SEO is a constantly evolving science. That makes it hard to know which tactics are helpful, and which could actually be hurtful. It’s important to be up-to-speed on the latest algorithms and practices or you risk harming your firm’s online visibility. Here are 12 outdated SEO practices that we now know to stay away from.
1.Using Keywords Improperly
Keywords play a vital role in SEO, but how to use them isn’t always clear. Too many content creators write content around their keyword research, instead of including keywords organically in relevant content. Furthermore, keyword density no longer matters to Google, but many people still write to achieve a certain keyword density. Finally, there are still people out there keyword stuffing, which is something that’s actually penalized by search engines. Keyword research will always be important, but it’s essential to know how to use the keywords correctly once you have them.
2. Writing for Bots and Not Humans
Writing unnaturally doesn’t help your content, and search engines also know how to spot that type of writing. Today’s search engines are advanced enough to spot repeated keywords, their variations, and the unfortunate experience of generally bad content. Great content creators write for humans and their search intent, and search engines will now favor those websites.
3. Article Marketing
Google’s Panda update in 2011 targeted content farms and directories, article syndication, and other forms of low quality content. Today’s content needs to be high-quality, relevant, and original. Focus on demonstrating expertise, authority, and credibility.
4. Article Spinning
This is what’s known as a black hat tactic and involves recreating quality content using different words, phrases, and organization. It usually results in a garbled mess that somewhat resembles the same points as the source article. It’s easy to see why this is ineffective. Even though it’s worth noting that AI plays a role in today’s content generation (and is getting better all the time), anything produced by a machine is less likely to be original, relevant, and compelling for a human audience.
5. Buying Links
One of the biggest principles in SEO is that if it seems shady, it probably is. At one time, it was routine practice to buy links, but in today’s environment, authority and link quality matter a lot. Rather than buying links, which can reduce your site’s quality, you should focus on a robust link building strategy. Backlink profiles need to be optimized and maintained just like other parts of a website strategy.
6. Using Too Much Anchor Text
Internal linking is a key characteristic of any good site structure and user experience. Most people use anchor text that tells users what type of content they can expect if they click on a link. There are various types and some have become more favorable with search engines than others. Now that Google is better at spotting over-optimized content, it doesn’t look as highly on over-using anchor text. Remember that, as with most SEO tactics, it’s better to optimize for your human readers rather than search engines.
7. Using Outdated Keyword Tactics
Remember when we started seeing “keyword (not provided)” in the data during keyword research? Those changes made it difficult to get keyword research that’s as valuable. Relying on Google’s Keyword Planner is still effective, but will only take you so far. “Competition” refers solely to paid competition and traffic, which makes it less helpful for creating your organic strategy. For your best keyword research, you should look at tools like Moz Keyword Explorer or Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool.
8. Focusing Too Much on Keyword Variations
In the old days, it was a useful tactic to create multiple pages focused on variations of the same keyword. Now, search engines have figured out that all of this content is really pertinent to one topic. Creating additional pages just to make keywords more visible makes for a poor user experience and can even cause your website to cannibalize itself. Stick to creating valuable, high quality content around your main keywords.
9. Targeting Search Queries That Are an Exact Match
It’s common for people to use precisely matched search queries in hopes to rank for those queries solely for the traffic numbers. If the content is an exact match for some searches, but doesn’t actually answer a question or pertain to the query, then it’s unlikely to help you with SEO efforts.
10. Obtaining Exact-match Domains
To a certain extent, having a high-value keyword in your URL makes sense. However, it needs to make sense and not take away from the user experience. If the url becomes misleading or confusing, then that’s a problem. Make sure your url is short, meaningful, and aligned with your brand first and foremost.
11. Basing Your Link Strategy on Third-party Domain Authority Scores
If you have a list of websites based on domain authority alone, it may not provide the results you want. Do further research to ensure websites are relevant to your content, receive organic search traffic, and have quality incoming links. Domain authority scores can help you to filter out some sites, but you can’t rely on reporting from third-party tools alone.
12. Creating Low Quality Content
There used to be a time when content quantity mattered more than quality. However, those days are over. Content you publish needs to be original, credible, and valuable. Seek to provide the best answers for your searchers.
Many of these outdated tactics can seem like low-hanging fruit – but they’ll cost you in the long run. It’s essential that any content you produce is created for real visitors with search intent in mind. Focus on providing the best, most robust information for your audience and SEO success will follow. Start with our free SEO audit to see where you stand and get tips for improvement.