Search engine optimization (SEO) is always evolving, and it’s come a long, long way since its early days. There have been plenty of proclamations recently that SEO is dead, but it’s not true. It’s just evolved to a point where, in most cases, what’s good for human audiences is also good for your site rankings. Which means there are a lot of formerly useful SEO tactics that don’t work anymore.
If you’re counting on any of the below SEO strategies to help your brand’s website or content rise in Google search results, you’re in for some disappointment. While they did help once upon a time, they won’t boost you up anymore—and often even get your site penalized. Search engines are continuously improving their ranking algorithms to prevent gaming of the system, and to better reward true markers of quality and relevance to search queries.
Today, it’s not only possible—it’s essential—to write simultaneously for human readers and search engines.
Stop Using These SEO Practices
- Keyword stuffing refers to using target keywords and phrases with a high density in the text by repeating them over and over. It’s annoying to readers and stopped working many years ago. Ideally, your main keyword should appear in the page title, the first paragraph, in a subheading, and once or twice elsewhere in the body. Writing naturally and incorporating related terms and synonyms is much better for readers and for SEO.
- Using awkward phrasing to capture an exact keyword phrase detracts from the quality of your writing, makes it seem spammy, and prevents readers from clicking on your link in their results. Just because your keyword research shows that best web design Orlando is a valuable keyword phrase, that doesn’t mean you should use it as a page or article title. Phrases don’t have to be reproduced exactly in order to rank for them. And on a related note, deliberately using misspellings isn’t worthwhile, either.
- Creating multiple website pages for keyword variations is no longer necessary, effective, or beneficial. An example would be creating separate site pages or blog posts with titles like “Best Web Design Company in Orlando,” “Best Orlando Web Design Agency,” “Cheap Orlando Web Design,” “Creative Web Design Firm in Orlando,” and so on. The similar practice of creating lots of microsites around keyword variations is another one of the once-popular SEO tactics that don’t work anymore.
- Placing lots of anchor text links in your content is distracting to readers and not helpful for SEO. This refers to creating links like we did in the introduction to direct you to our article about writing for people and search engines. Doing this a few times in a natural, logical way is good, but loading up your page with these kind of links is detrimental.
- Getting backlinks from generic online directories isn’t a valuable form of backlink building. External links that lead to your site only boost your SEO if they’re from sites that Google and other search engines have deemed to be reputable and of high quality. However, there are some legitimate business directories it’s worth being listed in. All in all, though, there are much better ways to get valuable backlinks for SEO.
- Publishing irrelevant link bait and click bait is a wasted effort. Some site operators try to capitalize on trending topics by creating headlines and content about them, even if they have nothing to do with the brand or its audience. They think that if it earns backlinks or click-throughs, it’s doing some good. But search engines figure out when content and links are irrelevant, and they don’t appreciate it. They also know if you have a high bounce rate—a natural and expected result of this misguided SEO tactic—and take it as a sign of poor quality.
- Writing really short content under 300 words used to be considered a web writing best practice that appealed to readers and search engines. But today, it’s all about creating content that satisfactorily answers the question or provides the information the user wants. Sometimes, that can be accomplished in less than 300 words, but often it can’t. Always aim to offer content that is genuinely valuable, even if it takes a lot of words.