The world of Search Engine Optimization is very dynamic and predictably, Google is making a lot of changes on daily basic to improve its search quality and deal with every possibility that people will be able to outsmart its search ranking algorithm.
So there has been lots of changes and there are lots of things we did before which no longer work today.
Today, we will be looking at some of the SEO tactics that still persists but have been proven to obsolete, useless and you will be advised not to build your SEO strategy on them. These tactics we will outline in this post have in fact been used by us and recommended in previous articles. But you should now know that Google’s algorithm changes have proven that they are no longer useful. Unfortunately, you will still find some SEO practitioners use them and also recommend their adoption in SEO strategies. We recommend that they should be avoided because some of them are actually now considered to violations and can even lead to a penalty.
In optimizing your website for search engines, you should always keep in mind that there is always a lot of guesses, trial and error and sometimes, a good deal of confusion in trying to figure the changes Google has already made to their search algorithm. Sometimes, before we even know about the changes, Google has already moved on and introduced further changes. So we can conclude that SEO is largely speculative and what we think is new may just be outdated. Thangs can be a little bit clear when Google responds to questions and makes an upcoming change public. The key rule is to be observant and monitor changes to your website search behavior and then respond based on the experiences you gather and the comments and observations of other website users.
So, here we go with the SEO strategies we can certainly say have become obsolete and useless:
1. One keyword pages
Prior to Hummingbird update in 2013, it was possible to make slight changes to website content – from title, description and body content, and see those changes make impact for different search terms. For example, SEO that intends ranking for multiple key words required that you create a page for each of the keywords. If you want to rank for best travel locations, most popular travel locations, best locations for holidays etc., way back before Hummingbird, you needed to create separate pages for each of these keywords and optimize them to rank at the top for each of the.
Today, Google has improved remarkably since the introduction of the Hummingbird update and is now remarkably good at identifying searches with synonymous keywords and searches that have similar intent. So whether you search for travel locations, best travel locations, best travel destinations and so on, using keywords that are synonymous or show similar intent, you are likely to have the same results, may be with very slight variations, but the top ranking results will likely be the same.
The implication is that investing your time into creating numerous dedicated pages for related and synonymous keywords is as good as competing with yourself and can be counterproductive. Google can actually see such efforts as manipulative and that is one easy way to earn a Google penalty. Additionally, the struggle to achieve desired keyword density can be precursor to keyword stuffing or keyword spamming and these can invite a Google penalty which can be catastrophic to your ranking goals.
Instead of creating numerous pages with the intent to rank for each keyword where they are related and serve similar intents, it is better to invest your time and energy into creating one page that is well optimized for all the keywords. That is, in building your content, you can choose to use the synonymous keywords to build a rich content that is very useful and capturing all the key search words that can be used for a particular search intent.
Google is now focusing on search intent and not keywords. However, the right use of keywords help Google to understand how to rank your content. So keywords are now better used in page content and used wisely to make your content really valuable to users. That way, your website will be seen by Google as providing value and will likely get better ranking.
2. Keyword density
Many website owners can be confused by most SEO tools which assess website content using keyword density as an SEO parameter. The idea behind keyword density is that ranking your content in Google requires that your content must attain certain keyword percentage for targeted keywords. Some tools recommend as much as 5 percent which is like having the keyword in every sentence. It was also thought that using exact match keywords in the content can really be helpful in giving higher ranking to your content.
The reality today is that this is no longer a useful SEO practice. While we can admit that keywords remain relevant because it tells Google what your website is all about and will help Google understand and rank your website, struggling to achieve some prescribed level of keyword desity is now useless.
On this issue, Matt Cutts spoke and warned that there is no added value in using keywords more than a few times per page. He further stated that overusing keywords may negatively impact rankings. Additionally, efforts to achieve a certain level of kerword placement in your content can affect the fluidity of your content and negatively affect user experience. These can raise the suspicion that you are desperate to force content ranking for a particular keyword and that can raise Google’s red flag, affect user experience by turning them off and eventually hurt your search ranking.
Some SEO professionals recommend the use of a good content editor to optimize your use of keywords. That can help you achieve a fine and optimal level of keyword usage especially because content editors will analyze the top results for your desired keywords and supply you with the right mix of keywords.
We will however recommend that you develop your content by researching the topic and writing naturally. We will advice that you write your content just that way you will speak to an audience on the topic. Google love natural language and they will also make a lot of meaning to your human users.
3. Content length
There had been a growing and persisting idea that word count on a page is really very important for ranking. A report by Backlinko based on some studies in fact showed that long-form content tends to deliver up to 77% more backlinks than short-form content.
Generally speaking, much attention has been paid to this idea of content length. It rose from 300 words to 500, and to 1000 and now settles at around 1,500 words. In fact, it has been suggested that the best performing content is around 2,000 words.
The reality about this is that while there are some convincing data about a correlation between lengthy articles and ranking, that may not necessarily lead us to the conclusions that we have to achieve good ranking with long content.
Content length may not necessarily be the cause of high ranking position. We have seen short, in fact, very short articles of less that 300 words ranking top for certain searches which had long articles competing for those keywords.
