You know how it goes. Even if you don’t use social media and you don’t use the internet very often yourself, you know your business is better off with some sort of presence on the web. Having a well-designed website that’s SEO friendly will help potential customers connect to you by enabling them to find your site in a search. Can SEO be complicated? Sure it can! But it’s only as complicated as you make it, so finding a website provider that you trust is your best bet.

There are a startling number of web agencies out there that make a killing by approaching businesses and telling them their websites are all wrong, and only they can fix their issues. They claim to know everything there is to know about SEO, and only they can help you rank higher than your competitors. The truth is, any agency or individual claiming to know everything there is to know about SEO is lying to you. SEO is a living organism, constantly changing. Once you’ve got a handle on what methods are most effective for improving rankings, best practices change again. So, how do they get your attention? What’s the clincher? Let’s explore some common myths about SEO and find out.

A minimalist desk setup with a Macbook and coffee cup.

“Optimizing a website for SEO is a one-time event.”

Anyone who has even the most minimal knowledge of SEO knows it’s constantly changing. Sure, you can optimize a site by using the right target keywords, but chances are, even those keywords are going to change at some point. Ever wonder why your site has fallen in rankings when you haven’t made any changes? There are a lot of reasons why this happens, but it’s good to be aware that SEO is something you have to stay on top of - you can’t just adjust some keywords and be done adjusting your content forever.

A cactus plant and two books on web coding.

“Your CSS validation errors are hurting your rankings.”

Whoa whoa whoa… what does that even mean?! CSS stands for cascading style sheets. Basically, it’s web code that gives your website its look and feel (colors, typefaces, etc). So why is someone pointing out CSS errors to you? Web agencies may use jargon that they know you don’t understand to convince you there’s something wrong with your website that they can fix to win your business. But it's important to know that CSS is not page content, and it's not likely to affect your SEO or your rankings. If your website has CSS validation errors, you're not alone! This is because there are multiple ways to get the same result with CSS, and even big sites, like Amazon and Netflix, have CSS errors, too. There are also particular CSS tactics that ensure your site looks good no matter how a user finds you, be it through Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge. So are the errors real? Yes! Because each validation tool is looking for its own preferred approach and will error when your approach differs. Should you be worried? Probably not. These errors are most likely not affecting your ranking whatsoever.

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“Exact match keywords are essential to your rankings.”

Let’s say you’ve used www.google.com/trends to do your keyword research. Great! It’s a very useful tool. You look to see what your potential customers in San Antonio, TX are searching for when they need self storage, and you see that the list of rising keywords includes “storage units near me” and “car storage San Antonio.” It might be tempting to work these keywords into your content exactly as they appear because that’s exactly what people are searching for. However, “car storage San Antonio” isn’t grammatical and “storage units near me” is going to a be a challenge to work in, isn’t it? The good thing is that you can use a smarter, more grammatical form of these keywords, and Google is smart enough to make the connection for you. Google will match keywords with function words (like conjunctions: for, and, or, but, and so) changed or added. Google will also match keywords that have been reordered. So, it’s best to have your content naturally written. Hopefully, whoever is responsible for your website knows this, and you can leave it to the professionals. Here’s an example of how these keywords can be used to improve your rankings without using them as exact match:

  • "San Antonio has a lot of storage facilities, but how do you know you’ve chosen the right one for you? If you’re looking for high-quality units, truck rentals, and car storage in San Antonio, The Storage Place is your best choice. Our prices are among the most competitive in the area, and we have four great locations. Wherever you live in San Antonio, we’re sure to have a storage facility near you. Contact us for details!"

A desk with a red notebook and a Macbook.

“Meta descriptions really don’t matter any more.”

While it’s true that Google doesn’t use meta descriptions or keywords within them to factor into rankings (as Google announced in 2009), they’re still pretty important, so this myth is only half false. But if Google says meta isn’t considered in rankings, why am I telling you that they’re important if better rankings is your goal? The purpose of a meta description is to provide a summary of what your website contains. Good, well-written meta might not make a difference in how high in a search your site is listed, but it will certainly get you clicks, which is really the ultimate goal, isn’t it? Good SEO communicates well to search engines, but great SEO speaks well to users. A well-written meta description containing keywords will let the user know that they’ve found what they’re looking for: your business.

A screenshot showing a high quality meta description in Google search results.

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“Local SEO doesn’t make much of a difference in your rankings.”

Now, this one is just silly. When people are searching for a storage facility, what do you think they are searching for? “Self storage?” No, they’re searching for a storage facility in a specific location, of course! So, in short, local SEO absolutely makes a difference. But what exactly does local SEO entail? You certainly want an accurate Google My Business listing, a verified map location (this will accommodate that pesky “self storage near me” search), and localized content, such as driving directions. A good website provider can take care of all of this for you.

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, you may also like: The ABCs of Cloud-Based Technology, Top 6 Technology Trends for Self Storage in 2017, and 5 Easy Ways to Rank Better in Google Search.