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Common Search Marketing Myths – Part 5: Keyword Targeting, Guest Blogging and Changing Domain

Welcome to the latest installment in our blog series, Common Search Marketing Myths. We’re here to help debunk a number of misconceptions in the world of SEO and Search Marketing, in order to help you make the most of your online marketing. If this is the first blog you’ve encountered in this series, do check out the previous blog: Part 4: Disavowing Backlinks, Outbound Links and AdWords Bidding. Alternatively, read on to find out how we’ve dispelled myths surrounding keyword targeting, guest blogging and moving a website to a new domain…

Search Marketing Myths Part 5

We're setting the story straight on keyword targeting, guest blogs and domain moves

Keyword Targeting is No Longer Relevant

Following the release of the Google Hummingbird update in 2013, SEOs started to pay less attention to target keywords and more on high quality, valuable content. Moz even ran a survey back in June of 2013 which concluded that less than 15% of your ranking score is determined by page level keyword focus. Search Engine Land also stated, “Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words”. Each of these factors point to key search terms and keyword targeting becoming obsolete. After all, what’s the use of carrying out comprehensive keyword research and optimising each page of your website for your primary search terms, if it doesn’t make a different to your overall SEO / subsequent organic rankings? Surely, it’s a waste of time?

Well, we would argue that it isn’t. Whilst Hummingbird and other Google algorithm updates have changed the way Google takes target keywords into account, they’re still very relevant. As we all know, the Meta Keywords tag used within websites is no longer used or recognised by SEOs and search engines; but keywords placed within your site content are. Just because search engines now focus more on website content and searcher intent than keyword ratios, it doesn’t mean your keywords are any less important. In fact, it indicates a greater need for valuable content which focuses on that intent. In summary, keywords are still important – but focus less on keyword ratio and more on creating quality content around those keywords which fulfill the needs of your user.

Guest Blogging is a Waste of Time

If you work in the world of SEO, you’re likely to have heard the name Matt Cutts. As former head of the Web Spam team at Google, his SEO recommendations have been taken as gospel for a number of years. So, when he published a blog on his website back in 2014 recommending people stop using Guest Blogging as an SEO technique, many people did just that. His blog post even stated that Guest Blogging has, “…become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company”. So, is guest blogging really a waste of time, and if so, why are people still doing it?

If you read Cutts’ blog carefully, you’ll realise that it’s not as black and white as one might initially think. Rather than stating that guest blogging is dead, he appears to have been suggesting that it’s not of much use to anyone if you’re using it in the wrong way, or trying to manipulate search rankings with the content you post. If your guest blogs are spammy, you risk being penalised by Google. So instead of working on guest blogs that contain an overly large amount of content, are keyword heavy and full of links, simply focus on those that provide useful content which is related to that of your website. As long as your blog posts are relevant and helpful, and are not being manipulated to push multiple links to your domain, guest blogging can still benefit your site.

Moving Your Website to a New Domain Will Destroy Your Google Rankings

There are many different situations in which you might find yourself questioning a change of domain for your website. You might have re-branded and need a domain which reflects this, for example. But one thing people might not realise is that, technically, moving to a new domain can have an incredibly negative impact on your rankings within search. By moving the site onto a whole other domain, you’re theoretically resetting your domain metrics and causing all old rankings associated with your previous domain (which no longer exists) to completely drop out of Google. But this doesn’t mean you should avoid moving to a new domain, if it’s the right step for your website or business.

There are actually a number of techniques you can put into place in order to ensure your website and rankings are protected before, during and after a domain move. Primarily, this involves implementing 301 redirects. It’s not enough to simply redirect the old domain to the new one – you also need to ensure that all of your subpages are redirected. If you’ve not changed any of your URL strings and have carried out a straight forward domain switch, this can be done easily using a redirect rule within your .htaccess file. If your strings have changed or been updated, you’ll need to carry out a crawl of every page of your site, before ensuring every one of them is redirected to a relevant URL within the new site / domain. You’ll also need to make sure you’ve created an updated sitemap, submitted both domains to Google Search Console, updated your Analytics account, updated all internal links and resources, and much more. For more information on the process involved, take a look at this informative blog by Moz. Alternatively, get in touch with the SEO professionals at Varn, who will be happy to help.

That’s it for another instalment in our Search Marketing Myths blog series! If you haven’t already, do make sure you check in on our previous blogs within this series: Part 1: Exact Match Domains, Backlinks and Google / Part 2: Meta Tags, H1 Headings and Google AdWords / Part 3: Ongoing SEO, Website Hosting and Mobile Optimisation / Part 4: Disavowing Backlinks, Outbound Links and AdWords Bidding.

See you in the next mythical blog, coming in October!