Navigating Through the Noise and Focusing on Where Your SEO Efforts Really Pay Off

SEO Efforts

It doesn’t matter what type of business you operate – having a well-established online presence has become essential for growing brand visibility and bringing in new qualified leads. But for many people, knowing how to get their website the attention it deserves can be quite a challenge.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is often the first step most people take when trying to improve their digital presence on search engine results pages. However, while this is a proven technique to help improve visibility online, many people often put their SEO efforts on the wrong areas or prioritize initiatives they shouldn’t.

In this guide, we’ll go through a few of the misconceptions about SEO and the best places to put your focus depending on how well your pages are performing in search engines.

Common Misconceptions About SEO

SEO is a topic that many people like to discuss in digital marketing circles, but there is still so much misinformation online on how it actually works. Below are some common misconceptions related to SEO and the results it can provide:

Keywords Are The Most Important Part of Getting Ranked

It’s no secret to most people when they first get started in SEO that keywords and phrases are very important to success. However, many people get wrapped up in the idea that the volume of certain words they use will dictate how search engines rank their content.

The truth is, there are literally hundreds of different ranking factors search engines like Google use to help their algorithms decipher whose content should be considered a priority over others. Focusing too much on using exact keywords or “stuffing” content with unhelpful content just to manipulate keyword density can actually cause much more harm than good.

The More Backlinks You Have, The Better

Another common misconception has to do with the importance of the “quantity” of backlinks pointing to your website and their impact on rankings. While it’s true that search engines have always used backlinks to help verify domain authority (trust), which is a big part of ranking algorithms, the quantity of these links isn’t nearly as impactful as the “quality.”

Oftentimes, a single high-quality backlink from a reputable and relevant website will outweigh dozens of low-quality links that are usually farmed through black-hat SEO practices.

On-Page SEO is More Effective Than Off-Page SEO

Many people think that SEO is primarily concentrated on making specific changes to a website and waiting for those changes to reflect positively in the search rankings. The truth is that making changes to your website (on-page SEO) is only one critical element of search engine optimizations. Off-page SEO is also an important component that, in many cases, can have an even greater impact on how your website is ranked. Off-page SEO is the practice of making sure your website’s authority remains in check by establishing additional backlinks from high-authority websites and growing your digital presence on social media platforms and high-quality site directories.

Mass-Producing Content Helps Guarantee Rankings

Content is an important element of every SEO campaign. Without relevant content to associate with your website or brand, it’s impossible for search engines or users to organically stumble on your business. However, far too many companies make the mistake of thinking that if they turn out as much content as possible (often with the help of AI tools), they’ll have a higher chance of ranking some of those pages.

While in the past this tactic may have worked, search engines have become much more adept at identifying unoriginal content that was generated by AI. Having multiple pages that are unhelpful or poorly drafted can actually drag the rankings down of other content pages that are useful and written with search intent in mind.

Prioritizing Your SEO Efforts Based on Keyword Ranking Performance

Considering the amount of variables that go into ranking web content, it’s important that you spend your time focusing on areas that can bring you the most value for the time you put in. A good way to do this is by gauging the type and amount of SEO efforts you deploy based on how your content is currently ranking.

Below are some areas you should focus on depending on which page of the search results your content is ranking for using various keywords or phrases:

When Your Keywords Aren’t Ranking (Ranking 50+)

Regardless of how long your website has been active, most new pages of content will require a bit of time before keyword rankings start to become situated. However, after a period of 2-3 months, if your keywords are still not ranking on certain pages, you’ll want to focus on a couple of areas.

The first step you’ll want to take is to make sure you understand the search intent that the keywords and phrases you’re targeting are part of. A user’s search intent can be broken down into four distinct categories.

  1. Navigational – This is when users are searching for a specific website or brand
  2. Informational – This is when someone is looking for an answer to a specific question.
  3. Transactional – This is when someone is ready to make a purchase.
  4. Commercial  – This is when someone needs to research more information about a certain brand.

Search intent should be the primary driver of how you create and organize content since search engines like Google will want to rank websites that offer the best match when providing information based on this intent.

A good way to approach this is by having a look at the current websites that already rank well for the keywords you’re trying to target. Reverse engineering page one search results can be very helpful when looking for gaps in your current content or site structure and can help you design a blueprint for potential areas of improvement.

When You’re Starting to See Some Traction (Ranking 11-40)

The bulk of most SEO initiatives happen as pages start to gain some initial traction on search engine results pages. Once you notice your website starting to rank between the 11th and 40th position of results, you’ll want to start putting more focus in your off-page SEO efforts.

Link building is an important part of creating a successful SEO campaign. Now is the time to put more effort into establishing high-quality backlinks from reputable websites. This can be time-intensive work, but it’s absolutely worth the effort. Most people find it beneficial to work with outside SEO specialists who can help expedite the process, considering they already have pre-established relationships with well-known brands and high-authority blogs.

When You’ve Landed on the First Page Results (Ranking 1-10)

If you’ve managed to get your website to the first page of various search results, you’re obviously applying some great SEO techniques to your website. However, you shouldn’t rely on these rankings staying in place for long on their own.

Although link building and quality content are all important variables that will likely get you better rankings than others who don’t apply the same best practices, SEO isn’t a “set-it-and-forget-it” tactic. You’ll want to focus your efforts on growing your domain authority, topical authority, and user experience.

Search engines like Google want to make sure the websites and the content they redirect people to are actually engaging and helpful to their users. If algorithms notice that users are not spending much time on your site or quickly moving to other sites, this will start to make a larger impact on your rankings.

You’ll want to put in the time necessary to continuously improve the user experience you’ve already established and track important metrics like bounce rate and engagement rate to give you clues on whether or not your rankings could start to dip in the future.

Get More Out of Your SEO Efforts

By following the progressive steps outlined, you’ll be able to keep your SEO efforts focused on areas that will bring you the best returns on your time and resource investments. Remember, SEO success rarely happens overnight.

However, if you’re methodical in your approach and patient with the results, you’ll no doubt start to see a continuous increase in your organic site traffic that is sustainable long-term.


About Author:  Jason Khoo started freelancing in SEO in college, sold his first agency, and now is the founder of Zupo, an Orange County-based agency. Jason also enjoys multiple cups of tea daily, hiding away on weekends, catching up on reading, and rewatching The Simpsons for the 20th time.

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