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5 Outdated Search Engine Tactics You Need to Stop

5 Outdated Search Engine Tactics You Need to Stop

Search engines will drive more traffic than social and email if you get it right.

When you start your blog or website that will not be the case. You will need to earn that authority from Google, Bing and the other search engines over time.

It takes persistence and patience.

To provide some perspective on how important that is, this blog now receives over 50% of it’s traffic from organic search. That is free traffic! That is why SEO or “search engine optimization” is so vital.

As with any strategy – business, marketing, SEO or otherwise, sometimes, a refresher is in order. This is to evaluate what works and should be kept, and what doesn’t and should be removed from that strategy.

There’s no set-in-stone timeframe in which you should go about evaluating your SEO tactics. Though as a general rule, the more frequently they are evaluated the better. Additionally, there usually comes a time in every business manager or owner’s life at work when they realise that changes are in order. And that the sooner they go about making them, the better.

Why refresh your SEO strategy

The world of digital marketing is in a constant state of evolution and what worked so well yesterday mightn’t work at all tomorrow. In fact, with the number of Google updates and the like to contend with, even if you saw your website traffic skyrocket yesterday, you could see your website penalised tomorrow.

Consequently, there’s not only an inherent need to refresh your SEO playbook, but to also stay up to date with what’s going on in the constantly evolving world of marketing and SEO, especially where Google and its crackdowns are concerned.

Also, just because you’ve identified a need to make adjustments to your search engine strategy, this doesn’t mean that you’ve made mistakes or gone about things the wrong way. In fact, the truth is usually just the opposite. You’ve correctly made the effort to look for weak points in your strategy. You’ve identified them and now you can work on making the required changes, though you will naturally need to understand the most suitable changes to make.

Your marketing efforts need to keep pace with your business, says Hunter Hoffmann, the head of US communications at Hiscox. He further added,

Most small businesses evolve or pivot from their initial focus as they react to what works in the marketplace. You can use this opportunity to put more resources to your most effective tactics, cut some of your less successful initiatives and try something new.

With those important points in mind, here are five of the many outdated search engine tactics  that you should remove from your SEO marketing strategy if you’re still relying upon them for SEO purposes.

1. Keyword stuffing

Whoa! If you’re guilty of keyword stuffing you need to do more than refresh your SEO strategy, you need to catch Doc’s DeLorean back in time – not back to the future as you aren’t ready for it yet – and familiarise yourself with what’s been going on in SEO over the past five to ten years.

Stuffing your content, metadata descriptions, titles, etc. is how you get your website removed from search engines because it’s a big no-no and has been for many years now. Whilst there’s nothing set in stone regarding keyword density – the number of times that a keyword appears on a webpage – deliberately stuffing keywords in your content, metadata descriptions and titles is a sure-fire way to get your website sandboxed.

2. Spammy guest blogging

Guest blogging really did take a battering early this year from Google, though that isn’t to say you should cease creating informative, original and quality content to make available on blog sites. This is because content is still king in a number of ways. And by creating original, quality content for blog sites, you can make your business and website an authority on subjects relevant to your business activities and interests.

However, if you’re to continue your guest blogging efforts, be selective about the blog sites that you link to. For instance, avoid blog sites that are blatantly all about the creation of backlinks – MyGuestBlog.com is a prominent example here after being slapped into nonexistence by Google. Be sure also to only upload your content to blog sites that are relevant, i.e. related in some way to yours.  For instance, a florist business uploading informative, original content to a blog site concerned with gardening.

3. Favouring quantity of links over quality

The quality of your links is far more important than how many you’ve got. And although Google is no longer adhering to its ‘100 links maximum’ rule and has since stated that you can have as many links as you like as long as it’s a reasonable amount, if you’re still using links to boost your SEO rankings, it’s about time you knocked that strategy on its head once and for all.

4. Placing keywords in metadata descriptions

For many years, it was common practice to place keywords in metadata descriptions, and it’s still ok to do so. However, since 2009 keywords are no longer a ranking factor for SEO, something Google has publicly stated on a number of occasions.

This doesn’t mean you should cease bothering with metadata descriptions, nor does it mean you shouldn’t place relevant keywords in them. But rather, maximise the value of metadata descriptions by writing them with users in mind so as to make them understand why they should click on your link and not someone else’s.

5. Duplicating content

Ok, duplicating content is sometimes necessary – sometimes it’s actually a legal requirement – and as a result won’t incur any problems with Google. But if you’re duplicating content for SEO purposes, particularly content of a poor quality – this is what Google terms ‘deceptive content’ – then you’re asking for trouble.

Many websites require the use of duplicate content. This includes printer-only versions of web pages, discussion forums that generate content aimed at mobile devices, and saleable items that are linked via URLs which are considered distinctly different.

If the examples above don’t describe your duplicated content, chances are you’re in for a rude awakening. However, if you want to proactively address any duplicate content issues that might arise; you can do either of the following:

  • Use 301 redirects
  • Syndicate content to other websites carefully
  • Make good use of Webmaster tools to tell Google how you’d like your website indexed

Every business owner or manager needs to review his or her marketing and SEO strategies from time to time to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. In addition to making changes based on your evaluations, bear in mind that the best way to go about SEO is to follow the guidelines that Google and other search engines have put in place.

