People have misguided views when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) and how it can impact a content marketing strategy.
I’ll look briefly at 10 of the worst ones that seem to defy logic and keep websites from being more successful.
1. Anyone can Do SEO.
It’s just not true. Anyone can take on responsibility for SEO and they can spend a lot of time working at it. But can he or she be effective?
Even with the best training and practice, an individual can have flaws. In any professional discipline, people have core skills and aptitudes. Something is going to fall short. Maybe they are deficient in the analysis, programming, copywriting or just project management skills to get something accomplished. Ideally, SEO will work the best if a team tackles it – whether that’s a full-time person supported by other internal resources from time to time or even a part-timer who can rely on outside consultants.
2. SEO is a One-time Exercise.
For some reason, business owners and some marketers believe you only “optimize” a website once and walk away with ideal results. I understand why people think this way given that there are sound SEO business practices you can bake into a website – from overall navigation to how the core content is displayed. Yes, you need fundamentals. But you build on them with minor and major adjustments with your content marketing strategy. If nothing else, you should be adding content and building inbound links.
3. Meta Descriptions Don’t Matter.
Several years ago, search engines stopped counting meta descriptions in their ranking algorithms. At least they claimed to put an end to influence of meta descriptions on rankings. Why? Too many “SEO pros” jammed hundreds of keywords into the meta data.
Marketers sometimes don’t pay as much attention to them as they should. But meta descriptions do matter even if they don’t affect rankings. If you land a top spot – like #3 on Google, search engine users will see the SEO title (blue link) and a short description (the snippet based on the meta description).
You had better write something catchy rather than have search engines take their best guess and simply grab some assortment of your content. After all, the snippet in search results is your chance to win someone over when he takes a couple of seconds to read about your content before clicking or moving onto another result.
4. Target Keyword Phrases with the Most Searches.
At first glance, you might prefer to get a keyword phrase with many searches. The volume sure is captivating. You want in on that kind of action, right? Generally, the keywords or phrases with the most searches are so broad that they reflect a wide assortment of interests. What you sell may not match what someone had in mind then she started searching.
Relevance is the key. Besides, is your website really poised to rank on the first page of major search engines? SEO is not a candy store when you just dig into a jar and grab any old keyword phrase to match your appetite at the moment. You need to think about your site – its age, your content, inbound links, related rankings, strengths of competitors and more.
5. Don’t Focus on Keyword Phrases with Few Searches.
With that kind of thinking, you may as well kiss some leads and sales goodbye. Specificity is the key with search engine optimization. If someone uses a long tail phrase like “home exercise equipment for seniors,” you may have the very product or service he could use.
I love that about SEO – the Internet searcher announces his need in the very keyword phrase he uses and lands on a website that matches his interests. What if a keyword phrase only has 20 searches a month on Google? What if you only get five of those visitors? After four months, you might get 20 visits and a couple of leads. Depending on what you sell, that trickle traffic could be profitable.
It’s one thing to check out estimated searches from Google data and other sources like SEMrush. Is the content positioned for conversions? Again, you don’t need tons of traffic to generate leads if you have the right content that matches the keyword phrase.
Explore more about long-tail keyword phrases at Ahrefs, which has a detailed article, “Long-Tail Keywords: The ‘Secret’ to Getting TONS of Search Traffic.”
6. Every Website Must Have H1 Tags.
Websites rank all of the time without H1 tags. It’s not wrong to use them. After all, it’s an indication to search engines that a page header is among the most important elements of a page. I would recommend using them just to increase the odds of a higher ranking.
7. Google Won’t Give Credit for Keywords in Domain Names.
It’s simply not true. People suddenly make up half truths based on what they heard or thought they heard. For example, Matt Cutts, who led Google’s web spam team, in 2011 announced that Google decided it was time to dial back the algorithm that favored some domains with keywords. But making an adjustment isn’t the same as ruling out keywords in domains. And yet, people thought Google’s crackdown was widespread and severe.
In 2012, Google went on the attack again with a long-awaited algorithm change to reduce the number of search results for some low-quality exact match domains. “Exact match” refers to domains that are identical to the phrase someone uses during a search. It turns out, Google was primarily targeting domains like this made up one: food-eat-tasty-recipe-steak-restrauant-nyc-new-work-patrons.com
8. Keyword Density Is a Huge Ranking Factor.
No, it’s not. Yes, you should consider keyword density, but there is not a magic formula that you can unlock and match and climb to #1 for your favorite keyword phrase of the week. You’re better off ensuring that your content is useful and flows. Anyone working through your text shouldn’t feel like they’ve crashed into an unnatural collection of forced keyword phrases. A content marketing strategy, mixed with some SEO, should have quality as a foundation.
With keywords in content, you’re probably more at risk with a page that’s short on text or one that is overly long. Most SEO professionals will advocate breaking down long text into smaller text for usability and to cross-link related pages.
Although you may have keyword density on your mind, you’re search engine ranking progress likely has a lot more to do with the size of your website, related pages, page headers, page titles, and quality links from other websites. You should focus more on those areas and write if you’re falling short in the ranking games after creating sensible content.
9. Links Are about Quality, Not Quantity.
Without a doubt, quality matters. But so does quantity. You can’t get a few choice inbound links from influential blogs and websites and call it a day. Your content marketing strategy should factor in how you’re going to attract many good links. It’s essential that you create compelling content that people will want to share in numerous ways.
Quality links aren’t only about how the authority of the website linking to yours. If you want to rank well for keywords, put a little bit of public relations behind your content so you get the best boost from the greatest number of quality blogs, websites and more.
10. You Can’t Rank Without Keywords in Page Titles.
I’m a huge proponent of using keywords in page titles, but they don’t need to be perfect for your website to rank well. You can never go wrong with page titles that incorporate relevant keyword phrases.
How much do you think about SEO with your content marketing strategy? SEO should be top of mind.