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3 of the most controversial SEO myths

The problem with SEO is that a little knowledge is dangerous, and a little knowledge spreads quickly and turns into rumour and misconstrued statements. Suddenly everyone is parroting the same things and following the same (wrong!) advice. I’ve listed three of the biggest SEO myths I regularly see cropping up so you can avoid making the same mistake.

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1. “Relevance is the most important factor for a link”

Of course it’s great to have relevant links to your website as it looks more natural, but the reality is that links from quality unrelated websites with good SEOmoz scores and PageRank have much more influence than relevant ones from those with lower scores. It’s better to have a few high-value links in an unrelated industry than hundreds of poor-quality ones that are related.

It’s not just about what is said but who’s saying it. Would a teacher would prefer to have an award from the government instead of an award from their headmaster? Almost definitely. It carries more weight, even if the government is in a less able position to judge. Would you turn down a link from the BBC even though news/media might not be a directly relevant topic for your website? Of course you wouldn’t.

Of course, in an ideal world you want links that are both relevant and high-quality…but if it comes to choosing between the two, unless you know for a fact it’s an up-and-coming site and destined for great things, always choose the higher-quality link.

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2. “You should link to the same URL with different anchor text on the same page”

This happens surprisingly often, and if abused on a site without much authority can trigger instant penalisation. Rankings for keywords can disappear overnight, although the site may still rank for its own name.

People do this for all kinds of reasons – because they think it will help vary their anchor text, because they think it’s an easy way to improve internal linking, etc. It’s not. Inevitably you will naturally repeat the same URL on the same page and have different anchor text. That’s fine. Keyword stuffing in the same links over and over to try and improve your search rankings is not fine. Especially to your index page, which is where most people do it.

Guess what? Google only counts the first instance of anchor text on a page for any given URL. So everything after the first link to a page (as an example, it’s probably the ALT/title text of your logo or banner for your homepage) is irrelevant. Linking to your homepage multiple times with different keyword anchor text in your footer is going to do you a lot more harm than good, put it that way!

3. “Content is king”

This is probably the most controversial one, so let me explain what I mean here. Content is wonderful. It’s fantastic. We’d have no use for the internet without it. But it’s not the be-all and end-all. ‘Content is king’ sits alongside ‘If you build it, they will come’.

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Great content is essential, but it will only get you so far unless you’re incredibly lucky and everything you create goes viral (hint: that’s not likely to happen).

When you’re dealing with very competitive niches, content is not something that will get you very far, especially if you’re competing with the big boys on the first page. Of course you need great content, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to rank on page one. Awesome links and small tweaks (for example page speed), will help you rise up the first page. Yes, content will help you attract links – to some degree, depending how popular the site is and how proactively you chase links – and you need it before the link building part, but it’s not sitting up there on a pedestal all of its own. There are plenty of other things to consider, especially if you’re chasing competitive first page rankings.

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