Sometimes these guidelines mightn’t make immediate sense or any sense at all even after much scrutiny, but it isn’t up to you. So stay within the parameters they’ve set, keep up to date with the latest changes and trends, and your SEO strategy will ultimately bear fruit.

Author Bio: Martha Williams is a writer currently working on a freelance basis for Digital Rehab, one of Australia’s leading digital project management and marketing consulting companies.

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  • Good review Jeff! SEO tactics have come a long way, haven’t they!
    Yet the things that made sense before just make even more sense now is the way I see it. All the keyword stuffing and barely legitimate backlinking, etc, always lived the grayish area of SEO from my perspective.

    Readers of content are quite different than they were 10 or even 5 years ago. They are internet savvy and pressed for time. Garbage can be smelled within the first sentence. Alternatively, meaningful, highly interesting and well written content can be discerned within the first two sentences and that is what will grab readers and google as well!


    • Gemma Purnell

      Great to read this as I was just discussing with a client this morning the reasons why he shouldn’t stuff his content with keywords.

  • Hey Jeff,

    Ok, ok, I’m guilty of adding my keywords to my metadata description. I thoought that they would be what search engines would first look for, but apparently not.

    But I do have to say I’m doing great so far. I had a mishap earlier this year and last year, but I fixed those problems. But although I’ve been penalized, I’m glad of what Google is doing to clean up the blogosphere as well as other strategic ways to build our business! Thanks for sharing!

  • PamelaLDavis

    Thanks for sharing this post! It’s great content for everyone to remember as we try to build SEO the right way. Thank you!

  • Another insightful article, thanks Jeff. I think meta data descriptions are still important to use as they appear as the summary in many Search Engine Results Pages: http://commsinsight.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/tips-for-structuring-website-content.html

  • SEO is quickly becoming harder and harder to do on purpose! While I understand why, there are a lot of hard working websites that were using some outdated tactics the right way to succeed! It seems today’s “smart tactics” are tomorrows “black hat tactics”

    There are SO many people that have a SEO company that still use outdated SEO tactics. It is more important than ever to make sure if you do SEO, it is being done the right way. It is getting harder for SEO companies to do SEO on purpose the right way, and many still do things that hurt you!

  • Hi Martha,

    SEO is such an evolving and changing thing that in some ways it’s complicated for those who know the old way of doing it and yet it’s simpler for those breaking onto the scene in many ways.

    Your points are really good and solid! The way I’ve chosen to think of search engines now is in terms of networking, like how I network offline. The principles are the same its just that the tools are different.

    For example, when I read a blog article I really like I try leave a comment that will add value to the conversation and context for both the blogger and future readers. Of course I share it out on social media and I give it a positive review statement of what I got out of the article and why I think my followers should read it.

    But, I take it one step further – I catalog the articles I read and like and when I’m writing mine (which are usually around 1800 – 2500 words) I like to quote the article and link to it from my blog article. Then when I share it out on social media I let them know by putting a line that says something like; “Links to other articles were included by…” and I tag them.

    The point I’m making is the strategy I’ve landed on is to not get so caught up on keywords and all of the traditional SEO tactics. My goal is to create a community of influencers and over time as we link, share and discuss one another’s articles our audiences start following each other and then more links and backlinks and social triggers are creating naturally and organically.

    I can say in four months on my website and blog I’ve seen a massive amount of growth and new business as a result. The thing is I’ve always believed that this is what Google was looking for in the first place. That is very simplistic I know and not comprehensive, but it’s the concept I believe.

    I really enjoyed your post Martha and I will be sharing it on Twitter and Google Plus.

    I hope you have an awesome finish to your week!

    ~ Don Purdum

  • Great post!

  • Phil Wollerman

    Google don’t use keywords anymore of course, but using them in the description has another benefit – the keywords used by the searcher are bolded in the description; if you want to catch their eye even though you’re down at like, 4th place in the SERPs it’s a technique to exploit.

    The meta-description otherwise is a space for good copywriting to get them to click through. I have another trick for phone-in businesses that I’ll leave for another day although you might guess it anyway!

    • Yes, I craft the meta description carefully to ensure the best click through!

  • sandeep singh

    Now in 2014 SEO is all about quality, if your post has good quality content which benefits readers then you will rank higher, Back-linking is almost dead now for SEO.
    Keyword stuffing is bad idea but to notify crawler bot your post need to have a focused keyword not more than 1 in title, permalink and meta description, also you need to have keyword density of 0.8-1.2% in your post that’s what i know, According to Matt- If your post is long (More than 1600 words) then do not put focused keyword more than 10 times irrespective of keyword density.

  • Keith Cline

    What’s funny is the fact that I clicked on you through FaceBook.

  • Federico Riva

    It’s traffic? Check your grammar mate.

  • Federico Riva

    Btw this article is crap. Grammar aside. ..it looks like you are Not aware of SEO basics.

  • Thank you for sharing this points because so many are following the same old techniques now.

  • Laser SEO

    Exactly Google stopped using meta keywords for ranking back in 2009 and there has been speculation Bing use them as a spam flag. Meta keywords and meta descriptions are 2 very different things and this point is likely to confuse a lot of newbies. Keywords in meta descriptions are a very advisable tactic for the reasons you state ctr’s as they show relevance of the users query.