SEO is a perplexing field at times. Why perplexing? Because nobody knows exactly what’s in Google’s ranking algorithm. Great companies and analysts like the folks at Moz are always astute and thorough in their research-based explorations of ranking factors and general trends, but Google keeps the real recipe an absolute secret.
As a result, there are a lot of misconceptions about what SEO actually entails and what it takes to achieve a good rank, born and reinforced by anecdotal evidence and repeated exaggerations. I’d like to take a minute to clear a few of those things up.
There are a number of things people think they need for SEO, but don’t really. Take these seven for example:
- Formal training. Let’s get things straight. Nobody majors in SEO. It’s something you learn by reading, participating, and experimenting—and nobody’s perfect at first. Though there are seminars, webinars, and even certification programs you can use to give yourself a leg up, it’s perfectly reasonable to train yourself (even if it takes a while to grow adept).
- An in-house team. Teams can make SEO easier, especially in a big company. You could have a writing specialist, a social media specialist, and so on, but you don’t need those specialists to be effective. You can do most of the work yourself, using Google searches to inform your efforts and freelancers to shoulder the rest of the burden of work.
- The help of an agency. I love most SEO agencies, and have worked for more than one in my time. Some are cheap and spammy, and some are great but expensive, and there’s not really a happy medium. An agency can really help, but is unnecessary to see results.
- A huge budget. Money helps, but throwing money at SEO can’t get you results by itself. With a good strategy and enough work involved, you can get away with a micro-budget (especially in your first few years).
- A perfect website. Onsite SEO is important, but it isn’t everything. Make sure your site is working, mobile-friendly, and full of rich content—from there, an occasional long meta description or piece of duplicate content won’t kill you. Fix the mistakes you can, but don’t stress out over a few small wrong things on your site.
- A perfect selection of keywords. Keywords used to make or break an SEO strategy, but these days, they’re not that important. Thanks to semantic search, as long as you’re focusing on topics relevant to your niche and industry, you don’t have much to worry about.
- Paid advertising. For some reason, there’s this persistent myth in SEO that you need to be involved in paid advertising with Google if you want to see organic ranking results. There is no correlation between paid search advertising and organic ranks—there just isn’t one.
Yep. You don’t actually need these things to be reasonably successful in SEO, so don’t let them intimidate you into not pursuing the strategy. If you’re interested in building an SEO strategy from scratch, be sure to contact us!