Are You Still Using These 10 Outdated SEO Practices?
As the internet continues to evolve, so too does SEO. As Google and other internet gatekeepers grow increasingly skilled at delivering their customers to the content they desire, the tricks and techniques that once served as staples of good SEO become mistakes that risk getting your site penalized.
Take a look at ten SEO practices which once reigned supreme, but now serve no purpose – or worse, threaten to drop your site lower in the rankings.
Keywords matter far less in modern SEO than they once did, so it’s time to retire site design built wholly around pushing target keywords. That means:
- Writing enticing, interesting page title tags, instead of keyword lists separated by pipes.
- Writing meta descriptions that read more like compelling copy than spam.
- Using the best heading to pull a reader through an article, instead of trying to get exact phrases inside each set of H2 tags.
Not only does more natural, readable content fare better with visitors, it plays nicer with the new and improved Google algorithms, which look for readability and content quality as much as anything else.
Different Pages for Keyword Variants
Speaking of keyword-based design, once upon a time, it made sense for a site to create and optimize a new page for each permutation and variant of its target keywords. In part, that’s because Google and other search engines lacked the complexity to interpret ‘similar’ as ‘the same’ and organize accordingly.
Today, however, the algorithms driving Google are more than up to the task of identifying a dozen pages using similar content centered around similar phrases – and they don’t like it.
That’s not to say you should pare down your individual page selections to nothing; rather, that you shouldn’t have dozens of variants of each and every page, purely for keyword optimization purposes.
Shape your site to receive customers and funnel them optimally, instead of chasing search results with dated techniques.
There was a period of time where the comment section of a notable blog was one of the most valuable places for any SEO to spend time. Even sites with nofollow tags offered some benefit.
But these days, Google isn’t interested in the endless stream of backlinks tagged at the bottom of articles, webmasters know better than to leave their comments unattended for gray hat SEOs to abuse, and the nature of a backlink matters far more than it once did.
So leave the comment sections, forums, and other publicly accessible sections of sites alone. They aren’t worth the investment of time or effort.
Paid links have always been a risky investment, but gray and black hat SEOs still saw reasonable profitability from them in days past – especially those who didn’t care too much whether clients stayed at the top, so long as they could show off quick results and collect their paycheck.
But with the most recent Penguin update to the Google algorithm, even those short-term gains will fail to appear if you’re investing in low grade links. The logic is simple: Google’s newest algorithms now work in real-time to assess backlinks and dismiss or punish them accordingly. There’s no delay between the assessment of problematic links and the reduction in rank.
If you’re using bad links, you simply won’t make it to the top to begin with, nevermind having to fear Google ‘slaps’. It’s bad SEO whether you’re working for your own business or as a contractor.
Over-Optimized Anchor Text
A relatively recent change to search engine optimization best practices, this one trips up a lot of savvy SEOs. It turns out that Google and its peers in the search engine market don’t like excessively perfect backlink profiles anymore. In fact, best practices in 2017 look a lot like bad SEO from a few years ago. You want plenty of raw URL backlinks and filler phrases like ‘Click here’ and ‘this site’ in your backlink profile.
Of course, that’s not to say exact phrase anchor text has no place in your backlink profile, alongside tangential keywords and similar concepts. You just want to look like a site real people care about and link to, not an over-constructed simulacrum of a popular site.
That said, other aspects of backlink best practices remain the same; you still want to watch for bad backlinks and disavow any that might be a problem. You want a natural-looking link profile, not a wholly untamed one.
Article directories and similar repositories of low-grade content, purely posted for backlinks, are years beyond any kind of meaningful relevancy. Yet many SEOs continue to invest valuable time and effort into EzineArticles, paid blog sites, and myriad similar venues.
This holds true for pretty much any link opportunity online; if it’s easily accessible to anyone interested in posting, it’s probably not worth posting to. Search engines know how to recognize these backlink farm sites, and they don’t look positively upon them.
If you want to put your content out there for backlinks, there are far more effective ways – ones that still have value, such as producing high-quality, relevant content for shares, offering guest posts on relevant, well-respected websites, etc.
By now you may have noticed a theme in this article: keywords still matter, but they’re no longer akin to a magic spell you can cast on Google for good results. When it comes to domain names, it’s not so much that exact or partial match domains are bad for your results – it’s that they’re largely irrelevant.
Domain name selection is no longer a question of pure SEO, but one of marketing and branding. And in those arenas, vague domain names centered around keywords do very, very poorly.
In fact, that’s not even getting into the question of whether exact match domains really are still perceived neutrally by search engines. Some experts in the field have abandoned them completely, out of concerns that they’re being treated as what they so often are: spam sites.
Excessive Subdomain Use
We could go into exhaustive detail about why leveraging subdomains instead of compiling your efforts into a single domain doesn’t make sense. But instead, we’ll present a single piece of irrefutable evidence: Google’s stance on mobile sites vs. responsive design.
Google developers have explicitly stated a preference for responsive sites, where a single page can load across multiple devices without a problem, and explained that splitting your efforts across a main site and a mobile subdomain is bad for your SEO.
If Google doesn’t even like you splitting your SEO for mobile sites, how do you think the algorithms feel about subdomains for any other purpose? Consolidate your mildly different subdomains into a single overarching site, so Google perceives the whole of what you have to offer and ranks you accordingly.
Low-Value Share Bait
“Share bait,” as a concept, is still great for SEO and social marketing. But you need to have standards, and you need to use content that’s relevant to your business.
Let’s not even talk about pure marketing concepts, though muddling your brand with irrelevant celebrity news and similar share bait certainly isn’t a great idea. Speaking purely of the effect on your SEO, it’s not worth it.
The backlinks you acquire from an article, infographic, video, or other piece of content only has value to your SEO if those links look right to a search engine algorithm. If the incoming links aren’t from sites that belong in your “neighborhood” and aren’t connected with content similar to what you’re trying to get ranked for, you’re not going to see much success.
Older schools of thought on SEO focused more on building out a lot of content to fill out a site, and less on the quality of that content. Unfortunately for anyone still paying pennies for low-grade blog filler, spinning articles until they’re incomprehensible, or stuffing keywords in at the bottom as hidden text, Google’s bots are way smarter today than they used to be.
They can tell that your writing is awful and pointless, and they’re going to direct users appropriately. Beyond that, consider the impact low quality copy on your site has on your ability to convert visitors to customers. It’s bad SEO, it’s bad marketing, and it’s bad for business. Cut the bulk and opt for higher quality articles with unique insights.
Updating Your SEO Strategy
Ultimately, modern SEO comes down to a single concept: producing a website people actually want to use. There’s too much risk involved in gaming the system, too little reward for success, and it’s all too likely that any trick that works today will stop working tomorrow.
Stick to SEO that focuses on value to your users, not on cheap tricks designed to artificially inflate rankings. Your results will be worth it in the long run.
Are you still using any of these dated strategies? Have any others that should be added to the list? Leave us a note below with your comments: