketing for long tail search queries, especially locality based, is the way to go.
You'll See Results in a (Day-Week-Month)
Understand this. If you want to start a digital marketing plan and want calls by the weekend, there is a way to do that.
As soon as you hit start campaign, boom. your paid ad is at the top of the search page.
And as soon as your PPC budget is used up..it disappears.
True Organic Listings, Rich Snippets, Events, Featured Snippets and more stay in the listings until your domain or web page goes down for good. They may rise, they may fall, but they stay there. Can you name ANY other form of advertising that stays up for years and years?
Apart from Drink Coke painted on the side of your barn back in the day, we can't think of many.
The bad news is it takes time. How long depends on your business, your competition and your service area..
If any SEO firm tells you that you will see tangible results in a day, week, or even a month is selling you that bridge we mentioned.
And the #1 Small Business SEO Lie You Must Stop Believing Today?
Guaranteed 1st Page or You Don't Pay
They really say this in the emails and phone calls. It's even on the contract you sign.
in the fine print...
The guarantee is only "for search terms generating 100,000 search returns or less".
What does that mean to you? Well, finding a search return that generates even less than 1 million returns is a drinking game where everyone stays completely sober.
When you do a search, Google tells you right there on the first page how many listings the search generated.
If you search for "best pizza in rochester new york" you get 5.5 million results. In a middle market city.
Hey...remember way back.. even before most people had a color TV, we walked on the moon, We got there on a Saturn 5 rocket.
Well, a Google search for used saturn 5 rocket parts generates over 3.5 million returns.
Seeing as the only used Saturn 5 rocket parts are at the bottom of the ocean or in museums, that's a lot of search returns!!
So even if they guaranteed up to a million, it's a worthless guarantee.
Besides, how can anyone other than the computer that runs the algorithm tell you where you will appear?
It's a Worthless Guarantee, you'll pay, and you likely won't be #1 or even on the first page.