Mythology arises when a society doesn’t understand how a phenomenon works. In ancient times, that led to beliefs in chariots moving the sun and gods throwing thunderbolts. Today, it leads to beliefs in high keyword density and Google algorithms that only look at a single paragraph of text. You’ve probably already dispelled many of these myths yourself, but as you surf, see how many of these superstitions you can spot.
Myth #1: Higher Keyword Density Is Better.
Fact: Google downranks keyword stuffing with as much anger and accuracy as Zeus casting thunderbolts at nonbelievers’ heads. Different search engines have different preferred density ranges – for Google, it’s about 1 to 2 percent, while Yahoo likes about 3 percent – but none of those ranges are anywhere close to the 5 percent and up that many sites use. Let natural writing be your guide; if you can spot forced keywords, dial down the density.
Myth #2: Keywords Must Be Exact
Fact: Google has a list of stop words, small or common words that it discounts when users search. A few examples are “in,” “by,” “near,” and “with.” Despite this fact, many sites still believe that “plumber Mineola” will produce better results than “plumber in Mineola” or “plumber near Mineola.” Here’s a fun experiment: Pick a phrase with common, inessential words stripped from it and search for it. Put the phrase in quotation marks so your search engine looks for the exact phrase. Note how few of the results look like English. The lesson here is to use natural key phrases, not what people type into the search bar.
Myth #3: Longer Articles Are Better for SEO
Fact: Search engines don’t care how long your blog posts and articles are, but readers do. Publish content designed for human readers with enough white space and page breaks to make sense, not to appease search engines. If your business content covers a subject meaningfully and has room for any links you choose to add, it’s long enough.
Myth #4: Grammar Doesn’t Matter
Fact: Just because people use text-speak to communicate on their smartphones doesn’t mean they don’t recognize bad grammar when they see it on a website. Your static pages, blog posts and even tweets should represent you well, and part of that is proper grammar and syntax. You may not care whether “Internet” is supposed to be capitalized in AP style, but you have at least one reader who does; for that reader, your polished grammar is a selling point.
Myth #5: Hard Sells Stand Out in Blogs and Social Media
Fact: Hard sells turn off anyone who might otherwise retweet, like or forward your content. Flashing, scrolling text on a website went out of style in 1998, and pushy content wasn’t far behind it. The way to stand out isn’t to shout louder than anyone else, but to have something more interesting to say. Build your content strategy on quality, not volume.
Myth #6: Google Only Looks at the First and Last Paragraphs for Duplicate Content
Fact: It’s amazing how pervasive this myth is, but if it ever had any truth, those days are long gone. If you look, you can still spot content marketing articles that feature slightly altered introductions and conclusions with identical bodies. The modern incarnation of Google is sophisticated enough to look at the whole article, not just its top and bottom. Never trust a content provider who tells you that you don’t need 100 percent original content and can get away with spinning intros.
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