Some of the popular and frequently asked questions related to SEO are: 'Do domains with the broad, phrase, or exact match keywords, rank?, Do LSI keywords work? Does giving social signals to a micro niche blog help?
You must be thinking that these questions are not troubling, then why do people ask them again and again? Because a lot of blog posts and videos are recommending these things as advice. When in fact, these are not things that are going to move the needle in your SEO rankings.
So in this blog, we'll cover five things in SEO that probably don't matter and where you should focus your time and efforts instead.
However, before we get started, it's important to note that this list of "things that don't matter in SEO" is not exactly SEO myths and they are not necessarily bad practices. They're mostly things that people obsess and worry over when they really don't matter in terms of improving your Google rankings.
Hence, we'll give you some answers that'll help you to stop worrying and focus on techniques and strategies that'll actually make a positive impact on your organic rankings.
Let's get started, here are five things that don't matter in SEO:
1. LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords
People often refer to "LSI keywords" as related words, phrases, and entities to a topic. For example, if you were to write a post about baseball, then keywords like "pitcher," "catcher," "outfield," "shortstop," or even "the Boston Redsox" would be considered, "LSI keywords."
However, LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing, and Google doesn't even use this indexing method. In fact, Google's John Mueller said: "There's no such thing as LSI keywords." So rather than focusing on sprinkling "LSI keywords" into your content X number of times, focus on creating content that's comprehensive.
2. Content score
The second thing you shouldn't worry about is achieving a great score in content optimization tools that often give you a score based on the body of your article. And SEO plugins like Yoast will show a green light if you've satisfied their criteria.
But these scores don't mean that your content is optimized for search. It just means that you've met some basic on-page requirements like including your target keyword in your title and content, inserting some related keywords, and probably a few other things.
While some of the "green light criteria" is considered on-page SEO’s best practice, you shouldn't waste your time obsessing over scores because these aren't determined by Google but created by third parties.
We aren't concluding that content optimization tools like Yoast are bad by any means. In fact, they're quite helpful when working with freelance writers or if you're new to SEO. But the main idea here is that you should focus on satisfying user intent because no score is going to be 100% accurate and get you to the top of Google.
3. Word count
In 2012, serpIQ conducted a study showing that the average content length of the top 10 ranking pages was more than 2,000 words. Naturally, people started believing that you have to create long-form content that's at least 2,000 words in order to get a top 10 ranking.
But correlation doesn't imply causation. For example, Amazon's pages generate thousands and even millions of visits from Google every single month. But these pages don't have even close to 2,000 words on them.
Aside from the fact that it is the world's largest eCommerce site, it is arguable that this has more to do with search intent, which represents the reason behind a searcher's query. For instance, if we look at the search results for the query, "USB dongle," you'll see that the majority of top-ranking results are product and category pages from big box stores. And if we visit the page from Best Buy, you'll see that the page isn't stuffed with thousands of words about USB dongles.
It is because Google knows that people searching for this query likely want to buy one. Not read about them. But at the same time, you'll also see this result from PCMag called: "Definition of a USB dongle." In addition, if you look at the body of the content, you'll see it's quite short.
You might already know a bit about search intent so you might argue that for informational queries, you need to write long-form content. But, it is also not true.
Let's understand why it is so by taking an example of a topic like, "how to build a deck," which is clearly a popular and semi-competitive topic.
Scrolling down to the SERP, you'll see that this article from Lowes ranks in the top position and that page is 1,009 words. The article from 'This Old House' is just under 1,400 words. And the other one from 'Family Handyman' is 964 words.
However, it doesn't mean you should create content that's the average word count of the top 3 pages, which is 1,120 words.
In fact, there is no formula to calculate the exact word count you should aim for and that's because there is no such thing as an ideal word count. Instead, focus on matching searcher intent and creating content with depth. Also in cases where you do have a high word count, that's usually a byproduct of creating in-depth articles. If you're still not convinced, then take a look at what John Mueller said on Reddit:
"Word count is not a ranking factor. Save yourself the trouble."
Getting back to the topic at hand, let's continue with the fourth thing that doesn't matter in SEO.
4. Match domains
There is quite a bit of history behind this.
Exact match domains are just domain names that exactly match a target query. For instance, if you wanted to rank for best weight loss pills, then an exact match domain would be something like bestweightlosspills.com. You might think of it as spammy, but people used to do this because it worked.
But in 2012, Matt Cutts, former head of Webspam at Google, announced that there would be a change to reduce low-quality "exact match" domains in the search results.
Now, despite the fact that Google publicly announced this update in 2012, someone followed up with John Mueller in 2017 asking if EMDs have some sort of "special impact." To which he responded…"There's no magic EMD bonus."
Then in August 2021, another person asked about buying keyword-rich domains, to which Mueller said: "In my opinion, not for SEO reasons."
The Bottomline is that they don't work.
So instead of looking for keyword-rich domains, stick with one that's brandable and build your reputation rather than looking for an EMD bonus- which again, doesn't exist.
5. Social signals
Social signals are engagements on social media posts like shares, likes, and comments. People often think that you can get higher Google rankings by getting lots of engagement to a post that links to your website. Which is flat-out wrong.
Not to mention, a lot of this theory comes from confusing messages from Google. In 2010, Danny Sullivan wrote that Google uses social signals in their organic and news rankings. And Matt Cutts actually confirmed this in a video that same year.
However, in 2014, Cutts said that to the best of his knowledge, there are currently no signals in the ranking algorithms that put any weight on how many Facebook likes or Twitter followers a specific page has.
Long story short, they realized that this was an unreliable way to rank pages because:
a) they were blocked from crawling social media websites for about a month and a half
b) they had challenges with identification.
Basically, anyone can buy a ton of social signals for super-cheap. So if Google were to incorporate this into the way they rank their pages, then it'd be way too easy to game. It's not to say that getting social engagement is a bad thing.
It's great for building your personal brand and I'll even say that it can indirectly help your SEO efforts. Because by amplifying your content on social media, you're getting more eyeballs to your content, some of which can turn into backlinks, which can definitely move the needle.