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Busting SEO myths once and for all

An increasing number of retailers are relying on the internet to help generate sales, which means they need to focus on being ‘found’ by Google – not an easy task when the rules of SEO seem to change so often. IAN SPENCER dispels some of the most popular SEO myths.

An increasing number of retailers are relying on the internet to help generate sales, which means they need to focus on being ‘found’ by Google – not an easy task when the rules of SEO seem to change so often. IAN SPENCER dispels some of the most popular SEO myths.

What does it take to achieve a strong page rank in internet searches? Search-engine optimisation (SEO) has been around for years, so one might think the secrets are well and truly out of the bag by now.

Despite this, businesses continue to work tirelessly on their SEO campaigns only to fall short of the results they seek.

The idea of what makes good SEO differs wildly across the industry but one thing is sure: poor websites are often using similar patterns, relying on a collection of myths that have long since been disproven.

Amazingly, these myths and redundant tactics are still floating around, sucking in even more businesses and leading to poorer online experiences for all. Here are the SEO myths that need to disappear.

The more links the better

Links are used as a way to attract people to your website and years ago, SEO firms offered a set number of links for each client – maybe 100, maybe 200. They priced per link, capitalising on the notion that more links meant better results. However, having 200 really low-quality links is not going to give you any more benefit than having 100.

Link building is about quality, not quantity. Any link that appears on a page where it is contextually related will smash those poor links out of the door, especially if it appears on a page that is considered an authority.

If businesses are going to employ an SEO firm to take care of linking, they need to ensure links are the golden eggs of the link-building world – plausible and relevant to the sites on which they appear – and not the ones that are going to hatch into a Google penalty that leaves a business with a dodgy link profile.

It’s been proven over and over that a website can rank with just a few high-quality relevant links and the days of needing 200 directory links, 100 social bookmarks, 50 blog post links and 25 article directory submissions every month are now redundant.

It is far better to spend one hour researching and building a first-class link than to sit there adding a site to directories that might provide 50 mentions. These will not be the quality that Google wants to see.

Any content will do

Article submissions, press releases and poor blog posts on WordPress sites are tactics that don’t really work on any great scale anymore.

Generally, the rule of content now is that only quality will do. In fact, you should only publish content on third-party sites that you believe is strong enough to be displayed on your own site.

There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, any writing for sites that have an audience must be of a high quality if you want the benefits from it; if you are blogging for a high-profile site and your work is poor, your profile is going to tank harder because more people will actually be reading it.

You also need to think that if you are getting a link back from this content then you are leaving a trail of destruction for Google to follow – any poor content will become associated with your own site by default. Such is the nature of link building.

Choose wisely about where you release content and make sure that the content you do produce is high quality, related and unique.

In the end, you should never publish something on a site on which you are not proud to have your name.

Repeat keywords for a better rank

“I want to rank for online marketing because my online marketing is really good. When it comes to online marketing, there is no other online marketing company that you should turn to if your online marketing campaign really isn’t pulling in the best online marketing results. Did I mention I do online marketing?”

You get this one straight away, right? Keyword density is an overrated thing of the past. To rank well, businesses don’t have to mention their keywords 50 times across their web pages or have to worry about it being in a certain percentage of places across their content.

As long as a site is optimised and there is enough related content to reinforce this, businesses are going to be well on their way to achieving the rankings they desire.

Of course, pages still need quality back-links and social signals but worrying about keyword frequency is relatively pointless – it is more important to write for the user than for the search engine.

Google products spy on you

The basis of this argument is that using Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics will allow Google to know everything you are doing, which could affect online rankings in a negative way.

As a result of this myth, a small proportion of the online world refuses to have anything Google-related on their sites.

Here’s the truth: using Google products will not allow them to spy on you any more than they already do. This is nothing but a conspiracy theory.

Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics are two tools that I always ask clients to allow me to install before I commence any SEO job.

These two platforms give me more data about the client than anything else from an online point of view and I embrace them.

Use the same article 10 times

Some know it as ‘spinning’, others as ‘churning’ but let’s call it what it is: taking one article and running it through some software to get nine different variations is lazy, ignorant and a complete waste of online space.

As search engines get more intelligent, this kind of content creation is dying, yet there are still so many people that insist on doing it.

The method no longer works and, to be fair, it didn’t really work that much to begin with anyway.

Having one decent article that is unique, high quality and relevant is worth so much more than having 10 variations that make no sense to anyone.

Anything that appears on your own site really needs to be special and well written or else there is no point writing it in the first place.

If you already have lots of quality content, the last thing you want to do is risk devaluing that by spinning and republishing articles.

Ultimately, you will get caught and you will suffer, and it’s only a matter of time before the Panda starts breathing down your neck – Google Panda is the name for Google’s newest SEO algorithm, which aims to lower the rank of ‘low-quality’ or ‘thin’ sites and return ‘higher quality’ sites to the top of search results.

Businesses must spend their time writing quality content that their users will love, rather that pumping articles through software to generate content that is purely awful and spam to anyone who has the misfortune of reading it.

Small sites don’t get caught out

This myth is a bit like that ol’ tax office myth: people still believe that if you are a small site then you are not going to get punished.

In my experience, the truth is pretty much the exact opposite of this.

No matter how small the site or how many visitors you get, if you are online and playing dodgy games then you have as much chance of getting caught than anyone else.

If you take a look at some of the latest big examples of penalties for companies like InterFlora and RapGenius, you’ll see that Google isn’t messing around.

Furthermore, it’ll take little guys longer to recover than many of the big boys.

While the largest penalties are usually manual and therefore do require human intervention by Google, many of the penalties that hit home on a more frequent basis are algorithmic, which means they are detected automatically by a computer that doesn’t care who it targets and hits.

This ultimately signifies that company size is largely irrelevant when it comes to breaking the rules.

Parting advice

If you’re online and dabbling in naughty SEO practices then you have a chance of getting caught – there is just no doubt about that.

It makes no difference if you’re a ‘top 100’ site or a minnow in a giant pond – companies can no longer use the “I’m too small for Google to care” justification.

The bottom line is that Google does care. As a result, Google will penalise companies for SEO violations no matter if they are big, medium or small.

Ian Spencer

Contributor • IS Digital Marketing

Ian Spencer runs IS Digital Marketing and specialises in SEO, Google Adwords and online marketing strategies. Learn more:

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Sunday, 22 September, 2019 11:28am
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