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7 SEO Copywriting myths that will not die

Is your company operating on old SEO writing information? Are you sure? Don’t write another word until you read this post.

You know what makes my blood run cold?

Outdated and incorrect SEO copywriting tactics.

Like a virus, these bad tactics get passed around from person to person. The end result: companies are infected with bad information and do things the wrong way.

For instance, one company I worked with had an old “SEO copywriting 101” PowerPoint that talked about keyphrase density and blasting press releases to thousands of sites. Another based their entire SEO strategy on bad information from an SEO vendor.

Ouch. That’s scary stuff.

Here are seven of the most common SEO copywriting myths I still hear about:

Keyphrase density

Will. People. Please. Let. This. Die. Just when I think the world is safe from keyphrase density percentages is when I get an email saying, “I was watching a corporate training video and the recommendation was 3.2 %. Is that still right?”

No. It’s never been right. Ignore keyphrase density. Wipe it from your mind. Let it go. Don’t you feel much better now?

Keyphrases are dead

No, keyphrases are not dead. They are still alive, kicking, and doing well. This tasty tidbit of misinformation stems from Google being much “smarter” than it used to be. Yes, Google can understand the intent of a page. But that doesn’t mean your content should be keyphrase-free. In fact, basic optimization techniques can often propel low-ranking pages to top positions.

It’s true that in today’s world, you can worry less about about exact matching the keyphrase and repeating it X times. However, you’ll still want to use keyphrases (and synonyms) in your content. Continue to research your keyphrases and use them in your body copy and your Title. Just like always. You’ll be fine.

Press releases are a great way to get links

Once upon a time, press releases were a great way to get links. You could add a some keyphrase-rich anchor text, syndicate your press release to thousands of sites and blammo–links galore!

Today’s world is much different. Spammy transactional anchor text is considered bad news.

Yes, press releases are still important. They are still a great way to build awareness, drive traffic (assuming a journalist picks up the release) and build a company’s brand. But their just-for-SEO benefit is no longer viable. And that’s OK.

There is a “right” word count for Google

There has never been a “perfect” word count for Google, no matter what the experts say. Yes, I know that some experts say that longer copy (1,500+ words) tends to position better. But that’s not the case for all copy, all the time. Nor should an arbitrary word count dictate how you write the copy.

Your best bet is to write a wide variety of content and let the subject matter dictate the length. You may want to write resource-intensive 1,500 word blog posts and 500 word services pages. That’s OK. Your main criteria should be, “am I writing this for my readers?” If you start slipping into writing things “for Google,” you’ll mess up our readers’ experience.

As a caveat, know that “thin” content (typically short and low quality posts) don’t position and can actually hurt you. You want to avoid these kinds of posts and even review past posts to make sure you don’t have any hiding on your site.

Guest posting can get you slapped with a penalty

Guest posting gets a bad rap. Once upon a time, people used to submit to every site under the sun just to score links. Did it work? Sure. Did it drive qualified traffic? Nope.

Then Google changed their stance on guest blogging. The great Google gods made it clear that guest blogging for links was no longer OK. That doesn’t mean that you can’t guest blog on quality publications your target market actually reads (that’s what I’m doing right now!). Nor does it mean that you can’t accept a guest post from a quality author. It just means you have to be picky.

You know, like people should have been in the first place.

Guest posting can drive fantastic targeted traffic.  Just target your publications (and court your guest bloggers) carefully. If you’re responding to emails that say, “I’ll blog for you for free in exchange for a link back to my site,” well, you deserve what you get.

Place X number of keyphrases in your paragraphs

Just as there is no such thing as keyphrase density, there is also no “keyphrases in a paragraph” rule. If you’re writing your page correctly, some paragraphs will contain multiple keyphrases. Some paragraphs will be keyphrase-free. That’s fine.

Blogging for SEO purposes only

Blogging has a bunch of benefits. You can connect with readers, you can answer questions that pop up during the sales cycle–the list goes on.

However, if the only reason you’re blogging is to get in Google’s good graces, you’re doing it wrong. I’ve seen companies try to get positive Google vibes by uploading multiple blog posts a day. How high quality do you think their posts were? Yeah. You guessed it. Remember, Google doesn’t reward quantity. It rewards quality content.

To summarize: Blogging for readers = good. Blogging for SEO only = bad. It’s simple.

Don’t let your company fall prey to outdated SEO copy techniques. Your best bet? Make sure your in-house writers are trained in the latest SEO copywriting techniques. Review any current training resources and make sure they are still valid. Update your knowledge at least every six months. That way, you’ll be guaranteed you’re doing things the right way–and your site won’t suffer from incorrect SEO copy strategies.

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