Outdated and ineffective SEO techniques that will end up hurting you

By: Ilkka Mäkinen | Published: 4 August, 2016 | In: SEO

Not seeing results with your SEO efforts? Poor performance can often be the result of outdated techniques that just aren’t working anymore. To help you with your efforts, this article will cover the SEO techniques you should avoid and discuss about the effective techniques you should be using instead.

seo laundry

1. Keywords before clicks

Back in the day on-site search engine optimization was obsessed with keywords and technical tinkering. It was all about researching the perfect keywords and conjuring up ways to incorporate those keywords to the title tags, meta descriptions, headings and content.

Often this obsession with keywords took dominance over user experience. As you can imagine, a SEO metric called “keyword density of content” can not lead to a very user centered approach to content creation.

This approach basically meant that people were writing for Google bots instead of other people, which is of course something Google has fought against since day one. So following this method, an accounting company for example could go after keyword variations in their title tags and meta descriptions like this:

Title tag: “Business accounting services | corporate accountancy | professional accounting services”
Meta description: “Business accountancy services, corporate accountancy services. Professional accounting services for small business and corporations. Accounting and financial services..”

We’ve all seen these in our search results back in the day. It’s all about the keywords before clicks.

I dare to say most people aren’t going to click on these links today, because search results like these create negative connotations of spammy and shady web sites.

And pages that are not getting the clicks are not going to rank well, because click through rate (CTR) is an important ranking signal for Google today.

Focusing on creating compelling title tags and meta descriptions that get the clicks will improve your position in Google. However, click baiting with content that does not deliver will damage you.

If your content is not living up to the expectations set by the title tag and description, people will quickly leave. This would be a double loss: first, disappointed visitors rarely return and Google will drop pages that make people quickly leave or return to search results.

2. Targeting the same thing on multiple pages

Another SEO tactic a lot of people used was to create separate pages for multiple keyword variations. With this method, that same accounting company would create pages such as:

  • Business accounting services
  • Business accountancy services
  • Professional accounting services
  • Corporate accounting services
  • and so on..

Obviously the usability suffers from content structure like this, but the biggest problem in this case would be duplicate content. Because in the end, it’s the exact same thing on all pages! The odds of actually having unique quality content on nearly identical pages are close to none.

So with this method, what’s probably going to happen is that Google hits you with Panda, an update designed to keep low quality and duplicate content away from search results. So this is definitely not a good method to rely on.

3. Going after keywords in domain names

Along the lines of the previous method, people were targeting keywords not just in pages but also in domain names which carried a lot of weight in Google. So you could see a lot of keyword rich domain names like business-accounting-services.com. The root of the problem here is again credibility.

Hyphen-laden domain names are for many indicators for spam and the credibility of a company called “Business Accounting Services” is… well. What do you think?

Clearly this was not a problem in the past, people even went after keyword variations with multiple domains. But the other problem with this approach is that their potential traffic or backlinks will not help the other sites.

Today you’ll definitely want all your content and precious backlinks in one place to maximize your organic traffic and improve rankings in search engines.

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So what gives?

Bottom line here is that all this tinkering with keywords on static pages is not going to work anymore, because reverse engineering and writing for search bots do not work anymore. There’s no way around it, quick on-site SEO with a bunch of static pages is dead.

Google is focusing on serving the best possible content for its users, it’s looking at things like click through rate, dwell time on page and bounce rate to determine how well the results are serving people.

You can’t rely on things like keyword density of content in this environment anymore.

You need to think search engines as services that provide people with answers that serve to all kinds of goals. People are looking for information to learn about different topics, they are searching ways to achieve different tasks and solutions to problems.

Instead of keywords, focus on the goals people might have when they are searching for something you are providing.

This means you need to change your point of view to that of your target audience. Think about what purpose each an every piece of your content serves from their point of view. What problems are you going to solve? What are your visitors going to learn?

You will see significant results if you take a solution oriented approach to your content creation and provide content that truly fulfills the goals of your visitors.

As you probably have already realized, your static pages wont be enough to attract some good traffic in this game. It's a pretty limited amount of ground you can cover with only having static content.

So start creating a lot of content about the things you are all about. Start now, cover as much ground as you possibly can. And keep doing it regularly, as Google likes fresh content.

Now as for keywords, you might now think that keyword research is dead too, but it's not. It's just become a lot more sophisticated.

Yes you still need to target the relevant keywords. As you'll most likely never get to the top 10 with short head terms like "Accounting Services", so be sure to target long tail keywords like "Small Business Accounting Services in Brussels".

Read more about targeting long tail keywords and strategies to outperform you competition.

4. Taking shortcuts to earning backlinks

The number of backlinks is still one of the most ranking factors for Google, but methods like blasting links to other people’s comment sections or paying for links is a recipe for disaster.

Bad quality backlinks from sketchy link farms will lead to Google penalizing you with Penguin, an update designed to fight against poor quality backlinks intended to manipulate search rankings. If Google thinks sites linking to you or your backlinks are rubbish, it will think you are rubbish too.

Today you have to work to get those backlinks, as even high quality content very rarely earns backlinks on it’s own. After doing research on 1 million articles, Buzzsumo and Moz noticed that 50 % of articles get 8 shares or less on social media and 75 % of articles earn zero links.

One effective method to get backlinks is broken link building, which means you search for sites (preferably non-commercial ones) who have broken links to similar resources that you have on your site.

You can use a tool like Semrush to check who is linking to your competition and a tool like the Screaming Frog to find broken links on these sites. When you find broken links, you politely report them to the webmasters of these sites and suggest replacing these links with your own.

It's often a good idea to offer a link to a few different resources as well to avoid appearing too opportunistic.

As researching broken links can be time consuming work, it’s also worthwhile using Buzzsumo to find out who has mentioned you without linking back to you, so you can then request them for that backlink. This should be easy enough to achieve as they have already referred to you.

But by far the best method to earning quality backlinks in my opinion is is guest posting, which means writing articles to more popular sites in your niche.

Guest posting is a useful way to raise brand awareness and establish your authority on a subject, and of course, you will be earning those high quality backlinks at the same time.

There are plenty of sites accepting guest bloggers, you can get started by doing searches with your niche related keywords and phrases such as “submit a guest post” and “guest post guidelines”. Before you approach these sites, it’s often a good idea to already have some drafts or unpublished blog posts you can offer.

Note that guest posting is not a shortcut to quick results like nothing in SEO these days is. Most sites do not accept guest posts just for the purpose of link building, so you will need content that is relevant, informative, helpful or interesting to the audience of that site. Do not add irrelevant links to your home page for example, but link to other resources on your blog or site where it’s relevant.

That is is for this article, if you are interested in learning more SEO hands-on, check out our SEO & Google Analytics course and WordPress courses.

Until next time!

By: Ilkka Mäkinen | Published: 4 August, 2016 | In: SEO

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