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The SEO climate is constantly changing as Google improves the algorithm by which it ranks websites. With the algorithm becoming more watertight, the days of taking shortcuts to achieve high page rankings are over; in many cases doing so stands out as a red flag to Google and may actually have a negative effect. Generally speaking, you get the best results by adopting a holistic, long-term strategy and sticking to it. However, this wasn’t necessarily always the case as many SEO no-no’s today were once used extensively. Let’s take a look at just a few of those tactics that are dangerously out-of-date in 2016.
It seems logical that if you want to be showing up for certain keywords in search engines, the targeted page should have this keyword feature prominently. Indeed, in the early days of SEO and Google, the number of exact match keywords in the text was considered very important and ideally a given keyword would be seen 3% or more in the text and in the page title.
Of course, this often came at the expense of visitor experience as the top priority for website owners was to cram as many keywords as possible onto the page – the quality of the information and whether or not it made sense was a secondary consideration. Today, Google’s technology enables it to pick up on synonyms and similarly-worded phrases. Content should be written for the user in a unique, helpful and concise manner and it needs to be relevant to the keywords you’re trying to rank for. In fact, the keywords are now less important than the ideas or the general gist of the content. This being the case, keyword stuffing is one of the quickest ways to turn Google off.
In the past, it was solid SEO practice to use as many of your keywords in the page titles as you could. If the keywords you were targeting were ‘macbook pro chargers’, ‘mac power chargers’ and ‘chargers for mac’ you would have been well served with a title like:
Apple Mac Chargers | Apple Power Chargers | Chargers for Macs
Assuming you had everything else in place, you may have found success with such a page title. What changed? Well for one thing internet users wised up. People have stopped clicking spammy listings in search engines; they are ultimately looking for titles that are written for human beings rather than for an algorithm. And given that Google’s job is to appease its users, website managers need to be writing titles that draw people in and encourage them to click.
If you compare the-the first example:
Macbook chargers | Browse our large range with free shipping
You can see that it is written more with the intention of sparking the interest of the user and is thus more likely to attract visitors to your website. The same is true of the meta description; users are looking to be persuaded and learn what you’ve got to offer rather than seeing an incoherent string of keywords that don’t form a proper sentence.
Early in the search engine story, it became clear that ascertaining how rank-worthy a website was based purely off of what appeared on the website itself didn’t provide a complete picture. Measuring inbound links was a solution to this problem as they could provide some indication of the relevance and importance of the website.
Of course, when backlinks became a prominent ranking factor, website owners went out of their way to get links wherever they could. This meant commenting on blogs and forums with exact match anchor text linking back to web pages and getting paid listings wherever possible.
Today, these practices are not considered good SEO and they are more readily associated with spammers, which search engines obviously don’t want to reward or encourage. Google isn’t looking for the quantity of link anymore but the quality of these links. It’s important to earn high-quality links to your website from relevant websites that have some sort of exclusivity, rather than paying for them or mass commenting on any vaguely relevant forums or blog topics.
As discussed, SEOs would create as many links back to their pages as possible, usually using the keyword they were hoping to rank for. For Google, this anchor text was often the first signal of what the page was all about. The anchor text method was thus quite valuable – an easy way to encourage search engines to associate a specific keyword with a web page.
With an unnatural number of inbound links with the same anchor text being created, it became clear that website managers and SEOs were ‘gaming the system‘, which is exactly the opposite of what Google wants. Today this practice can really hurt a website’s keyword ranking and should not be a big part of your SEO strategy. This is a good illustration of the fact that Google is all about making rankings as natural and organic as possible; looking for tricks or shortcuts to get ranked is the wrong way to go about or even think about SEO.
A common technique in the early days was to register a number of domain names and redirect them to your main site or set them up as alias websites. The idea here was that it would be easy to rank for the keyword ‘apple mac chargers’ for example, if you owned the domain applemacchargers.com.au and your website was active there.
This may have been effective once, but changing perceptions on the part of internet users seem to have made this technique all but obsolete. Because many of these kinds of domains don’t sound or read like real brand-names, there is an element of distrust associated with them. This being the case, they often get fewer clicks and earn more authority from Google than other branded domain names.
This article has discussed just a few of the many outdated SEO techniques that were once relevant and are now more likely to have a negative effect rather than a positive one. Can you think of any others?