5 Myths Of Online Marketing - Part 1

By: Ryan Freeman

In my line of work, I am blessed to encounter many businesses of all shapes, sizes and varieties. From Mom-n-Pop retailers to international manufacturers, there are some truths that invariably apply when it comes to online marketing. When it came time to pick a topic for this post, I thought: “Does the world really need another ‘Intro to Web Marketing’ post?” When barely half of all small businesses even have a website, I think the answer is clear.

There is much that can be said to explain what online marketing is, but for this post I want to talk about what is isn’t. And so, based on conversations with clients over the past fifteen years, here is my list of the Top 5 Web Marketing Myths.

1. Keyword Density

clip_image002Myth: It is essential to have “keyword density” on each page of X%.

Background: The myth of keyword density is one that just doesn’t seem to go away. No matter how many times it is discounted, keyword density keeps resurfacing in cheap ebooks and low-grade SEO tools. I think this particular myth has survived for as long as it has simply because it creates an easy and understandable metric for people new to SEO, regardless of its effectiveness.

Fact: Using Google as an example (because they do deliver up to 80% of North American Web search traffic), there are reportedly hundreds of factors, each weighted differently, with the weights being adjusted daily. If you spend your time trying to find the right trick for today’s algorithm, you’re just putting yourself further behind tomorrow, as your competition invests in proven long-term strategies. Also, content written with keyword density in mind does not have a natural flow and will usually appear awkward to readers.

Best Practice: Build relevant and topical content that engages users, on a site that is well structured and easily crawlable by the search engines. Even if keyword density was a reality, it’s no good to you if your site is blocked by flash, forms or bad coding. If you come across any SEO “gurus” or software packages that advise a target keyword density, ask for your money back and run.

2. Search Engines Are The Enemy

clip_image004Myth: Search engines are adversaries that must be deceived.

Background: It’s not uncommon to see business owners frustrated by what they perceive to be a lack of justice on the part of the search engines. Of course, to the business owner, the “injustice” is ranking a competitor higher in the search results. No matter that the competition has a professionally developed website with engaging content and links from authoritative sites, while the offended business relies on  a site built by the owner’s fourteen-year-old nephew who’s really good at video games.

Fact: Search engines live and die on relevance. They are not able to suggest which is the better business, but rather, they offer results in order of relevancy to the searchers’ query. For the most part, that relevance is determined based on what clues you offer up in your site’s content and structure, along with the references to your site in links on other sites.

Best Practice: Don’t try to fool the search engines by playing dirty tricks like stuffing keywords in the text, or hiding type on the page. Not only will you be creating a poor experience for your potential customers (and likely driving them to your competitor’s professionally crafted site), but you run the risk of being penalized or banned by the search engines for employing spamming tactics. Instead, make sure you have your Web pages grouped into themed “silos” of information and write in a way that matches the searcher’s terminology. The more you can appear naturally relevant, the higher you will be ranked by the search engines – without the potential downfalls.

Tune in tomorrow for the three remaining Online Marketing Myths. In the meantime, let me know what you think about the first two in the comments below.


Ryan Freeman is a fifth-generation small business owner and the founder of Strider Inc., an online marketing firm providing SEO consulting and online marketing strategies for businesses and non-profit groups. You can contact Ryan through the Strider Inc. website, email or by phone at 800-314-8895.

By Adam

January 27, 2010