The world of SEO is never bland. Just when you think you have it all figured out, Google comes up with something entirely new to get you back on toes.
On reflection, Google is tasked with one major role – providing the best online experience to every single one of its users, and since user expectations keep on changing, it behooves them to do all they can to keep them happy.
With every emerging SEO practices, comes a slew of outmoded SEO practices. These are the practices that propelled you through the ranks sometimes back. But for some reason, the tricks stopped to sit well with Google and other search engines.
Common examples include the 2011 and 2012 Panda and Penguin algorithms. Their rise would mark the demise of three major SEO practices at the time – keyword stuffing, manipulative on-page SEO, and bot-generated backlinks.
While some of these practices no longer hold water, some pass as critical blunders that hurt your search rankings instead of helping. And unless your experience and level of expertise qualify you as a professional, it’s hard to point out which strategies work at current and which ones among them stopped working some time back.
This post walks you through a number of outdated strategies that are a complete waste of time at best or could be killing your search engine rankings at worst:
Inappropriate Use of Keywords
Keywords play a key role in ranking your site. Yet most marketers and web owners haven’t mastered their way around them to effectively use them in their everyday marketing strategy.
Here’s a broad breakdown of all the possible examples of keyword abuse and malpractice:
Irrelevant Keyword Targeting
Web owners invest a monstrous amount of time researching a list of keywords to target. They’ll then try to constrain their content to confine to the list they have.
Some of these keywords may look right from a superficial level. But do they align with the intentions of your users?
If NOT, you’re at risk of targeting the wrong audience, which amounts to a poor conversion rate.
The keywords you’re targeting also have to align with the kind of content you’re posting. Failure of which you’re at risk of turning away your visitors even before you get a chance to find out what your business is involved with in the first place.
Bait and switch is another outmoded, black hat trick that marketers pull in a desperate bid to direct online visitors to their website. They simply use misrepresented keywords to attract visitors, only to switch and take a jab at directing them elsewhere.
Google wised up to this trick a long time ago, and has pre-emptive measures in place to curb it. One is by rendering it obsolete and passing it up as a black hat technique.
Most of the time marketers focus on shaping up their online content to match the industry standard of keywords density, quality suffers.
Google also stopped paying attention to keywords density and even downgraded it as one of the key elements that determine one’s ranking.
Search engines have also advanced to a level that they no longer depend on keywords crawling to determine search rankings. They instead adopted a long list of more effective signals that determine where you fall in the SERPs.
Keywords are important in determining the topics and ideas you write about. But they’re NOT the lifeblood for determining your search ranking.
What matters instead is the quality of your content and the manner in which the content gets delivered to your target audience.
Keyword stuffing is one of the oldest black hat SEO hacking techniques that are bound to do your business more harm than good if practiced at present.
The outdated definition of SEO was keyword scattering. All a marketer had to do a few years back was to ensure the content they produced was stuffed with a hefty dose of targeted keywords. They’ll begin by researching a list of high-value keywords that they’d force into the content they’d aggressively force into the content they write. All this was done in the hopes of beating their competition in terms of the number of keywords they had in a related piece of content. And mind you, the trick worked.
But not for long. The content filling up the blogosphere would eventually start sounding unnatural and forced. The attempted effort to manipulate search engines and trick them into propelling your ranks ended up resulting in poor-quality search results. Online users were losing their trust in Google and other search engines.
This forced them to advance their search algorithms to a point that they could clearly sift through the content provided and filter out natural content from the manipulated one. Any site running manipulated was then slapped with a harsh penalty that would see to it that its ranking suffers.
That’s NOT to say that keyword stuffing is NOT effective. So long as it’s done naturally, without losing its actual value, then that’s enough to earn you a positive ranking score in the SERPs.
You can’t game the Google system as of now. Nothing you do with the content you have can result in a positive ranking if the content is NOT quality enough. So start by focusing in the quality of content you post and let the rest of the chips fall in place naturally.
Gone are the days when web masters could hide a combination of high-value keywords on their site’s footer or sketchily come up with ways to make it take the same colour as your site’s background. Humans couldn’t see them, but they could be crawled with search engines and still fetch you a higher ranking
As creative as they sound, the same tricks no longer work. Search engine have greatly advanced to an extent that they can detect the slyest of the black hat tricks you can pull off and automatically get you penalized for it.
Writing for Robots
Writing naturally is when you write with your target audience in mind and NOT robots.
Read this beating in mind that the current search engine system is well advanced to tell the difference between what’s natural and what’s robot-oriented.
A common mistake content curators make all the time is trying to repeat the name of an item or a particular keyword they’re targeting several times in what’s obviously a desperate attempt to make that piece of article keyword-rich. They even play around with the different variations of all the possible search terms an online user is likely to query into the search bar, regardless of whether the keyword is semantically correct or makes any logical sense.
