Since mastering keywords is at the heart of SEO, it’s important to keep your eyes peeled for the most effective tips and strategies. But when you do, don’t forget that grain of salt. As search engines update their algorithms or site trends simply evolve, there are old practices that don’t really work into today’s environment.
Myth #1: High Keyword Density Always Prevails
Keyword density is one of those topics that can leave you unsure about a clear direction. “Keyword density” is the frequency that we see a targeted word or phrase mentioned in an article, and with dozens of different opinions from credible sites, there’s just one rule that has won out—more is not better.
Since Google had long worked this into its ranking algorithm, we saw a surge in pages loading their articles, menus and footers with the same keywords (or very close variations). While this may give you the idea that “keyword stuffing” is the answer, that practice could potentially do more harm than good.
Instead of stuffing your content full of keywords in hopes of reaching Google’s first page, a more efficient and evergreen approach to getting your content noticed is to focus on quality. Easier said than done, right? It doesn’t have to be.
When you think of high-quality content, aim for unique, well-written content that reflects your point of view. Plus, your quality rises when you write naturally (whether that means a professional tone or a casual one). Natural writing does not repeat the same word and phrase over and over, so killing this practice is an automatic improvement.
Myth #2: Pursue Only High Search Volume Keywords
When you’re looking for new keyword ideas, you’re going to come across the cream of the crop – the most competitive and relevant keywords for to your business and industry. That’s because with the results on SpyFu we put our best foot forward with keywords that bring value to your campaign. Logic tells you that if you’re limited to what you can chase, to just go after these high search-volume, rich-content-triggering keywords. Consider that these keywords are highly-sought after for a reason. There is serious competition for these keywords, and domains with more resources are pouring what they can into dominating these searches. It doesn’t mean you should avoid them. Just don’t put all of your efforts into these keywords alone.
Capitalizing on lower-competition keywords will give your content the unique edge it needs to survive search engine results. Be creative with your keyword research so that you can gain searches that others are missing out on. This means adding a couple extra words to really separate you from the competition, especially if you are trying to gain some local exposure.
Myth #3: Being Number 1 is your Top Goal
We all talk about this big goal, reaching the number 1 spot. It still holds strong and pays off across your campaign. However, if you make it your top priority across every keyword you target, you’re going to under-serve all of your keywords. When you rank for high search-volume keywords, there’s usually enough benefit from your low ranking that lets you ease off the gas and re-allocate your efforts to a keyword that’s more within your reach.
Take a Robin Hood approach. Pull attention from one keyword where you say “top 15 is enough” and double down instead on one that’s going to pay off better. It might be better to rank #14 on one keyword and #1 on another vs. being #6 and #6 on both.
You’re prioritizing your work, but you’re not giving up. Consider pitching your page to a higher-ranking domain as a link from their ranking content. You’ve got unique content they can draw from, and it adds another dimension to their content. You might have better luck getting traffic from that referral (with a little up front work) than you would from a lower ranking (and a lot of constant work to get there).
Myth #4: Long-Tailed Keywords are Better Than Short-Tailed Keywords
Long-tailed keywords can give you high relevance and gain you some clicks where competition may be lacking. But, as keywords become longer and more specific, the tradeoff is that search volume goes down. People generally search short words or phrases, so your long tail keywords truly shouldn’t be that long. Your best bet is to stick to 3 to 5 words with your long tail keywords, as searches will drop tremendously beyond that amount of words.
SEO carries this mysterious air about it–and it’s understandable! Google holds tightly to its secrets, and it updates its ranking algorithm regularly. Keep reading up on the latest changes and best practices to help guard against SEO myths. Don’t forget to pay attention to your off-page SEO, too. Best of luck!