7 Misconceptions CEOs Have About SEO

SMS Text
7 Misconceptions CEOs Have About SEO

Too often the CEO of a company is the last to learn about the newest search engine optimization practices. With an entire business to over see, it is no wonder. However, company-wide support of SEO is, and always has been, extremely important for companies who want to remain competitive in organic search. Yet, the CEOs of many organizations are left working with outdated or even completely inaccurate information.

That is why I’ve put together this list of seven misconceptions CEOs commonly have about SEO.

SEO is a “Quick Fix”

Prior to Google’s Penguin and Panda updates, it was possible for business owners to achieve high rankings, sometimes within days. ‘Gaming’ the search engines has become virtually impossible now, however, and SEO has become a long-term endeavor; there are no ‘quick fixes’, and anyone who tells you otherwise is plain wrong.

SEO is a long-term investment, and every company needs to be prepared to invest in the work of SEO over the long term. Frequently publishing unique and valuable content is the first step, but the ongoing work of SEO will be continually promoting that content, building social media channels, and building the overall brand by developing relationships with reputable websites and blogs.

SEO Can be Carried Out in Isolation

A few years ago, having a dedicated SEO person, department, or consultant was the norm. The tasks of SEO could be carried out virtually in isolation, without the input or direct support of other departments.

Now, however, SEO has become a company-wide endeavor. As content marketing and SEO become more and more intertwined, all departments – marketing and non-marketing – need to be involved in SEO brainstorming and tasks.

Every department has access to invaluable bits of information that others may not; for instance, your sales team will likely have an intimate understanding of the terms customers are using to describe or search for your products. Not involving them in the keyword research process could mean missing out on a wealth of valuable information.

Content Marketing Has Replaced SEO

There’s no doubt that the two are closely related, and it’s now impossible to have one without the other. However, each has a distinct place within online marketing, and neither should be performed alone.

Many business owners believe – whether consciously or unconsciously – that in this age of content marketing, all that’s needed is to regularly produce amazing content. While that’s certainly hugely important, without the proper technical optimization, social media expertise, and distribution strategies in place, your content may never attain the high search rankings it deserves.

Past Mistakes Can’t Hurt You (As Long as You’ve Repented and Changed Your Ways)

When you stop your spammy keyword and linking practices, Google forgives you and leaves the past in the past, right?


Even if you’re producing amazing content now (and abiding by Google’s best practices), your past indiscretions could still be harming you. In fact, these poor SEO practices from the past could even be hurting your current content, and your site as a whole.

If you noticed a sudden or significant drop in traffic at a particular point in time, your site may have suffered a manual penalty or action. In this case, it’s particularly important that you do everything you can to get your site back on track. This may include:

  • Requesting the removal of inbound links from spammy or poor-quality sites or directories
  • Rewriting or removing short or poor-quality content from your site
  • Changing up the anchor text you used for internal linking (if you over-optimized for a particular keyword or phrase)

For more tips see The Definitive Guide to Recovering From a Manual Search Penalty.

Inbound Links are the Only Way Google Determines a Site’s Authority

A few years ago, when PageRank was all the rage, getting inbound links to your site was pretty much the one and only way of getting Google to notice your site and to deem it as authoritative and reliable.

However, recently we’ve begun to suspect a move towards brand mentions and nofollowed links as potentially important factors in determining a site’s authority. According to a patent recently filed by Google, both “express” and “implied” links may be used as part of their algorithm.

This means that, rather than focusing exclusively on getting links to your site, it’s more important than ever to find ways to create ‘buzz’ around your brand. We’ve yet to see if or how this change has been impacting search rankings, but I strongly suspect we’ll see the impact over the coming year.

“Director of Content” Should Replace “Director of SEO”

In a post I wrote for Forbes about six months ago (The Top 7 Content Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2014), I proposed the top new marketing job businesses would be looking to recruit and hire would be ‘Director of Content’. With more of the budget being allocated to content creation and dissemination, I see this as a necessary job role for businesses who want to stay competitive.

This does not mean, however, that the role of Director or SEO (or the equivalent) has become obsolete. Integrating SEO and content creation is imperative, but I believe it remains important to have a dedicated SEO team or person in place to manage link building and the technical aspects of SEO.

Social Signals are Now a Major Ranking Factor

While I believe (despite what Google has said to the contrary) that social signals such as likes, shares, and comments (particularly on Google+) ultimately factor into how well your content ranks in the search engines, the direct impact of social signals on rankings has yet to be confirmed definitively.

There are, however, many indirect benefits to having your content liked and shared on social media. After all, more people interacting with your content on social media means more people see your content, which means you accumulate more organic links, which leads to a higher search ranking.

