Most SEO companies have some strategy that they claim will get you ranked first in Google. Generally that line is used as a marketing technique, but if you ask the really successful companies what the secret to great search results is, you’ll likely find a host of different strategies that they claim are crucial for ranking highly in search engines.
Yet the truth is that nearly all of them are totally bogus, and that these SEO companies are falling for one of the traps of pseudoscience – using correlational data to prove causation.
Separating Truth vs. Fiction with SEO
Correlation does not equal causation. This is one of the first things you learn in the scientific field. When all you’re tracking is results without controlling for other variables, you can’t claim with any certainty that the results you’re getting are due to all of the factors you put into the work.
Not long ago I did content writing for an SEO company that claimed they unlocked the secret to search engine optimization. They are one of the leading companies internationally, and they believe in the following strategies:
- Keep all content within 50 words of the leading websites in Google for the targeted keyword.
- Bold all keywords throughout the article.
- Italicize keywords when they occur in bolded subheadings.
- Add 50 pages of content monthly with a minimum 12 month (600 page) commitment.
- Add a photo to each page.
- Keep keyword density between 2 to 3%, no more or less.
- Use exactly the average number of subheadings as the first 5 pages in Google.
This company is incredibly successful. They’ve helped numerous websites rank well in Google. They are so successful that they hold workshops all over the glove, and people pay thousands of dollars to attend. They truly believe they’ve unlocked the Google secret.
Except, they haven’t.
What they’ve done is they’ve allowed correlation to equal causation. They’ve initiated all of these strategies at once, and when they saw success, they believed it was because each and every one of those strategies was successful.
The reality is that Google has no reason to reward companies for unusual content tactics. At their heart, search engines are designed to be a resource. Their entire purpose is to match people with content that is best related to their search term.
Bold keywords have nothing to do with content quality. The exact number of subheadings has nothing to do with content quality. Adding a photo has nothing to do with content quality. No search engine is going to look at well written content and decide “this doesn’t have bold keywords, so it must be worse than this other piece of worse content” nor is it going to decide “this article is 200 words longer than the previous article, so it must be worse.”
So Why Did Their System Work?
As mentioned, the system that SEO company used was effective at getting their clients results. It’s just that the reason it was effective likely had nothing to do with the photos, the bolding, or the subheading count. The reason it was effective was most likely the 600 pages of well written content, turning their website into an enormous database of information.
Content is how search engines figure out the value of websites, and content is how those that search for content find your website and link to it.
Content Marketing and SEO
It’s not impossible for some of these unusual strategies to affect your content, but the likelihood is incredibly slim. There is simply little reason – especially after the Panda and Penguin updates – to believe that Google would reward websites for these unusual strategies, when content itself is all that searchers are looking for.
Google, and other search engines, have one job. Their job is to match searchers with information. They can’t do that unless they’re judging content based solely on the quantity and quality of that information. There is certainly more to SEO than just content writing (incoming links and tags are important), but all of these random and strange beliefs that exist in the SEO world are highly unlikely to be true. If you really want to improve your search engine rank, quality, well written content should be your first priority.
Bio – Micah Abraham is lead content writer for Great Leap Studies. Learn more about content writing and marketing at www.greatleapstudios.com.