If you’ve been working to revise your website content to improve its visibility on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) such as those generated by Google and Bing, then listen up. The rules of SEO are constantly changing so you want to make sure you don’t get misled by common misconceptions about what constitutes strong website content.

Before diving into all that, though, here’s the gist of SEO: If your website content includes words and phrases that relate to your business, then, when users search for those keywords, your site will appear (or rank) higher on the list of results. Businesses with a physical location (like restaurants, tourist attractions and shops) use the more targeted approach to SEO — called local SEO — to generate traffic among users in the same geographic location.

For instance, if someone knows there’s a gardening shop near a certain intersection in his town but doesn’t remember the name of the shop, he may search online for “garden shop sometown.” If your website content contains these words in a meaningful way, then your site will likely appear in the person’s search results. On the other hand, even if this search phrase perfectly describes your company, your site may not appear in the search results if your content doesn’t convey that information to the search engines through appropriate SEO.

So, when considering website updates, watch out for these three SEO misconceptions:

Misconception #1: The more keywords, the better

You may be thinking, “If one SEO keyword is good, then 20 must be better!” Actually, the magic number seems to be three to seven keywords or key phrases per page. But willy-nilly placement of keywords doesn’t do the trick. Relevant terms must actually appear in the content of that web page in meaningful ways. In other words, stuffing web pages with lots of keywords that aren’t well-integrated into the fundamental information provided on the page can actually lower your search engine rankings.

But don’t worry; there’s an upside to such careful content development for your site. Limiting the number of keywords can help you focus the information you provide for target customers. That is, by honing in on what your prospects are searching for online, you increase the odds that people who find your website will actually buy your product or service. Leveraging local SEO can make it easier to attract customers that are physically closest to you.

Professional copywriting services may be able to help you incorporate keywords more naturally into your website content.

Misconception #2: The less text, the better

Too much content on a web page can overwhelm and distract website visitors. Similarly, too little content on your website may not provide enough value to make the visit seem worthwhile. Leaving too much empty space on a page also limits opportunities for you to include your keywords. The trick is finding that just-right balance to offer your customers and prospects a positive experience because here’s the deal: If users can’t figure out what your business does, they’ll probably move on to your competitors.

Valuable website content answers questions that potential customers may have about your business, industry or area of expertise, and it does so concisely and accurately. Make sure you cover the basics, such as hours, location and product information. And do your best to avoid irritating your visitors. Blinking graphics, all capital letters, outdated information, flash animation and hard-to-read text can drive visitors away faster than a kid with green snot at the playground.

Misconception #3: More links means higher rankings

Ultimately, your website exists to share information about your business and its offerings with potential customers and (hopefully) persuade people to do business with you. To that end, including a few valid and relevant links in your web content — to other sites online and other pages of your own site, called interlinking — to help your visitors get the information they’re seeking, then your SEO rankings will reflect this good deed. But too much of a good thing will hurt you. That is, using the wrong links or linking in the wrong way can lead to penalties by search engines.

Here are some SEO no-no’s related to links in your website content:

  • Broken links
  • Multiple links with the same keyword
  • Links to foreign-language sites

The takeaway: Website content that is geared toward helping potential customers get the information they need while helping search engines find your website is a win-win strategy for both relevant search engine ranking and converting your website traffic into sales.