So while social sharing should certainly be a major part of your marketing goals, we are still unclear as to the current importance of social signals for SEO rankings.

As arguably the most influential member of any organization, CEOs must be kept apprised of the latest strategies, best practices, and trends when it comes to SEO. Hopefully, this list has provided you with a few insights that will help you as you think about how to incorporate SEO into your company-wide goals.

What common misconceptions do you see CEOs commonly having when it comes to SEO? Or as a CEO yourself, do you find any of the points above surprising?


Image courtesy of innovate360 under CC 2.0

Jayson DeMers
Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or... Read Full Bio
Jayson DeMers
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • Great insight and post here! These are some real challenges that we face as SEOs and especially as outside consultants. Hence, it’s so important to try to be as strategic as possible right from the beginning of the relationship to get as high up in the food chain (Sr Mgt) as possible.


  • I think a lot of these misconceptions don’t just apply to CEO but most business owners in general.

  • “SEO is a quick fix and Content Marketing has replaced SEO”.

    Thanks for giving insights on these two facts. Many CEOs and website owners expect to see their website on top in SERP in just 1-2 months. And it takes a lot of efforts to convince them that SEO is a long term investment. Although they are not getting as much as they invested in SEO yet in future they might have very good ROI. But for that they need to forget the quick fix myth and let the SEO people do their job without worrying about the time period.

    Many small business owners cannot spend too much on content marketing. They do have very little for content marketing and publish at most 3-4 new content pieces each month. But they optimize that content in good way. That saves time and money for them. So citing for content marketing all the time is not going to help if you can’t utilize the content.

  • piltdownman

    Yes, yes and yes! I often have this conversation with clients and potential clients, but I fear that they are thinking, “Oh, he really isn’t any good at SEO, so he wants to throw it back to us in terms of content! If he was really good, he could get us onto page one immediately!” Personally, I’m thankful that I have a background in advertising and marketing, which just happens (Thanks, Google!) to be more important than ever…


  • Great post, however like others mentioned these misconceptions are much larger than just CEO’s. I think even that there is a significant difference organic, local and paid results aren’t clear to a majority of these owners. The first thing I do at our Internet marketing agency, Paperboat Media, during an intake with any new client is a brief overview of the differences- I have been surprised at how many people don’t know this.

    • Great point. In my past agency experience it has always lead to disaster when client and agency expectations aren’t aligned.

  • I certainly focus more on the content side of SEO over the technical elements (thanks to my journalism background). I do agree on the company wide SEO endeavour, though, it’s now an effort from all concerned. Old SEO habits have died off, too, but with no lasting consequences. We let all our directory links go unrenewed and that was that.

    It’s really changed a great deal over the last few years, and I’m glad to see this shift towards content and marketing.

  • Definitely have to agree with the “SEO Can Be Carried Out in Isolation” point. Wish I could remember how many times I’ve heard a client say, “What do you mean you need development time to get that done?” There are many more examples along those lines. That’s why we try to focus on offering a dedicated marketing team (SEO, PPC, Dev, Social, etc.) for a client and not segment every division of our agency into unreachable divisions. Makes it much easier to do what’s best for the client under one budget than having to get three contracts to get something done effectively.

  • Great article! As a Sr. SEO Product Manager for a full-service digital marketing agency, our sales reps find that one of the challenges in selling SEO is convincing their clients how important SEO in general is — and also how crucial it is to have relevant and quality content on a website.

    One thing that I’ve found that seems to work well is to ask the customer how he or she finds information when they’re looking for products and services. 99.9% of the time (unless they’ve been living under a rock) they admit that they search online. Following that up with, “That’s exactly what your customers do, too.” is kind of an “ah-ha” moment for many of them.

    • Jon

      If they know what SEO is in the first place!

  • Suri

    Its a CLEAR post about SEO. Thank you for the Post. Some considers SEO is all about CHECK LIST – that is also one of the misconception.

  • Maria

    Great post! I don’t know if there are others that have this same problem but there are still a huge amount of business owners who are still convinced that SEO is a quick fix! I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have had to answer to “why am I not ranking yet” or “why have I not sold an item yet”

  • Jayson, Good stuff. You’re even brave enough to put limits on social media and content marketing, when that’s what your agency does. I’m impressed.

  • Rank Watch

    These are only a few misconceptions. A major one which I heard of was that SEO is dead..! It is important to understand that it has evolved and not totally gone away.

  • Great post, especially when you discussed how content marketing and SEO are related. If everyone follows “best practices” for the technical aspect of SEO, it would be difficult for search engines honestly determine which website should rank higher for a given query. Content is, and will continue to be, what determines the level of success you’ll enjoy from your SEO efforts.