6 Old School SEO Tactics to Stop ASAP
Mark Twain said, “The less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.” Unfortunately, that holds for more than black-eyed peas on New Year’s or getting weather predictions from a groundhog.
Too many marketers and content writers abide by old tactics that don’t work anymore. Some never did. It’s time to put your SEO strategy through a little spring cleaning and drop these six tactics in the dustbin.
DON’T: Use Target Keywords Indiscriminately
Ten years ago, it was common practice to target vague keywords and scatter them everywhere. Sprinkle them like you sprinkle Adobo—with abandon. After all, shouldn’t having lots of content shouting your niche at Google show them you’re an expert? Not exactly.
Having too many pages targeting the same keyword doesn’t strengthen your position. Instead, those pages are now competing against each other, and your competitors, in a phenomenon called “keyword cannibalization.”
Search Engine Journal does a great job summing up the consequences of keyword cannibalization: lost site traffic, queries leading to the wrong page, fluctuating SERP rankings, and ultimately lost sales.
INSTEAD: Use Focused Keywords in Comprehensive Content
Concentrate your efforts on comprehensive pieces that clearly target a particular (and specific) keyword and intent. Exhaustive, in-depth content coverage demonstrates your expertise on a specific topic and helps concentrate link authority. For example, tnstead of writing 20 blogs targeting the phrase “snow tire,” write a comprehensive piece that answers a plethora of questions on the topic, like “when to switch to winter tires,” “how to choose winter tires,” and “what makes winter tires different than regular tires.” That way, when someone searches “snow tire,” Google trusts your page as the most helpful resource.
DON’T: Sacrifice Quality for Quantity
Google prefers sites with fewer, quality pages to those with a whole slew of terrible ones. So what does quality mean? According to Google:
“A High-quality page should have a beneficial purpose and achieve that purpose well. In addition, High-quality pages have … [a] High level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).”
Long story short, quality content helps readers while demonstrating your expertise in a specific topic.
INSTEAD: Create Better Content
Remember that, at its heart, SEO is a competition. You’re looking to beat out other websites for valuable SERP spots. Use top-ranking pages as a barometer. After all, if your content isn’t better than the current top five pages, why should you rank higher than them?
DON’T: Post Erratically
Consistently publishing blog posts can help your search visibility, please users, and build your email list. Likewise, erratic posting can cost you. According to one study, blogging consistently (over 16 times a month) led to the most significant amount of traffic and leads.
Makes sense, right? Imagine your favorite site posts every Tuesday. You trust them to have new, quality content every week, and visiting becomes a habit. What happens if, all of a sudden, they stop? Posts now come on random days, at random intervals, sometimes months apart. You no longer trust them to be a reliable resource for fresh content, and neither does Google.
INSTEAD: Post Content on a Consistent Schedule
Posting new blogs regularly is a great way to build your content library and rank for new keywords, all while providing excellent new resources and value to your customers. But remember: while posting new content is important, ensuring its quality is paramount.
DON’T: Rely on Thin Content
Back in the golden age of keyword stuffing, thin content (content with fewer than 300 words) was a great way for companies to rank well without having to invest in quality content. Thin content provides little value to readers and exists primarily to load up on important keywords. But, as we discussed above, Google prefers quality over quantity.
In February 2011, Google released its first Panda algorithm update to stop low-quality web pages from out-ranking high-quality ones. That means keyword stuffing low-quality pages will hurt—not help—your ranking.
INSTEAD: Focus on Quality, Long-Form Content
Starting to see a trend? Studies have found that long-form content (between 1,900 and 3,000 words) performs better than shorter content in terms of social shares and SERP rankings. Quality content allows your expertise to shine and shows Google—and your customers—that you know your stuff.
DON’T: Publish Duplicate Content
We know. Sometimes it can be hard to create new marketing lingo on your site. You spent months crafting your taglines and brand story and want to use them everywhere. But posting duplicate content on pages can confuse Google, the same way targeting the same keyword does. Which page should rank if they’re all about the same thing?
According to Moz, duplicate content presents three main challenges for search engines:
- They don’t know which version(s) to include/exclude from their indices.
- They don’t know whether to direct the link metrics (trust, authority, anchor text, link equity, etc.) to one page, or keep it separated between multiple versions.
- They don’t know which version(s) to rank in query results.
INSTEAD: Publish Original Content
Fresh content provides new value to readers while keeping everything clear for Google. Online tools like Copyscape and Grammarly are a great way to check how original your content is from a technical perspective. After a quick scan, rewrite anything with a high-percentage match.
Using scanning tools is also a great way to check the quality of new posts. If you can’t write about a topic without copying old content, it’s probably not fresh. Time to go back to the drawing board!
DON’T: Buy Links
Buying links is an old practice that definitely does not fool Google. In the end, it will hurt your ranking and waste your money.
Google’s Webmaster forum explicitly describes the practice of buying links as a link scheme “which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.” Save yourself a headache by earning your links the “new” fashioned way: by creating quality, link-worthy content.
INSTEAD: Create Valuable Link-Worthy Content
There have been multiple links in this post to external sites, each one of which is there because of the quality of the content on the website. Three of them are to articles in Search Engine Journal.
Becoming searcher’s go-to resource takes time and effort but is well worth it. The best way to build a solid search reputation is to create content people want to read… content YOU want to read. Then, from social shares to links in press bylines, there are plenty of legitimate ways to get that content in front of an audience.
If your search-optimized content strategy is stuck in the past, it’s time for a reboot. Contact GPO to get started today.