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Detrimental SEO myths still plaguing online businesses

In the realm of SEO it’s especially true that certain older tactics and strategies are no longer effective – and in some cases may get you penalized. However, the depletion rate of total SEO tactics and strategies is nowhere near the growth rate of new things to try. That said, there are some myths about SEO worth dispelling. 

Here are a few SEO myths still influencing site owners today to their own detriment:

Keyword density is important. To do SEO well, you really only need to worry about keywords and meta tags. The more focus on keywords, the better.

Keyword focus has always been a very important aspect of SEO. You do need to understand what people are searching for to better optimize your website and user experience. SEO’s used to be able to gain organic rankings fairly easily with low-quality content as long as the keyword density was “good”. But the landscape has almost completely changed. For one thing, Google’s algorithm has evolved and continuous updates paint the picture for where this machine is going in terms of understanding content quality. In other words, low-quality content production is becoming less effective daily.

Second, there’s more competition in general – specifically competition focusing on their own SEO strategies. Worrying too much about keywords and keyword density can disrupt the quality of your website’s user experience. When this happens, users lose trust and there’s enough competition in almost every arena for you to lose business. It’s still important to provide Google signals indicating what your content is about, and using keywords in specific areas on-page can both increase rankings and reinforce the end user’s search. But creating low-quality, keyword–specific content is not a sound strategy moving forward.

XML sitemaps are not important. Google has all my pages indexed so it’s not important to maintain an XML sitemap.

Years ago it was actually considered best practice to notify Google through a web form every time you created a new page. This would signal their bot to crawl your page and index the content. One way to facilitate this process was to generate and submit an XML sitemap with all your URLs. Some SEOs believed this would help them rank for a larger variety of keywords in the shortest amount time because Google could now see all the URLs from a single source.

Today we have social media and RSS feeds and people automatically linking to everything else through CMS’s. Google and Bing don’t need you to tell them you have new content in order to find it, crawl it and index it. However, it’s still important to build and maintain an XML sitemap and utilize Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools. It’s your way to keep a dialog (of sorts) going with the search engines about the overall health of your website. They’ll notify you if they find errors with your pages and you can respond by correcting the errors and resubmitting pages. It shows the search engines you are committed to improving your website and the user experience as well as the experience of the search engines. This will certainly help optimize your site overall, and that will help you improve your rankings.

Content syndication is a valuable link building tactic: It’s worth your energy to syndicate content with backlinks as long as the ratio of unique content is higher than what’s duplicate.

There’s a lot of debate about this but I’m not aware of any exact ratio of unique content that can save you from the duplicate content filter. What I can say is that a link building strategy based on this tactic is flawed. First off, most legitimate publishers will not want to publish syndicated content and if it’s your intention, as it should be, to foster a high quality backlink profile – one that can contribute to brand and traffic value – you’re not going to want to partake in a lot of content syndication with low quality publishers. The best syndicated content is that which happens naturally. If you put your energy into creating the right kind of content that resonates with your target market and is worth sharing and syndicating, then that job will be done for you. It’ll get picked up on its own by quality publishers. And yes, you absolutely can and should use PR and social to nudge your top content along.

Content syndication is appealing because it takes a lot of time and resources to write quality unique content all the time. Here’s what you can do:

  • Bolster your previously published content with links from the new content you and your colleagues create.
  • Get with your team and literally map out a web of all the places you and your brand write content for and get published at.
  • Where are the opportunities to connect individual pieces together with links that improve the user experience?
  • What are the top performing articles? Think about your most important business metrics – engagement metrics, performance metrics, conversion metrics.
  • Determine how to get more like-minded traffic to those top pages.

There’s a good chance you can squeeze additional life out of the content you’ve already produced and this is a better use of time than trying to republish half-unique content on questionable publications that may or may not ever see any traffic.

Content strategy is a luxury. Nobody reads online so I really only need content for SEO purposes.

I don’t think I’ve heard someone say something more ignorant and arrogant than this, yet I continue to hear it all the time.

If this were in fact true, Google would not exist. In fact, commerce as we know it would cease to exist. People do in fact read, watch and absorb content, content, and more content now more than ever. It’s the backbone to all marketing and commerce activity. It’s the reason anybody purchases anything. As interest increases, so too does the desire to fully understand products and services. It’s what keeps people coming back. It builds brand loyalty. Content strategy is critical for optimizing the purchase funnel now more than ever. Increased competition is one reason, but also search engines demand unique content and even today really only crawl and truly understand text-based content. To agree with this myth is to cripple business efforts and limit your ability to engage with connected consumers who drive conversations and revenue.

Unfortunately SEO myths abound. It’s likely because the trade is shrouded in complexity, especially around the subject of link building. To avoid these and other SEO and link building myths with your online business, always consult with an expert.

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