Search engine barSearch engine optimisation isn’t exactly new. In fact, some say there is evidence of SEO techniques as far back as the early 1990s. So, why are some brands still getting it wrong?

Let’s be honest, it’s hard work to have to think about SEO all the time. It takes up far more of your time than you had expected it to, plus it often necessitates a fair bit of experimentation before you eventually get it right.

Also, for businesses whose marketing strategy operates outside the world of SEO, it can appear pretty complicated simply from looking in, what with all this talk of ‘link building’ and ‘metadata’.

It’s perhaps for this reason that some businesses are prepared to turn a blind a blind eye to SEO, pointing to their social media marketing success as reason they need not get involved.

However, whilst we’d applaud those winning social media marketing techniques, we’d question why those firms would be willing to forgo realising further sales potential by ignoring SEO.

It’s a cause of frustration for Search Engine Land columnist Trond Lyngbø, who argues the case that some firms are still guilty of merely humouring SEO rather than taking it seriously.

In a blog post for the website, he lists four things about SEO which some businesses leaders still struggle to grasp:

1. SEO needs to be approached holistically

Too often SEO is something of an afterthought, but if it’s going to have a discernible impact it really must be ingrained into everything you do, in respect to marketing.

We can understand if you are only thinking about SEO retrospectively, however, as traditional methods revolved around creating a page structure where target keywords can be integrated. From here, you would then set about the link building process, but times have changed. That’s not to say keywords and link building no longer have a place in the world, just that they are used in different ways.

That’s because search engines are now – quite rightly – tailored for users, not sneaky, loophole-finding SEO marketers. Holistic SEO reflects this shift, placing the focus on how people engage with a particular brand, product and service – which is how Google now ranks businesses.

Those of you who are ahead of the game will straight away identify how this correlates with content marketing, which acts as your great chance to produce material that is of use to search users.

For maximum effect, however, marketers would be wise to implement SEO tactics to develop content that resonates not only with readers but search engines, too. We’ll come back to those tactics at a later date.

2. SEO can’t paper over the cracks

If you’ve got a bad product, don’t expect SEO to be able to come along and save the day. After all, the whole point of SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, etc., is to get your audience to your product pages.

If you’ve spent big money on SEO but aren’t prepared to improve your product, well, good luck with that. Lyngbø claims it won’t be long before what your customers verbalise about your products (or your business as a whole) will influence your visibility on Google.

“The search engine giant wants its users to keep coming back, so it will ultimately strive to suggest only high quality products and services which their users will love,” he explained.

As such, brands that get customers excited to the point of telling others might soon see their website ranking rocket.

No manner of SEO can prompt this sort of “customer delight”; you’ve got to make that happen in your own right first. Make no mistake, though – once you have your house in order, SEO acts as the sealant for your foundations, if that metaphor doesn’t undersell its impact.

3. SEO experts exist for a reason

Some still believe that SEO can be conducted at a click of a mouse in a plug-in’s setting on your website control panel. Perhaps that’s their way of covering up their lack of knowledge about SEO; or maybe more realistically, they know they haven’t got the time to make SEO a priority, so this is their way of sidelining it.

Whilst I understand that all marketing teams have budgets to stick to, isn’t it our job to make our firm’s marketing stronger? Sometimes that involves admitting a lack of expertise in a particular area – organic search, for example – and bringing in some expert help.

You’ll be surprised to discover how quickly an SEO expert can iron out those common errors, such as website code changes that negatively impact SEO, or plug-ins that are dragging your website down to a crawl.

4. Poor planning = search marketing failure

There’ not much to this point, other than to say that you’ll have to be darn lucky to nail SEO without a good deal of planning. By planning I mean taking a look back at last year’s efforts in order to separate the good from the bad methods, and allowing these findings to dictate your strategy for the next 12 months.

However, you aren’t going to be able to decipher the successful from the less-so by simply casting a cursory eye over previous methods, then coming to a conclusion about what devices hit the mark.

Instead, you must actually know what you’re looking at, weeding out the things that don’t matter and being ruthless over your previous methods. You’ll be pleased to hear that there are plenty of SEO review tools out there – you just have to hope you know how to use them. “Where am I going to find the time for that?” I hear you ask – perhaps it’s time you got an extra pair of eyes on it?

For the SEO marketers out there, what myths about SEO do you want to see crushed?