Search engine optimization (SEO) seems to be a theme this week with my clients. Some wanting to start doing it. Some asking questions about it. Others just completely misunderstanding it.
For instance, I had a client earlier this week who asked me to redirect a second URL that she’d purchased to her site. I did that (and optimized the site with that second URL as a keyword), but she kept telling me it wasn’t working. That’s because she was typing the URL into Google, not her browser. They’re not the same thing!
With that in mind, here are what I find to be the most common misconceptions about SEO among my clients:
1. Results are immediate. You may update your site so that it’s chock-full of keywords, but it generally takes weeks (or even months) for those changes to register on the search engines.
2. SEO is guaranteed. This is where it gets tricky. Because I can never guarantee that our SEO efforts — no matter how good they are — will get you on the first page of results. It all depends on the competition and/or the algorithm that the search engines are using for ranking. It’s really a case of trial and error.
3. SEO is permanent. It’s an endless game of cat and mouse. The search engines find an algorythm that works for them. Some computer genius finds a way around it — and gets their site to the top of search results, even though it’s not the most relevant. The computer geniuses at the search engine company then have to adjust the algorythm. And the rest of us non-computer geniuses have to try and keep up!
4. All you need is metadata. Metadata used to be the main cog in terms of search placement. But then the search engines figured out that any site could put tons of keywords in their metadata — that the public will never see — completely unrelated to the site itself. Now, it’s far more about what people can see than what people can’t see.
5. The more links to your site, the better. Quality links to your site are good. But hundreds of links from unrelated sites are not helpful. That’s called “link stuffing.” Also, one link to your site from the NY Times can do a whole lot more good than hundreds of links from little sites.
6. Every page of your site has to be optimized. This is especially relevant for an author site, where basically every page on the site is similar in genre. If you were publishing an online magazine, then you’d want every individual article to be optimized, because each one was probably on a different topic. But for an author site, only spend the time and money optimizing the pages that you want people to end up on — like the homepage or the “book” page — rather than the “contact” page, for example.