Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most popular and cost-efficient ways to earn more traffic for a website. By following best practices and adjusting your tactics over time, you can help your site become more prominent in search engine results pages (SERPs) and earn more revenue from incoming visitors.
The problem is that Google doesn’t explicitly publish how its search algorithm works (at least, not precisely), and there are hundreds of ranking factors that come into play—most of which evolve over time, coming and going in response to new technologies and new trends.
As a result, it’s easy for myths and misconceptions to appear, spread, and persist regarding what it actually takes to rank. Some of these apply specifically to content, which is especially dangerous because content is one of the most important areas of SEO development.
Why Content Is So Important for SEO
According to Neil Patel, SEO is one of the most important strategies you can adopt to support the success of a blog—especially because your blog content feeds into how you eventually rank. For starters, the quality of your content factors into how authoritatively Google views your website, and the keywords and topics you cover informs Google which queries your site and pages are relevant for. On top of that, content is your best way to acquire backlinks, which are essential if you want to build up your domain authority.
Still, there are a number of things people get wrong about how content factors into SEO.
SEO Misconceptions Related to Content
These are just a few of the biggest SEO misconceptions we’ve seen relating to content:
- Keyword density matters. There was a time when Google’s algorithm paid close attention to the individual keywords and keyword phrases that appeared within web content, comparing it to the queries users would enter. In those days, it was wise to strive for a “keyword density” metric, making sure your target keywords appeared a certain number of times in the body of each article. According to KissMetrics, keyword density doesn’t matter nearly as much today thanks to the Hummingbird Update, which introduced a semantic search, and general crackdowns on “keyword stuffing,” the practice of including too many unnatural keywords for the sake of earning higher rankings.
- Every post needs to target a keyword. Every post you write does matter, but that doesn’t mean every post you write literally has to contain a target keyword or keyword phrase. This is especially true because the bulk of modern keyword strategies tend to focus on long-tail phrases. These tend to be almost conversational in nature and tend to attract less traffic, but are incredibly easy to rank for. If you’re writing about topics your audience cares about, you’ll probably end up ranking regardless.
- Quantity matters. When you realize that the subject matter of your content; inbound links to your content; and the size and nature of your audience all play into how your site ends up ranking, you may be fooled into thinking that producing more posts is a good idea. And it’s true that expanding your content marketing efforts can help you see better results, with one caveat—you have to maintain the same high level of content. If you sacrifice quality for quantity, you will not see any forward momentum.
- Social shares boost your rankings. This is a myth that makes sense on paper, as the popularity of your content articles does play a role in how they rank. However, getting more social shares with an article doesn’t have a direct impact on that article’s rankings in Google. The grain of truth here is that getting more shares can have an indirect effect on your rankings; by getting more shares, you’ll be exposed to a bigger audience. In turn, this may generate more inbound links, which can boost your authority and improve your search visibility.
- Earning a ranking is the only goal. Yes, the main goal of SEO is to get higher rankings, but that’s not the only thing you should focus on. Think about the volume of traffic you’ll get from those rankings. Think about the quality of that traffic—is it even relevant to your brand? And beyond that, what are those visitors going to do when they get to your site anyway? If you don’t have a solid user experience and conversion strategy in place, it won’t matter how high you rank. Keep that in mind when developing your content.
If you want to stand a chance of achieving a high ranking for a target keyword relevant to your audience, you’ll have to leave these myths behind. In fact, while technical SEO and strategizing are important, when it comes to your actual content strategy, your best bet is to focus on what your users want to see more than what Google wants to see. Otherwise, you’re liable to get distracted and end up producing content meant for search engines rather than users—and at this point, even if you get the traffic you want, they may lose interest in your brand. User experience is everything.