Search engines are smarter than you, but they still need your help. Major engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are constantly refining their technology to crawl the web more deeply and return better, more relevant results to searchers. But there are limitations to how they can operate. That’s where SEO strategy comes into play. Search engine optimization is ever-evolving as engines tweak their algorithms. There isn’t one right way to approach SEO, but there are a handful of outdated SEO tactics that you should avoid at all costs.
- Link Farming
- Duplicate Content
- Meta Descriptions
- Keyword Stuffing
- Weak Content
Cultivating a diverse collection of backlinks from quality websites is almost always a plus. Unless, of course, they belong to a Link Farm. A Link farm is a set of ‘fake’ websites that link to one another and also include links to your website. The idea is that Google can be fooled into giving you a better PageRank by boosting the number of backlinks on you website. Way back when, link farming was a common black hat practice. Today, trying your hand at these sort of hit and run SEO tactics will land you somewhere past the third page of results. Still think you can get away with it? Go ask Rap Genius how unnatural linking practices worked out for them.
So you finally did it. You wrote your masterpiece and the masses took notice. Now you’re getting emails from other bloggers offering to repost your content with a link back to your site. Sound like a sweet deal? Hold your horses, friend. Copy and pasting an entire duplicate blog post creates major confusion for SEO. Search engines don’t know which version(s) to include in their indices, and they don’t know which version(s) to rank for search results. That can deal a major blow to your PageRank and web traffic.
Google sent meta descriptions (and meta keywords) to the SEO graveyard back in 2009 when they announced neither would factor into the ranking algorithm. Instead of obsessing over how many times your focus keyword is included in your meta description, focus on creating a compelling snippet that will draw users to your website.
Keyword stuffing is the practice of packing your content full of keywords to try and influence your search ranking. This might have worked in years past, but Google and other major search engines now penalize keyword stuffing by lowering your ranking. Instead of harping on keyword density, recognize that clarity trumps all and focus on the quality of your content. ProTip: Google’s algorithm looks for keyword synonyms when determining PageRank, so consider including a few rather than repeating your keyword(s) over and over again.
Quality content is the linchpin of successful search marketing. In 2012, Google’s Penguin update was specifically designed to drive websites with low-quality content further down in the search results. If you’re producing content for the sake of producing content, you’re going to get hit with the Penguin penalty. Sheer volume does not translate to success. So focus on creating content that is actually useful; the kind of content that gets people bookmarking and coming back for more. Find the right blend of industry news and ‘evergreen’ content to stay current while positioning your site as a long-term educational resource.
Many SEO tactics that were once tried and true have become obsolete under the new search algorithms. Link farming, duplicate content, weak content and keyword stuffing are surefire ways to diminish your PageRank and website quality. Today’s marketing is all about the overall experience, so focus your efforts on delivering useful content that provides a unique POV or serves as an educational reference. You’ll need to create new content regularly to stay on top of search results. Just remember to never produce content without purpose. Content quality has more to do with SEO than you might think.