Some people think search engine optimization (SEO) is based on magical, hard-to-understand algorithms. They think the only way to succeed in SEO is to either hire an agency to do it for them, or to use black-hat methods like keyword stuffing, scraping, or cloaking.
"Because of SEO’s elusive reputation, many myths have cropped up about how to quickly achieve a high ranking in search engines."
Because of SEO’s elusive reputation, many myths have cropped up about how to quickly achieve a high ranking in search engines. But there is no magic bullet approach to achieving overnight success in SEO. SEO is a long-term, ever-evolving process. It takes time and diligence to consistently maintain a high-ranking in search engines.
With this in mind, we have selected the top four SEO myths that tend to trip marketers up. We will not only debunk these myths, but also offer tangible tips that will help you work on the long-term process that is optimizing your content for search.
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Myth: The only way to rank highly on search engines is to post long-form content on my website.
Fact: While the length of your content contributes to your SEO ranking, there are a multitude of factors that contribute to consistently maintaining a high rank in search engines. These can include backlinks, page speed, mobile-friendliness, and user experience.
1. Determine what your target audience is searching for. You can use Google Trends to identify new markets, measure brand popularity, and examine keywords audiences search for. You can create high-quality, in-depth content based on your findings from Google Trends.
For example, your customer may be parents with infants and young children, so your business goal is to reach new moms and turn them into customers. You can use Google Trends to see what keywords new moms search for online, and develop content based around those keywords to attract new customers.
2. In order to organize and scale this audience-driven content, you can create a content strategy. A content strategy is a tangible, iterative plan that allows you to clearly define the process, timeline, and stakeholders needed to create, coordinate, and distribute your content. Your content, when executed through a content strategy, will be engaging and consistent.
3. Search engines prefer domains that frequently publish fresh content because it indicates that the business is active and constantly engaging consumers. You will need to post original content or update existing content on a regular basis. Original content attracts new customers and is often shared through social media. Whereas, updated content provides your loyal customers a reason to revisit the domain, spend more time on your website, or explore additional pages. Britney Muller from Moz, shares great tips on how to update existing content. Whether you’re publishing original content or updating an existing page, you are optimizing for search because engines prefer active, engaging businesses.
4. Now that you have new or updated content, you need to make sure your audience can find this content. Every page of your website should contain clear, technical clues to help search engines sort through them.
You can achieve this by creating a content-to-keyword map. A content-to-keyword map is a list of all the keywords you are planning to target compared to all the content you currently have on your website. A content-to-keyword map helps you fill in the keyword gaps in your content.Here are some helpful tips on creating a content-keyword map to help you optimize for search:
- Tools to use: Start by usingGoogle Spreadsheets or Microsoft Excel. Or, if you are on the enterprise side, Searchmetrics or Conductor.
- Objective: Your objective is to map out all keywords that you are trying to target with the content that you already have. You may find that you have areas where a URL does not have a keyword. This process will help you ensure that keywords are identified for each page.
- Tracking metrics: There is no right or wrong metric to track. You can track many different metrics in the columns, such as search volume to analyze engagement, page browse rate, time on site, or anchor text to analyze internal and external links to your page.
Building this map will allow you to identify problem areas and prioritize opportunities to improve your site. Some opportunities sitemaps can uncover are holes where there is no content aligned to certain keywords, links that need building out, and your content’s overall performance. Addressing such opportunities highlighted by your site map will help search engine bots easily map out your website and determine how pages relate to one another, in turn improving your search engine ranking.
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Myth: Over-optimizing my keywords will result in my website being penalized by search engines and will negatively affect my search engine ranking.
Fact: Over-optimizing your keywords, also known as keyword stuffing, is the practice of attempting to game the search engine rankings by using multiple keywords that rank high in search engines regardless of whether they are related to your website or not. This practice will result in penalization and is frowned upon in the industry. However, there are ways to adhere to the rules, and maintain a high-rank on search engines using the right keywords.
