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When you build a website, you want people to find it. When someone searches the Internet to find a local doctor, learn a recipe or catch up on the latest news, they want the information quickly. Search engines play a role in both of these instances. They provide what they believe are the most relevant sites with the information each user wants.

What Is SEO?

SEO is the practice of optimizing a website to generate organic traffic. This includes incorporating keywords, links and organizing information in a way that makes it more attractive to search engines. It’s an on-going process that adjusts to the algorithms used by search engines to scan and rank websites.

How Search Engines Rank Websites

Search engines send out crawlers — robots that roam the Internet and scan websites, looking for information. They store the information they find in indexes and rank them according to keywords. When someone searches a specific term or phrase, the search engine retrieves the websites from the index that it thinks are most relevant.

This process is constantly evolving, as search engines find better ways to identify the content users want. SEO practices that worked in the past quickly become outdated, leading to misconceptions about how SEO works. Sorting through the fact and fiction about SEO helps you make better decisions for your digital marketing campaigns.

Myth 1: SEO Doesn’t Work

Ask anyone who’s been the victim of a scammer, and they’ll tell you that SEO doesn’t work. Others may tell you that SEO no longer matters because search engines change their algorithms to counter SEO practices and produce more authentic results.

The truth is that SEO remains an important tool for businesses. Yes, search engines change their algorithms, but they also share these changes so creators can create better websites. SEO professionals study these changes and adjust their campaigns accordingly.

Myth 2: All You Need Is Content

Once you understand the way search engines work, you may think it’s enough to post some interesting content and let Google do the rest. That’s not SEO. That’s leaving your website’s visibility to chance.

You need quality content on your site for both your visitors and search engines. Keywords, links and website design are also important parts of SEO that help search engine crawlers read your website. Well-written and informative content keeps visitors on your site.

Myth 3: Fill Your Site With Keywords

In the past, keyword stuffing — packing your website with keywords — was a go-to SEO strategy. It was fairly common practice to hide keywords on a site or force them awkwardly into sentences. It didn’t take long for the search engines to change their algorithms.

Of course, you still want to incorporate valid keywords in your content, but there’s no need to aim for a specific number of keywords on the page. Instead of focusing on keyword density, make sure you have quality, relevant content and appropriate links on your site to see the greatest ROI.

Myth 4: Anyone Can Optimize Your Site

Some people hand over their SEO to IT professionals or website designers, thinking that their experience with computers and technology automatically tie in with SEO. Despite some overlap, building an operating system or designing a website is not the same as optimizing a website for search engines.

This is why you should partner with someone who understands the type of information search engines detect as they crawl the Internet. SEO constantly changes. What worked last year may lose its effectiveness as search engines improve their ability to identify the most relevant results. Find someone who keeps up with these changes.

Myth 5: If You’re Not Number One, Your SEO Isn’t Working

One of the most common SEO myths is that your site has to rank number one on the search engine results page. The first link on the SERP page typically receives the most clicks. But being in the third or seventh spot doesn’t indicate failure.

You can still bring in traffic if you make it to the first page of search results. Most people don’t click on the first link and stop searching. Many of them review more than one site as they search for information. Since Google added features like the answer box and map pack, users are more likely to scroll down the page. This increases the odds they will see the link to your site.

Do your research before you believe the hype. SEO is alive and well, and it’s an important tool for boosting traffic and building your brand.