Debunking SEO Myths for Good
While it’s true that the requirements for SEO (on-page and off-page) can change rapidly from year to year (or even month to month, depending on how the search engines change), this much can be said of it this year: there are a lot of old strategies that work poorly, if at all.
And this puts business owners at risk if they are spending a handsome amount of cash for search engine optimization.
This would be akin to applying an expensive “fix” to a car, only the “fix” doesn’t even correspond to the year and model of the car. We’d like to avoid this kind of scenario as much as possible, so today’s blog post with the help of SEOExplode is going to focus on debunking some pervasive SEO misconceptions for good.
- User-Generated Content is Bad
Let’s say people write about their experience with buying stuff from your website, or they write a review of you and they post the review on their Facebook or blog.
Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? Some SEO agencies will tell you that user generated content in general is bad, because it’s not completely aligned with the website’s content plan, and they’re not made by experts. Comments and reviews that are added to websites are sometimes removed or isolated, because they don’t ‘read right’ or ‘sound right.’
So what’s the real deal with user-generated content? Are they good for SEO, or bad for your website?
The truth is, while there are instances when user generated content can hurt a website because it speaks negatively of it, much of UGC out there are incredibly useful for social proof or social validation, which is a huge thing in the age of social media.
We can’t really escape the effects of social media, because even big businesses are appealing to people through social media channels to support their businesses.
For ecommerce platforms, reviews (both good and bad) will have a positive net effect on the platform because Google values UGC. So if you have a website that sells physical goods, it is important to allow your users to post their reviews or comments about the products.
This may sound scary to some, but did you know that Google considers human generated content like comments and product reviews as the main content of some pages. User-generated content is always considered in the computation of the final grade of a page. The computation is always guided by the EAT Principle, which corresponds to Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
Some websites will have a higher vetting score than others, and if Google judges a user post as having high trustworthiness, the website that he links to will benefit from the review. Websites that allow customers to post user reviews will automatically get a bigger chunk of the pie. How? You can see as much as an 84% increase in search visibility and traffic just by allowing people to post their UGC on your website. Can you ignore that much traffic boost, and from Google nonetheless? Of course not.
- Stick To What The Competition is Doing
Of course, analyzing what your competition is doing is important. It’s always going to be part of the research process, because we want to stay abreast of what the other folks are doing in the same sandbox.
However, and this is extremely important, just focusing on what your competition is doing is going to be largely problematic, because what usually happens is when a website ranks well for a certain keyword, it stays there unless a really powerful website with lots of engagement and better content comes along.
So there’s a chance that you might get ahead of the competition when it comes to deposing those who are ranking for certain keywords, but it will take a lot of effort, and you are actually better off carving a space of your own with other, more relevant keywords.
One other strategy that is actually a better approach is to fan out and look at other industries or niches, and find out how they are engaging with a similar audience. For example, if you are selling PC parts, you may want to see how the gaming accessories market is doing, and how its top players are magnetizing the market in the first place.
You can emulate your competition only to a certain degree, before the tactic begins failing. In the beginning, it might generate some traffic, but it’s not very sustainable if you think about it.
- Focus More On Technical SEO
Make no mistake: technical SEO is important. But here’s the conundrum – many websites like Magento and Shopify, they’re already pre-configured to have great technical SEO. There are companies and teams behind these platforms that help product pages surface when Google indexes the new accounts.
What fails when a business owner focuses too much on the technical aspect of things is that the actual promotion and content production side begins to wither. After all that effort, the business owner would then be aghast to see that the needle hasn’t moved at all, and the page still isn’t surfacing on Google. Ditto for non-ecommerce websites that have the same function: to promote a new brand.
The failure is the same: people are not interacting with the pages, and people are not linking naturally to it. There is no engagement, no clue that people are even aware of the brand. So how would Google rank such a website or page? It can’t.
So if you want to get good results with your link building efforts, focus on generating high quality links back to your pages by encouraging people to talk about your products and posting them online. From the perspective of natural content generation, this is really the way to go.
Usually, boilerplate approaches rarely work in the long term in the age of social media. If you aren’t ready to engage your audience so they begin linking to your website out of their own volition, you are losing out on a huge opportunity to boost your website’s ranking without really doing anything on the backlink side of your SEO efforts.
Some SEO companies would claim that backlinks are a priority and they have to be engineered as soon as possible because ‘Google is watching.’
This is another huge misconception because even Google has never said that there was a number one factor. There are important factors, but they are all equally important, and sometimes their degree of importance changes depending on the situation (i.e. the context of the search and what the user was trying to do in the first place).
So what’s the next step? If you are at a loss as to what you should be doing, start from the most logical step: start promoting your content, and continue engaging your audience.
The effort here should include widening your audience and getting as many people to see your content so they can read, share, and interact with you. Basically, Google wants websites to start engaging their public more, instead of just engineering backlinks to look authoritative. In a way, this is more ‘old fashioned’ but it is what works, and frankly speaking, Google is right in wanting businesses to be more interactive with their customers.