Think you know search? Think again. Five myths surrounding SEO

Matt Riley

With all of the propaganda tempting business owners to invest in search engine optimization (SEO), it’s no wonder companies jump at the chance to drive traffic to their website in the hopes it will push sales through the roof.

But the hoopla surrounding SEO often leaves businesses creating crucial mistakes that affect their bottom line. Instead of investing in SEO, businesses should focus on converting sales from existing site traffic.

Here are five myths about SEO and their impact on your business.

1. Changes to search algorithms do not impact my business

Google recently rocked the website rankings with yet another change to its algorithm. According to MOZ’s Google Algorithm Change History, Google has updated its algorithm 20 times in the last two years, making a statement loud and clear: algorithms will consistently undergo changes, the code will be difficult to crack, and these changes disrupt website rankings.

For years, Google and other search engines used algorithms that relied heavily on numeric ranking factors to rank websites. But over time, these factors became easy to manipulate, prompting Google to release updates along with an increased emphasis on providing a stronger user experience to make “gaming the system” more difficult.

Businesses beware: algorithm changes are here to stay and will impact the effectiveness of your SEO efforts.

2. SEO can’t harm my business

Businesses that participate in SEO tactics to manipulate the algorithms are subject to increased penalties. Link building or posting poor quality, keyword heavy content is an outdated tactic that will cause your site to be punished and marginalized, annihilating traffic and damaging your reputation, brand and business.

3. SEO is more important than my brand equity

There’s no use spending money on SEO if your brand image speaks poorly of your business.

What’s the solution? Build a solid perception of your business and boost your brand by creating a phenomenal user experience on your site. Flood your website with killer products, a variety of quality content, informative videos, clear calls to action, images that are easy to view on a mobile device, and an effective navigation system.

4. Increased search traffic equals increased conversions

Let the numbers speak for themselves. Sale conversion rates stand steady at approximately 2 per cent while conversion rates for lead generation hover around 10 per cent. Simply put, it makes more monetary sense to prioritize your existing traffic, as an increase in traffic does not always lead to increased conversions.

Once customers buy something from your website, you have a better chance of repeat business. It’s easier and less expensive to convert existing customers than it is to find new ones. Pique the interest of existing traffic by adjusting and improving your website. What worked yesterday, may not work tomorrow.

5. SEO provides more value than site search

Users want a positive experience with your site. You only have a few seconds to impress them, and if they cannot easily find what they are looking for, they will not convert. A good way to improve the user experience is to invest in a site search tool. Help users help themselves with site search, and that will help you in the search rankings, in your site conversion rates, and in the board room with higher overall ROI.


While it’s tempting to believe that SEO is the answer to your business needs, it’s not the solution. The information you have been taught to believe about SEO can actually hurt your sales revenue and drive traffic away from your site instead of toward it. Re-evaluate your spend and allocate funds toward creating a user-friendly site where visitors want to look around, access relevant content, navigate with a site search engine, and convert.

Matt Riley is CEO of Swiftype


Matt Riley

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