The Latest SEO Trends You Should Ignore

Given that Google changes its search algorithm 500-600 times each year, it’s not surprising marketers get confused sometimes.

Speculations about the latest SEO trends run rampant and are a breeding ground for many myths.

For this reason, it’s sometimes difficult to tell fact from fiction.

Of course, the Internet provides the perfect framework for misinformation to spread at an alarming rate.

As a result, many marketers waste their energy and resources implementing useless tactics that don’t get any results.

Or worse, some implement harmful techniques that get them penalized.

It’s a bad deal either way.

In this post, I’d like to address some particular SEO trends I see many marketers fall for that are really nothing but a waste of time.

Here we go.

Keyword density is a huge ranking factor

Remember the days when jam-packing content with a targeted keyword phrase would send it soaring to the top of the SERPs?

Kind of like this monstrosity:

keyword stuffing1

It made for some lackluster content and provided very minimal (if any) real value to readers.

Thankfully, those days are long gone.

Panda put an end to that back in 2011.

Since then, any SEO marketer in their right mind made sure they weren’t doing any keyword stuffing.

But here’s the thing.

It left a lot of questions regarding proper keyword density.

Obviously, keyword stuffing is a bad idea. That’s a given.

But many SEO marketers still seem to think that keyword density is a huge ranking factor.

They end up putting a lot of time and effort into getting it just right.

Just hit that perfect keyword density, and you’re good to go.

But this isn’t the case.

While it is true that keyword density is a ranking factor, it’s by no means as important as it once was.

There’s no reason to stress about it.

It’s something that you should be conscious of, but it shouldn’t command all your attention.

In other words, there’s no need to drive yourself crazy trying to reach the optimal keyword density.

This line from Backlinko summarizes it perfectly:

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You have to use exact match keywords

There’s another keyword-related myth I would like to put to rest.

And that’s the idea that you should use only exact match keywords.

Let me reference the red apples example one more time:

keyword stuffing1

Beyond the annoying keyword stuffing taking place here, take a look at how every use of the keyword is an exact match.

It sounds ridiculous and unnatural!

That’s not how humans talk.

If it’s unnatural, it’s not adding quality.

And if it’s not adding quality, it’s not contributing to the user experience.

The bottom line is you should use exact match keywords only when it makes sense and sounds natural.

If it makes your content sound clunky, you’ll want to ditch it or use a variation of the keyword.

The concept of always using exact match keywords is extremely antiquated and dates back to when keyword stuffing was acceptable.

But neither has a place in current SEO best practices.

Pop-ups are an automatic deal breaker

In January 2017, Google launched an update known as the “Intrusive Interstitial Penalty.”

Here’s a snippet from the Google Webmaster Blog regarding this update:

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The primary purpose was to provide a better experience for mobile users, ensuring their browsing doesn’t get disrupted by ungodly pop-ups like these:

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This created an uproar in the SEO community with people being deathly afraid to use any type of pop-up on their sites.

And it’s easy to see why.

Why would you want to risk it?

It was an update for which Google gave a warning several months in advance, which in and of itself is pretty rare.

I even wrote an article in late 2016 called “What Are Interstitials, and Are They Hurting Your SEO?” to give my readers advanced warning.

At the time, it seemed like a very legitimate concern.

But now that some time has passed and the dust has settled, it appears it’s not that big of a deal after all.

Most experts agree:

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And I can’t even begin to tell you the number of pop-ups I still get hit with whenever I’m exploring the web or doing research.

In fact, I’m a little disappointed because I hate being disrupted by mindless pop-ups when I’m in the zone and trying to find important information.

Apparently, having pop-ups on your site isn’t the kiss of death.

But if you do decide to use them, be responsible about it.

Don’t go out of your way to interrupt the user experience, and try to make pop-ups as seamless as possible.

It’s all about inbound links

We all know links are super important.

I’ll be the first to say a great looking link profile is a thing of beauty.

But it seems too many marketers are too fixated on just inbound links and forget about outbound links.

Of course, you want authoritative and relevant sites to link to you!

But don’t ignore outbound links:

Outbound links

I mentioned in a post on NeilPatel.com that “outbound links or links that point to external web pages from your own site can actually impact your blog authority. Make sure the pages your links point to are relevant, useful and have good standing with Google. 

And there are plenty of experts who agree.

In fact, Backlinko listed outbound link quality as #31 of Google’s 200 ranking factors.

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That’s fairly high.

But isn’t it a disadvantage when people exploring your site are directed to an external site?

Wouldn’t it adversely affect your bounce rate and average time spent on your site, not to mention your conversions?

Well, as we all know, Google’s top priority is an awesome user experience and great content.

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If you include super helpful outbound links that expand on a topic, you’ll be rewarded.

What I’m trying to say here is all links are important.

Instead of focusing solely on acquiring inbound links, you should link out to awesome resources as well.

Make it a habit.

Note: make your outbound links open in a separate tab. This increases the chance that readers will return to your site, and I find it creates an overall better user experience.

Jamming your site with affiliate links is no big deal

Ah…affiliate links.

What website owner/blogger wouldn’t want to cash in on them?

It’s one of the most efficient ways to get a nice payday with minimal energy expended.

Don’t get me wrong, I like affiliate marketing. I really do.

In fact, a lot of people completely crush it with affiliate marketing.

Just take a look at what Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income made in a single month:

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This isn’t to say that making over 80 grand in a month is the norm.

But it does go to show the potential affiliate marketing has.

So, of course, some people will go overboard and stuff their content with affiliate links, assuming it’s no big deal.

