And Why Thinking About Them Separately Is Wrong
One of the common misconceptions about SEO I often hear from business owners is they think they can rank on search engines without creating content.
It’s already 2020 — and let me say put an end to that myth right now.
SEO is one of the fastest-changing aspects in digital marketing. Therefore, you have to keep up with the changes if you want your website to rank on page 1 of search engines like Google.
Still don’t believe me? Ask yourself this question, “Without content, what would you rank for in the first place?”
SEO Myths You Should Stop Believing in 2020
In the early days, when search engines first started, your website can rank on them easily because of two simple facts:
- The way search engines rank websites were straightforward, and
- There was little to no competition.
So, by simply adding the “right keyword” to your website, you will get to the first page rather quickly.
But things have changed. A lot. If you want to get more traffic and rank higher on search engines, you’ve got to think of SEO and content together. Here are a few reasons why.
Myth #1: You Can Rank By Adding Keywords to Your Title Tags and Meta Description
Fact: Search Engine Algorithms Have Changed (And Is Changing)
These algorithms (the way search engines rank content) have become sophisticated. According to Neil Patel, Google alone considers over 200 factors when it comes to ranking your website.
And rightfully so.
Because this leads to better user experience.
Before you can just put keywords on a page, even if it’s not related, and you can still rank for them. For example, I type this in Google: “what will marketing look like in 10 years?” Then, I’ll see results on the first page about the future of technology or even recipes about chicken barbecue.
See how that would be very frustrating for me as a user?
And that’s what Google (and all other search engines) are trying to avoid. They want users to have a great experience.
When it comes to search engines, people want answers to their questions.
So, that’s what they aim to deliver. That’s why these 200+ factors are never fully disclosed to the public, nor are they constant.
For example, in 2018, Google mentioned that mobile-responsive websites are prioritized on mobile searches since it delivers a better user experience. So, the only way for you to rank on Google and provide users the great experience is to create content that answers your customers’ problems.
Last May 2020, Google announced that the Core Web Vitals will become part of the current Page Experience Signals early next year. This means user experience on your website will become more important.
Around the same time, Danny Sullivan confirmed that Google now highlights the text on your website when people click on Featured Snippets. This was the case for AMP pages, but have now rolled out to HTML pages.
Search engines and the algorithms are constantly evolving. If you think that adding a keyword here and there will help you rank, you are mistaken.
Myth #2: I Just Create a Website and It Will Rank on Page One
Fact: You Have to Do More Than Create a Website
Did you know that there are over 1.5 billion websites today?
And ~1.4 billion of those aren’t even a decade old.
What does this mean for you?
If you’re just starting out, that means you have a lot of work to do. It also means you probably have a lot of competition in whatever industry you’re in.
So, if you think that by having a website and add some of your keywords here and there is enough to rank for it, well, that won’t happen.
Search engines use different factors for ranking individual pages on the internet. This all depends on the user intent. This is something that Google is constantly changing its algorithms for—to provide a better experience for its users. If they are searching for something, they want to provide the answers quickly. That’s why featured snippets, the knowledge graph, and other search appearances exist.
Myth #3: I Don’t Need Content
Fact: Content is Necessary to Rank on Search Engines
I’ve been doing digital marketing for almost a decade now. I learned from the beginning that content is what will help me rank on search engines. That’s why I always emphasize content creation and distribution to all my clients (and the companies I’ve worked for).
In the last three years or so, I noticed a disconnect. Business owners keep saying they want to rank on search engines but are unwilling to do the necessary work.
I’m attributing this to the popularity of social media. But social media is very misleading. It’s very easy to spend for likes and followers. It’s tangible. You get to see that number grow. But, as you already know, follower count isn’t a real metric you should be looking at. It’s not even something you should bother measuring. That’s why they are called vanity metrics.
What should you look at instead? Well, that depends on your business. But here’s a list of metrics you should be tracking at the very least. If you’re not tracking them, or if your marketing efforts aren’t helping you with those metrics, it’s time to evaluate what you’re doing online.
Content isn’t limited to written blog posts. The stuff you post on social is also content. But, these posts rarely rank on Google. When was the last time you searched for an answer to a problem of yours and found a tweet at the #1 spot? Or maybe an Instagram post showing up on page one of Google?
If you want to rank on search engines, your minimum investment has to be written content. Sure, you can do other types like videos and podcasts, but make sure you still have a written version of it like a transcript or something similar. You’ll find the same advice from brands advocating these new forms of content (like Loom and Wistia) because they know that search engines haven’t, yet, caught up to the level of understanding as written content.
Over to You
From my experience, it’s not necessary to distinguish between content marketing and SEO. To me, it’s the same thing. Yes, SEO is more technical. But without content, it will be meaningless. You can have a website that has a perfect on-page SEO, but it will still not show up on search results without content.
You create content and apply SEO best practices all at the same time. No matter how much you “optimize” your website, if you aren’t creating new content, you will never rank on Google’s first page.