4 SEO Myths to Leave Behind in 2023
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a dynamic topic in digital marketing. Every year, it seems the goalposts shift and move as marketers scramble to interpret Google’s mysterious algorithm that changes between 500 and 600 times PER YEAR.
What was once the gospel truth can quickly become outdated (thanks Google 🙄). To land on the front page of search queries and be easily discovered by potential customers, you need to stay on top of the industry-changing SEO trends.
Failing to keep up will leave your content falling on deaf ears. According to Backlinko, only 0.63% of Google searchers click over to the second page for any given search query. So yeah, SEO is important.
In this blog, we’re going over the top SEO myths you should consider ignoring as we head into Q1 of 2024. If you’ve been clutching on to any of the concepts below, it might be time to reevaluate your SEO strategy to give your content the best chance of being seen by your target audience. Let’s get into the top 4 SEO myths to leave behind.
1. Keyword Density is King
Here’s the deal: Keywords absolutely matter. However, as we’ve recently learned, keyword density isn’t as important as it once was.
The reason? Modern search engine algorithms are smart enough to understand what a page is about and how well it matches what the user was searching for. Even though density isn’t considered a high-ranking factor anymore, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be including keywords in the right places.
Instead of keyword stuffing, add them in these specific areas where it makes sense:
- Title tag
- Meta description
Aim for a natural, reader-friendly flow throughout your content. If the keyword doesn’t particularly fit a certain area, don’t sweat it—after all, it’s better to miss a few shots than get penalized by Google for forcing it:
“Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking.”
So what density is ideal? While no one really knows an exact number, Ahrefs recommends reviewing any content above 2% to ensure it reads naturally.
2. You Can't Win SEO with a Small Budget
Is bigger always better? Maybe in some cases. But when it comes to SEO budgets, research performed by independent brands into Google’s ranking factors has never found budgets playing an important role.
The truth is, Google's search algo doesn't give a rip about the size of your budget. Instead, it values the quality and relevance of your content, the user experience you offer, and how well you align with user intent. So if you’re on the smaller side, how can you make the most of your SEO efforts while staying competitive with the bigger players in your industry? Two things:
First, you should focus on keywords with relatively low competition and a decent amount of users searching for the keyword phrase per month. This can be done by using a simple tool, like Ahrefs free Keyword Generator. Second, you should leverage topic clusters, also known as pillar clusters.
Topic clusters are a powerful SEO strategy that involves creating pillar content around a central topic and linking it to related subtopics. This approach not only enhances your content's SEO performance but also helps you maximize your budget's impact by building a network of high-quality, interconnected content that resonates with your target audience.
By focusing on topic clusters and the low-hanging fruit (e.g. low competition keywords with decent search volume), you’ll be able to make your limited SEO budget seem bigger than it might actually be—and rank much higher on Google!
Hey, we’re still talking about SEO myths here. Let’s try and stay on track.
3. Paid Ads Help You Improve Your Ranking
The simple truth is, your paid ads have no bearing on your organic SEO ranking.
How this myth has lingered around until 2023 is confusing. The reality is, these are two separate methods to have your content discovered:
Paid Ads: Paid advertising, such as Google Ads, allows you to bid on keywords and create targeted advertisements that appear at the top of search engine results pages. While paid ads can deliver immediate visibility and traffic to your website, they don't directly influence your organic search ranking. These ads are typically marked as "sponsored" or "ad" and are separate from the organic search results.
Organic Search Ranking: Organic search results are the listings that appear beneath the paid ads on search engine results pages. These rankings are determined by a complex algorithm that assesses factors such as content quality, relevance, user experience, and backlinks. Paid advertising expenditures do not directly impact your organic search ranking.
While paid ads can (and probably should) be a valuable piece of your digital marketing strategy, they won’t boost your organic content ranking.
4. Content Has to Be Lengthy to Rank
500 words? 800 words? 1200 words? Does content length really matter? Yes and no.
Longer content doesn’t automatically equal a higher ranking on Google. The reality is, your content has to fit into average SERP values and satisfy the search query.
This means the length of your content should be driven by the user’s search intent. In other words, your content should efficiently address the specific question the user is searching for. Here’s a sweet bulleted list to drive this point home:
- Match Content Length to User Intent: As stated above, your content should align with what the user is looking for. Some searches may require concise, direct answers, while others may need longer, more comprehensive explanations.
- Quality Prevails Over Quantity: Instead of fixating on word count, prioritize the quality of your content. High-quality content that offers valuable insights, answers questions, and engages your audience is more likely to perform well in search results.
- Engagement Is Key: Search engines also take into account user engagement signals, such as click-through rates and dwell time. Even lengthy content won't rank favorably if it doesn't captivate and inform the audience effectively.
To quickly get a feel for how long your content should be, pull up Google and type in the keyword you want to rank for. Next, click on the top 5 organic results (not sponsored ads) and calculate the average word length.
This will give you a ballpark number to shoot for, as you now know what Google is looking for. Focus on crafting great content for humans first, then optimize for the search engines second—and be sure to use the optimal length to your advantage.