Some of the Bad SEO Advice I've Heard
Posted by drew on Nov. 9, 2015, 12:58 p.m.
When I started working in the SEO and digital marketing industry, it didn’t take me long to notice a pattern: new clients come to us, unhappy with their current rankings and the work that their current agency is doing for them. These clients often give us a list of things their former agencies told them to do, some of which are completely off-the-mark when it comes to standard SEO practices, so I decided to put together a list of bad SEO and digital marketing advice I’ve heard.
1. Nofollow links aren’t worth pursuing
It’s true that the nofollow attribute on links tells search engines not to follow that link or attribute any SEO value to the linked page, but that doesn’t mean these links are entirely worthless. Let’s remember the original purpose of links: to provide traffic! Nofollow links can still be a good source of traffic. Links also help build awareness of your site, which can lead to more links (some of which may not have the nofollow attribute). For a good defense of nofollow links, see Nicole Kohler’s article.
2. Social media traffic will help ranking
To this day, I still see the occasional study claiming that social media signals affect search engine rankings in Google. They often include some kind of graph that shows matching trajectories for some social signal (Twitter links or Facebook likes) and the site’s search ranking. Let’s remember that a correlation does not necessarily mean there is a causative relationship. Not only is that bad SEO, that’s just bad science. Here is Google’s Matt Cutts talking about this topic directly.
3. All you need to do is write content
This is the “build it and they will come” strategy, in which the only activity given any thought is content development. Now, I’m not going to say that content development isn’t worthy of your attention, because it is, but if you think users will somehow find your content through the billions of pages on the internet, you are probably fooling yourself. Content development should be paired with a content marketing strategy that could include social media, emails, influencer marketing, and technical SEO.
4. Bigger is better (in terms of content length, site size, URL length, etc.)
This rule involves finding a delicate balance. It can be hard to rank well with small sites (like single page sites) or with small amounts of content. Pages without much content could even be vulnerable to a Panda penalty for thin content. However, this doesn’t mean you should create many pages and needlessly long content just for the sake of it. This often leads to overly optimized, low quality content or many pages on a site all targeting the same keywords, which could lead to keyword cannibalization.
5. Target keywords with the highest search traffic
Choosing which keywords to target in your SEO campaign is an art. If no one is searching your keywords, your ranking doesn’t really matter, because you’re are essentially winning a game that no one else is really playing. However, if you target keywords with a high search volume, you may end up facing some stiff competition. When choosing keywords, make sure you target ones that are relevant to your business, have a reasonable amount of consistent traffic, and are attainable in terms of competition.
The list of bad SEO advice could go on and on, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll leave the list at five points. I purposefully didn’t include any of the old SEO advice that would result in penalties, such as buying links, because those have pretty publicly been discredited. The advice above is more insidious because there are still SEOs and agencies to practice these techniques. If you’d like to learn more about Fusionbox’s SEO services, please contact us.