7 Outdated SEO Writing Myths That Will Not Die

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Do you know what drives me nuts?

Reading about outdated or incorrect SEO tactics.

Like a virus, these bad tactics get passed around from person to person. One company I worked with had an old “SEO copywriting 101” Powerpoint that hadn’t been updated in seven years. Another company read a “hot tip” in a forum and didn’t know that it was wrong. Another client got their bad information from an old SEO vendor.

Ouch. That’s scary stuff.

Unfortunately, some sites are built on stupid SEO copy strategies (hopefully, your site is not one of them.) The strategy may seem somewhat effective. Maybe even logical. But unfortunately, they are like slow-moving viruses that are making the site “sick.”

Here are the most common SEO writing myths I (still!) see:

Keyphrase density

Will. People. Please. Let. This. Die. About the time I think the world is safe from keyphrase density percentages is when I get an email saying, “I was watching a corporate training video, and the recommendation was 3.2 %. Is that still right?”

Keyphrase research has’t been a “thing” since the days of Alta Vista (remember them?). Ignore keyphrase density. Wipe it from your mind. Let it go. Don’t you feel much better now?

Keyphrases (and SEO writing) are dead

No, keyphrases are not dead. They are still alive, kicking and doing well. This tasty tidbit of misinformation stems from Google is much “smarter” than it used to be. Yes, Google can understand the intent of a page. But that doesn’t mean your content should be keyphrase-free. In fact, basic optimization techniques can often propel low-ranking pages to top positions.

It’s true that in today’s world, you don’t have to worry about exact matching the keyphrase every time and repeating it X times. However, you’ll still want to use keyphrases (and synonyms) in your content. Continue to research your keyphrases and use them in your body copy and your Title. Just like always. You’ll be fine.

To the people who say SEO writing is dead, I tell them to look at how Google is laser-focused on quality content. To me, that shows writers still have a seat at the SEO table.

Is keyphrase research still important? Yes.

We used to see spammy pages in the top-10 results all the time. Today, we may see them every once in awhile, but the frequency is way down.

Plus, what Google sees as quality content is changing — in the good way.

Heck, Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines are ALL about assessing content quality. Google’s stance on quality content makes me think that SEO writing will be around for a long time.

Press releases are a great way to get links

Once upon a time, press releases were a great way to get links. You could add some keyphrase-rich anchor text pointing back to your site and blammo–links galore! There were some pretty spammy (and funny) releases back in the day. Sure, the releases deviated far away from the real intent of distributing a release (letting the press know about a newsworthy event.) But people didn’t care.

Today, press releases are still a relevant marketing tactic and can be an essential piece of the overall marketing pie. A well-written release can help you (or your client) get press mentions and even drive traffic. But…

…the links within your press release have zero Google link juice and won’t help you position. Yes, distribute a press release if it makes sense for your business — but know that it won’t help with SEO.

There is a “right” word count for Google

There has never been a “perfect” word count for Google, no matter what the experts say. Yes, I know that some experts say that longer copy (1,500+ words) tends to position better. But that’s not the case for all copy, all the time. Nor should an arbitrary word count dictate how you write the copy.

Your best bet is to write a wide variety of content and let the subject matter dictate the length. You may want to write resource-intensive 1,500-word blog posts and 500-word services pages. That’s OK. Your main criteria should be, “Am I writing this for my readers?” If you start slipping into writing things “for Google,” you’ll mess up our readers’ experience.

Besides, even Google has said that word count doesn’t equal quality content. Longer articles aren’t necessarily better or more authoritative. They’re just…longer.

Guest posting can get you slapped with a penalty

Guest posting gets a bad rap. Once upon a time, people used to score links by submitting to every site under the sun. Did it work? Sure. Did it drive qualified traffic? Nope.

Then Google changed their stance on guest blogging. The great Google gods made it clear that writing a crappy blog post for the sole purpose of driving links is no longer OK.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t guest blog on quality publications your target market reads. Nor does it mean that you can’t accept a guest post from a quality author. It just means you have to be picky.

Guest posting can drive fantastic, targeted traffic. It can help your company build brand awareness. Just target your publications (and court your guest bloggers) carefully. If you’re responding to emails that say, “I’ll blog for you for free in exchange for a link back to my site,” well, you deserve what you get.

There is a secret SEO writing formula

I’ve been in the SEO writing game for over 20 years. If there was a “no fail” SEO writing formula, don’t you think I would be on a beach somewhere counting my Benjamins and watching the waves?

Of course I would!

The reality is, there IS no sure-fire SEO writing formula.

Why?

The “best” approach depends on the keyphrase, the target reader, and the current competition. A 500-word article may be perfect, or way too short. It depends on the query and the intent. What works for my site may not work for yours.

Yes, there are specific best practice “steps,” but they’ve never been a secret. If you ever hear the term “secret SEO ANYTHING,” it’s time to run away.

You should blog “for Google”

Yes, blogging is good. But…

…if the only reason you’re blogging is to get in Google’s good graces, you’re doing it wrong. Yes, blogging is a great way to gain Google positions. But, most importantly, it’s a fantastic way to connect with readers at all phases of the buy cycle.

Google doesn’t care how often you publish new content. So, there’s no percentage to uploading multiple pieces of so-so content every week. I’ve even seen companies try to get positive Google vibes by uploading multiple blog posts a day. How high quality do you think their posts were?

Yeah. You guessed it. Instead of quantity, think quality content.

To summarize: Blogging for readers = good. Blogging for SEO only = bad. It’s simple.

What do you think? What are some of your favorite SEO writing myths that will not die? Post your ideas in the comments!

10 replies
  1. Greg says:

    This is hilarious… “I was watching a corporate training video, and the recommendation was 3.2 %. Is that still right?”

    lolz. And I was thinking it was 3.8% this whole time!

    Reply
  2. Olivia Davis says:

    Great article. Yes, we should always go for quality over quantity. I agree that Google doesn’t care how often we publish new content. Make sure to create valuable and unique content. Of course, we need to be updated with the latest SEO strategies.Thank you for an informative article.

    Reply
  3. Richard Larson says:

    Great article, Heather. It definitely is finally catching on that all of our SEO efforts should be catering to the reader/searcher, not Google. It is nice to see all these tips in one place, I especially liked the tip of running when you read anything about “secret SEO tip”-

    Reply
  4. Subhodip Das says:

    Great Article… I am quite sure that Keyphrases will never die. If you are running an online business or any blog then SEO optimized content should be the main priority for ranking your business or website. With maintaining proper Keyphrase density it’s not possible. Thanks for sharing and informative notes. Keep updating.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] In short, we need to evolve as SEO writers and to learn how to work with Google TODAY — not Google as it was in 2010 (or even 2015.) That means keeping up with what works and not falling prey to common, outdated zombie myths that WILL NOT DIE. […]

  2. […] 7 Outdated SEO Writing Myths That Will Not Die, SuccessWorks […]

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