Search engines could crawl the repeated keywords and their corresponding variations, and if their density is impressive enough, proceed to rank the site favourable.
But all that changed when search engine systems advanced to an extent of developing a near human-like capacity to construe a piece of content and sift out what’s relevant and what’s NOT.
They primary focus shifted from the simpler approach of weighing in on the number of repeated keywords and their corresponding variation, to telling the different between good and bad content.
This means content developers can only play it safe by shaping up their content to target potential readers and NOT search engines crawlers or bots as it’s always the case with a great majority of web owners and managers.
Article spinning gave web owners the opportunity to reap all the benefits associated with SEO with little to no marketing effort on their part.
All that the black hat markers needed was an article spinning software and they could recreate almost any imaginable piece of content you’re likely to find online. The software has no limits as to the kind of tricks it can pull off. For instance, is can play around with synonyms, phrases, and voice alteration.
The end result is always a near-readable mess of patched up content, stuffed with all the keywords you requested.
Article spinners were among the must-have SEO tools back then. But somewhere along the way, they ended up losing their effectiveness, thus rendering their use pointless. At worst, they could hurt your ranking thus pushing you further down in the SERPs.
Think of search engines as an advanced AI system, and which will only be getting better with time.
The results generated is also of better quality compared to the bot-generated content flashed around. Meaning you have the option to grow an even bigger customer base without affecting your search engine ranking in any way possible.
Webmasters are still visiting the sites that sell fake social media followers and bot-generated backlinks to climb up the social media platform.
This is a black hat technique that you should be aiming to steer clear of at all cost.
Links are important, but what matters the most is the quality of backlinks you’re targeting.
The fake links aren’t as expensive as some people love to assume. But their long term effect exposes you to the risk of suffering irrecoverable loses.
Backlinks as one of the crucial elements search engines use to determine ones ranking in the SERPs require to be properly optimized and maintained. Worse is when they appear on a low quality domain. By virtue of linking back to your site, your site gets lumped up together with loads of other low quality sites linking to the site.
Low quality sites are easy to identify. For instance, Google can easily identify one by looking at the number of links the site is directing to. If they’re appearing in excess, then it’s obvious that site was only put in place to angle backlinks.
It’s therefore important that you focus on establishing a solid working relation with a number of authority sites within your niche, and which you’ll be pitching to asking for an opportunity to guest blog with them and earn a backlinks.
With this approach, the links trickling in could be trickling in drips, but the results gained are totally worth it.
Internal linking helps to enhance user experience and improve on the overall structure of your website.
The internal links typically come with an anchor text – which is basically a simply HTML element that will be working to inform your users about the type of content to expect should they decide to go ahead and click on a link.
Anchor texts can broadly be classified into branded anchor texts, naked anchor texts, exact match anchor texts, brand name anchor texts, and page title anchor texts. In this category list, one group of anchor text can prove to be more valuable than the other depending on usage and situation.
Not long ago what was considered the best SEO practice was the use of keyword-rich and exact-match anchor text. But following the malpractice of over-optimizing your web content, Google decide to come up with an update that allowed them to identify over-optimized content.
Their focus also shifted from internal linking to proper structures. So instead of rewarding you with a higher ranking based on the number of backlinks you have, they decided to first favour user-friendly content with a natural flow and twist.
This calls for the urgent need to shift your focus from optimizing your site content for Search Engines to optimizing it for your online readers.
Obsolete Keyword Research
How do you come up with a list of keywords you’re targeting? Which tools do you use and when were they last updated.
Keywords keep on undergoing drastic changes, and it’s NOT like they’re about to stop now.
Marketer used to avail a series of keyword-level data that you could use to find out what works and what doesn’t. This also helped to shed some light on the kind of visitors you should be targeting and what to expect from them.
Then along came a list of other tools that strived to replicate the keyword data presented, which was possible in a sense. The problem is with recreating the data, which happens to come next to impossible.
Instead of relying on canned keywords, start doing your own research on a list of keywords that are well suited for the industry you’re in. Narrow the list further down to what’s relevant to your line of work depending on function, geographical location and everything else.
It’s a Wrap
Needless to say, think content, stolen content, keyword stuffed content and every non-credible piece of article never bring any significant SEO value to your website. Much has changed in the world of SEO and unless you’re catching up with the changing times, there’s a lot you’re missing in the super-competitive world of SEO.
This article barely scratches the surface of a list of all outdated SEO strategies to ignore. For any form of professional help and further clarification on the points made, here’s your chance to take full advantage of MediaOne’s free SEO consultation.