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Common Misconceptions

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Search engine submissions

There are many misconceptions about SEO, what it can do, and how you can get websites to rank.

First, search engine submission services have become useless and often lead to spam. You don’t need to submit your website to Google or other search engines anymore. Google and other search engines will discover your website automatically, through mechanisms such as:

  • Your domain name registration
  • Links from other sites to your site

Meta keywords tag

The meta keywords tag is a tag in a webpage’s source code, where you can include keywords you want your site to rank for. Google and other search engines have stopped using the meta keywords tag, because it was abused a lot by spammers, who included a lot of irrelevant keywords to try and get more traffic to their websites. Generally speaking, the meta keywords tag is no longer useful for SEO. The only exception is for news websites, where a specific news_keywords meta tag is still being used to identify the topics of news articles.

Keyword density

Keyword density or keyword stuffing – the number of words on a page divided by the number of instances of a given keyword – is not used by search engines for relevancy and ranking calculations. Search engines use advanced semantic analysis technologies, so there is no need to stuff keywords on to a page. In fact, it can lead to a page being classified as spam. Aim to write high-quality, in-depth content instead, ensuring that Google has enough words and material to work with and recognizes that you’re writing high-quality content that deserves to be ranked in the search results.

Paid search and organic search

Another common misconception is that, if you spend a lot of money on paid advertising, you will also be rewarded with high rankings in organic search results. That is not true. Google, in fact, keeps its Google Ads division very much separate from its organic search division. No matter how much you spend on paid advertising, you will never get an advantage in organic search as a result of that. Instead, what you see happening a lot is that when a company spends a lot on paid advertising, it also tends to have quite a large budget allocated to SEO, so that it can claim high visibility in Google in both Google Ads and organic results

Web spam and guaranteed rankings

There are a lot of SEO companies that claim they can guarantee you a number one ranking on Google. However, no SEO can actually guarantee a first, top ranking on Google. Instead, you should focus on producing high-quality content and doing all the right things, which should see you rewarded in Google’s organic search results over time.

Whenever someone promises you top rankings on Google, you tend to have to rely on web spam tactics to get you there. Those sorts of tactics can result in penalties on your website; or your website will actually be deindexed after an amount of time, when Google detects that you’re using web spam to get to the top of its search results. So don’t believe it when anybody claims to guarantee you a number one spot on Google.

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Barry Adams

Barry Adams is the founder of Polemic Digital, which won Best Small SEO Agency at the 2016 UK Search Awards. He has been an active practitioner since 1998 and is co-chief editor for State of Digital. His clients include national brands like EMO Oil and The Sun, multinationals and local businesses.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

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    Barry Adams
    Skills Expert

    This module introduces the core principles and concepts of search marketing. It demonstrates how the use of organic search can benefit marketing campaigns. It introduces the key concepts of paid search and the ways in which it can be used to improve the performance of a campaign. It also outlines how to measure the success of a search campaign and how it fits within a wider digital marketing strategy.