SEO is often misunderstood. There’s a lot of misinformation out there that stems from the constantly-changing Google algorithm and the ever-harsher penalties. Maybe you read an article that wasn’t properly researched or someone from a dodgy digital marketing company has been in touch and spewing nonsense. Google ‘SEO Ireland’ and the first page is a veritable bomb-site. Several of the top ranking results practice all kinds of dodgy methods. Do business with one of those and prepare to start dodging mines!

Point is: misinformation about SEO myths are everywhere. Today we’re gonna bust some of the worst of the SEO myths, starting with my personal favourite:

SEO Myth #1. SEO is dead/dying/living in a pineapple under the sea.

seo is dead, is seo dead

Nope. Not even remotely. There are a million click-bait articles on the internet talking about SEO and its impending death. There are a million more rabidly defending SEO. SEO’s been dying for years, apparently. The dictionary definition of SEO, as per Wikipedia, is:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results.

SEO is anything you do to actively alter your search engine rankings. It’s not even that SEO is changing–SEO already has changed, not died. Modern SEO is old-school SEO, but with a Jiminy Cricket. Dodgy tactics have been resolutely killed off, but that doesn’t mean SEO is dead. SEO is alive and thriving. It’s just been rebranded.
SEO Myth #2. There’s such a thing as the ‘perfect keyword’.

Another nope. Google’s onus has changed in the last few years. Their whole brand identity is built around being as helpful as possible: returning the most relevant, useful results faster and better than their competitors. As much as Google the brand is etched into our minds and it’s most people’s go-to search engine, Google, as with all businesses, must always fear competition. If a better search engine were to exist, Google might be in trouble, unlikely as it is as Google is synonymous with internet search.

But that’s getting off the point. The point is that Google needs to understand what people are searching and how to return the best results for the user. At the end of the day, the algorithm exists to give the end user the best experience possible. Keywords are the way we communicate with the algorithm–and with Google. Google’s whole new thing is about understanding the intention of keywords. Keyword research is still vitally important but taking an awkward phrase with lots of searches and hammering it into your titles and your content doesn’t mean you’ll see results. The future of keywords won’t be as entirely about exacts, but about matching your intentions as a searcher with what it is you actually want.
SEO Myth #3. Higher keyword density is always best.

This SEO myth haunts us. So many times we have to explain to clients that there is no optimal keyword density percentage. Deciding that your keyword density is always going to hit 4.5% or 2% or whatever you choose is only going to make blogging a chore, especially if you’ve got a fiddly keyword. Let’s say you’re a financial planner and you’ve written a piece about money-saving tips and you’ve decided you’re going to target the phrase ‘how to save money’. That’s not really a phrase that occurs naturally. Shove it in there and ratchet your density up to 4%, and it’s not going to read well–especially if it’s a shorter article.

Every search query is different. One of Google’s identifiers for outsourced/poor content is repetition. It’s one of the reasons why plug-ins like SEO Yoast will tell you not to go above 4%. You might be tempted to write a 400 word article and cram a bunch of keywords in there: the shorter the piece, the easier it is to reach a higher keyword density. But all that does is set off a mini-alarm to Google. Your content might not be spammy, but it might look spammy.

The key to targeting keywords is to mix things up: to use a broad range of relevant keywords rather than focusing on a core term. Latent semantic indexing is a fancy term that’s all about discovering related words/phrases within any group of documents e.g. your blog articles. While I might use ‘digital marketing’ as a keyword, I want Google to know that ‘SEO, content marketing’, etc. are semantically related terms. It’s why you need a wide-spread keyword density—and why there is no optimal density.

To go even simpler: the front wheel of my tire bursts and I Google ‘burst tire’–a phrase that doesn’t really mean anything. Google needs to decide what content is relevant to that search. Do I want to know what causes a flat tyre or how to fix it? LSI determines that phrases like ‘car, wheel, repair, mechanics, flat tyre’ are all related via LSI. It’ll then use its fancy mathematical equation and algorithmic details to give you what it thinks is the best result. (See: the intention behind the search.)
SEO Myth #4. A few bad links won’t ruin my link profile i.e. ‘Sure, they’ll never know’.

Godspeed, soldier. You’re braver than us. The best practice is to keep your link profile as clean as possible. What some SEOs do is they create a network of sites on their own domain and create a link chain. We can tell you right now that several of the people ranking number one for ‘SEO Company’ use this exact tactic. They haven’t been caught yet, but Google catches up with everyone eventually.

Link-chains or linking within your domains is an easy shortcut—and probably the easiest links you’re ever going to get. Doing this a bit won’t get you in trouble, but if you cross the threshold you run the risk of getting penalised. Links all incoming from your own domain aren’t even worth that much!

The same goes for directories: don’t submit your site to directories that have zero relevance to you. Say you’re a mechanic: if your SEO company or you or whoever thinks submitting your site to a list of random businesses directories in Denmark will do you good, you’ve gone wrong. Worried about your link profile? Log into Webmaster Tools and check your links. If you see a good few dodgy ones, you might need to do a link audit and a disavow. Get in touch and we can sort that out for you!
SEO Myth #5. If I make lots of pages with loads of content on them, I’ll definitely rank.

Yeah, you know how we keep banging on about ranking factors? We’re about to do it again. A page is only given real value if it’s getting relevant traffic and social shares. Which isn’t always fair, but it’s how the system works. While having more pages with good content is definitely a good thing, it’s not a definite to ranking.

‘Make good content and they will come’ isn’t always true. There’s a certain amount of luck and self-promo involved. Get enough traffic and grow your site big enough (both in popularity and content) and eventually SEO becomes somewhat negligible as you’ll end up ranking organically. But the crux here is you need to be one of the big guns to pull that off: you’d need constant content and loads of readers, and that’s just not plausible for the majority of businesses. Even entertainment sites with hundreds of pages won’t auto-rank.

Having quality content on a user-optimised site with a solid link profile is what’ll get you ranking legitimately. Making a load of pages won’t, necessarily.

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