Search engine optimization provides website owners with opportunities to more effectively reach their target audiences. But because SEO can evolve quickly, it’s important to know what’s “in” and what’s “out.”
SEO professionals are tasked with staying up-to-date on the latest digital trends. But as a business owner, you may not be well-versed in Google’s best practices. As such, it’s easy to make a mistake when attempting to optimize your site.
Unfortunately, these mistakes can have major consequences. If you aren’t careful, you could end up using one of these outdated tactics and risk your rankings in the process. Working with a reputable SEO company can allow you to avoid this fate. But you should also take care to avoid these antiquated practices.
Which Obsolete SEO Techniques Should You Avoid?
1: Keyword Stuffing
With SEO, less is sometimes more. That’s often the case with keyword usage. In the past, websites could rank by including a specific keyword in every possible place. But now, you need to be much more mindful with keyword usage.
The practice of “keyword stuffing,” which aimed to get keyword density as high as possible on a given page, is now seen as underhanded. Not only is it unnecessary, but it can harm visitor experience.
The goal is to incorporate keywords naturally into content, headings, and meta descriptions. Keyword stuffing results in strange, spammy-looking pages that provide little to no value. And since Google may punish sites that engage in this practice, you’ll want to opt for thoughtful keyword research and utilization instead.
2: Duplicate or Spun Content
You may have heard the phrase, “Content is king.” But that doesn’t mean all content is created equal. In order to improve your rankings, you’ll need to create informative content that’s totally unique to your site.
This process can take quite a bit of time and effort. If you think you can take a shortcut, think again.
Copying content from another website (or even another page on your own website) is a bad practice; not only is it wrong to plagiarize, but Google may even penalize your website for it.
Article spinning, which essentially puts a piece of content through a system that changes up some grammar and syntax, is no better. It may not show up as a Copyscape hit, but it can create an unnatural and confusing experience for readers.
Instead of taking the easy way out (which can often be costly in the end!), focus on developing interesting and useful content that can actually provide solutions for your readers.
3: Exact-Match Domains and Anchors
Over the years, search engines have gotten a lot better at understanding context.
It used to be that unless you optimized your site for what are known as “exact-match” terms, your site might not show up in SERPs. At one point, having an exact-match domain (e.g., “Chicagoplumber.com” instead of a URL with your business name) would instantly help your site rank.
Likewise, exact-match anchor text was once seen as the best way to build a backlink profile. That’s changed drastically, however. These days, Google will be more likely to flag your site for over-optimization when you use these tactics.
That’s not to say that exact-match domains can’t rank well or that there are no instances wherein you should use exact-match anchors. But these shouldn’t be the default. Now that we optimize for humans rather than search engine bots, it’s better to create a more diverse backlink profile and choose a domain that actually aligns with your branding.
4: Thin Content
As mentioned above, content is still massively important for good SEO. And again, “more” doesn’t necessarily equate to “better.”
With content, it really is about quality over quantity. Early on, you didn’t need to worry about this as much. But because content needs to provide value to web visitors, it’s no longer enough to have only a sentence or two on a page.
And while it’s not unheard of to publish a blog post of 300 to 400 words, long-form content will provide you with more opportunities to rank and keep readers engaged. Short-form content does have its place, but it can’t really hold a candle to 2,000-word posts that provide an in-depth user experience.
If Google is trying to figure out which site to reward with a better ranking and one site has only thin content, you can bet that the other site will win out.
5: Paid or Spammy Backlinks
Link building requires a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, some webmasters thought they could game the system – and for a while, Google let them.
It used to be that acquiring a bunch of backlinks to your site would help with your SEO, regardless of where those links originated. Since then, Google has cracked down on spammy links. Link farms and comment forums no longer provide the same caliber of “link juice” as they once did.
Keep in mind that paying for backlinks isn’t a good practice, either. Earning links through reputable sites (like through guest posting, for example) is absolutely fine. But if you’re paying for sought-after links from well-known sites that are irrelevant to your brand or audience, that’ll raise some red flags for Google. And if you’re caught paying for links, you could risk your rankings and reputation.
Without a doubt, SEO has evolved significantly in recent years. While it’s not always easy to keep up with the latest developments, it’s crucial to avoid these outdated techniques. If you don’t, you could very well derail your other efforts to improve your site rankings. By adhering to Google’s best practices, on the other hand, you’ll have the best chance of boosting your brand visibility and site traffic.