From misunderstandings to outdated information, there are plenty of reasons why there are so many misconceptions about Search Engine Optimization. With ever-changing algorithms and contrasting advice, it’s easy to get lost in what is and is not relevant to your store’s SEO. While you might not be able to constantly keep up with what Google is changing, you can break down some of the SEO myths that could be holding you back from fully realizing your store’s potential.
#1 - SEO is a one-time thing
As with product development, social media planning, and stock forecasting, SEO is another task that merchants need to continually work on. Getting set up with the basics in the beginning is great, but for a store to see real results there needs to be a consistent and active SEO effort. Search engine algorithms change all the time, tweaking how they rank pages to best serve users. As time goes on there will be new opportunities to do more to improve your store’s ranking, and if you’re not proactive you risk being outranked by competitors. Moreover if you aren’t keeping a close watch on factors such as site speed then you can easily miss issues that will impact your ranking. For example if since you last optimized your store you’ve installed new apps or integrations that have slowed your store down. By being consistent with optimization, content, link building, and looking for improvements, you’ll be able to make the most of SEO and not fall behind.
#2 - Long-form content ranks better
While the length of content can contribute, the quality of that content is more crucial to ranking. A high-quality but concise piece of content is much better for your store’s ranking than a long-form piece with little substance. By high-quality we mean content that is relevant, informative, useful, and satisfies a user’s intent. These are the factors that matter most to search engines. If a user lands on your page and can’t find the answers they want easily because you’ve focussed on stretching the content, they’ll leave unsatisfied and ultimately this will impact your ranking. Additionally, there are several other factors that determine whether or not your content is good enough to rank on SERPs such as page load speed, backlinks, and site architecture.
#3 - Social signals are an important ranking factor
High performing content on social media, unfortunately, does not contribute to a page’s ranking - at least not directly. It isn’t entirely unthinkable to assume that a piece of content being shared across social media channels and gaining popularity might have a positive impact on its ranking given it could show that the page is valuable and useful. However social signals aren’t a major ranking factor and as social media can be easily manipulated, metrics such as follower count and post engagement have no direct impact on search engine rankings. That being said, social media performance for a page can affect a page in a positive way. The more widely your content is shared on social media, it does stand a chance of potentially getting backlinks on other sites and this does influence your page ranking.
#4 - Only the top position on Google matters
When you’re talking about how to improve your store’s ranking, it can be easy to assume that this means the top spot is all that matters. This can then be worrisome if your store is continually outranked, especially by larger competitors. Thankfully, the number one spot on Google isn’t the be all and end all of getting more traffic. Think about how people interact with search engines; if they’re looking for information or researching products, it’s unlikely they’ll only consider the top link. They might not even click the top link at all. In a study conducted by Ahrefs, they found that the top-ranking page gets the most amount of traffic only 49% of the time. And if you were worried about the traffic paid search results get given that they often appear above organic results, then there’s little cause for concern as they generally see 3-4% of clicks.
#5 - Using PPC or Google Ads will increase ranking
First and foremost, paid search will not directly increase your page ranking. Google does not automatically favor pages which pay for ads, and the algorithm it uses to determine organic search results is entirely different to how it determines PPC placements. That being said, it gets a little more complex than that as paid search can indirectly improve your ranking. For example by running a paid campaign at the same time as your ongoing organic search strategy, you can get better data about your SEO strategy’s effectiveness and find ways to improve it. This includes being able to identify and refine keywords you can use for organic ranking, and being able to attract backlinks.
SEO is a powerful and necessary tool for any growth-oriented ecommerce store. In order to make the most of it, merchants need to be aware of the misconceptions that surround the practice so that they can avoid common pitfalls, develop a strong strategy, and stand above the competition.