57. 3 SEO Myths Debunked
(Part 2 with Damon Burton the CEO of SEO National)
Welcome back to episode 2 with Damon Burton. Damon is the founder and CEO of a highly successful SEO agency. In the previous episode, we discussed how Damon is able to set effective boundaries to balance work and family life. We also talked about Damon’s journey to become a successful SEO expert and entrepreneur. In this episode, Damon will be debunking three common SEO myths, and he’ll share a few tips on how to improve our SEO.
3 SEO Myths We Need to Stop Believing
Here are three common myths about SEO (search engine optimization) and why we shouldn’t believe them.
Myth 1: Keyword Stuffing is a Great Way to Boost Our Site’s Ranking
Keyword stuffing is when a webpage attempts to rank higher on a search engine by filling its page with hidden keywords. This used to be extremely popular, and for a while was effective. Damon still gets clients who ask about it, but Google has eliminated this tactic’s effectiveness. Now a website earns its rank only from what a real person would be able to read on the site.
In fact, attempting to hide keywords can now do more harm than good. Google pays attention to a webpage’s bounce rate, which is the percentage of site visitors who enter and then leave without continuing to view other pages within the same site. If a site has poorly written content or it’s stuffed with keywords and doesn’t read well, people will abandon it. If a site’s bounce rate is too high, Google won’t direct viewers to it because they want to create the best experience for their users.
Myth 2: We Must Get as Many Backlinks as Possible
Another common SEO myth is that we should try to get as many backlinks as possible, regardless of the quality of the source. Backlinks are when another website links to our website. Those links count as votes for our site in a credibility-building popularity contest. These links do have value and they always will, but the goal is not to get as many backlinks as possible from unrelated sites. Google gives much more weight to backlinks from the high-quality, related content.
Damon helps his clients focus on creating high-quality content that will attract backlinks naturally from high-quality related sites. These kinds of backlinks will be much more influential in Google’s search algorithm than the backlinks from low-quality, unrelated pages.
Myth 3: Google’s New Algorithm Will Ruin Our Site’s SEO
Many people worry every time Google makes changes to their algorithm. Damon, however, never worries himself with the intricacies of Google’s new algorithms and he has still been able to drive tremendous SEO success for his clients. He thinks that if someone has to worry that much about a Google algorithm change, then it means they’re cutting corners, and it’s going to catch up to them.
With his clients, Damon focuses on the core concepts and principles of SEO, such as site speed and creating great content that people want to consume and share. Because of this strategy, more often than not, his clients aren’t affected too badly by Google algorithm changes, and if they are, it usually impacts them positively.
“I actually don’t get too worried about the intricacies of Google’s new algorithms because if you have to care that much, then it means you’re cutting corners, and eventually it’s going to catch up to you. So, I focus on the core concepts and principles of SEO, and we’ve never had a client get a penalty.”
– Damon Burton
Let’s talk about a few of Google’s major algorithm changes and how they focus on quality.
Google Panda Update
In 2011, Google came out with the Google Panda Update, which focused on the uniqueness of content, not allowing content scraping or stealing content from other sites.
Google Penguin Update
The 2012 Google Penguin Update focused on backlinks. Prior to this update, it was all about the number of backlinks over the quality. Immediately after Penguin, the relevance and quality of backlinks became a lot more important than quantity because Google had recognized that people were abusing it. That is another reason why Damon doesn’t focus on backlink quantity.
Mobilegeddon was another algorithm update. It focused on emphasizing the value of mobile-friendly web designs.
These updates were about improving the quality of the websites that Google recommends. It all comes back to a good page look, a good user experience, and good content. If we deliver good content then our site will rank well.
“Long story short, I don’t care about algorithm updates because as long as you’re not trying to game the system, you’re always going to be on the upside.”
– Damon Burton
As we’ve discussed, having quality content is essential for SEO. Good content has a good site structure where users and Google can find everything easily and identify the product or service that we offer. Good content is also unique, not the same as what everyone else is doing. It should speak to our readers’ problems and pain points and put us in a position of authority to speak to those things.
