In the world of SEO, hunches don’t get results. To create an effective SEO strategy, it’s important to use tactics that are rooted in fact. Unfortunately, there are plenty of SEO misconceptions that lead businesses in the wrong direction. Much of the confusion stems from the way SEO used to be done.
Just ten years ago, optimizing for search meant entering the Wild West of digital marketing. Nobody was sure exactly what would work and what would fail, so people tried a little bit of everything. Back in those days, black hat tactics (unsavory practices for quick SEO gains) went unchecked, and misinformation about how to reach the top of the rankings spread quickly.
A decade later, it’s clear that SEO has matured into a more established and defined form of digital marketing. Google regularly releases new algorithm updates in an effort to deliver relevant, valuable content to users, giving marketers the means to tailor their online content to get results more consistently. Even so, there are a few SEO myths that have stuck around or sprung anew, which we hope to dispel.
(To read more about black, white and gray hat SEO tactics, check out our post here.)
1. Keywords Don’t Matter/Keywords Are All That Matter
If you talk to someone who has a baseline knowledge of SEO, chances are they have an opinion on keywords. All too often, that opinion is either, “Stuff as many keywords into the content as possible,” or “Google doesn’t care about keywords anymore.”
Neither of these assumptions is correct, and it takes a more nuanced approach to use keywords correctly.
While Google has improved its ability to decipher the meaning of written content, keywords still matter, but maybe not in the way you would expect. What is most important is the intent behind a keyword. Keyword research begins and ends with what a customer is likely to type into Google for a search.
Instead of worrying about where to place keywords or using keywords a certain number of times, marketers need to ensure that the content surrounding a keyword answers a consumer question or need. The purpose of a keyword is to make it easier for someone to find valuable content, not trick search engines into providing a first page ranking.
2. Long Form Is Always Better Than Short Form Content
Think back to your school days: Did you ever ask a teacher how long a paper needs to be and get the response, “As long as it takes to get your point across”? At the time, it might have felt like a frustrating non-answer, but it’s good advice for nearly any type of written content, including website copy.
Google has said it places a higher value on in-depth (i.e., longer) content, but that can lead to companies sacrificing quality content in the name of increasing page word counts. A good rule of thumb is to get the point across without unnecessary filler.
With that in mind, we’ll keep it short: Your website content should give your audience valuable, relevant information. More words aren’t always better.
3. Links Don’t Matter Anymore
Back when business owners were beginning to see the value of SEO, some decided it was a good idea to purchase hundreds of inbound links to boost their rankings. This sketchy practice was known as link farming, and Google quickly caught on to it. Through a series of algorithm updates, the search giant was able to penalize websites that were spamming search results by purchasing links.
These actions were necessary to provide higher quality search results, but it also led to the misconception that all inbound links were unimportant. This is simply untrue. When high authority websites link to valuable content such as an informative blog post, it is a positive signal for Google. The key is to generate links from reputable webpages with high quality scores. How do you do that? Create content worth sharing, for starters.
4. SEO Can Wait
Many companies think that getting a new website up and running quickly is more important than ensuring that it’s optimized for search from the very beginning. These sites miss out on the opportunity to bake in strategic SEO when it’s easiest to implement. Down the line, the business might even realize they need to completely rebuild their website to have any hope of making Google’s first page for important search phrases.
There are countless factors that go into a successful SEO strategy, but some of the most important include things like mobile friendliness, site structure, loading times and search-friendly, quality content. The time that goes into rebuilding these components to improve SEO is better spent creating additional features and content to generate more traffic. Do it right the first time to avoid kicking yourself later on.
5. It’s Always Best to Cast a Wide Net
It’s understandable that many people believe the more people they target with SEO, the more traffic they can drive to their website. In reality, businesses benefit from taking a far more targeted approach to their SEO strategies.
This is especially true for businesses with one or just a few locations in a city. Targeting local search phrases is typically more effective for these kinds of businesses — someone on the other side of the country is unlikely to care about their offerings.
Google clearly understands the importance of local search to its users. Mobile searches have given rise to “micro moments” when people need something very specific and very fast from a search, and local businesses can provide that solution.
The other thing to keep in mind for casting a wide net rather than a targeted one is lead quality; more traffic isn’t any help if you’re attracting unqualified leads.
Taking Control of SEO
Sometimes it can be tough to tell SEO fact from fiction. If you’re not up to date on the latest algorithm change or Google statement, you might feel a little lost. Our experts are here to help. Reach out to our team to learn how we can help your business conquer search while you focus on doing what you do best.