SEO isn’t dead, no matter what you’ve read. Anyone who says it’s dead doesn’t understand what it is. SEO is multi-faceted. The basics haven’t changed and likely never will. As long as websites are built with some form of code that gets crawled by search engines, true SEO is here to stay.

There’s no such thing as DIY SEO

The idea that SEO is something anyone can do is part myth, and part misunderstanding. Of course, anyone can optimize their website for search engines. If you can type on a keyboard, you’re capable of performing SEO. What makes DIY SEO a myth are the incorrect (yet popular) methods being used.

SEO is often promoted as a series of tasks that need to be automated on a daily basis in order to game the system and get ahead. This false notion is lining the pockets of sneaky internet marketers left and right.

If you truly want to understand SEO, start by reading this article, busting over 100 SEO myths. The article is filled with supporting links, some directly from Google. Once you let go of incorrect ideas about SEO, you’ll have room to learn what’s correct.

This myth-busting article appeals to the logical mind, sharing insights like, “Despite many sources claiming anchor text power is weakening it is still important. Look at top websites for your keyword and check their anchor text distribution.”

It’s important to revisit the basics. Sneaky marketers have been convincing people that anchor text and backlinks don’t matter anymore because that’s how they sell their tools.

Understanding SEO begins with understanding search engines

To understand SEO, you need to know how search engines operate behind the scenes. Set aside any confusing opinions about Google’s crazy algorithm updates for a moment, and check out this guide from Moz, detailing how search engines operate. Regardless of Google’s algorithm of the week, Google is, and always will be, crawling and indexing websites.

Understanding SEO requires a solid understanding of crawling and indexing, independent of algorithm.

Proper code is the backbone for SEO

When search engines find webpages, they decipher the code and store it for later retrieval in user searches. Everything about your code – including alt tags, images, 301 redirects, and URL structure – matters. If you’re not familiar with HTML, CSS, PHP, or whatever language your site runs on, you don’t stand a chance doing your own SEO.

When it comes to WordPress, rumor has it that it’s the most “SEO friendly” CMS on the planet. Again, this is part myth, part misunderstanding.

Don’t assume you’re set just because you’re using WordPress. No CMS is SEO friendly by itself. That’s impossible. A WordPress theme, on the other hand, can be SEO friendly (or not). The distinction is important because whatever theme you choose can make or break your SEO efforts.

SEO isn’t complicated, and you don’t need to drop five figures to get found in the search engines. Digital marketing experts agree, “So much of Search Engine Optimization is just building it right in the first place and making it easy for Google to figure out what the site is about with good HTML and technical markup.”

If you’re building a website in HTML, don’t miss a single detail.

Your other option is to use a plugin.

Plugins are not a substitute for SEO

While some plugins for WordPress do significantly help with SEO, like the popular plugins Yoast and All In One SEO, they’re only supplementary. They make it easy to do what you would normally need to code by hand. They are not, by any means, a complete solution.

SEO plugins can be useful to a large degree, as explained in this thorough comparison of Yoast and All In One SEO. Although, without a solid understanding of SEO, you can’t run a test to see if your plugin works as promised. You’ll be at the mercy of others to explain it to you. This is another reason to hire a professional.

You can squeak by with limited knowledge

Although you need to be an industry insider to produce the level of results achieved by large corporations, some research will help you understand how it works. Short of hiring a professional agency, having a solid understanding as a webmaster is your best shot at getting ahead in the game. Search engine algorithms will change, and scammers will come and go, but SEO is here to stay.