The world of search engine optimization (SEO) is evolving at a fast and constant pace. You’d be surprised at the number of techniques “experts” used just a couple of years ago that are completely ineffective now! Advances in artificial intelligence (and Google’s algorithms) make it easier than ever for bots to identify genuinely valuable information as opposed to content developed to cater to the search engines. You must change your strategies to keep up.
Gaining new knowledge is one of the best ways to stay ahead, but sometimes it’s what you’re still doing that’s the real problem. Avoid these old-school hacks at all costs. If you haven’t stopped using them, they could be leading you down a very risky path.
Remember back in the day when you could submit to article directories? You included a short bio with a backlink, so that anyone who picked up your article to republish it would have to include the same bio and link on their site, too. (Most of those articles never got picked up, and those that did were stolen without the bios anyway.)
After a while, Google started to recognize article directories as the stuffed-with-low-quality content link farms they really were. By the time the Panda update rolled out, the algorithms were able to stop valuing this type of backlink altogether. Don’t waste your time with them.
What is “spinning,” exactly? It’s a black-hat technique that takes articles and replaces random words to create “unique” content. The spinner then redistributes the plagiarized content to different platforms. The results are at best not well-written, and at worst completely unreadable. A general rule of thumb is to avoid using software to create content. Content created by humans is by far the best.
Low Level Guest Blogging
In the past, guest blogging was about finding well-ranked websites with a high domain authority (DA) and page rank (PR). Bloggers would do anything to get a link, even if it meant writing a home improvement article so they could have a link in the bio pointing back to their health website. Site owners loved it because they didn’t have to pay for content. The strategy didn’t make any sense.
There is value in guest blogging, though. The key is to put in the work to find a related niche website where you can provide high-quality content the readers will find valuable. It’s still OK to write killer content to post on other people’s sites. You need to make sure the site’s topic is somewhat related to yours and that the content is as valuable as anything you’d publish on your own domain.
Instead of finding a domain that reflected a business brand, people used to choose a keyword and then attempt to find a domain based on an exact match. We see people doing this not only on the web, but also on Facebook pages and other social platforms.
Exact-match keyword domains are considered spammy. Google will not give you any extra link juice for this uncreative method. As a matter of fact, Facebook’s terms of service specifically ban the use of keywords to name pages. Branding is more important than shoving long or short-tail keywords into someone’s face.
Optimized Anchor Text
We know you want to rank for certain keywords. That doesn’t mean you need to over-optimize your linking strategy to stuff exact-match keywords into your text. It’s considered unnatural and it is — again — a technique Google now limits.
It’s fine to include keywords in your text, but only if you can fit them in naturally. If you can’t, it’s better to create your backlinks from more natural phrases like the one we just highlighted in this sentence. Use your keywords as tools to help you plan your content, not to force overused words or awkward phrases into your writing.
Creating Too Many Pages for Your Site
Let’s say you’re a plumber. An old-school SEO expert may have told you that you need a whole bunch of different pages on your website so that you can rank for each keyword separately. You ended up with a page each for plumbing, plumbing repair, plumbing problems, plumbing upgrades, and other keywords that seem different but are all closely related. The content ends up being weak because it’s not geared towards the consumer, but for the keyword itself.
Why is this bad?
Well, words aren’t going to convert and buy your services.
Okay, that was a little tongue-in-cheek, but what we mean is that it’s people who convert, not the words you write. You should always focus on serving people first.
As for spamming pages? Google can detect it and will penalize you if they do. The RankBrain intelligence system and Google’s Knowledge Graph made it easy for the bots to detect pages created to game the SEO system. Skip it and focus on what matters.
Although it’s now considered outdated, SEO experts used to recommend stuffing your keywords into your meta tags and descriptions. The thought was that the bots would crawl the descriptions, and rank pages based on these small chunks of information. As a result, the description previews people saw in the search results were keyword-stuffed garble that made little sense.
Google’s official stance now is that meta descriptions don’t impact page rankings, but that’s not 100 percent true, either. While your rankings may not be affected by the actual text of the meta descriptions, Google does consider how many people click through to your page. If the description is what causes a person to click your link, it is indirectly supporting your SEO efforts and overall rankings.
Quantity Over Quality
Quality content is key these days. Stop churning out page after page, blog post after blog post – unless you have something meaningful to say with each article. Your readers want to dig deep and gain value from the blogs you offer.
Want to know the number one secret? Shake up your content types. Offer long-form text, video, infographics, and other visuals. Stop writing nothing but short, 300-word missives that summarize an idea but give no real, actionable information.
Now that you know what not to do, how will you change your strategies for 2019? Are you planning to create new content or more of what’s already working? Have some new hot leads for guest blogging and relationship building? Let us know what SEO plans you have and what strategies you are going to ditch and leave behind. We can’t wait to hear your ideas, see your tips, and watch you grow into the New Year!