“Do keyword-match or exact-match domains rank?”
“Should I include LSI keywords ?”
“Should I give social signals to a micro-niche blog?”
These are some very popular questions that bloggers have about SEO. And the answer to them all is –
It doesn’t matter!
Now, the troubling thing isn’t the questions themselves. It’s the fact that they are frequently asked.
And because they are frequently asked, it means a lot of blog posts and videos are recommending these things as advice when in fact, these are not the things that are going to move the needle in your SEO rankings.
So in this article, I’m going to cover 5 things in SEO that probably (really) don’t matter or 5 SEO myths. And where you should focus your time and efforts instead.
Before we get started, it’s important to know that the following “things that don’t matter in SEO” aren’t necessarily bad practices. Even if they are implemented, they won’t hurt your SEO. They are just myths.
They are mostly things that people obsess and worry over when they really don’t matter in terms of improving your Google rankings.
So throughout this article, I hope to give you some answers that’ll help you to stop worrying about these things, so you can focus on techniques and strategies that’ll actually make a positive impact on your organic rankings
Let’s kick things off!
5 Pointless SEO Myths
1. LSI Keywords
LSI keywords are commonly known as words, phrases, and entities related to a specific topic.
For example, if you were to write a post about soccer, then keywords like “goal-keeper”, “forward”, “penalty shoot-outs”, “offside”, or even “FC Barcelona” would be considered LSI keywords.
But LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing, and Google doesn’t even use this method for indexing.
Google’s John Mueller has been crystal clear on this one twice:
“…we have no concept of LSI keywords. So that’s something you can completely ignore.”
There’s no such thing as LSI keywords — anyone who’s telling you otherwise is mistaken, sorry
So rather than focusing on spreading random LSI keywords into your content an “optimum” number of times, focus on creating content that’s comprehensive and in-depth.
2. Achieving a content score
The second SEO myth you shouldn’t worry about is achieving a content score in a content optimization tool or SEO tools like Yoast and Rank Math. This is a highly believed SEO myth.
Content optimization tools often give you a score based on the body of your content.
And plugins like Yoast and Rank Math will show a “green light” if you’ve satisfied their criteria.
But these scores don’t mean that your content is optimized for search. It just means that you’ve fulfilled some basic on-page requirements like including your target keyword in your title and content, having a keyword density of 1%, adding some related keywords, and probably a few other things.
And while some of this “green light criteria” is considered on-page SEO best practices, you shouldn’t blindly believe that you are a pro at SEO because these criteria are determined by third parties, and not Google
I’m not saying that Yoast or Rank Math is bad by any means. They’re actually quite helpful when you working with freelance writers or if you are new to SEO.
But, my main point is that you should focus on satisfying user intent because no score is going to be 100% accurate and get you to the top of Google.
3. Word count
Back in 2012, serpIQ conducted a study showing that the average content length of the top 10 ranking pages was more than 2000 words.
Naturally, people started saying that you have to create long-form content that has at least 2000 words in order to get a top-10 ranking. It might be true but only up to a small extent.
Take Amazon as an example. Their pages generate thousand and even millions of visits from Google every single month. And these pages don’t have even close to 2000 words on them.
Without ignoring the fact that they’re the world’s largest e-commerce site, it is argued that it has more to do with search intent, which is the reason behind a searcher’s query.
For example: If you look at the search results for the query, “USB dongle”, you’ll see that the majority of top-ranking results are product and category pages from e-commerce stores.
And if you visit the page from Amazon, you’ll see that the page isn’t stuffed with thousands of words about USB dongles.
And that’s because Google knows that people searching for this query likely want to buy a USB dongle, not read about them.
But you’ll also see the 5th result from PCMag called “Definition of USB dongle”.
And if you look at the body of the content, you’ll find it’s quite short – 117 words to be precise (see below).
If you know a thing or two about SEO, you might argue that for informational queries, you need to write long-form content. That too is false.
Let’s look at the query, “how to soundproof a room” which is clearly a popular and semi-competitive topic.
Scrolling down to the SERP, you’ll see that this article from Nobroker ranks in the top position. Well, that page is 2400 words.
The second position is backed by an article from Popular Mechanics which is just 850 words.
And the third one from Wiki How is around 1100 words.
So does that mean you should create content that’s the average of the top 3 pages, which is 1450 words? Absolutely not!
Further, notice the difference in the word count of the top 3 results?
There is no formula to calculate the optimum word count and that’s because there is no such thing as an ideal word count. Instead, focus on matching the searcher’s intent and creating in-depth content.
And in cases where you do have a high word count, it is the result of creating in-depth articles.
If you are still not buying it, then take a look at what John Mueller tweets 2 years ago.
4. Exact match domains
This is the worst SEO myth today.
Exact match domains are just domain names that exactly match a search query.
For example, if you wanted to rank for how to start a blog, then an exact match domain would be something like howtostartablog.com.
Although it looks very spammy, people used to do this because it worked.
But in 2012, Matt Cutts, former head of webspam at Google, announced a change in algorithm to reduce the number of low-quality exact match domains in the search results.
