Often pushed aside by hundreds of articles about social media success and content, for most people, even marketing experts, SEO remains a mystery in itself.
Every now and then you will bump into an article giving you advice on how to optimize the SEO for your website. You will try to implement it but you still won’t be sure whether your effort had any effect.
Why? SEO takes time.
There are no SEO virals or creative solutions that will skyrocket your brand into stardom in a few hours or days.
Google is making all collective SEO efforts even more complicated by constantly improving its algorithms and changing the rules of the game.
Learning about SEO will find some very actionable advice, for example, this one about optimizing your own webpage on Einstein Marketer. However, most SEO suggestions are not only ineffective but very counterproductive to your rankings in the long term.
It is time to finally uncover the veil of mystery and bust the most common myths that have been confusing digital marketers.
Myth #1: Keyword Stuffing
There are two kinds of keyword stuffing that won’t positively affect your SEO in the slightest – content keyword stuffing and meta keywords stuffing.
There is no reason to have an article filled with dozens of keywords. The only important thing is to choose 2 or 3 keywords you want to rank for (short or long-tail ones) on that particular page, then implement them just often enough for Google to recognise what your main topic is.
The number of times you mention your keywords depends on the size of your article. Every keyword should fit the topic seamlessly and naturally. However, make sure you keep your focus on the quality of the content. All keywords should make sense and not stand out from the context.
Similarly, filling a Meta Keyword field with all the keywords that you would like to rank for will produce no results. This means you may just as well leave it completely blank. Meta Keywords (as a ranking factor) has been abandoned by Google for six years, but there are still articles who cite this method as a way to SEO success.
“Invisible keywords” camouflaged within the background of your website, or website footers stuffed with dozens of keywords are even less recommended. Also, trying to sneak some or all of them in the code of your homepage is not a path you want to take.
Google algorithms have evolved enough to recognise when keyword stuffing has been implemented. They either ignore the shady SEO practices or punish websites that follow them. Using so-called black hat SEO can push your ranking further down or remove the website from search results altogether.
Myth #2: Bold Formatted Sentences and Phrases
Google pays no more attention to what is formatted in bold than what isn’t. The only reason you should put your phrases and sentences in bold is to make the article more appealing for a reader. Making your article easy to scan and skim through will give the reader a better sense of what’s written in it. Getting visitors interested will, in return, improve the duration of the visits and decrease the bounce rate.
Keeping the reader on your page for a while sends out a signal to Google that your content gives relevant information. Improved relevancy will result in better rankings. However, there is no direct effect of text formatting. Putting your text in bold will not make it easy to discover for the algorithm, as many people presume.
When it comes to formatting, Google does pay attention to Titles and subtitles (i.e. Headings). They should never be left in bold without the proper H tag because they won’t be recognized as Titles by the crawlers. Don’t forget to add the Heading HTML code (for the main title, and so on for the subtitles, depending on the design of your website). You can also use the shortcuts provided by popular website editors like WordPress, Joomla, Squarespace, and others.
Make sure that at least one of your titles and subtitles contains your most important keywords. Subtitles play the main role in making your website more user-friendly, by breaking the text into smaller parts it makes your content much more digestible.
Myth #3: Keywords in Meta Descriptions Are Necessary
Having the exact keywords that you have used throughout your content in your Meta description won’t have that much effect on your position in search results. Luckily, it won’t cause any damage to include some of these keywords either.
You will reap much more benefits by crafting a perfect CTA (call to action). Cleverly use your Meta description copy to explain your product/service/article and why people should click on your webpage.
When creating your Meta description you need to think a lot more about the CTA than about the keywords. Be careful not to write copy that is significantly shorter than the recommended 160 characters. Otherwise, Google can use just any part of your website content (usually the worst possible one) and put it in place of Meta description. This can make the Meta description incomprehensible for the reader.
It is recommended that you always write a Meta description for each page on your website. It gives you the opportunity to present them in the best possible way and communicate exactly what you want about the content on that page.
Some SEO plugins will even enable you to test multiple Meta Descriptions (and Title Tags) and see which ones are performing better. This way you won’t have to guess because you will have actionable data on what works best for your website and your audience.
Myth #4: Rely Solely on Low Competition Keywords
The debate on whether to focus on high competition or low competition keywords between SEO experts is still alive and well. Plenty of articles will recommend the “hack” of using low competition keywords and ranking for them.
SEOs and especially content creators may be tempted to rely exclusively on high volume – low competition keywords, hoping this somewhat untapped territory can improve their rankings. Sure, it can be a path to a good ranking for those exact keywords and the initial boost in website visits. This is a quick solution if you need to show some visible results to your client ASAP.
However, low competition keywords are just what their name says – words and phrases that don’t convert that well in PPC advertising. This, unfortunately, means they are not that appealing to your audience.
The idea behind the so-called low competition search phrases is to target them because they will generate traffic first. However, that doesn’t mean you should neglect top keyword groups at the same time.
By using only low competition keywords, the high competition ones that are far more beneficial to your business, will remain out of your reach. If you don’t implement them right away, ranking for them will be even slower.
It is much better to find the fine line between using both, high and low competition keywords in your content, and remaining persistent and patient. High-volume, low competition keywords are usually related to highly-relevant and, in most cases, long-tail keywords. It’s not about getting anything for “cheap” but finding the most suitable keywords for the given topic.
Do the research on “niche topics”. They will tell you precisely what your audience needs and looks for and what kind of questions they ask related to your business. These niche topics don’t necessarily contain a relevant keyword but they can be a good way to go. By answering some of their topic-related questions, you will put yourself in a position to improve traffic.
Myth #5: Buy (Back) Links From Anyone
When trying to get a website off the ground or looking to fulfill a client’s expectations, we often find ourselves in a desperate situation…trying to do something about rankings and number of visits quickly may incite us to reach out for any solution available.
Unfortunately one of the quick-fix solutions that is still frequently used amongst SEO practitioners is link buying – in bulk and individually from spam-filled websites.
Buying tons of backlinks from anyone who presents themselves as an SEO/industry expert just may be the worst thing you can do for your website rankings. While it may bring you short term success, the value of those links is usually so low that it can easily put your website into a negative context.
Google will punish you for using cheap tricks. It will recognise that you placed your URL on websites that look like a legitimate source but are actually just selling links to anyone who asks.
The only good solution is going at a slow and steady pace – hire someone to do the outreach and contact the blogs relevant to your topics. The idea is to actually earn links through high-quality and helpful content.
This strategy is going to do more for your website than millions of bought links ever could. Due to your widespread expertise, your rankings will improve and your website will maintain its good page authority for a long time.
Relevant SEO Is Not Misleading
The one thing that should always guide you in all your SEO efforts should be these questions:
“Are my SEO techniques in any way misleading or damaging the user-experience of my readers?”
“Am I abusing my reader’s trust by writing about something just to increase the traffic and not offering a solution to their problem?”
Stay away from any shortcuts and SEO techniques you are considering (or worse, using) that can make a visitor avoid your website or lose trust in the authority of your website.