In tech marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a critical component. Tech companies create specialized products and services that need to be found by the right audience at the right time. However, there are quite a few SEO myths out there that could lead your company down the wrong path! Some of these myths derive from antiquated knowledge and practices. Google's search term has quashed others themselves.
Below, I'll spotlight and dispel five of the most common myths I run into with tech marketers.
Myth #1: Links Do Not Matter
With SEO, there are two link types: internal and external/inbound. An internal link, as the name suggests, is any link that leads to other pages on your website. Internal links help to show Google the relationship between your site's content. John Mueller, Google's SEO guru, recently spoke about the sheer importance of internal links.
Conversely, an external link is an inbound link from another website to your website. External/inbound links hold a lot of weight in Google's books. Think about it—your tech company's website represents your brand's presence and online reputation. In Google's eyes, if you link to another website, you are, in essence, "vouching" for that company's reputability. Otherwise, why would you link to it from your website?
However, it's important not to be too reliant on links as a traffic source. They should be used more as a tool within your SEO toolkit rather than as an all-out strategy. Do not place links, internal or external, without thought & consideration on whether they fit into the context of your content. Also, the quality of the links matters more than the quantity when it comes down to it. Flash back ten years, and the practice of purchasing backlinks to a website was commonplace. Now, this is considered a black hat SEO tactic penalized by Google.
Pro tip: Google Search Console provides a great tool for monitoring your website's the internal and external links. Strive to have 3-5 internal and 1-3 external links with each piece of content you publish.
Myth #2: Google Penalizes for Duplicate Content
One of the most controversial SEO myths is whether Google penalizes duplicate content. In 2021, Mueller tried to put this myth to rest once and for all. For clarity's sake, let's break Mueller's explanation into two areas:
1. Duplicate content repeated across your website
Here's a common example we run into. Many tech companies' websites have global blocks that appear on pages—like a contact us section. According to Mueller, this will not result in a negative ranking signal for your page. To illustrate this, Mueller uses the example of eCommerce sites:
"A really common case for example is with eCommerce. If you have a product, and someone else is selling the same product, or within a website maybe you have a footer that you share across all of your pages and sometimes that's a pretty big footer. Technically that's duplicate content but we can kind of deal with that. So that shouldn't be a problem."
Now, this is not a blanket pass to have swaths of your web pages the same across your site. But, if you have some global blocks or content on multiple pages, there's no need to worry that you'll get a fictitious duplicate content penalty from Google. You always want to make sure the content on pages provides value for your users.
2. Duplicate content from other websites on your website
Okay, this is where the water gets a bit murkier. If we're being super technical and legalese (and on that note, we're not lawyers, so this is not legal advice), copying content from another website onto your own without permission is plagiarism. However, let's say that you work with a reseller and have permission to copy content from their website. Or you re-post a blog on your site after providing rightful credit.
In some cases, according to Mueller, copied content can actually be more relevant than the original:
"And sometimes the person who wrote it first is not the one for example that is the most relevant…when someone is searching it's like maybe they want to find the original source. Maybe they want to find this more elaborate… exploration of the content itself…So, just because something is original doesn't mean that it's the one that is the most relevant when someone is looking for that information."
So, again, I must stress that you should not strive to have plentiful amounts of duplicate content across your website. However, global blocks or snippets from other sites (with permission!) should not cause you to stay up at night, unable to fall asleep, with the fear of a duplicate content penalty.
Myth #3: You Need 2,000 Words Minimum for Your Content to Rank
This is a favorite myth of mine, partially because SEOs understanding of content length has changed in the past couple of years. First, let's state for the record that content length is not a ranking factor in Google search results. However, content length does have an impact on user engagement.
The general rule of thumb is that 2,000 words will provide enough information so that users can get answers to their questions without having to seek out additional resources (which helps with rankings). But this guideline applies only to certain types of industries—it doesn't make sense for every niche market or type of company.
Here's an example. Let's say you search on Google for "how to change a flat tire." You're stranded on the side of a road and just want a quick step-by-step breakdown of how to change the tire; this is maybe 500 words total. You definitely do not want to read a 1,500-word backstory about how the author learned how to change tires with his dad in the garage of his childhood home during the Dust Bowl. Remember: your content should provide value for your users and answer their questions.
Myth #4: XML Sitemaps Impact Rankings
This is a short 'n sweet myth to dispel. A sitemap is an XML file that you can create to help search engines index your site. Sitemaps do not impact rankings at all. However, sitemaps do impact the process of indexing your site by telling Google about the URLs on your website. This can help Google discover new URLs and prioritize which ones to crawl.
As such, while XML sitemaps do not directly influence rankings, a sitemap can boost the prevalence and visibility of your site within Google's search index, which can, in turn, result in increased organic search traffic.
Myth #5: Keyword Research Is Dead
In my opinion, the root of this myth spawns from Google's algorithm updates over the past few years—notably BERT and MuM. These updates have made it less critical for tech marketers to use specific keywords in their content. Previous to these updates, Google's algorithm was not sophisticated enough to understand the relationships between words and their context within the content. As such, tech marketers needed to pay attention to the keywords they used and strategically choose those to try to rank for on SERPs.
With BERT and MuM, Google is far more advanced. However, this has led some to believe that keyword research is dead. This is far from true! In the wake of these algorithm updates, keyword research has changed. While it's less necessary to pinpoint specific keywords and only use those terms within content, keyword research is a great tool to:
- Understand the search landscape, notably what types of terms do people use to find products and services similar to yours
- Balance the specific way you would like to market your product and service with the actual reality of keywords used on Google; do not create acronyms out of thin air that only you use!
- Pinpoint long-term queries and questions on search to use as a basis for content creation
In essence, keyword research is still a great tool in your SEO arsenal to help with your organic search strategy. However, do not stress about using "telecommunications equipment" versus "telecom equipment" in your copy. Google will understand both!