We’re always harping on about how organic SEO is a changing landscape and that it’s important to keep on top of the latest trends and Google algorithm updates. This hasn’t changed, however it’s important to note that whilst you are adopting new techniques, some practices become outdated by Google and, in some cases, can even be harmful to your rankings if you continue to apply them.
These “old ways” are more common than you would think, and to some people they may even be second nature when setting up a new website. These tactics will have worked a few years ago, but now many of them are just defunct.
With the New Year just around the corner, you may be looking to give your website an SEO audit and overhaul to keep things fresh. Below are 6 of the most common outdated SEO tactics that are still employed all too often, that you should most definitely avoid:
Most people by now are aware of keyword stuffing and just how bad it is for your organic SEO. It’s one of the oldest tactics and one of the worst these days, involving adding your keywords multiple times in just about any place possible – Meta title, heading tags, alt tags and throughout the whole body of the page.
Keyword stuffing has been outed by search engines for a long time now and they are smart enough to understand when text is unnatural and manipulated. It’s important to remember that you should structure your content to be digestible by humans, not the search engines. Of course there are things to do in order to ‘appease’ Google’s algorithms, but if your information isn’t valuable and useful to human searchers, you’re not going to get very far.
This involves using software or tools available on the web to take a piece of content and swap out words and restructure sentences in order to make the content ‘unique’. Well, unique is certainly one word for the garbled mess that is usually spat out from these types of tools. This is most definitely a black-hat technique and it’s quite easily found out. Even if the AI behind these types of software is always improving, they still can’t produce the level of quality and engaging content that search engines require.
Buying links has long been a shady technique and it continues to grow despite being so bad for organic SEO. A long time ago it was acceptable practice to buy a high volume of inbound links to give your new domain a quick boost, however, like with all areas of SEO, link profiles require quality and attention to be beneficial.
Google can spot low-quality websites easily, as well as the domains they are linking out to. Get too many low-quality sites sending an abundance of links your way and your rankings will drop dramatically. These days, if you want to gain any benefit from backlinks, you have to put the time and effort into earning them.
Pages for Keyword Variations
This used to be an effective and expected tactic in order to rank for a multitude of similar keywords. However, with the Hummingbird and RankBrain algorithm updates, Google is becoming more and more effective at understanding how variations of the same keywords are all related to the same topic.
By creating dedicated pages for each word variation, you will only be causing keyword-cannibalisation and creating a poor user experience since a lot of your pages will be very similar. It’s far better to now conduct thorough keyword research and populate your page with valuable information that is all relevant to the topic of that page, with keyword variations and semantic phrases used throughout to help that page rank for multiple search terms as opposed to just one per page.
Including keywords in your URL is important, but only to some extent, and it shouldn’t have a negative impact on user experience. It used to be the ‘done thing’ to purchase a domain that matched your most valuable search term exactly, however this just isn’t effective any more.
The general rule of thumb is to keep your domain consistent with your brand. Offer valuable services and products under a brand name and Google will do all of the heavy lifting when it comes to making your brand visible under relevant search terms.
Poor Quality Content
It used to be possible to rank well using thin, almost-useless content, but that simply isn’t the case anymore. Stealing content, stuffing it with keywords or creating it with a poor structure that is bad for user experience and you’re not going to get anywhere.
Having a high ranking position is a reward for hard work, and that hard work involves research and creating content that is quality, valuable and then distributing it accordingly.