The SEO techniques needed to achieve higher rankings on search engines are constantly changing. As search engines develop their algorithms to improve their search results, many SEO techniques that once proved fruitful to webmasters now have little impact.
Some outdated techniques can even result in a penalty which can see your website disappear from search engine results completely. In this post, we’ll look at a range of outdated SEO techniques which you should avoid the use of on your website.
- Don’t over focus on keywords
Whilst keywords still have some relevance in SEO, search engines do not like sites where the content has been created primarily to promote them. The algorithms used today can spot the difference between content that is written naturally for the reader and content which is stuffed with keywords in order to try and get higher rankings. If you use keyword stuffing, the technique will backfire and your ranking will go down.
To avoid this, you need to write:
- Page and post titles that are user-friendly, engaging and make sense, rather than just being a string of keywords.
- Meta descriptions that inform the reader about what’s in the content.
- Subheadings that clearly indicate the subject of the section rather than simply being used to put keywords inside H2 tags.
Search engines want to send their users to websites with well written, high-quality content and those sites which provide this will benefit in search results.
- Be careful with keyword based domain names
The use of keywords in domain names is something that is undergoing scrutiny by search engines, particularly where exact match keyword phrases are being used. This is because many low quality and spammy sites have used them for advantage. The focus of your domain name should be on developing your brand. If your site is high quality and the content is relevant to the user’s search query, your website will get ranked whether the keyword is in the domain name or not.
The best practice is to avoid exact match keyword domain names, such as cheapestspanishholidays.com or quicktyrefittingbolton.co.uk. Combining the brand name with a keyword, whilst not guaranteed to improved ranking, is not likely to be viewed as spammy.
In that sense, smithsbuilders.co.uk or jonesbookshopderby.com will be seen as acceptable by search engines and may be useful to searchers in identifying whether your site is worth visiting.
- Avoid creating separate pages for different keyword versions
In times when search engines were less sophisticated, it made sense to create different pages for different versions of the same keyword. If you were selling children’s shoes, for example, you could have benefitted from having both mysite.com/childrens-shoes and mysite.com/kids-shoes pages on your website, with very similar content.
Today, however, search engines are clever enough to understand that childrens and kids mean the same thing. This means there’s no need to create separate pages and those sites that still carry out the practice are seen as trying to manipulate search results: as a result, they are down ranked. In addition, it also means you will have pages with duplicate content which is also frowned upon and can lower your rankings even more.
- Never create spammy backlinks to your own site
One of the ways that search engines discover how valuable your website is, is to look at the links it gets from other websites: if people like your content, some of them will link to it.
Before search engines became sophisticated, the number of links you had to your site was proof that you had great content and this resulted in higher ranking. Unfortunately, this encouraged many webmasters into seeking ways to build unnatural links to their site: adding links in blog comments and forums, paying for backlinks, link swapping, setting up other websites just for the purpose of linking to their main site, etc. It didn’t take long for search engines to realise what was happening and now the practice of creating spammy backlinks is seen as a contravention of webmaster guidelines and can result in your site being penalised. Today, algorithms are able to spot the quality of your backlinks. To benefit from a backlink, it needs to come from a reputable website. If you have a link from the BBC or a newspaper website, it can significantly boost your ranking. However, if you have lots of links from poor quality websites, it can have the opposite effect. Another source of backlinks can be created through submitting articles to blogs and article directories. Again, to benefit from these, you need to ensure that the both the quality of the article and the website as a whole is worth the investment in time and effort.
- Don’t be tempted by irrelevant share bait
Share bait, the posting of highly sharable content on social media in order to drive traffic and increase links to your site, is a highly popular marketing technique that can bring SEO rewards. However, from an SEO perspective, the content you share has to be relevant to the website you are running. Posting a gossipy article about famous bands and pop stars on your Facebook page might be highly popular but if you’re an accountancy firm, it’s unlikely to do you any SEO favours. Any backlinks you gain from such content can only add value to your SEO if they come from sources which are linked to your niche. If you share lots of unrelated content and get backlinks from lots of different sources, it’s likely that search engine algorithms may become confused about the type of site you are running and this could have an impact on your overall rankings. So, if you are going to post share bait, make it relevant to your organisation.
- Make sure you post high-quality content
Today, Google’s number one ranking factor is content quality. Quite simply, it wants to send users to sites which provide the best content to help them find the information they are searching for.
If your site is badly written, lacks detail, or offers poor advice, it will not rank highly. Nor will it achieve success if it just spins content found elsewhere. Search engine algorithms are clever enough to see through this. However, it’s not just the search engines that will be annoyed by low-quality content: your visitors will be too. Poor quality content not only increases bounce rates and reduces time spent on site – both of which are factors that affect ranking, but it also lowers your conversion rates.
For more information, read our post: High-Quality Content: The Future of SEO.
From reading this post, you should have a clearer idea of whether you are still using some of these outdated techniques on your website. If you are, it’s time to put a new SEO strategy into place. The focus of this should be on producing content that is of value to the reader.
This is what search engines want to see and those that provide excellent content are those which will reap the rewards. Don’t be tempted into using outdated methods simply to inflate your rankings it won’t work.
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