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 Yet, the CEOs of many organizations are left working with outdated or even completely inaccurate information.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?