SEO changes all the time. Staying in the know when it comes to search engine updates and best practices is far more than a full-time job. However, if you want to avoid getting penalized by Google or falling for inflated promises based on outdated tricks, it’s important to know which one-time “tried and true” tactics can get you into trouble now.
Here are 5 old-school SEO tricks you can skip, because they not only don’t work — they work against you.
In the past, writing keyword rich content was one of the most important ways to optimize your site for search engines. To get a high rank, marketers focused on using exact-match keywords in domain names, titles, and repeatedly throughout the body content.
While keywords are still important, it’s more important for you to understand that search engines have become more sophisticated. The robots can now recognize synonyms and related material to determine the focus and relevance of your site and individual pages.
Now, the key is to always write with your audience in mind. If you’re writing useful information that’s rich in depth and scope about a topic, you’re more likely to include terms and topics that the user is searching for, and in ways that you wouldn’t have even anticipated.
Obsessive Link Building
Old-school SEO relied heavily on getting as many websites as possible to link back to your website. While link building is still one of the main factors in boosting your search engine optimization, best practices now strongly favor quality over quantity. You’re better off building fewer links from high-quality sites than a great number of links from low-quality or irrelevant sites.
This also applies to creating, owning, and optimizing microsites that link back to your main website. Building microsites is not going to help your SEO as much as it did in the past, and it’s increasingly counterproductive. You’re not going to build as much authority or enhance your SEO by linking back to your own website. Instead, you’ll find it more beneficial to concentrate your efforts on optimizing and promoting your main branded site, so that others will want to link back to it.
When it comes to link building, less can be more when you know the correct way to build links effectively.
Quantity Over Quality
You can often tell that a website was built using outdated SEO tactics when the site has an excessive number of pages filled with low-quality content. Poorly written content spread out over many pages with tons of fluff and repetitive information is a tell-tale sign that the site either hasn’t been updated and streamlined in several years or that it’s SEO is using old tactics.
Creating individual pages to try to rank for each synonym or variant of a keyword is overkill too. This tactic worked for a while, but the robots outsmarted it, and now you’re better off creating more in-depth content that includes variations within the page, and in a natural way that isn’t overly contrived.
Google’s algorithm updates have been getting progressively better at detecting poor-quality content, and keeping that junk around is working against you. Avoid a Google penalty by ensuring that your site is filled with content people actually want to read. You’ll enjoy the greatest reward by focusing on your audience and user experience.
Guest Posting Galore
There was a time when guest posting was the hottest game in town for SEO. People were guest posting and submitting articles all over the place, just to get a link back to their site. Along with this came article spinning, auto-submissions to hundreds of sites with no editorial review, and paid blog networks.
As with many of the other outmoded tactics, search engines are no longer impressed by spreading content that amounted to little more than spamming the web. These days, you’re far better-off creating a strong guest posting strategy, crafting a handful of well-written, high-quality posts, and getting your work published on relevant high-authority sites.
Oodles of Directories
Years ago, directories were the place to be. You wanted to get your website listed in any and every directory on the web. The more directories you could get listed in, the better; so people paid for directory listings and SEO companies often promised thousands of directory listings as part of your kickoff package.
Now, it won’t hurt you to appear in reputable directories that are highly relevant to your business and location. But steer clear of mass directory submissions. It’s not going to help and it can certainly hurt you to show up on directory sites with tons of spam links.
Overall, your best bet is to avoid trying to game the system. Steer clear of SEOs trying to sell you a quick fix. Ignore people who contact you out of the blue, selling too-good-to-be-true overnight results. Take “tried and true” advice with a grain of salt and do your own research before investing in SEO.
Need help getting started with onsite or onpage SEO for your small business website? Give the team at Solamar a shout!