5 SEO myths that will waste your time.

There are a lot of myths out there when it comes to SEO – things that may sound true, but many of them are SEO techniques that aren’t going to move the needle in your SEO rankings. Here, we go over five SEO myths that you can ignore and move on with your day!

Myth 1 – You must use “x” number of related keywords.

LSI Keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing) are related words and phrases that are close to the on-page topic. The myth is born from the many articles and tools that suggest sprinkling similar related words throughout your article “X” number of times will help with SEO.

This is simply not true – don’t worry about LSI keywords! There’s no real case where using the latent semantic indexing method would help – Google has said it doesn’t use this indexing method when determining rankings – Google’s John Mueller even said: “There’s no such thing as LSI keywords.”

John Mueller - No such thing as LSI Keywords

You need to focus on writing for your reader, focus on creating content that’s naturally useful and comprehensive, and you’ll start to rank.

Myth 2 – Your word count should be “x” to rank first in Google.

This myth relates to the idea that if you write a lot of content, Google will rank your site higher. This idea came from 2012, when serpIQ conducted a study that checked the word count of pages that ranked at the top of search results compared to pages that ranked lower down in the top ten.

The conclusion was that pages in the top positions had 2,000 to 2,500 words – so naturally, people started saying that to rank higher you must write long form content around 2,500 words. But correlation doesn’t imply causation.

There are plenty of examples of pages ranking in top positions with a low word count. There is no formula to calculate the exact word count you should aim for and that’s because there is no such thing as an ideal word count.

John Mueller from Google said on Reddit: “Word count is not a ranking factor. Save yourself the trouble.”

You don’t need to have a minimum or maximum word limit in order to rank, so focus on writing good content, matching searcher intent and creating content with depth instead of worrying about the length. If you happen to end up with a long-form page, that’s typically because you’ve created an authentic in-depth article.

Hint: If you have a lot of rich snippets or knowledge graph cards showing, then it’s possible for your page to rank without having many words at all! eg, if you page was answering a simple question, that only required a simple answer.

Myth 3 – You must achieve a certain content score.

Content scoring is a method that some tools use in order to score your content. The idea of the tool goes like this: the more word count, images and links in an article, then it’s likely to be better quality content. If you can tick a certain number of things of a list, then the tool will give you the green light! But these scores don’t mean that your content is optimized for search. Just that you’ve met the metrics of the tool.

Google does not rank based on “quality”, they do not have an actual Quality Score as a ranking factor.

The tools, such as WordPress Yoast SEO plugin do have a purpose and can be useful. They train the author to understand what is good practice when writing content (especially when you’re new to SEO). However, commonsense is required when using these tools. Sometimes you will understand the intent of the page, where the logic behind meeting the tool’s criteria won’t fit.

Instead, don’t rely on these tools, and simply focus on satisfying user intent. No score in a tool is going to be 100% accurate and get you to the top of Google.

Myth 4 – Exact match domains are best for SEO.

There’s an old common myth that exact match domains are better than non-exact matches, but this isn’t true anymore. Matt Cutts from Google has said on Twitter: “Exact match is not really something we use in ranking at all.”

Matt Cutts - Google to reduce value of exact match domains

You don’t need to get a keyword match domain in order to rank. In fact, there are numerous examples of sites with exact matches that can potentially cause a problem for themselves…

If you use a domain like plasticsurgery-sydney.com.au – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that if someone else has the domain plasticsurgerysydney.com.au that there’s a chance you could be accidentally sending traffic to a competitor.

The best approach would be, where possible, to use your brand name as a domain – such as panthea.com.au (one of our awesome clients).

Myth 5 – Social signals effect SEO.

Social signals effecting SEO is a big myth, and it’s one that has been around for a few years. There is never going to be an exact correlation between social activity like tweets or shares and rankings.

The idea behind this thinking is: if you share content on your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram page, then Google will rank your web pages higher because of the engagement and shares that it got on social media.

The truth is, Google doesn’t rank your site based on how you get engagement or shares. If Google were to add this to the way they rank their pages, then it’d be way too easy to manipulate (such as buying likes/followers/shares etc).

If people are taking the time to engage with your social content then they’re probably looking for this type of information anyway.

Hint: Social media is great if it’s used correctly. It should be used to interact with your audience, not just promote content all the time.

SEO efforts that can actually help you rank higher.

While this list of “SEO myths that will waste your time” isn’t exhaustive – it should help you to cut out the noise and focus on healthy SEO efforts that actually matter, such as these three things:

1. Keep your site in good technical health.

Keep your website maintained in a healthy state by ensuring it’s up-to-date and secure. Update to the latest version of WordPress, and apply any plugin updates. Make sure that you remove any unused plugins from your site.

Ensure that your content is properly formatted and free of errors. Ensure all images are optimized and named appropriately. Use ALT tags on all images with copy describing what the image is showing.

Ensure that the website is served from good, fast web hosting, and is optimized for speed (humans and Google like fast loading websites).

2. Create unique and interesting quality content.

Spend time on creating meaningful, useful content for your audience. Content should add value to the lives of your readers and help them solve a problem or answer a question that they have.

If you’re struggling with this – try using Google Analytics (under Behaviour -> Site Content) to see what keywords people are actually searching for in order to find your site and content. Create more of the stuff that people are looking for or already engaging with!

3. Earn backlinks to your pages.

Earn the right backlinks to your web pages. You can’t just build as many links you want without thinking about where they’re coming from and how Google will interpret them (which could be bad) – so do it carefully!

Writing content that has a genuine value to the reader will over time earn you valuable backings. If done carefully and ethically, backlinks will help a site rank better over time as Google understands the influence behind them.

Don’t overdo it.

If you’ve been struggling with SEO, it could be because you’re trying to do too much. There are many SEO myths that will waste your time out there – but there are also some intelligent strategies that can help you rank higher if done correctly.

If all of this sounds intimidating, we can work together to find the best strategy for achieving success online. Contact us today!