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Why You Must Stop Obsessing About These 5 Things in SEO

Are you obsessed with the wrong things in SEO? Here are five things that are overrated or badly misused and a couple trends that still hold weight.


As SEO professionals, we tend to obsess over every detail.

Really, though, not everything in SEO is worth our full time and attention.

What follows is a list of trends that many in SEO believe are overrated or misused.

Before writing this, I reached out to the wonderful SEO community on Twitter to help contribute to this list of things you must stop obsessing over. Thank you to Search Engine Journal for extending my reach to get submissions.

At the end of my list, I’ve included a few submissions that I believe still hold value and are not overrated.

Most of the entries on this list are debatable, so if you have any strong opinions or data to counter these points, please leave a comment below!

1. Voice Search

Surprise, surprise! I’m pretty sure 99% of you expected this to be on this list. Figured we could get it out of the way early.

First, we need to understand that there’s a fundamental difference between voice search and voice assistance. Most studies that declare that voice search is on the rise are using examples that are voice assistance.

  • Voice Assistance: “What time is it? What’s the weather? Set a reminder!”
  • Voice Search: “Find breakfast spots that are open now. Best barber near me.”

Why Is Voice Search Overrated?

Voice search is often overhyped as the future of technology and is often predicted to be the primary way that users will interact with businesses.

When SEO professionals talk about voice optimization, they’re mostly referring to getting their sites to answer frequently asked questions.

While that’s fine and dandy, think about what kind of benefit this brings to your site? How is your voice strategy going to generate revenue for your site?

The reality is, we’re still in the infant stages of voice search.

We’re still developing new ways to use voice search and exploring practical uses for voice in business.

It’s worth noting that voice search is actually down in 2019 compared to the previous two years.

How to Make Voice Search Viable

Currently, voice is a viable option for local businesses, especially restaurants, and some ecommerce options.

It’s fascinating to see what people are buying through voice search.

For local businesses, focus on your citations and learn which sources home assistants are using to pull local business data. Once you have that list, focus on review generation for those sites.

If you’re not a local business but believe voice search can add additional revenue to your business, put your efforts toward developing custom apps to integrate within the home assistant device network.

2. Duplicated Local Landing Pages

I’ll be honest, I was guilty of this in my early SEO years.

However, what used to work in the past won’t necessarily last forever.

There are many businesses, such as attorneys, that only have one location but need to rank in cities across the country.

So just get some virtual offices, right? Wrong!

While I love the idea of a virtual office, they’re just not as effective as they used to be. They’re currently moving from an “iffy” practice to much more risky.

To counter this, many websites are building keyword-stuffed landing pages for every city they want to rank in.

Why Duplicated Local Landing Pages Are Overrated

These pages don’t account for user experience and tend to increase the amount of common/duplicate content on your site.

You can really only rewrite the same content over and over again so many times.

What Can We Do Differently?

I’m not discrediting this practice completely. There is value in having pillar pages for targeted areas.

To make these pages better, focus on the user experience. Try to include these elements on your location pillar pages:

  • First-party testimonials from businesses in that area.
  • Mention specific local business districts from that area in your copy.
  • Mention common challenges for businesses that are unique to that area.
  • Optimize the meta data for the images on those pages.
  • Make a metro page instead of a city-specific page.
  • Set up your GMB as a service area business. While these may not rank as well as businesses with a physical address, following the rest of these tips may help you climb your way to the top three.
  • Get more GMB reviews from businesses in that area, but make sure they mention that city in their review.

3. Local Citations – Quantity over Quality

Many large citation management SaaS companies are pushing the importance of having your business on as many location directories as possible.

Why This Is Fluff

Case studies, like this one from Moz, show the value of having your business listed in a specific list of directories.

However, quantity does not always equal quality!

How to Win at Local Citations

Yes, get your basics done. Focus on 20-30 top tier citations, then move on to more industry-specific listings.

This is especially important for businesses that require authority, such as healthcare.

4. Obsessive Rank Tracking

What?! An SEO thinks keyword rank tracking is overrated? Well, “it depends!”

You don’t have to track every little keyword you find in your research.

Why Tracking Every Keyword Is Overrated

Many keyword rank tracking tools tout their ability to track an unlimited number of keywords.

The reality is that every keyword has a variety of search intents and may not give you the best impression of your performance.

How to Track Keywords Better

Focus on fewer keywords.

In most cases, I don’t like to track more than 30 keywords (though this varies from client to client).

I’ve found that 30 keywords are much easier to manage than 100+ keywords.

Before tracking these keywords, run a manual search on each keyword and look at what comes up. Is it producing the results you expected?

5. Guest Posting

Guest posting can still hold some weight when used on high-quality sites.

Where SEO pros tend to get this wrong is when they focus their efforts on guest posting networks. These tend to all share the same IP, which makes it easy for search engines to detect link spam.

How to Make Guest Posting Work

I definitely recommend avoiding any kind of guest posting networks. Instead, focus on crafting an effective guest post outreach strategy that targets publications in your industry.

BONUS: Trends That Still Hold Weight

I got quite a few suggestions on Twitter that didn’t quite make the cut. Many digital marketers claim that these are over-emphasized, but I’d like to pose some counterpoints.

Algorithm Names

Why is this not overrated? Well, names are fun, but they also help us keep track of specific updates.

It’s important to have short, memorable names because names like March 2019 Core Update doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. That’s why many SEO pros chose to stick with Florida 2.

Pillar Pages

I get why this concept is popular, and I get why many see this as a spam tactic.

However, creating comprehensive landing page to cover a single topic can potentially improve the user experience and internal linking structure.

See Something Missing?

Do you think something is missing from this list? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

More Resources:

Category SEO
VIP CONTRIBUTOR John McAlpin SEO Consultant at John McAlpin SEO Consulting

John McAlpin has nearly a decade providing advanced SEO consultations to health organizations across the United States. John is deeply ...

Why You Must Stop Obsessing About These 5 Things in SEO

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