7 Common SEO Misconceptions

By now, most business owners understand the purpose of SEO — but that doesn’t mean they know how it’s done. In fact, many cling to misconceptions about SEO that keep them on the sidelines.

SEO Is Dead — 5 Rules for Winning in the New World of Search

By now, most business owners understand the purpose of SEO — but that doesn’t mean they know how it’s done. In fact, many cling to SEO misconceptions that keep them on the sidelines.

And sitting on the sidelines means missing out on scores of potential customers. Search engine optimization is a proven, effective tactic that’s only growing more efficient with time. Not everyone watches the same TV channels or frequents the same websites, but most people use Google or Bing when researching goods and services. To avoid SEO over a handful of misconceptions isn’t just unfortunate, it’s arguably expensive.

If you’re on the fence about SEO — or if you know a business owner who is —  then check out these seven common misconceptions about SEO that are costing business owners in the long run.

Misconception 1: SEO Is Too Expensive

Small business owners often balk at SEO because they think it’s too expensive. The reality is that you have two options:

  1. Do it in-house — This either means you’re going to invest your own time or pay an employee to do the work. Sure, doing it yourself will save money, but keep an eye on how much time you’re spending because you may find this option is actually more expensive. Plus, doing it alone without expert guidance can lead to costly mistakes.
  2. Hire an expert — An SEO agency or consultant will save you time and also help you avoid costly mistakes. Of course, this option is not free so you’ll need to invest some of your marketing budget.

I am of course slightly biased since I own an SEO agency, but I’ve also seen my fair share of (avoidable) costly mistakes. It’s just not worth putting your business at risk by being penny wise and pound foolish with SEO.

Misconception 2: It’s too Difficult

SEO is not easy, but when you boil it down it is fairly simple to understand. Don’t be fooled into thinking SEO is magic or rocket science. Every business can and should be familiar with SEO best practices. That way you know if your team or agency is doing a good job or not.

Again, I’m not suggesting SEO is easy. I’m merely suggesting that everyone should understand how SEO works and how it fits into your overall marketing plan. This is the main reason why we host training every month to help businesses understand the basics of SEO so they can make more informed decisions with their marketing dollars.

Misconception 3: I’m too Late

This misconception is wrong for two reasons.

First, it’s never too late to invest in SEO. Why would it be too late? Would you refuse to advertise in print or television ads because newspapers, magazines and TVs have been around for decades?

Second, remember that SEO is an ever-evolving beast. Thanks largely to the rising popularity of smartphones, small business owners can benefit from SEO in ways that weren’t possible 10 years ago.

So, while you might feel like it’s too late to invest in SEO, instead you should think of it this way — SEO has never been this good, and that makes now the best time to jump in.

Misconception 4: SEO Is Dead

Is SEO a thing of the past? In some ways, it is more difficult to rank in Google’s search results thanks to algorithm updates that invalidated old-school (and lazy) SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing and link spamming. Today, good SEO strategies must be more comprehensive than they were 10 years ago. For some, that’s discouraging.

As a small business owner, though, you should be thrilled! In the olden days, you would have faced stiffer competition from corporations and regional businesses with more money to throw at SEO. Now — thanks to Google’s emphasis on helping smartphone users find goods and services in their immediate vicinities — small businesses can more easily be found on search engine results page (SERP) rankings.

Not only is SEO still alive and well, but it has never been better for small business owners.

Misconception 5: Social Media Is More Important

First things first — social media marketing can be important for small businesses. Facebook, Twitter and other platforms allow business owners to communicate with customers in a way that’s more personal than other forms of advertising. At the very least, you should start a free Facebook page and post photos and blogs about your business and market space.

That said, social media marketing isn’t more important than SEO.

For starters, people who seek goods and services on search engines are more likely to be buyer-oriented shoppers than folks who are browsing Facebook. And focusing on Facebook or Twitter won’t be enough for people to find you on Google. It’s true that a growing number of people interact with the internet through social media, but that hasn’t diminished the importance of good search engine rankings.

Misconception 6: You Never Know Whether SEO Is Worthwhile

The importance of ranking high in the search engines might be lost on folks who don’t have backgrounds in online marketing. Why spend so much time and effort (and possibly even money) on something with no tangible benefit?

Boosting your SEO does have tangible benefits. You’ll get more customers and more revenue with better online visibility, period. And thanks to the amount of data you can track in Google Analytics, it’s easy to see how better rankings translate to more hits on your website. Plus Google Analytics literally enables you to track the number of people who purchase goods and services from your website as a result of finding your business in the search engine rankings.

Misconception 7: I’ll Never Get a Top SERP Ranking

Truthfully, you have extremely little chance — probably zero — of being the top-ranked organic result for every single one of your most relevant search terms. There’s too much competition, and the pecking order atop the rankings always fluctuates.

That said, with good SEO you can certainly rank at the top for some terms, and those top-ranked positions pay off big. A top-ranked position isn’t out of reach for anyone who’s willing to put in the work and do diligent research.


Search engine optimization takes ongoing work. It can’t be done on autopilot. And the more you can invest in it, the better results you’ll see. That said, don’t be scared off by common misconceptions. You don’t need to be a marketing guru to start improving your SEO. Just start out small, put one foot in front of the other, and be patient as you work toward better search rankings.

Want more help getting started?  Click here to access our Ultimate SEO Checklist.

Author: Phil Frost

Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.

Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.

Want more SEO tips? Get your free copy of Phil’s Ultimate SEO Checklist. Want more AdWords tips? Get your free copy of Phil’s Ultimate Google AdWords Checklist.

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