In the world of online marketing, there's a lot of information--and misinformation--out there. It can be hard to separate fact from fiction, given the rapid pace the digital world moves at.

Search engine optimization is one facet of online marketing where this phenomenon especially rings true. Every day, there always seems to be some new search engine algorithm update. Tactics and best practices constantly change; what may have worked one or two years ago (when you last made that big push to optimize your website) could now be a no-no that could get your website penalized, or even banned, in search results.

While it's true that SEO keeps evolving, there are some things that always have been--and always will be--mythical and outlandish. Business owners, take note. Don't fall prey to these search engine optimization myths!

Common SEO Myths

1. Search engine optimization is a one-time thing.

SEO is not a box you check off your marketing to-do list; it's not a single stage that's "all done" after your website is developed.

SEO is an ongoing process. It is continually monitored, measured and refined. There are always enhancements you can make to your website, like diversifying the content you provide or using landing pages more effectively.

If you let your website sit around and collect dust, you risk alienating customers and search engines. They'll flock to sites that are committed to improving the user experience and providing useful content.

2. We'll think about SEO after our website launches.

SEO influences, and is influenced by, every aspect of your website and online marketing, from initial research and creating customer personas to the way you structure your website navigation to the way you share your content on social networking sites like LinkedIn or Twitter.

It is possible to go back and "fix" things; but why take a reactive approach? If you outline your strategy and invest in SEO from the get-go, you'll save time and money and ultimately make your online marketing stronger and more cohesive.

3. I need to optimize my meta keywords tag.

Don't waste valuable time searching for an online marketer who will help you optimize your meta keywords. Search engines don't put much stock in the meta keywords tag; using it won't get you #1 rankings in Google or get customers to contact you.

Instead, concentrate on creating an awesome product. Make sure your customer service is stellar. Develop content that is unique, persuasive, useful. Create a friendly, easy-to-use website. Invest in things that will bolster your brand, and encourage that phone call or email.

4. I'm a local business. I don't need SEO.

According to Google, 20% of of searches (across Google properties) are local. And when looking at mobile search traffic, the percent jumps to 40%.

Local SEO is not a mythical beast; it's real, and it's necessary. There's a big opportunity to hook people who are on the go. Why risk waiting until they get referred to you or happen to drive past your store?

5. My web page is overloaded with my target keyword. We're going to rank really well!

Yes, you should use your target keywords on the pages in your website. However, you don't have to use your keyword 20 times to be #1, 12 times to be #2 or anything like that. There are many, many factors that influence your position and performance in search results, but stuffing your keyword on the page as many times as you can isn't one of them.

Trying to target a certain instance of keyword usage is a surefire way to make your website scream SPAM SPAM SPAM. Don't force keywords in to meet your quota; use them naturally, when and where they make sense. Write for humans, above all else.

6. Buying a ton of links will get my website to the top of search results.

Wrong again! Buying links from generic, spam-filled directories, link farms or uncouth webmasters will put your website on the fast track to penalization, thanks to recent algorithm updates like Google Penguin. Search engines are fighting back against suspect links. Now, thousands and thousands of low-quality links will do more harm than good.

Give your attention to earning links from related, trustworthy sites. This could mean asking for a link from a vendor or business partner. You could request inclusion on a niche directory. Reach out to local press outlets, bloggers and the like; invite them to cover an exclusive product demo or a special fundraising event. Make quality, not quantity, the goal of your link building efforts.

7. SEO is all about ranking #1 in Google.

A lot of business owners think that SEO is about rankings, and that the top spot is the only spot worth having. Really, though, SEO is about the bottom line. It's true that a more prominent position is helpful, as most clicks tend to go to the first three to four search results. But position alone won't lead to clicks, conversions or cash.

Ultimately, your SEO strategy and overall online marketing plan should focus on delivering an exceptional experience that makes people happy. A rock-solid website in position 3 or 4 that meets users' expectations and helps them solve a problem will outperform a #1 website with thin content and a poor user experience.

How to attract and sell to more customers using your website

Are you struggling with these optimization myths? Do you have other questions about SEO? We'll help you navigate through the murk. Leave us a note in the comments, or contact us to learn more about how we can transform your website and online marketing.