Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as “SEO” is crucial to the growth of a business’s online presence. Any company that wants to increase traffic on their website needs to make SEO a priority.
How does SEO work?
Every company wants to increase its audience, and what better way than through the Internet, which is visited by millions of people every day? The goal is to get your site to the top of the results page because those are the sites that people click on—and this is where SEO comes in.
But here’s the deal:
Some of the recommendations given in the SEO field should actually be avoided. Certain SEO suggestions don’t have the effect people claim they do. Many of them don’t help your odds of getting to the top ranking page at all, while others are unethical and will only place you further down on Google’s coveted list.
Here’s a rundown of which popular SEO tips you should steer clear of.
1.“Creating quality content is all you need to do.”
This one is controversial. It’s been proven that well-written, trustworthy content is crucial to strong SEO—after all, your traffic will never be consistently high if you don’t have quality content to offer your visitors.
The reason this advice is unhelpful is that you shouldn’t rely solely on the quality of your content.
No matter how good your articles are, they still need exposure, and exposure can’t be gained by merely creating valuable content. You need to obtain good page authority, as well as domain authority, by accumulating backlinks, creating internal links and avoiding bad links.
Another important factor to consider is user experience. You can have the best articles on the web and still have low traffic if your site is riddled with ads, takes too long to load, or is hard to navigate with a smartphone.
Other things to consider are creating a sitemap file and metadata, which will help the ranking process go faster.
The point remains—you shouldn’t lean on quality alone to get high rankings.
2. “Don’t bother with social media.”
You’ll often hear that social media SEO isn’t useful.
This is because Google’s former head of webspam used to claim that Google’s ranking algorithm didn’t take social media shares into account.
This isn’t quite the case. Besides the fact that this claim was made back in 2014, it’s undeniable that using social media increases exposure, which leads to more clicks—which then leads to more traffic.
Shoving your links into as many places as you can, unrelated or not, is not only annoying, but it’s also spamming—an intolerable practice. Try to only post relevant content, and only when it doesn’t feel overbearing.
3. “The more keywords you use, the better.”
This piece of advice sounds logical—more keywords should hypothetically make your site easier to be found. It’s also one of the most common tips you’ll hear when you are a business that’s trying to build an audience.
But here’s the kicker:
This is not only unproductive, but it may actually harm your ranking.
Google frowns upon using keywords in this manner because it assumes you’re trying to work the system. It can sense when a site is trying too hard or attempting to manipulate its algorithm.
While moderate use of keywords does help your content rank higher, Google punishes sites with overused keywords by pushing them further down in their results.
Google is a smart search engine—don’t underestimate its ability to sniff out artificial, or calculated content.
The other issue with using too many keywords is if someone reads your first paragraph in an article about the best domain names and they see the phrase “best domain names” seven times, it looks unnatural and won’t sit well with them. It makes your content less readable and looks contrived.
4. “Avoid duplicate content like the plague.”
Duplicate content is a tactic that is sometimes used to improve SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking.
How does it work?
Duplicate content is when people take already existing content (or a part of it), change it slightly, and then post it somewhere else.
As bad as it may sound, it can also be used in an ethical and useful way. For example, a blogger might repost their own work somewhere else because they aren’t seeing enough traffic in a certain spot.
Also, Google has claimed that it does not penalize duplicate content (as you can see from this live Q&A session). Of course, copying chunks of text and creating a new, yet stolen article can get you in trouble in terms of plagiarism, and you should always refrain from doing this.
Here’s the truth:
Copies of your content won’t harm you all that much in the long run. Google’s index bots are good at scanning loads of content quickly, and they don’t often give out penalties when they see two of the same pieces of content. If they spot a word-for-word replica of your work a few days after you post it, they won’t penalize you, they’ll simply mark the new text and move on.
What does this mean?
This means that copycats might grab a few clicks from you, but they are unlikely to top you on page ranking. Also, if you have your internal links in order, and the copycat didn’t bother to remove them from the content, you may get a good portion of clicks through the links they share of yours.
So what’s the bottom line?
There’s a lot of SEO advice out there, because it’s a huge part of marketing today—but it’s not all good. Sometimes it’s outdated, and other times it’s just a false truth that’s been around so long that it becomes a staple, over trusted misconception.
What can you do?
There are two things you can do to combat the confusion. One—be as up to date on the latest news and tactics from search engine companies and SEO specialists, and two—try to take advice with a grain of salt, even if it’s coming from a reputable source.