The Top 10 Outdated SEO Strategies to Stop Using Now
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is always changing and it can be challenging to keep up with the latest techniques and trends.
There are a range of tactics that worked in the past that are no longer effective and can harm your website’s rankings. In this article, I will discuss 10 outdated SEO strategies that you need to stop using now if you want to improve your website’s SEO performance.
1. Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is content that appears on more than one web page, and Google penalises websites that do this. In addition, this practise can confuse search engines as it makes it difficult for their algorithms to determine which page is the most relevant for a specific query.
Instead of using this tactic, focus on creating unique, high-quality content that provides value to your audience. This will not only improve your website’s SEO performance but also increase user engagement and conversion rates.
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2. Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing involves inserting a large number of keywords into your website’s content, meta tags, and URLs.
Historically, this tactic was used to manipulate search engine rankings by making a website appear more relevant to a particular keyword or phrase.
In the early days of the internet, keyword stuffing was common and proved effective for some businesses. Website owners would even paste keywords numerous times in a font that was the same colour as the background, hiding the keywords from users but ensuring the search engines would detect them.
When search engines became more sophisticated, they were able to pick up on keyword stuffing. Examples of keywords being used inappropriately include being used too often, out of context, or in a way that appears spammy or makes the content difficult to read.
As well as risking penalisation, keyword stuffing detracts from the user experience, leading to high bounce rates. So, make sure you always use keywords in as natural a way as possible, and avoid using many similar keywords close together within a piece of text. You can use SEO tools such as Yoast SEO or Surfer SEO to ensure keywords are used the optimum number of times.
3. Keywords in Meta Descriptions and the Meta Keywords Tag
When SEO was in its infancy, it was very common to use keywords in meta descriptions and meta tags. This was an effective strategy at the time for signalling to search engines about the main topic of a website.
These days, search engines no longer rely solely on meta descriptions and tags to determine what content is on a webpage. Instead, they use more sophisticated techniques like natural language processing and semantic analysis to understand the context and meaning of content.
As a result, there is no need to depend on keywords in meta tags and descriptions. Overusing them in these places can be detrimental your rankings as it may be classified as a form of keyword stuffing.
4. Buying Links
In the past, it was common to pay for a high volume of backlinks that would point to your website. However, Google’s ability to ascertain the quality of a website has drastically improved since then. This means that having backlinks from a site that offers users no value – such as one that exists purely to sell links – is not going to do your rankings any favours.
If you want to genuinely enhance the visibility of your page, you must earn backlinks. This means creating high value content that other relevant websites want to link to – especially due to how high a priority Google considers user experience these days. So, make sure you have a strategy in place for organic link building.
5. A Page for Every Keyword Variation
This strategy involves creating a separate page on a website that focuses on a specific keyword or keyword variation. For example, a website selling flower seeds might have separate pages that are optimised for “buying flower seeds,” “planting flower seeds,” and “buying flower bulbs.”
Rather than creating multiple pages for each keyword variation, it’s more effective to create a single page that incorporates relevant subheadings containing the required keywords.
6. Over-Optimising Anchor Text
Anchor text is the words or phrases that links are embedded into – the actual text displayed that users click on. While it’s important to use keywords in your anchor text, there is such a thing as overdoing it. What would that look like? Using unnatural keywords/phrases that disrupt the flow of sentences, and including too many links.
Google’s can now identify “over-optimised content” – so, make sure you include keywords in a way that doesn’t disrupt the reader’s experience.
7. Focusing on Google, not on People
Search engines have clear and easy to understand SEO guidelines for you to follow. However, it can be easy to get carried away with the technical optimisation process without considering one of the most important factors, which is user experience. For instance, you may put all of your focus into keyword research but dedicate less time to making your content engaging and valuable.
Unfortunately, this will reduce the overall value of your website which will hurt your SEO efforts over time.
You will also face issues if you try to publish articles on your website every day just for the purpose of SEO, but those articles are of low quality.
Search engines are interested in bringing the very best content to their users, so sometimes it is best to post less frequently, but with content that your users will actually engage with.
You should publish consistently but remember – quality over quantity. Always keep this in mind when planning your content strategy.
8. Exact Match Domains
Exact Match Domains, or EMDs, are domain names that include the exact keywords you are looking to rank for. Some examples include buyflowerseeds.com and renthotelroomscheap.com
Although exact match domains were once successful in helping websites rank higher, Google changed all that by reconfiguring their algorithms in a way that affected the ability of these domains to rank high.
This means that if you have an exact match domain with very little content that adds value to users, Google is not going to allow it to rank high – no matter how relevant the keywords in the domain name are.
If you have quality content on your exact match domain, and users are accessing it frequently all while providing positive feedback, it may still rank well. However, it’s not as advantageous to use such domain names as it was in the past.
9. Reciprocal Linking
Search engines see a link to another website as a sign of approval for that site. Website owners therefore used to trade links so they could both rank well. This often involved trading links without checking the source or finding out if the other site had any relevance to one’s own site. In addition, links were often embedded into a page that had no relevant content, or placed on a separate ‘resources’ page that rarely provided any value to visitors.
While this was a win-win situation once upon a time, this manipulative practice is not going to do you any favours these days. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with trading links with industry professionals or businesses so that their relevant content is linking to yours and vice versa. This would provide mutual benefit for the audiences of both parties.
10. Top Folder or Flat URL Structures
The default URL structure in WordPress is a flat URL architecture, where all pages are treated equally. However, this can make it difficult for search engines to understand the website’s hierarchy and the importance of each page within it.
In contrast, a faceted or nested URL structure clearly communicates the importance of each page in relation to every other page.
To switch to a faceted or nested URL structure, you need to change your default permalink settings and publish your second-level pages. You also need to create corresponding blog categories or move existing ones, and set up any applicable redirects. The slugs for your categories must also match the slugs for your second-level pages to ensure search engines value each page appropriately.
Once you have properly configured your URL structure, each third-level page and blog post will appear as a sub-page of the applicable second-level page based on the blog category it is assigned to. This gives more authority to the page it appears nested under.
It’s crucial to plan your URL structure thoroughly before implementing it, as changing it later will require redirecting all of the pages of your website and may result in reduced rankings.
Also, use Surfer SEO to write and optimize your content faster than ever.
Even the best SEO strategies are not static and may change with future updates to Google’s algorithm. With that said, we’ve reviewed a handful of tactics that are known to be outdated already, and you should stop using them if you haven’t already.
The tactics were: duplicate content, keyword stuffing, overusing keywords in meta descriptions and tags, buying links, using a page for every keyword variation, over-optimising anchor text, focusing on Google and not people, exact match domains, reciprocal linking, and top folder/flat URL structures.
Avoid these tactics and instead, keep the focus on creating value for your audience – as this is the key to staying in Google’s good books.
If you need help with your marketing strategy, contact us today – my team and I would be delighted to assist.