Search engines are constantly improving and updating their search algorithms in order to give searchers the best user experience possible. Let’s face it, the world of SEO will forever be a changing landscape, and it’s up to us to either keep up with the trends or get left behind.
Getting left behind can be expressed in many forms—each no less painful than the other—including, lost revenue, decreased brand awareness, and disappearing from search rankings altogether.
Most of you SEOs and website owners will admit to having heard horror stories of websites that took hits after these inevitable search engine updates—particularly those from Google.
It might even be your website that got shoved into digital limbo.
Whatever the case may be, regular updates on your content strategy can ensure that you don’t become an anecdote for others to learn from, and the very first steps you can take involve ditching some of those ancient SEO tactics that no longer work, or make you eligible for penalties.
Here are a few SEO techniques you can begin throwing away:
1. Using Directories and Paid Links
There is a host of ways in which directories and paid links can hurt your website. If your backlinking campaign consists primarily of dropping articles in generic directories or websites with barely a hint of editorial review, then you’re going to be disappointed with the results.
The same can be said about comment links, paid link networks, private blog networks, as well as anything advertised on a spammy looking website featuring SEO packages for $99 a pop.
Any strides made using these strategies are at best shortlived and could place your website under the hammer.
2. Heavy Use of Anchor Text in Your Internal Links
Loading up the internal links like it was syrup over a pancake used to work quite well. But lately, search engines have begun to overlook this as a factor for quality, and have been known to actually punish sites that have used internal links in spammy, manipulative, or inappropriate ways.
Here’s a rule of thumb you can follow: put your internal links in the footers, sidebars, and in your content, but make sure that it flows naturally, has high usability, and adds beneficially to the overall experience of the reader.
3. Sticking to the Keyword Repetition Gospel
There is so much that is being tossed about concerning the right number of keywords for an article. Granted, this is mainly due to the influence of SEO tools like Yoast and Moz, but it becomes a problem when you take them for gospel unbendable truth.
The deal is search engine sophistication far outstrips these tools to the point that they can only help you meet up with SEO requirements to a limited extent. Rigid observation of their rules may limit the quality of your content if caution is not taken.
4. Prioritizing Keywords over Clicks
In many ways, SEO is an art rather than a science, and this is no more evident anywhere else than in the way you carry out keyword targeting in your articles and blog posts.
Popular wisdom (sometimes a euphemism for bad advice) dictates that you stuff as many keywords on-page as you can. Without care, content like this always comes across as spammy, and salesy.
Instead of doing this, try to focus more on drawing attention and inviting clicks. This reduces bounce rate (which is always high for spammy content) and increases conversion, and your search rankings will rise as a result. Focus on the message, rather than the keywords.
5. Unfocused, Non-Strategic “Linkbait”
“Check out what Investor X thought about Y”—we’ve all been turned off by this: catchy titles on one website that leads to totally unrelated content on another website.
The idea behind this sort of SEO tactic is anchored in the belief that all that matters is the backlink to your site, rather than creating content that actually gels with the link and adds value to the user.
Search engines have begun discarding links like this altogether.
6. Ignoring Design
Your website is your number one salesperson, on the job 24/7. The way your website looks says a lot about you, your company, and your brand. You don’t want to ignore this, falsely believing SEO is only about content—your visitors certainly aren’t ignoring the ease of navigation and functionalities, for instance.