You know it’s important for your business’s website to show up in a search engine’s results, since that’s where your customers are looking for what you have to offer. But how do you make that happen? Well, search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for getting your business noticed by the right people on the Web.

Whether you take on improving your SEO yourself or hire an agency, it’s easy to get caught up in misinformation. Here are some of the biggest SEO myths out there:

Myth 1: SEO is spam and is ruining the Internet
Because some people think SEO is about “tricking” search engines and readers, many associate it with unsolicited e-mail for erectile dysfunction medicine, blog commenters who proclaim “Great blog!” and then link to their make-money-now.info site, or those annoying websites that scrape content from other sites and then fill the pages with ads. Even Fox News called SEO a job that would “leave you alone and friendless.”

In my book, “Marketing in the Age of Google,” I lament that SEO is often associated with BuyCheapViagraWhileYouPlayPokerOnlineandFileaMesotheliomaClassActionLawsuit.info rather than customer engagement, usability, product strategy and sales.

In reality, SEO is understanding how to operate your business in an online environment. Think of search as a customer acquisition component.

Myth 2: SEO is all about PageRank
PageRank was one of the early ways Google calculated what was valuable and important on the Web. (Bing has a different way of calculating link value, called static rank.) At a high level, links from one site to another are like votes that all search engines can use to learn what sites are the most popular and useful.

The Google Toolbar includes a PageRank number (1-10). This is a rough approximation of the actual number used internally to rank websites, but it’s not the actual number used and isn’t granular enough to provide meaningful data.

In addition, the toolbar version is updated only every few months (the number used internally is updated continually). And as PageRank is only one of hundreds of signals, a site with a low PageRank will outrank a site with a high PageRank any time the content is more relevant for a particular search query.

Many site owners obsess over this number, rejoicing when it goes up and despairing when it goes down. It’s tempting to use a single number to monitor your SEO efforts, but a much better gauge is how much traffic your website receives over time from searches relevant to