Tips1. Discover the best keywords for your audience and business rather than focusing solely on the highest ranking keywords. Make sure that they are relevant to what your audience is searching for and to your business’ mission. There are many tools you can use to search for high ranking keywords, such as SEMrush, Green Lotus Tools, Keyword Tool, and SEO Rank Monitor.
For example, just because the term “SEO” is a top ranking keyword, does not mean I should use it. If the target audience for this blog post is affiliate marketers or agency-owners, I could search for keywords that relate to “affiliate marketer common SEO myths,” or “SEO tips agencies want to understand.”2. Prioritize content over keywords. As I mentioned in my first tip, focus on providing the most value to your audience by creating relevant, engaging content. As you are writing a draft, map keywords to that content. This ensures that you are putting your audience and content first, rather than manipulating your content to fit top ranking keywords.
For example, the top ranking keyword for this blog post is “SEO.” I could have stopped there, and only defined SEO in this article. But, after researching and discussing SEO with my colleagues, I found that many marketers were being tripped up by SEO myths. Mapping keywords associated to “SEO myths” may not rank as highly as “SEO” but this article will, hopefully, provide value to my target audience.
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Myth: Collaborating with other websites through authority links, guest blogging, and social media mentions cannibalizes my marketing efforts. Collaborations take visitors away from my site and not increase my SEO.
Fact: Your top priority should be educating your audience and equipping them with the best information possible. In order to provide your audience with the best information, you may have to link out to an authority site or invite a credible guest author to provide insight. The secondary benefits of linking out or inviting a credible guest author are increasing search traffic, validating your business’ mission, and attracting new like-minded audiences (and potential customers!) to your website.
1. The co-citation principle ensures that websites you link to will reinforce your search engine ranking. So, link out only when necessary. Be sure to not only link out to safe, credible websites, but also to content that bolsters the content already on your website.
2. Directly purchasing backlinks is heavily frowned upon. Acquire backlinks naturally. You can acquire backlinks naturally by creating and publishing content that others want to engage with. Businesses will organically want to link to and talk about a website with engaging content.
3. Search engines do not use social media metrics directly in search rankings. But successful social engagement can have secondary benefits on your SEO efforts. Be sure to engage with users and websites that you aspire to be like and that relate to your business’ mission. When these influential users share your page on social platforms, you can experience a sizable increase in search traffic and brand awareness.
4. Domain names
Myth: A top-level domain is the only way to occupy the highest position in search engines. So, I cannot have a high search ranking with a “.biz” or a “.guru”.
Fact: Yes, 98 percent of search results are .com domain names. But it is important to note that keywords in the domain greatly affect search engine rankings, as well.
Tips1. Make your domain consumable. Ensure your domain is short, professional, and memorable. Avoid domain names with numbers, many of the same characters, or unusual spellings.
SEO is not an elusive concept
There is no magic bullet approach for search engine optimization. It takes time and diligence to consistently maintain a high ranking in search engines. A quick recap of everything we’ve covered so far:
- Focus on providing relevant and updated content that is related to, but not dictated by, your target keywords. Keep keywords in mind as you are developing new content or refreshing existing pages. Be sure to use tools like a content strategy and content-to-keyword map to guide and organize your content creation.
- Make sure your keywords align with what your audience is looking for, reinforce the content on your website, and bolster your business’ mission. Your keywords should serve as guide for how you frame your content, but your audience should guide the topic and format. Examine what keywords your customers are searching for. Use this insight to select keywords to guide your content development to ultimately grow your audience and help achieve your business goals.
- Collaborate with credible influencers and websites that produce valuable, high-quality content for your audience. These collaborations will increase engagement with your content, reinforce your business goals, and garner new eyes to your website.
- Even if you cannot attain a top level domain, you can still rank highly by selecting specific types of keywords in your domain. Choose a memorable, consumable domain name that clearly relates to your business’ main objective.
"SEO success takes commitment and consistency."
Armed with these tangible tips you are now poised to ramp up and invest in your SEO efforts for the long haul. Remember, SEO success takes commitment and consistency. Above all else, make sure that everything on your website, from keywords to your domain name, provide value to your target audience and furthers your business’ mission.
What are your best SEO tips? Let us know in the comments below!