In the wake of Google's Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates, SEO myths are plentiful and often seem credible. Things always seem to be changing. Is linking really beneficial? Is SEO dead? Is there a magic keyword that tops all search results? What techniques should you adopt and what should you avoid? Here are four debunked myths that will help you separate fact from fiction.
Myth 1: SEO Is Dead
With a seeming overabundance of content on the Internet, some believe that SEO and content marketing are on their last legs. There are so many articles addressing the same basic information, distinguished only by long, trailing key phrases desperately trying to be different. But the bottom line is that SEO, the Huffington Post notes, is far from dead; quality, relevant content with naturally occurring key phrases is alive and well. If your article is unique, informative and well written, it likely will reach the top of searches.
Myth 2: Keyword Stuffing Is Successful
Stuffing your content with the same key topics and phrases in an effort to optimize it is bad, plain and simple. This creates a negative user experience and announces your attempted trickery and manipulation to search engines. Put your key topics in the title, description and opening paragraph, and sprinkle them in once or twice more, then leave it. Similarly, forget about finding a magic keyword. People visit simply because your content matches their needs.
Myth 3: All Links Are Equal
Your links are no longer good for search engines if they're irrelevant and obvious. For example, mass directory submissions, or low-quality quest posts designed to give you links, don't boost SEO because they don't help readers. Google's Matt Cutts warns that the company cracks down on blogs irrelevant to your site along with optimized anchors, cloaked links that hide the real destination and differing versions of a page that only appear to crawlers.
As for buying links, that's definitely bad practice. Incoming links should factor in the authority and validity of the destination site. For outgoing links, add a few "no follow" tags to avoid being considered a link farm or paid directory.
Myth 4: Social Doesn't Matter
Although Search Engine Watch indicates that Facebook and Twitter metrics do not directly factor into Google search rankings, it doesn't mean that social activity isn't important to good SEO. Shares from your readers can spread the content among your target audience, increase overall website visits and boost engagement. The latter is important because it tells search engines that people are actively seeking your site. Sharing begets sharing, which then begets website visits and indexing.
SEO isn't about knowing the latest tricks or techniques; it's a long-term, multipronged strategy that's heavily focused on quality and relevance. Put yourself in a Googlebot's shoes: How would you rank pages? Would you prioritize a link farm with few page views and no user relevance, or an article with a high visit rate and relevant information? Similarly, put yourself in your reader's shoes. Is the article helpful to you? Forget these SEO myths and create good content. Shares, backlinks, crawls and visits are sure to follow.