If you run a business that relies on traffic to generate online sales or leads, there’s no appropriate words to emphasise the importance of search engine optimisation (SEO) and a solid digital marketing strategy.
However, SEO isn’t like the mathematical formulas you came across at elementary school.
As many say, it’s a dark art that combines a mixture of skill, experience and common sense approaches.
Marketing technique continually evolve, so it goes without saying that your own marketing technique need to continually evolve to keep abreast with technological advancements.
SEO trends that were effective a couple of years ago won’t necessarily give you the same results as before. And there’s good reasons for this.
So it may come as no surprise that numerous SEO tactics need to be retired and the new ones adopted to prevent any negative consequences.
Here are ten outdated SEO practices that you should retire immediately, in order to ensure that your website maintains the desired rankings and referring traffic on the major search engines:
1. Link & Article Directories
The idea of link directories was initially noble and helpful for many online marketers, but the abuse by some marketers made them lose any intended significance and above all trust.
Some website owners provided low-quality links without any value for the people who followed them to their websites.
Consequently, the search engines have adjusted their algorithms to ignore these links and directories profiles since most of them were linking to low-quality or irrelevant content.
As such, many directories are new deemed useless for SEO, except for high-quality directories that are exclusively meant for particular niches, which are very few and far between.
Therefore, if you’re still submitting your site details to link and article directories, put a stop to it now.
2. Adding Subdomains or Registering New Domains
In the past, you could land and dominate the top of search engine results pages (SERP) simply by creating subdomains to your website or registering several separate domain names.
Publishing your content across multiple domains and subdomains would help your site to rank multiple times in the search results.
However, things changed a long time ago.
Instead of separate domains and subdomains, Google now gives ranking priority to subpages appearing on a single SERP but from one domain.
As such, techniques like barnacle SEO (which involves using larger, reputable websites to promote your website and get more traffic) would be a far better alternative.
3. Keyword Stuffing
No matter what people say, keywords are still the backbone of SEO.
In years past, webmasters would stuff as many keywords as possible on their website (in the body and source code), without even the slightest regard for the value that their visitors would get from the content.
As you can imagine, this created a poor user experience for many frustrated web users who clicked on high ranking links, only to find the target site was full of useless irrelevant junk!
To discourage this, search engines started to demote websites with stuffed keywords and these penalties still apply to this very day.
No matter what techniques you try, whether hidden keywords in the body or the source, Google and such will see this and penalise you.
Therefore, avoid stuffing keywords on your website, especially if the content doesn’t offer significant value to your users.
4. Automated Link Building
Inbound and outbound links are an integral SEO component.
However, the creation of the links isn’t a piece of cake and this is what necessitated the discovery of link-building software.
Although link building automation saw many websites rank high on search engines in the past, it has one major drawback.
Most automated bots would post a ton of links on forums, blogs, guestbooks and link directories that had very little relevance to the target site.
Google’s algorithms could see that mass link building across sites that were off niche were not offering any quality or relevance to users.
So most of these links were either penalised or demoted as poor quality – some even regarded toxic and caused target sites to drop in rank!
As such, you should stay well away from any kind of software automation to build links if you want to reach your target audience and rank better.
Instead, build strong relationships with website owners, forums and blogs within your niche or related niches to allow you to post valuable content with links directing readers to your content.
5. Buying & Selling Links
As earlier mentioned, link building is very important in SEO, yet very challenging.
Nowadays, link building is about quality, not quantity.
As a result, many lazy marketers who either have no time or means to perform outreach try to cut corners by buying links instead.
However, this practice is against Google’s webmaster guidelines and you’ll be penalised if Google discovers that you’ve bought or sold links to manipulate the ranking of a website in search results.
Buying or selling links carries great risk so unless you feel you have good reason to do so, it is best avoided.
6. Quantity Over Quality
Ever heard of content spinning software?
Perhaps you’ve even used content spinning software yourself?
Some marketers used to think that having lots of content irrespective of its value was an effective way of getting websites rank high on search engines.
It may have worked for some websites in the past but things have rapidly changed.
Google’s latest algorithms are so intelligent that they can can now differentiate between poor quality spun content and high-quality original content.
Unsurprisingly, Google will always prioritise high-quality content to rank higher, thus ensuring web users receive a good experience when using their search engine.
So if you haven’t already, start concentrating on writing original high quality on your blog or site pages.
It doesn’t have to be too frequent either.
Once a month may suffice and will help to build a pool of rich content your readers will love.
7. Multiple Pages for Multiple Keyword Variants
In the past, it wasn’t uncommon to find websites with several pages displaying virtually the exact same content, with perhaps the odd tweaks here and there.
For instance, in the case of a freelance writers website, you might have seen pages with titles like “10 Freelancing Tips…”, “10 Freelancing Hints…” or “Ten Freelancing Hacks…” etc, with the same content across the board.
Some marketers still apply this technique to date, in the hope of increasing the chances of their site getting top position on the major search engines.
Unfortunately, this tactic is no longer helpful since search engine developments like Google’s RankBrain algorithm and neural matching can easily detect content duplication or keyword synonyms.
Instead of duplicating content, simply give your users unique and helpful content on each of your website pages instead.
8. Only Focussing on Rank Position #1
Did you know that a page ranked third on Google may actually enjoy more referring organic traffic compared to the one ranked first, especially if the former has the featured snippet?
Yes, it really can happen!
Instead on focusing only on getting your site on the first position on search engines, employ different ways of improving its click-through rate.
Several studies have shown that implementing techniques such as using an actionable title or description tag have proven to increase clicks.
9. Random Guest Posting
Avoid guest-blogging just for the sake of link building.
If you insist on guest blogging, take the time to use search operators to find blogs that are within your industry niche.
Moreover, find blogs that display good metric indicators and are shown to be trustworthy and authoritative.
It’s far better to have just a handful of quality backlinks, instead of having a thousands coming from poor neighbourhoods that won’t deliver any significant levels of traffic to your site.
Be super-selective on the sites that you reach out to and pitch a guest blog to – stick to those that are related to your niche only.
If you are given the opportunity to write a guest blog for a third party site, make sure you only publish relevant and valuable content.
10. Exact-Match Domains
Your website is an exact match domain (EMD) if it contains keywords that you are targeting in the search engine results pages.
For instance, if you consider yourself to be an SEO expert based in Sydney, Australia and you want your website to rank on SERPs with keywords “SEO expert Sydney”, an exact-match domain name may look like seoexpertsydney.com
Although this technique used to work reasonably well, recent Google updates now deem this practice as manipulative and so, your exact-match domain risks being demoted in the SERP for this precise reason.
Nowadays, you are advised to register a domain that directly relates to your business or brand name.
Then apply whitehat techniques to carry out on-page optimisation that will help your site rank for your target keywords.
The above 10 SEO tactics are considered outdated and at times, high risk.
For the most part, it is unlikely that you will see any significant gains in the search engines by using any of them.
So the advice is to avoid them at all costs and brush up on the latest techniques that are proven to work now and longer term.
If you’re still using any of them, it’s vital that you put them on the scrap heap where they belong.
Instead, use recommended alternatives to improve your website’s visibility on search engines without increasing the risk of an algorithmic or manual action penalty.