Always changing and evolving, navigating the online world can be incredibly difficult, especially when it comes to the ever-elusive concept of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The term is thrown around so often these days, and in truth, many people don’t really know what SEO is, or still cling to some very outdated beliefs.
Hiring an effective digital marketing firm can definitely aid you in your endeavor of understanding SEO and employing proper practices, but, you should make sure you at least know some of the basics. To help you gain a better grasp on SEO we’ve listed some common myths below, because sometimes it’s best to know what not to do.
- Keyword Stuffing Should Appear in Your Content
Most people who are unfamiliar with the mechanics of how SEO actually works believe that as long as you put in certain keywords, your content will automatically improve your rankings. But, while keywords are important, there’s more to creating a piece of content than simply inserting a bunch of relevant terms you think a user will search for. Rather, you need to think of a compelling piece of content related to a potential keyword.
When a user is using a search engine, they want useful and engaging pieces of content to show up, not articles full of fluff that contain no actual information. If you give a user exactly what they want in terms of information, there is a higher chance they will share the piece of content, link to it, and not head elsewhere online, all of which will boost your SEO ranking.
Create content based on what a keyword or search query represents, rather than the literal term.
- Social Activity Directly Influences SEO
SEO ranking of websites does not take into account Facebook likes or Retweets or similar social media engagement metrics, but that is not to say social activity is irrelevant to SEO. A piece of content that is incredibly popular on social media is engaging with users on many levels, thus increasing overall traffic as well as brand-awareness. Social media serves as a means of free advertising that can lead users to organically search for your website. Social media users are also more likely to have their own blog, which can lead to links to your content on external websites, which represents a major SEO boost just in an indirect manner.
- Keyword Density is of the Utmost Importance
Some folks still believe that keyword density (a figure ascertained by comparing the total number of keywords in a piece of content divided by the entire word count) is an easy way of boosting your SEO ranking. That simply is not true and focusing on keyword density can detract from the overall quality of your content, which should be your main focus.
- Paid Search Helps Bolster Organic Results
Forking out some cash for pay per click ads (e.g. Google Adwords) can definitely influence your overall traffic, but the process won’t influence your organic SEO ranking. The SEO experts at MOZ have never found an instance where PPC ads boost one’s organic search results. In fact, search engines have taken strides to ensure this doesn’t happen.
- Always Use a Keyword in an Anchor Text
An anchor text is whatever words you choose to hyperlink within a piece of content. For example, if you were trying to promote a certain brand or product in a piece, you may have a sentence like “in Toronto, the best restaurants are found in…” with “best restaurants” serving as the anchor text.
In this example, the anchor text is a keyword, though it was used naturally within the context of the sentence. You should employ the same practice, but that isn’t to say keywords are the only method of using anchor texts. Really, what you’re linking to should reflect the anchor text.
If you’re trying to promote a specific brand, including the actual URL of the site or the company’s name is entirely okay. The same goes for when you’re sourcing other material. Even overused anchor texts (click here, read more, etc.) can be useful in a limited context. It’s all about ensuring a suitable and relevant fit exists between the anchor text and the content you are linking to.
- Guest Blogging has No Value
Tons of people got it into their heads that guest blogging was a poor SEO method after the former Head of Google Webspam, Matt Cutts, explained in a detailed blog post that the practice was not useful back in 2014. But what most people failed to understand was the spirit of Cutts’ opinion and how he was denouncing certain guest blogging practices, not the entire method itself.
Cutts was specifically criticizing websites that were using a spam-approach to guest blogging. These websites got basically whoever they could to write wispy pieces of content that were barely useful to users.
Done in a proper way, however, guest blogging can be quite useful. Just make sure to only collaborate with reputable websites or writers that create engaging content. Be sure to not label the content as a “guest blog,” simply list it as a contributor piece. Ensuring the guest blogger will also link to the piece on their website or social media accounts can also add some SEO benefit.
- Longer Content Means Better SEO Rankings
While long-form journalism may be more reputable than a Buzzfeed article, that doesn’t mean the former will have a better SEO ranking. It really doesn’t matter how long or short your content is, what improves SEO is how users engage with the content itself. If you can give users the same information as another site in a more direct and concise manner, there’s a higher possibility they will look to your site in the future rather than waste time on longer pieces, thus boosting your SEO ranking.
- External Links Hurt Your Traffic & SEO Rankings
Keeping users on your site is important, but that doesn’t mean the inclusion of external links will automatically make your content suffer. Offering users plenty of relevant links can actually help, and not solely when sourcing specific points of information.
SEO specialist Neil Patel explains that “you link out to Google-friendly sites, especially to pages that are relevant to the content you’re writing, Google will crawl your site and follow the links to the trusted site.” In his experience, even though Google has not outright said linking to other pages boosts SEO, the practice can improve one’s ranking. Just be sure to only link to quality content and only when necessary.