#89 – Is Your SEO Strategy Based Entirely on SEO Myths?

What you will learn

  • Why keyword stuffing could actually hurt you
  • Why SERP features are not going to kill SEO
  • How you can leverage your size to beat the big companies in the SERPs
  • How building links is cheaper than buying links
  • Why ranking first isn’t always worth the investment it take to get there

There are more conspiracy theories being thrown around in the SEO than there are on Infowars and some of them can appear to be just as crazy.

Or are they?

In this week’s podcast, Gael, Mark and Perrin look into the most popular SEO myths/ theories to see if they have any basis in the truth.

So, let’s see if our Authority Hacker mythbusters know what Google are putting in the water to turn the frogs gay.

8 SEO Myths: Are the Fact or Fiction?

1 – Over Optimization Will Kill Your Site

Does Google penalize you for mentioning your keyword too often?

There is a video with Matt Cutts (former head of the webspam team at Google) discusses this topic.

He says that the first time you mention a keyword, Google will take notice and recognize that the page is about that topic.

After this first mention, there are diminishing returns. That means that the first time you mention a keyword, Google will take notice. The second time, is an even better indication that the page is about that topic but it does not have as much effect as the first time you mentioned the keyword and so on.

At some point, adding the keywords has no effect.

Then, if you listen to Matt Cutts, he suggests that, eventually, if you are adding too many keywords in an unnatural way, they will “begin to make that hurt”.

That sounds like a penalty to me.

John Mueller also suggests that there is no optimal keyword density. He just wants people to write naturally and not worry too much about keywords and keyword density.

We have seen people do tests in the group. After seeing rankings dropped, the person reduced the keyword density and saw rankings improve in every case. However, this is not hard proof. The simple act of updating the article could be what lead to the improvement.

People can often suffer from confirmation in bias in that they come up with a theory of why their site is ranking and they look for data to confirm the theory. There is a good book called You Are Not So Smart that touches on these topics.

So, judging by what Matt Cutts said, I think we can say that over optimization is a thing but perhaps not to the extent that people are worrying about it.

2 – Negative Link Velocity

There are two versions of this theory:

  1. Losing backlinks faster than you are gaining them negatively affects your traffic
  2. If you build a lot of links quickly and then stop building links, Google thinks your site is no longer relevant

For version 2, Mark thinks it is rubbish for a number of reasons. Chiefly that there is probably another reason. This could be that while you have stopped building links, your competitors are still building links and are catching up on you.

Gael thinks that it makes sense in terms of topical subjects such as things that are in the news for a short period of time. News articles will get lots of links quickly and will often rank but when they are no longer relevant you will see them drop off.

In general, however, he agrees with Mark.

For version 1, the whole panel agrees this is true. We know links are good for SEO so it makes sense that if you are losing links, your rankings will suffer.

3 – SERP Features are Going to Kill Traffic to my Site

With answer boxes, ads and all the other features that are now being placed at the top of the search results, this myth suggest that click through rates will go down and, eventually, Google will fill all of the results on the first page with this kind of thing.

Moz report that only 4.9% of search results contain an answer box but for certain niches it can be an issue.

Many people now just Google the weather and see results. Think of features such as the calculator or currency exchange rates.

While the answer box may reduce CTR, they usually contain a link to the page. It also levels the playing field by allowing anyone who ranks in the top 10 to rank in position zero.

Overall, we don’t think that SERP features are going to kill SEO.

4 – Big Companies Are Taking Over the SERPs

Viper Chill have an article stating that 16 companies are dominating the SERPs but is it possible to compete with these major players with huge budgets?

Big companies dominating is definitely a real threat and definitely happens. Not just in SEO but also in real life.

Small companies can compete on many fronts and Gael thinks this will continue for the next 10 years or so.

The advantages small companies have, are:

  • Can win on content – It is easy to look at what the big companies are doing and build something better.
  • Can build links to pages – Big companies are under pressure to churn out content, we can take time, chose the correct articles to write and spend time building links to that article.

5 – Every Link You Buy is Bad

This may be Perrin’s most controversial article where he reviewed 5 guest posting services.

Google state that you should not pay a webmaster for links but you can pay people to build links for you. If you do outreach and someone ask for money, don’t do it.

Paying for people to do it is expensive. You can do it much cheaper if you build processes and systems to do it yourself.

It’s not easy but if it was, everyone would do it.

6 – Google is Spying on You Through Their Products

This one is pretty easy, they’re not.

Using Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools or an Android phone does not mean that you are more likely to get penalized by Google.

Just imagine the computing power they would need to go through all of this information,

7 – Any Duplicate Content Means Your Site Will Be Penalized

Matt Cutts has said in the past that Google treats duplicate content as white space. It just treats it as though there is no content there.

So, if a site is full of duplicate content, in Google’s eyes, it is full of white space. Therefore, it is a bad site and won’t rank.

However, this then means that having some duplicate content is not the end of the world. We also believe that Google makes a distinction between the body of the content and menus, footer and sidebars.

8 – You Need to Rank First to Make Any Money

Is it better to rank first for 5 keywords or in the top 5 for 100 keywords?

The results are probably about the same in monetary value.

You can definitely make money with content ranking on the first page. Sure, it will be more if you are in first place but it is not the be all and end all.

In fact, one of Perrin’s favorite tactics is to plug his articles into the Ahrefs Content Gap tool to see what keywords are missing from his content compared to those who are ranking already. From there, he likes to add those sections in so that he will rank higher.

Do you agree with Gael, Mark and Perrin? What SEO theories do you have that you are embarrassed to admit to? Let us know in the comments below/

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2 Comments

  1. Assuming we get the same traffic from 100 keywords VS 5 keywords, I’ll sleep much more soundly knowing I’m ranking for the former. If your long tail money keywords are in that list of 100 keywords, conversion rates are probably higher too. #8 great point, and great podcast again.

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