And this might have been the case a year ago.

But if you’re familiar with the Google “Fred” update that took place in March 2017, you know going crazy with affiliate links is tempting fate.

Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land took the time to analyze roughly 100 sites affected by the update, and here’s what he found:

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I would say experiencing a 50-90% drop in traffic is cause for concern, and you should proceed with caution for the foreseeable future.

This isn’t to say including a few affiliate links here and there will kill your traffic, but it’s definitely something to be aware of.

Having an abundance of affiliate links signals to Google that making affiliate sales is the main purpose of your content, which could negatively affect your rankings.

Conclusion

I’ll be honest.

SEO can be maddening at times.

There are always some kind of adjustments being made to Google’s algorithm.

Some are major; some are minor. But this constant tweaking often leads to speculation.

This speculation leads to rumors, and rumors lead to persistent myths.

That’s why I thought I would clear the air about some of the most pervasive SEO trends that are actually quite useless.

I hope that putting things into perspective for you will help you focus on what really matters and help you avoid investing your time and energy into tactics that won’t bring any results.

It should also reduce your odds of incurring any ugly penalties.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest SEO myth that marketers continually fall for?

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Comments

  1. J. Ustpassing :

    “… In your opinion, what’s the biggest SEO myth that marketers continually fall for? …”

    Hmmm.
    There is only 1 major myth that I’ve seen that is pervasive and long-standing;
    Correlation = Causation

    Time and time again people look, make an observation then assume that it’s an actual fact.
    No testing, no attempts to disprove … just a reaction and a grasp at what is usually straws … and the rush to make a name as the person to spot/share it.

    More specific ones that have irked me over the years…
    1) Social Signals are ranking factors
    2) Google uses Analytics metrics (such as BounceRate) as a ranking factor
    3) Adwords gives you a ranking boost
    4) A pages PR is negatively affected by the number of links from that page

    • Good additions to the list. People often mistake coincidence as a cause-and-effect scenario.

      • J. Ustpassing :

        The problem is, people don’t test (or retest).
        They look, they see, they sometimes think … and then they declare.
        What they should then do is look for evidence that goes against their idea, and failing that, try to prove themselves wrong.

        Take social signals – for years certain SEOs pushed the idea that things like Facebook likes influenced rankings.
        They utterly ignored the obvious – share on social, increased views, increased backlinks.
        Moz’s Shepard did it with Googles +1’s – stating that they were a ranking signal … when in fact, they were merely a coincidence … the real factor was the links that occurred on peoples G+ Profile when they hit +1.
        In every case, the social factor was either logic (increased views = increased chances of links) or obvious (it was links!).

        Then there’s the concept of BounceRate impacting SERPs.
        Logic screams it’s not possible – as only a fraction of sites use Google Analytics. But pointing that out to certain SEOs had no effect. Then explaining that some pages are meant to have high BR met the same sort of result.
        For years that stupid myth abounded (I think I even convinced someone at G to make a video explaining it wasn’t BR … but that didn’t stop it either!).
        (The obvious here is that it’s the SERPs interactions that is the factor, nothing to do with GA)

        Far to many people look to far to many people, and far to few stop, think and test 🙁

  2. hey whats up neil. long time since i looked at any of your content, but im going to be putting some products together and some other things, got an NGO im working on too, so i like to look your content, you provide real value, and your relatable, you’ve been there done that lol

    so anyways, over the years after doing seo, and doing seo for a furniture company , i feel like it’s not really worth the stress of all the “un-nonevariables” dealing with googles algorithms. i mean, to me it’s so much easier to “create” some unique tactic or angle that know one else is doing to create traffic for a more targeted funnel etc etc. . like for example, i had a dating service and product i was trying to promote, and i just went on craiglist and emailed people on the personal ads section, etc etc. i created a fake profile with a hot girl generated more traffic, one for dating site and one for FB. to me, it was less stressful and i got soooo much more traffic, i mean that dating profile was getting 500 new messages a day, lol. to me it’s like the organic white hat seo is always going to implement things that will be adverse to marketers, because that’s there job i get it, they have to keep search clean for the world, and im totally find with that, when i do a local google search i dont want to be spammed with ads, which is exactly my point, it’s hard for a marketer to survive and have any certainty with google switching things up so much, i made a youtube account with ringtones online and i made a couple hundreds of dollars all for it to get slapped and all those countless hours of work to be thrown in my face. do you get my point? its why over the years i had kinda evolved to a more grey hat seo type of outlook. lol. these are my thoughts, what are yours?

    i can’t stand uncertainty

    • I’m a big advocate of white-hat SEO and not gaming the system. You might get short-term spikes in traffic, but the only way to generate long-term gains is by playing by the rules.

  3. https://www.socialskillshub.com/on-page-seo/ :

    If neil is writing it it must be awesome.
    Thanks for the article.

  4. thank you for sharing information.

  5. http://littlequote.com/quotes/positive-vibes :

    Thank you for sharing this!

  6. Neil, a few years back I had a Skype call and you reviewed my website: http://sandwicheikaiwa.com

    I have often wondered how Japanese script affects SEO. For example, Japanese script has few spaces. You can have an entire paragraph without a single space. The Yoast plugin will often indicate that my post contains far below the recommended minimum of 300 words, when I know it is not the case – it is just the lack of spaces between kanji. I wonder if Google’s algorithm factors things like this in for the Google Japan search engine.

    • It’s more important to optimize your content for your audience than for SEO. Focus on making your site as mobile-friendly as possible and optimizing for keywords rather than length.

  7. Nice Post… Thanks for sharing this information.

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