Despite the fact that Google publicly announced this update in 2012, someone followed up with John Mueller in 2017 (I saw in a YouTube video) asking if exact match domains have some sort of special impact, to which he responded…
“……..There’s no magic EMD bonus.”
Then in August 2021, another person asked about buying keyword-rich domains, to which Mueller said:
“In my opinion, not for SEO reasons.”
Bottomline: They don’t work!
So instead of looking for keyword-rich domains, stick with one that’s brandable and build your reputation rather than looking for an exact match domain bonus – which again, doesn’t exist.
5. Social signals
Social signals are engagements on social media posts like shares, likes, and comments.
And people often think they can get higher Google rankings by getting lots of engagement to a post linking to your website.
This is absolutely wrong!
But Google is the one behind creating these confusing theories.
In 2010, Danny Sullivan said that Google uses social signals in their organic and news rankings. And Matt Cutts confirmed this in a video.
But in 2014, Cutts said that there is currently nothing in the ranking algorithms that put any weight on the number of Facebook likes or Twitter followers a specific page has.
They soon realized that this was an inaccurate way to rank pages because:
- Google was blocked from crawling social media websites for about a month and a half
- Google had challenges with the identification of the content producer on social media
If you still think that social signals are important for higher Google rankings, then just use some common sense.
Anyone can buy a ton of social signals for super-cheap (Have you done that?). So if Googe were to incorporate this into the way they rank their pages, then it would be way too easy to rank.
I don’t mean to say that getting social engagement is a bad thing.
It’s great for building your personal brand and I’ll even say that it can indirectly help your SEO efforts because by amplifying your content on social media, you’re getting more readers for your content. This way your chances of getting backlinks increase, which can definitely do the work.
All of the above were SEO myths that are pointless in today’s SEO landscape.
So what does matter in SEO?
A lot of things!
But if you’re new to the industry, then I suggest cutting out the noise and focusing on these three things:
1. Keep your site in good technical health
The technical health of a website is crucial for its success in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing the website’s technical aspects to improve its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Here are some reasons why a website’s technical health is important for SEO:
A slow-loading website can lead to poor user experience and high bounce rates. Search engines consider website speed as a ranking factor, and a fast website can improve your site’s ranking in SERPs.
I use Cloudflare for improving my website speed.
With the rise of mobile devices, it’s crucial for a website to be mobile-responsive. Google now considers mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor, and having a mobile-friendly website can improve your visibility in mobile search results.
Use the WPTouch Mobile plugin for WordPress for making your website mobile-responsive.
Website security is vital for both users and search engines. If a website is hacked, it can lead to malware infection, data theft, and other security issues.
Search engines penalize websites with security issues, and having a secure website is essential to maintain your site’s ranking.
Install an SSL certificate for your domain. Hostinger provides a lifetime free SSL certificate with all its web hosting plans.
A well-structured website with a clear hierarchy and easy-to-navigate pages can improve the user experience and search engine crawling. A clear site architecture can help search engines to understand your site’s content and improve your site’s ranking in SERPs.
Install and activate the Detailed SEO browser extension for keeping your site architecture updated.
Technical errors such as broken links, 404 pages, and duplicate content can negatively impact your site’s ranking. Fixing these errors can improve your site’s visibility in SERPs.
2. Create quality, interesting, and unique content
Creating unique and quality content for your blog is crucial for good Search Engine Optimization and for engaging your audience.
High-quality content is essential for attracting and retaining readers, while unique content helps to differentiate your blog from competitors and increases the chances of getting noticed by search engines.
Search engines like Google use complex algorithms to determine which pages are relevant to a particular search query, and they prioritize content that is both unique and high-quality.
By creating original and well-written content, you can increase your blog’s visibility in search engine results pages and attract more traffic to your website.
3. Earn backlinks to your pages
Getting backlinks is the best thing you can do for your website. The higher the number and quality of backlinks to your website, the higher will be your website’s Domain Authority, which in turn will ensure better search rankings for your website.
Domain Authority (DA) is a metric developed by Moz that is based on the quality and quantity of backlinks pointing to the site, the age of the domain, and the overall quality of the website’s content.
To build high-quality backlinks for your website, check out this guide.
In conclusion, there are several things in SEO that are often touted as important, but in reality, are just SEO myths.
- Focusing too much on LSI keywords
- Using exact match domains
- Obsessing over achieving a content score
- Optimum word count
- Social signals
While some of these tactics may have been effective in the past, search engines have evolved to become more sophisticated in their algorithms, placing a greater emphasis on user experience and relevance.
As such, it’s important for SEO professionals to stay up-to-date with the latest best practices and focus on creating high-quality content that engages their target audience instead of blindly following the above SEO myths.
By doing so, they can build a strong online presence that will stand the test of time and deliver meaningful results.
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Ali is a passionate and experienced blogger with a mission to teach others how to start their own blog, monetize it, and become successful in the process. He shares the lessons he’s learned on his own journey through personal anecdotes and factual examples.