The world of search engine optimisation (SEO) is filled with mythology and misinformation.
Because it is an entirely online industry, it has one of the most active web communities. This includes forums, blogs and online debate but also endless badly-written articles, misleading guides and just plain lies.
Now, there have been a number of lists and articles written about the most prevalent untruths circling the web. I want to explore the myths which annoy me the most, namely - the ones which make my work harder because new clients believe them to be fact.
The Most Annoying SEO Myth: Optimisation is Underhand
Some clients are delighted to pay for SEO, commit to a long-term plan and listen to all the advice their agency offers them. Despite this, they still think that what they are doing is trying to trick the search engines into ranking them well.
It is very frustrating – like meeting a runner who thinks that exercising, eating well and training is somehow an underhand way of winning a race.
The search engines want quality, relevant, interesting copy in websites which are easily navigable and accessible. Giving them what they want is not tricking them!
Second Most Annoying SEO Myth: SEO is Influenced by PPC
There are two versions of this myth. One is that a website will not rank well organically unless it is shelling out for a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. The other is that paid ads somehow detract from organic SEO, leading to position being damaged.
I can sort of see how these rumours and beliefs arise. I suppose it makes some sense to think that a major search engine may want to help its paying customers in other ways.
However, a search engine's success comes down to one thing: can it offer searchers relevant results? If it can't, it will cease to be competitive and go the way of all obsolete services.
That means whether or not a site is paying for adverts or not should not influence the organic results.
Third Most Annoying SEO Myth: Once Gained, Easily Maintained
The purpose of SEO is not to boost a website's ranking and then relax. SEO is not a short-term piece of work which needs to be achieved and then not thought about again.
I think this misunderstanding comes from a lack of online awareness among some companies.
They pay out for a website and then do no further work on it. They add some copy to their pages and do not update them. They want to commit a specified amount of time and money to SEO, and then stop.
SEO is an ongoing commitment and, although spending money building solid foundations can mean you pay less in the long term, you can't finish it anymore than you can finish your ongoing marketing strategy.
Fourth Most Annoying SEO Myth: Sites Must Be Submitted to Engines
It's prevalent as a myth because it used to be true but this has to be the most widely-believed falsehood of the whole industry.
It may not hurt to submit your pages to the smaller portals which have less indexing ability than, say, Google.
However, any SEO firm which plans to charge you a small fortune for this sort of service should be viewed with suspicion!
Fifth Most Annoying SEO Myth: One Tactic, Done Enough, Works
This belief can really get in the way of a decent optimisation campaign. Some people have read one article expounding the benefits of one aspect of SEO and now don't believe anything else will work.
I do not blame my clients for this, they have taken the time to read about the subject before committing but have unfortunately read something biased or just covering one subject.
However, since that article was their first experience of SEO, it can be extremely difficult to make them understand the value of various other tactics.
Kevin Gibbons is Director of Search at SEOptimise