6 Outdated SEO Tactics to Avoid At All Costs

outdated seo tactics

The Internet has long been the dominant outlet used by businesses to reach their target audience. As a result, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has stepped into the spotlight as a vital digital marketing tactic. For those who aren’t familiar with the acronym, SEO is the art of increasing a website’s visibility and traffic through organic (non-paid) search engine results.

Effective SEO requires businesses to understand and tailor their website to their audience, what that audience is looking for, and the different ways in which they search for it. But, just as Google’s ranking algorithm is ever-changing, so is SEO. In fact, we’ve reached a point where many once-effective SEO tactics no longer work. This has led many marketers to question whether or not SEO is dead.

But, you can rest assured, we’re here to tell you, that despite the changing search algorithm, SEO is alive and well. Just consider these statistics (source):

  • 93% of all internet experiences begin with a search engine.
  • 75% of all search engine users don’t scroll past the first page of search results.
  • 57% of B2B marketers state that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative.

But, just because SEO is still a viable marketing tactic, doesn’t mean certain outdated SEO tactics aren’t dead. Today we take a look at some of the worst, most outdated SEO tactics and their role in the modern SEO strategy. Let’s get into it!

1. Keyword stuffing.

Keyword density refers to the number of times a keyword appears on a page, and for a while, it was a good benchmark for search algorithms to assess a page’s value and relevance for a given keyword. In an attempt to manipulate rankings, businesses turned to keyword stuffing– including a keyword as many times as possible within the body and metadata of a page.

In the past, keyword stuffing resulted in a positive impact on search rankings. But today, search engine algorithms no longer rely so heavily on keyword density as a ranking factor. Instead, Google has been programmed to judge content semantically- meaning, how the keywords being used relate to the intent of a search query.

Not only will keyword stuffing result in a ranking penalty, but it also diminishes the quality of your content. Nobody wants to read a thin article that reuses the same words over and over in an obvious attempt to cheat the system. For the best results, leverage responsible keyword optimization only after crafting a high-quality piece of content. In other words, write for people, not for search engines.

2. Content farming.

Content farming is the strategy of employing multiple freelancers at a low cost, in an effort to generate mass amounts of highly targeted content. In most cases, content farming strategies emphasize quantity over quality. Usually monetized through online advertisements, these pieces of work tend to lack value and relevance to readers, as their “core purpose is simply to gain search engine rankings for every conceivable term” (source).

Google has attacked this trick head-on with the launch of the Panda algorithm. Rolled out in 2011, Panda “rewards high-quality websites and diminish[es] the presence of low-quality websites in Google’s organic search results” (source). This update emphasizes the aspects of a website that drive authority, like high-quality backlinks and mobile-friendly, long-form content over high-volume, low-cost content tactics.  

So, instead of relying on cheap, easy options, invest more time and resources into creating in-depth, valuable content. Make sure what you have to offer is worth reading!

3. Article spinning.

Similar to content farming, article spinning is a tactic used to create mass amounts of low-quality content. But, rather than hiring humans to write these pieces, article spinning is typically done by software. Content spinning software will take one article and rewrite it in multiple different ways, creating dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of new articles. These pieces all contain the same content, but with slight variations in how they are written on the page. And, because this type of content is put together by software rather than by humans, it doesn’t always make sense or read well.

The Panda algorithm, which penalizes content farming tactics, is similarly used here. Google recognizes poorly written or duplicated content and penalizes accordingly.

Our advice? Once again, quality over quantity is key. Don’t waste your time creating spin-off articles that all say the same thing. Instead, we urge you to get creative with your approach. Challenge yourself to see familiar topics from a new angle, and reap the rewards.

4. Exact match domains.

When targeting specific search terms, one popular tactic has been to match domain names to the search term you’re targeting. Some companies even create spinoff domains, each one intended to capture a search term of its own. For instance, “Watchfreemoviesnow.com” targets the “watch free movies” query. While exact-match domains are not inherently bad, they’re often accompanied by spammy tactics like excessive ads and poor user experience.

Select a domain name that makes sense for your brand- not names picked specifically to influence search rankings.

5. Meta keyword tags.

Invisible to visitors but visible to search engines, meta keyword tags are coded into a page to indicate a page’s main keywords. This used to be a common and effective way to indicate the subject matter discussed on a web page. If a post was about fishing off the coast of Antarctica, for instance, you could populate the meta keywords tag with all sorts of keywords related to fishing, ice, penguins, etc.  

Essentially, meta keyword tags were an easy way to tell Google what keywords you want to rank for. But as more people caught on to this simple ranking technique, they started stuffing the tag with keywords that weren’t relevant to the content, just to try to widen the reach of their pages. Search engines quickly recognized this problem and in 2009, Google officially announced that they no longer use meta keywords as a ranking signal (source).

Continue to target relevant keywords, but, spend less time over-optimizing your meta keyword tag. Google won’t reward you for overstuffed meta keyword tags and it will prove to be a waste of your time.

6. Desktop-only optimization.

The average employee spends over four hours a day on their phone (source). Whether reading, working, shopping, or just surfing the web, a visitor’s mobile experience is now even more important than their desktop experience.

As of early 2018, Google’s algorithm is now mobile first (source), meaning it emphasizes the mobile version of a page for ranking and indexing. And, as a result, your website must use a responsive, mobile-friendly display that functions well on any device.

Final Thoughts on Outdated SEO Tactics

While SEO is definitely not dead, you should consider the above tactics as such. The many changes to Google’s algorithm all serve one purpose and that’s to deliver high-quality content to those who are searching for it.

So, we say, ditch the black hat SEO tricks and put your users’ wants and needs first. Focus on creating genuinely useful content and trust Google to recognize your hard work. Write for humans, not robots, and watch your rankings climb.

If you’d like to learn more about SEO, beyond these six outdated SEO tactics, check out the following articles:

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