Content Marketing Minds: 7 SEO Myths, Busted!
Hi there. I'm Jean. I'm not Barry Feldman, who used to be a regular contributor to this column. And I'm not Barry Feldman dressed up in a Jean costume. Because that might be confused with a "denim costume" and we might end up with some sort of Canadian Tuxedo mix-up. More of that later (or maybe not).
Are we off to a good start? Let's back up one step:
I'm Jean (@JeanWrites). A new columnist for Content Marketing Minds. Today is my first post. A special, big thanks to Barry Feldman for making this column what it is today, and for recommending me to be his successor in writing what has become an influential column for content marketers. If you are a regular reader, you know Barry's left me with some big sassy shoes to fill. I hope I can.
A little background on me: I got my start in the world of journalism working for some small newspapers, as well as The Wall Street Journal out of their Washington DC bureau covering US politics. When I realized reporting on political hogwash and fielding "declines for comment" weren't my cup of tea, I moved to Boulder, Colorado to join the ranks of entrepreneurs. There, I successfully ran my own company for three years where my primary responsibility was digital marketing and branding. At the time we called it "buzz building." Now, we call it content marketing.
Currently, I am a content marketing manager at Kapost, the world's best content marketing software for enterprise companies.
As for CMMinds, I am very excited to continue Barry's legacy of sassy, tongue-in-cheek content news. But I'm also kind of a numbers geek, so expect data, facts, and figures from my posts, too. Cheers to Barry, Social Media Today, and the future of this column.
And now for today's post....
When it comes to SEO, there are about a million beginner guides to getting started. They feature things like basic differences between on-page and off-page SEO, what Hummingbird was, and the importance of "original content."
Blah, blah, blah.
I wanted to know MORE! As professional content marketers, it's important to integrate good SEO practices into everything that we do to boost search rank and site credibility. But's it's not always easy to put aside content production to stay informed on a topic that (though crucial) is also slightly accessory to our main jobs.
Luckily, I'm friends with a few SEO experts including Chris Boulas. Chris has been instrumental in web analytics for startups and Fortune 500 companies alike. Recently, Chris talked me through some major SEO topics. I couldn't help but have my mind blown, as we went over SEO areas for which I thought I knew some best practices. Turns out, I was wrong.
Here are some of the key SEO myths Chris busted that all content marketers should know:
Organic, quality links that point to your site are an essential component of any successful SEO strategy. But did you know that the hyperlinks you receive do better if they are not exact words matches? This makes sense when you consider what Hummingbird is trying to do: get the sense of semantics around words and concepts and erase spammy keyword stuffing.
A more powerful link is one that is semantically complete. That means, link key phrases or sentences that encompass your keywords to give Google a greater understanding of context. Here's an example:
WORSE: Kapost is a SaaS company that provides marketers with a platform for content marketing.
BETTER: Kapost is a SaaS company that provides marketers with a platform for content marketing.
Think that Google ratings are set in stone? That the first place position will never be ousted? Think again.
There were only 9,700 daily Google searches in 1998. Now there are 5.9 billion.
Over three-quarters of all Google answers (78%) change position DAILY. This is a results of massive shifts in the way that Google's algorithm interprets information. Especially as companies increase the volume of content they produce, and consumers are more connected than ever making more than 5.9 billion search queries per day.
Yes, users are contributing 5.9 billion search queries per day, but the rate of content creation is actually outpacing the rate of search queries.
The fact is, we all only have 8,765 hours in one year. Whether we are gaming, reading blogs posts, or sharing social statuses, our time is inherently limited. Fishkin says, "every new activity cannibalizes another."
That means, every piece of content or social share we produce reaches a smaller audience as more people join networks and spend time producing content online.
This has a big impact on content marketers. It means that as content generation goes up, the likelihood of anyone seeing a piece of created content gets proportionately lower.
This underscores the need for content marketers to produce compelling, innovative content that pleases users.
Nope. Google actually updates their algorithm 500-600 times per year.
SEO strategists and digital marketers often freak out when Google announces big updates like Panda or Hummingbird. Nervous shockwaves pulse through the digital marketing community as brands bite their nails in fear that they'll lose their coveted #1 spot.
It seems a bit of an overreaction when you know the truth: Google is updating their algorithm ALL THE TIME, up to 1.64 times daily, in fact. The number of changes shouldn't be too big of a surprise, as being the best search engine is their primary business. Software engineers know product updates are frequent and required. At Kapost, we release roughly 300 new product versions per year, a rate of .82 per day.
Monitoring keyword position is a barometer for organic viability and relative "correctness" for search terms, but tracking every combination or permutation of your product won't deliver measurable results. The better keyword strategy is to start with a manageable number of keyword domains. Chris recommends 30.
As your ranking and stronghold improves on those 30, slowly add more keywords into your tracking software (we recommend Moz). As you grow, think of 150 as a good longterm target.
Not even close. As it turns out, there is an 80% difference in click-through rates between Google's 1st and 10th result on page one of results. In fact, the 10th Google answer gets only 8.3% CTR, and the chance they move to the second page of Google answers is almost zero.
More specifically here's the breakdown of click-through rates on Google's first page of results:
POSITION 1 - 43.2%
POSITION 2 - 30.7%
POSITION 3 - 23.3%
POSITION 4 - 19.7%
POSITION 5 - 15.1%
POSITION 6 - 14.3%
POSITION 7 - 11.4 %
POSITION 8 - 10.1%
POSITION 9 - 8.9%
POSITION 10 - 8.3%
Sorry, folks. This isn't true either.
Google is highly sensitive to spammy, "black-hat" SEO building tactics, and jamming keywords into things like alt tags and meta-descriptions can actually be detrimental to your SEO efforts. It could raise a red-flag that your company is participating in contemptible tactics, and you definitely don't want to be on Google's bad list. A better practice is to keep your meta-descriptions short and sweet, about as long as a Twitter post (140 characters). The description should have unique language, original copy, and provide authentic context to the page it's describing.
Hopefully these tips have helped clear the air for SEO and what you should be doing, and busted some preconceived notions you had about the practice.
Content Marketing Minds is published every other Monday.
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