By Glenn Lombardi
We have said it before, and we are about to say it again. Even though SEO is one of the most important elements of Internet marketing, it's also one of the most misunderstood. Last month, we tried to help clear some of the fog surrounding the subject by taking a look at some commonly held SEO misconceptions.
As the famous saying goes, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Depending on who you ask, "dangerous" can either mean "surprisingly effective" or "potentially disastrous." Oddly enough, when it comes to SEO, both interpretations work. A little basic, in-house SEO can be surprisingly effective. But without true dedication and in-depth expertise, the home-brew approach can hold just as many pitfalls as paths to success.
But let's start with the upbeat stuff. Here are a few more brief and basic SEO misconceptions from the Officite Search Team:
1. One size fits all.
Because every practice is unique, SEO does not, and will probably never come in a box. Your practice's location, specialties, and competition make an enormous difference in determining the strategy with the most potential for success. A practice in downtown Chicago, for example, will require a completely different plan of action than a practice in rural Illinois. Having an appropriate plan allows you to be sure that you are not paying for services you do not need, and even more importantly, that you are not skimping on additional efforts that your location necessitates.
2. One trick takes care of everything.
Many smart people seem to think that SEO consists only of keyword stuffing and link building, and that doing one or both of these will work regardless of other efforts. These efforts are basic SEO competencies, and though they do apply to most programs, be wary of the assumption that stuffing your meta descriptions with keywords is the one trick you need for success. There is much more to the process. In fact, recent algorithm updates are beginning to place more emphasis on content than on keywords alone.
3. With content, quantity comes first.
Again, this misconception is partially rooted in truth. Your site does need a wealth of content. But if your content is subpar, it can actually hurt your ranking rather than help it. Content cannot be useless "fluff"; it needs to serve a purpose for the consumer. Quality is just as important as quantity. Additionally, the age of your content is one of the key benchmarks Google uses to determine relevancy. Keeping your content continually updated with strategies, such as blogging, helps to keep things fresh, and search engines love fresh.
These tips are all worth knowing. But ultimately, SEO is not a part-time effort. With a practice to run and patients that deserve your full attention, it's simply too much to do (well) on the side. These tips might best be used as questions to ask in your search for a professional search team. A true SEO professional will not only know these things, but see them as absolutely bare-bones competencies not much more complex than basic reading and writing.
The fact is SEO is constantly changing. Unless you have real SEO professionals in-house, skills your staff learned just a year ago can be catastrophically outdated. The algorithms used by search engines, particularly by the pack-leading Google, change at a head-spinning rate.
At the time of this article's writing (late November 2013), the algorithm has changed 15 times this year. Some of these updates were minor, but some, like the "Hummingbird" update, are not small changes such as a new paint job. They are complete engine overhauls. This means tactics that produced results a year ago can actually be harmful today.
SEO professionals keep up with these changes as part of their job. It's the equivalent of having to take continuing education courses at a rate of more than one per month. These are courses where, surprisingly often, they are forced to completely redesign their technique to fit the latest changes.
Being proactive and staying on the cutting edge of the field are central to performance, and that's part of what makes the profession so time-consuming. So if you are serious about SEO, be sure you are willing to take the time the field demands. If you are not, do not hesitate to give the pros a call.
Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, a leading provider of dental websites and Internet marketing strategies, including social media, search marketing, reputation management, and mobile websites. Officite has built thousands of websites that have generated more than a half million new patient appointment requests since 2002. For more information, visit www.officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.