How Damon’s Team Used Keyword Research to Create Content For the Utah Jazz’s Team Store
When Damon was working with the Utah Jazz team store, they were thinking about what their campaign could monetize. They didn’t want to rank number one on Google for random word bragging rights; they wanted to rank for something they could profit on.
So they did keyword research, starting with relevancy and looking for what people were searching forーwhich keywords were more relevant to their audience for their product or service.
The Utah Jazz’s retail division needed to attract buyers for newer players like Donovan Mitchell, but they also wanted to sell merchandise for legacy players like Karl Malone. They looked into what people were searching about these players, and through the research found something that they never would have thought about. People were searching, “how did Karl Malone die,” but Karl Malone isn’t dead.
It was a great find for them because no one else was going to be writing about that. It didn’t matter that the customer was wrong, that’s what they were searching for. That was an opportunity to consider unique topic ideas like “10 Myths of How Karl Malone Died” that addressed customer’s concerns, and it was the only thing that directly addressed the customer’s intent.
Just because a word has high competition or low search volume doesn’t mean we should say no. In fact, quite often, the words that have little search volume are the best ones to target because they are the most immediately relevant to our product or service. Would we rather have a word that people search 1,000 times and get one conversion from it, or would we rather have a word that people search 100 times, but we get 10 conversions? The payout is what matters.
Being Human on Social Media to Build Relationships
We are constantly bombarded with influencers showing us their spotless houses, perfect bodies, and expensive cars. We’ve become numb to this stuff, which is why it can be very rewarding to be human and vulnerable. It really stands out when someone posts something in their messy house where their kid just broke something. It feels real and we’re able to connect with that person because they’re being human.
Damon always tries to keep his posts relatable, so that his followers will trust him. He talks about real problems people face with SEO or with being a parent, which helps in building his expertise. Then when they are ready for the product or service he offers, they come to him and say, “how do we get started” because they already have that relationship.
“You have a scalable, quantifiable return, and you have a better client because they know what you do.”
– Damon Burton
Damon made a post on LinkedIn that resonated with a gentleman who reached out to Damon. He said he was considering SEO, and he’d like to meet with Damon. They met about a week later, and shortly after the meeting, the gentleman called Damon and said that most marketing meetings he leaves more confused than when he came in. With Damon’s meeting, however, Damon explained why he should and shouldn’t work with SEO National.
The gentleman ended up becoming a client, and two weeks later, he introduced Damon to his neighbor, who worked for a law firm and also became a client. Shortly after, the attorney-client asked Damon if he could introduce him to the Utah Jazz because he was the exiting vice president of the retail division responsible for filling the marketing roles before he left. Damon ended up getting the contract with the Utah Jazz.
So within the span of about a month, he got three new clients all from one authentic post on LinkedIn. Because of quality content creation and credible authenticity, Damon was connected with Jazz. He never would have been able to do that even if he had spent $1,000,000 on paid ads.
Being Human with Our Teams
“Highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability.” (Source: Forbes.com)
Damon has a remote team of about 30 people that he’s been working with for about 14 years. Most of them he has never met in person. Despite that, he has very close connections with all of his team members.
Two of them have asked him to be the godfather for their child. One almost named their kid after him. When two of them were getting married in the Philippines and Damon couldn’t make it because his wife was pregnant, they ordered a 6-foot tall cardboard cutout of him. Cardboard Damon was in the wedding pictures and stood in the line behind the bride and groom.
The emotional ties and connection Damon has with his team aren’t possible without being vulnerable and being human.
Future of SEO
Damon believes that whatever the future holds, virtual reality, augmented reality, or something that doesn’t exist yet, it will rely on the same things it does now: trustworthy, unique content that’s accessible quickly and easily. As long as we understand the importance of establishing ourselves as credible, we won’t have to care too much about the future.
Thank you so much Damon for sharing your stories and knowledge with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
- Don’t attempt to use keyword stuffing.
- Seek after quality backlinks, not the quantity of low-quality backlinks.
- As long as we are creating quality content people want to read and link to, we probably don’t need to be worried about Google’s latest algorithm.
- Good content is unique, easily accessible, speaks to our readers’ problems and pain points, and puts us in a position of authority to speak to those things.
- Be human on social media and with our teams to establish strong relationships.
Connect with Damon
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