To many marketers, search engine optimization (SEO) can feel elusive and intimidating. Endless theories are floating around about how to rank higher on search engines and the tools you should use to do so. Some of these theories are contradictory. Throw in ever-changing algorithms of search engines, and strategies for SEO can quickly become outdated.
It’s time to clear this up. Let’s talk about five common SEO myths and dig into the facts, using data and findings from inbound marketing experts.
1. SEO is a web developer's job.
Understanding how search engine algorithms work feels like a task reserved for web developers and tech geniuses, not marketing strategists and content writers. And while SEO is an important part of building a successful website and it can get technical, it’s important for everyone on a marketing team to have a basic understanding of SEO. Plus, anyone writing or publishing content on your website plays a role as well.
Doing SEO well involves strategizing, content planning, blog writing, link building and monitoring to see what’s working and what’s not. Because of that, SEO affects marketing processes that often fall outside of a web developer's usual duties. It’s a good idea to have at least one person on your marketing team who’s dedicated to thinking about SEO and making sure best practices are implemented.
2. Keywords are the most important factor to SEO ranking.
While keywords still matter in SEO, role they play in an overall marketing strategy has altered a bit in recent years with the evolution of Google’s search engine. Now more sophisticated than ever, Google is analyzing longer phrases that mimic how we naturally speak and ask questions, leading to an environment that’s more focused on topics and intent as opposed to just keywords. More important now is how you plan content around topics your audience will be interested in, and seek to become an authority on those topics. Hubspot calls these “topic clusters.” An easy way to think about it is this: Your blog post, website or other web page needs to be the best resource for information on a particular topic. The quality of your resource, bolstered by traffic and links, elevates your ranking.
Secondary to that are the keywords you target that pertain to those topics. Because of the way search queries are becoming longer and more conversational, long-tail keywords are becoming more important, and they provide more opportunities for higher rankings. We’ll cover that more in our next myth.
Likewise, keyword density has become much less important. While once a popular digital marketing strategy was to stuff as many keywords into a piece of content as much as possible, it doesn’t work anymore. Google will purposefully ignore content that’s clearly overstuffed with keywords. Again, much of it comes back to having good quality content, and there’s no shortcut for that.
3. Targeting keywords with the largest search volume will attract the most traffic.
Search volume is usually measured in average monthly searches – how many times per month people search for a given keyword. It’d be easy to assume that if more people are searching for a keyword, it’d be easier to get a slice of that traffic, right? Wrong. Keywords with a high amount of searches are highly competitive and can be out-of-reach for most websites. Unless you really are an established thought leader on a big topic, it’s really hard to rank well on a keyword like “digital marketing” for example.
On the other hand, targeting keywords with minuscule amounts of traffic won’t be very fruitful either. It’s all about finding that sweet spot – keywords with decent monthly searches that have fewer competing sites. Often, this sweet spot is found in long-tail keywords or keywords that are at least three words long. If you’re interested in reading more about how to target keywords, read our blog on this topic.
4. You shouldn’t link to other websites in your content.
Marketing professionals have long been wary of linking to other websites in their content for largely unfounded reasons. Their reasoning might include concerns about harming their reputation due to bad or corrupted links, that they will cause people to leave their site, or that it will somehow damage their SEO rankings.
So long as you’re linking to legitimate web pages that are relevant to your content and provide additional value or explanation, you don’t need to worry about it. In fact, linking to other trusted sources can build credibility and even partnerships. It can add extended value to your page because your content points to other information that’s valuable to your viewers.
5. Social media helps you rank.
While social media can help you gain exposure and traffic to your website, it can’t directly impact your SEO ranking. Google representatives have openly stated this. However, there is a lot of evidence showing a correlation between social media shares and ranking on Google. Hootsuite ran an experiment in 2018 that showed as much. How does this work? Social media gives you exposure and increases the likelihood that people will visit your page. Naturally, this also increases the likelihood that someone might link to your page, which would impact your rank. The takeaway is that social media isn’t a lost effort when it comes to improving SEO rank, but don’t expect direct improvement from social media shares.
SEO doesn’t have to be a mystery, and having a digital marketing partner like PRIME can help you, providing the staff and expertise you may not have in-house. If you’re seeking more traffic to your website but need some help, reach out to us.
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