Due to the ever-changing uncertain world that is ‘Google’s algorithms’, it’s difficult to know exactly what you should focus on when working on your search engine marketing (SEM). Here are a few of the myths & misconceptions surrounding SEM and the truth behind them.
Ranking 1st is the most profitable right? Not always.
Obviously ranking high with your search engine ads will help get more traffic flowing to your site, and more traffic means more business doesn’t it? Generally speaking, ranking 1st gathers about twice as much traffic as a site that shows in 2nd place, seems like a no-brainer. The biggest issue with ranking 1st all the time is the cost, some people will be spending an arm and a leg to make sure they always appear first, in an attempt to ensure they’re gathering all that traffic. The thing is, though, some of these people may be paying way over the odds due to the popularity of certain keywords. Sometimes its better to settle for 2nd place, or even just within the top ad results of the page. This can bring down your CPC massively, freeing up budget and allowing you to appear for a lot more searches, compensating for the drop in ranking. The result can lead to more traffic for your money, and therefore more sales or enquiries.
I don’t need search engine ads, I have SEO!
It’s a common misconception that SEO can replace the need for PPC, which isn’t really the case. A lot of people think that by ranking top organically would mean there is no need to spend money promoting themselves further. Nowadays it’s (unfortunately!) very rare that you actually see organic results on a SERP without having to do a hefty amount of scrolling, since Google unsurprisingly wants to push their ads. If the search term is popular a lot of competitors are likely to be running ads on it, meaning any organic rankings are unlikely to show near the top and a huge portion of people will see and click on their ads first. Also, if you’re to run ads on a term you organically rank for, you’re going to appear twice on the SERP which is bound to help performance. Double bonus!
Keyword density is key to increasing your rankings?
There’s often a lot of talk about keywords, and how often you should weave them in to your landing pages. I’ve read numbers from 2% up to about 15%, but really, Google focuses more on the readability of the content. Google wants content that’s easy for the user to digest and gather the information they’re after rather than articles stuffed to the brim with keywords. Sentence structure, grammar, correct terminology, fonts and the use of images all contribute to improving your content’s readability. Google’s also smart enough these days to consider synonyms rather than the exact match keyword. For more detailed information about improving readability try this article from SEOPressor.
Backlinks, backlinks and more backlinks…
Whilst backlinks are still a key factor for SEO, it’s no longer a case of just generating 100s of faux backlinks like it used to be. The importance of on-site factors is now far more important than external ones… but they do still hold some value. All backlinks have a different value in terms of SEO and some can even have a negative impact. Links from bigger, better, more well-known sites carry a lot more authority then those from smaller, less significant websites. For example, a link on BBC’s website would carry far more authority than one from a small WordPress blog. It’s better to organically build up good quality backlinks rather than force a lot of lower quality links that could negatively affect SEO.
Social Signals Don’t Impact SEO
Okay so this one is kind of true, getting more likes or comments on a Facebook post isn’t going to instantly shoot you up the rankings. However, building a solid social media following, with plenty of engagement, and your content being shared socially, can help you. By building up your social media you’ll gain more backlinks and more traffic to your site which will positively contribute to SEO. Research shows that there is a correlation between high ranking websites and strong social media accounts.
Paid search improves organic results
This one is totally false – paid search ads and organic rankings are separate entities and don’t carry any direct weight towards one another.
If you are running paid search ads certain metrics can come in handy whilst performing any SEO work, even though there is no direct impact. Since they both share the same SERPs, keyword research can easily be applied to both organic and paid results. Specific statistics like the CTR (click through rate) or ROI (return on investment) of paid search keywords can be utilised to help target the optimal keywords for SEO and boost organic performance. That said, paid ad clicks could result in factors such as increased links, mentions, coverage, sharing etc which can all contribute to an improvement in organic rankings.