By Murris Johnson
Why is it that when many people hear the term SEO (or search engine optimization) they don’t fully understand exactly what it is or if it truly works? Aside from having an easy to use website with great content, SEO is definitely one of the most important elements of trying to engage with people online through a website; whether you’re a business owner, blogger, or online hobbyist. With that being the case, why is it that so many people have a difficult time with this aspect of digital marketing?
Consider three of the most common reasons why that is… (It can help you avoid falling into any of these categories)
Too Much Inaccurate Information
One of the biggest issues with this type of internet marketing is that people spend so much time debating strategy, and what they think works vs what doesn’t work. The problem with this is that for anyone that is trying to learn, they end up being confused by looking at all of the conflicting views that can be easily found on forums, videos, etc.
Since SEO is still, and might always be, “unregulated” in the since that there is no formal industry training or certification available… it’s hard to know who/what to believe; particularly if the primary means of understanding and strategizing an SEO campaign is based off the above-mentioned sources. This is one of the reasons that Moz listed 10 of the most common myths in this industry here.
Where can you find accurate information?
To be honest, the best method to learn about SEO would be to first understand what the search engines look at when they’re ranking a website. Things like original content, relevant backlinks (if possible from well-known brands/websites), social media mentions (likes/shares/favorites/etc), mobile friendliness, etc. From there, you can spend time looking at some of the strategies that people recommend; DISCLAIMER… although this can get very confusing and conflicting, it’s a fast way to get an idea of some of the strategies other people use.
Once you have an understanding of what search engines look at to rank a website along with strategies other people use, the best teacher is looking at the sites ranking on page 1 for the keywords you’d like to target on the search engine(s) you’re trying to rank for.
Taking these 3 steps (understanding what search engines look at, strategies other people use, and which websites are ranking on page 1 and why) makes sure you’re in the best position to come up with a strategy that will be 100% accurate for the keywords you’re targeting.
Too Many People Debating Strategy; Although They Have No Hands On Experience
As mentioned above, there is no shortage of people that talk about and even debate SEO strategy… yet they have little to no experience. What has seemed to happen since the early 2000’s is that there is decent amount of people that come off as experts and guru’s on the subject, but if you ask them what that experience has been in the implementation side of search engine optimization, more times than not they’ve done very little with their knowledge.
This doesn’t mean that their perspective holds no value, however it’s a large contributor as to why this type of digital marketing seems difficult when it really isn’t. It’s like the exercise that many have tried when the tell someone a story, and it gets passed on to 10 people. By the time the 10th person relates to the story to the originator of the story, there is usually quite a few details that have either been changed entirely or left out. Unfortunately, this has often been the case with SEO, except instead of just 1 person telling the story… there are 100s if not 1,000s trying to tell it.
Where can you find experienced SEO Strategists?
A good way to find one is to reach out to a contractor or consultant that has a proven track record; one that can give real examples of successful campaigns in a variety of industries. Sure you might have to pay for an hour or two of their time, but that will be far more valuable than spending hours, weeks, months or years reading and watching conflicting arguments from people with no evidence of knowing what they’re talking about.
For those of you that are on the fence about paying for SEO services, take a look at a previous article and infographic that was published here at Socialmarketingfella.com that discussed the impact SEO has on the success of a business.
Too Few Reliable Guides/Resources for SEO
Due to the fact that there is still no official schooling or certifications that are widely accepted by the digital marketing industry, it can be very difficult for someone looking to advance their expertise in this field of online marketing. That further supports the points made above that it can be easy to get lost in the whirlwind of SEO guides, resources, etc.
How can you find a reliable guide?
One of the best ways to find a guide is to search for the SEO related topics that you want to learn more about, and keep an eye on the brands and websites that actually rank for multiple terms. If a site can rank in the SEO industry for industry related terms, they probably know what they’re doing since they’re actually ranking in the one industry that is full of “experts”.
A few examples are some of the big brands like Moz, SearchEngineLand, SearchEngineJournal, SearchEngineWatch, and even some of the not widely recognized brands like Nomvo or SocialMarketingFella, etc. You might also notice brands like Forbes, and others beginning to rank for these terms. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay for some of the guides and schooling that is out there, but if you’re going to spend money… make your investment with those that have a proven track record. If you don’t want to spend any money, follow the suggestion above… which is finding those sites that actually rank in this industry and follow their suggestions.
So What Makes SEO Easy?
This is a question that can be answered by a long-winded response, and maybe that will be addressed here in a future article. In the meantime, however, here are a few reasons why?
1) Learning can be absolutely free.
2) The answers to questions and strategies needed are not buried in a textbook somewhere. Instead everything someone needs to know is literally at their fingertips; using a keyboard, mouse, and a Google search.
3) Since it takes less than 4 seconds to see which websites rank on page one for any given term, and there are tools available to analyze why they rank in the order that they do… creating a strategy to compete is not rocket science, you just have to be willing to do the work.
4) SEO has not changed very much since the early 2000s. Sure Google and other search engines have related updates to make ranking well seem harder for those that use blackhat and/or greyhat methods, that basically use loopholes, the core of ranking has not changed.
5) There are about 11 other reasons that SEO is technically easy, although tedious, but that will be discussed in a future article.
With all of that said, yes… there is a too much bad information about search engine optimization that has muddied the waters as it relates to its overall perception but that doesn’t mean that implementing and succeeding with it is hard. It does take time, some study/research, a website to execute a strategy one, and if there is a budget available, it can speed up the rate of success.
Hopefully, some of what has been shared above can help you not feel that SEO is hard, whether or not you’re a business owner, a blogger, or a hobbyist.
Murris Johnson is a Digital Marketing expert that has been in the industry full time since 2003. His passion for all things digital marketing is fueled by the life it’s allowed him to live while traveling with his family.