We talk a lot about the best practices for inbound marketing here at HIVE and all the various components that go into crafting strategic, effective campaigns. Website-centric marketing strategy is a quickly-evolving industry and one that can be filled with lots of misinformation if you're not familiar with some important digital best practices. Let's talk about one of the most important digital best practices for your website: SEO.
According to Backlinko1, the #1 result in Google’s organic search results has an average click-through rate (CTR) of 31.7%. The same report also shares that the #1 organic result is 10 times more likely to receive a click compared to a page in the #10 spot. The report also states that websites in the organic results positions #7-10 typically do not generate higher CTR than each other. This means that in order to beat out your competitors on the internet, every business SEO goal should be focused on landing as close to the top spot on search engine result pages as possible.
Improving your search engine result ranking is no easy task. With over 5 billion Google searches made every day, this is something you want to get right. Among the many things that impact your search engine results, there are common website performance issues and user experiences that affect your website engagement, traffic, and, ultimately, organic results. If you're not sure whether or not you have website performance issues, check out our free website grader.
We are here to discuss some of the misinformation about common website SEO myths to leave behind when crafting your digital strategy.
Myth #1: Keywords Don't Matter After Google Hummingbird
It used to be that before the Hummingbird Google Algorithm update, keywords were king, and all that mattered was incorporating popular keywords into your website SEO. It was a simpler time in website development, and an era that ended once Google's algorithm introduced a user intent focus with pillar pages and topic clusters.
Writing content for user intent does not mean keywords do not matter. Keywords still play an important role in website SEO. When writing content, you should pay attention to the amount of searches a keyword has along with the level of competition for that particular word. If there isn’t a great search volume for the word or it is a highly saturated market, it might be worth your time to focus on targeting keywords that will likely have a better return for your website content strategy.
The intent behind Google’s Hummingbird update is to create cohesive content topic clusters that fit together like puzzle pieces and provide web users with easy access to interrelated content on a specific topic. With content linked together by topic, Google is pushing a holistic view of website pillar page topics in order to improve the user experience of finding relevant, useful information online.
If you're using inbound marketing methodology to create valuable content about your business or industry, topic clusters will likely be easy to implement. Take into consideration the keywords you're targeting with each content piece and what keywords your topic cluster are centered around. As you're targeting keywords, don't forget to consider user intent rather than only thinking about what fits your content. For example, why would someone search for “website SEO”?
- Is the person wondering what website SEO is?
- Does the person want to learn how to improve website SEO?
- Are they looking for someone to improve website SEO for them?
Focusing solely on one of these tactics and not the other is a surefire way to lose to your competition on organic result pages.
Myth #2: Keyword-Rich Anchor Text Won't Boost Search Engine Rankings
Another crucial tactic in your SEO strategy is link-building. When other websites link to your website and vice-versa, search algorithms determine you have “authority” in an industry. Brands are linking to you, and you are linking to other valuable information. It shows search engines that your website content thoroughly covers the topic of discussion.
But do keywords matter to search engine rankings when writing anchor text?
This answer isn't a hard yes or no — there's some nuance here to be aware of. The goal of any search engine is to help users find the right sites with the right information and the best user experience available for a query.
It is possible to over-optimize your website SEO with keyword-rich anchor text. Excessive use of keyword-rich text will get you penalized by search engines such as Google (this is known as keyword stuffing). In the world of website SEO and search results, this is something you want to avoid at all costs.
But to say that keyword-rich link text is irrelevant to boosting search engine rankings is a myth.
The trick is to offer a diverse and holistic approach to your link-building strategy. Include targeted keywords in your anchor text where it feels natural and makes sense. Again, search engines such as Google are looking for websites with content that not only answers a searcher's query but also provides them with accurate additional resources to help build a complete topic coverage of what the user is interested in.
This is easy to do when you focus on providing quality content to the users on your website. Search engines reward websites that take the time to create meaningful content and website experiences. So diversify your website links.
There are three types of anchor text we recommend you use to build your link diversity.
- Natural Anchor Text: Follow the natural flow of your content with anchor text that makes sense to be there. Use keyword-rich, brand, or URL anchors in supporting roles for more information.
- Here's an example from a HubSpot blog post about Google updates: “This is why, as businesses and marketers, we must optimize our on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO to make it easier for our pages to rank so consumers can find our content.”
- Brand Name URL Anchor Text: Incorporating more brand or URL anchor text into your website content is a good way to stay away from search engine red flags. For example, HIVEdigitalstrategy.com is an example of brand name + targeted keyword usage as linked anchor text. Linking to popular or central pages of your website (like your homepage, pricing page, or products page) reaffirms to search engines that your website is providing valuable information on your content topics every time a user clicks your link.
- Generic Anchor Text: This is the type of anchor text we often see as a call-to-action on websites that includes vague, generic terminology like 'Learn More, 'More Info,' or 'Click Here'. While these links are used to get the reader's attention, they're not very descriptive and can create a poor user experience if found too frequently across your website. That isn't to say that you should avoid using generic anchor text at all. Interestingly, because generic links are so common across websites, search engines like Google typically associate generic links with organic, internal linking, which search engines like. So use generic text when it fits into your text, and you're linking to yourself.
- Here's an example from one of our blog posts: "Incorporating call-to-actions appropriately should be a high priority for any marketing team. Providing direction to the reader is needed to press upon them a desirable action. Is your marketing strategy utilizing call-to-actions appropriately? Click here to learn how to use calls-to-action in your lead nurturing campaign."
Myth #3: Guest Blogging Doesn't Help Website SEO
Why do we write blogs in the first place? Well, because both Google and our website users love to see new, relevant content. As we mentioned, there are over 5 billion searches on Google every day. Websites must continually create content to fuel the internet's thirst for finding and sharing information. Websites that put out the best content and take their SEO seriously are rewarded with higher rankings on search engine result pages.
There are two components to guest blogging that do help website SEO: fresh content and backlinking.
Luckily for all collaborators, website SEO is a symbiotic relationship. By helping each other, we help ourselves! The internet is a web of connected information in the form of web pages, blog posts, landing pages, and other supportive content that makes up topic clusters.
Your first priority should be to write valuable content. Don’t cut corners when it comes to creating the best content possible. Cover as much information as you can to prove you're an expert in your industry. The content you write (whether you're writing for your own website or someone else's) should show search engines your brand or company is the best option for the related search query.
Your second priority is to backlink to your website from your guest post article. Backlinking is an important part of SEO and one that many people overlook. When websites link to each other, it shows search engines that your content carries a certain level of authority — this is especially true if you can snag a guest post spot on a website that has a higher domain authority than yours. Search engines such as Google look at this as a sign you are a thought leader who is relevant and trustworthy.
We can think of several leading news organizations, such as the New York Times and BusinessWeek that rely on the content of outside authors to contribute their website content and thought leadership. Yet, we see these news websites have high domain authority. Thinking that guest blogging on other websites doesn't improve your website's SEO is a myth you should set aside and get writing.
Want To Improve Your Digital Strategy? Start with your Website
Depending on the capabilities of your marketing team, some of the ideas shared here might be more realistic to implement than others. But there are always opportunities to improve your online presence, and these three debunked myths are opportunities to improve your digital marketing. An optimized, informative, and easy-to-use website is the foundation for any marketing campaign you create, which means that if your website isn't in top shape, you're missing out on attention from leads and customers. Click below for more tips on how to give your website a digital facelift.