The bottom line is that the length of your content would be determined by the subject matter and should be no pressure on you to attain a certain number of words after you are convinced that you have given your best to explain the subject matter or make your presentation.
Research your topic before you het started then do not bother about counting words or checking content length. Keep writing until you exhaust the topics you need cover rather than worrying about content length.
4. Web 2.0 backlinks
Because of the value of backlinks to websites and the impact it makes on both ranking and traffic, webmasters are known to have invested much time and resources on link building.
These have been driven by the fact that it used to be the more backlinks you have, the more your ranking increases. But things have changed and going for links can be counterproductive in modern SEO. Google has warned against the practice as far back as 2005. Google has stated that it will penalize those websites that have a lot of user-generated spam and encouraged webmasters to take measures against link building. One such measure was the introduction of the nofollow attribute.
Avoid aggressive link building and going for web 2.0 backlinks as an SEO strategy because they are useless and would instead hurt your SEO. Instead, write useful and high quality content and allow links tour content to build up naturally.
5. Guest blogging and Private Blog Networks
Guest blogging was an initiative to promote and share content and in that sense, it was a good idea. But these days, guest blogging have become an thing done solely for the purpose of putting links on another website – just for the goal of getting links.
Another unethical method of link building which Google strongly frowns at is using a private network to earn links. Private blog networks had been used by webmasters to attract links to their main websites. It involves creating multiple websites and using those networks to build links for their main website. Sometimes, they do link exchanges which means a give and take arrangement.
These abuses are things Google seriously frowns at because it is simply an attempt to manipulate its search So take note that guest blogging can annoy the folks at Google. Also keep in mind that Google has learned to deal with such smart tricks, track spammy blog posts by looking at content quality. So today, keep in mind that trying to outsmart Google with low quality links earned from guest blogging and private blog networks is one of the easy and straight forward routes to a Google penalty.
We will suggest link building should not be an SEO policy to pursue. Rather, content quality, research and discovery of new ways of doing things which will turn innovation into an opportunity for link growth because people will make reference to your reports. We will therefore strongly insist that you build links naturally and don not be too desperate to rank with links.
6. Optimized Keyword-rich anchors
It used to be a good idea to optimize anchor texts with exact match keywords. Here is an example of what Google considers to be optimized anchors. Such practices are no longer helpful for search engine ranking today.
In fact, going for exact matches can be very risky as it has the potential to attract a Google penalty.
While we cannot prescribe a precise standard, we will advise that you must be cautious in the way you handle anchor texts. A good idea will be to be more descriptive than exact. Again, you will be guided by the meaning and context of writing and do not avoid an appropriate anchor text just because you do not want to avoid exact match.
7. E-A-T optimization
In August 2018 Google released a major algorithm update that seemed to disproportionally affect medical websites, and lead to widespread belief that Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) were ranking factors. Following this update was a wave of E-A-T optimization that included things like hiring reputable writers, optimizing about pages, updating old posts, spell checking, and many other suggestions.
While we can admit that being an expert in an area will produce useful content and trustworthiness whicg eventually will result in higher ranking, we have not seen it to be worthwhile to invest in experts or authorities in content development.
Do proper research on the subject you write about and you may be guided by a good content editor to improve the quality of your writing. You do not need to write like a professional or expert to be seen as good enough for top ranking by Google.
8. AMP conversion
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a Google-led open-source framework for developing extremely fast webpages. Early adopters of AMP saw dramatic improvement in load speeds and also saw some search position gains in Google.
But AMP is not a ranking factor. Secondly, AMP conversion has shown mixed results forcing many adopters to reverted back to non-AMP websites. There is a prevailing consensus that AMP is only useful for news and media websites, We will therefore recommend that adopting the use of AMP may not help your website ranking performance if you are not running a news or media website.
We suggest you adopt the best website design standards and following the appropriate recommendations to improve speed performance for your website.
10. Content spinning
Content spinning is something people did just to give the impression that they were adding new content to there websites. It worked some long time ago and was a smart and unethical way to take advantage of the Google search engine,
Webmasters will simply make changes to an existing content and publish them as new content. That way, the search engines simply saw that new content was generated and it gave them ranking advantages.
Google has become smarter and such tactics are no longer working.
Google now focuses on quality and not quantity. It is therefore more helpful to publish useful, original content that just churning out same thing in different forms and languages. Instead of content spinning, we will suggest that you update old posts and make them more relevant and related to the current guidelines and industry practices.
11. Exact match domains
The use of exact match domains was once the easiest way to rank for a particular keyword. Also called keyword rich domains, it involved registering domain names that matched a keyword. Examples would be bestpricedfurniture.com and buymedicinesinlagos.com. These made it easy to rank no matter what the content looked like.
Avoid exact match domains completely. You do not need your domain name to contain your target keywords to rank well with your content. Quality content will rank well irrespective of the domain name.
We have done an extensive discussion on this subject in the post: Google Exact Match Keyword Penalty Explained
12. Meta keyword tag
I still see some websites pay so much attention and continue to build and refine the keyword tag for their web pages. The keyword tag used to be an HTML tag that tell Google the focus keywords targeted by a website.
In September 2009 Google officially announced that meta keywords were not a ranking factor and it does not use it to rank pages. That does not mean it is completely useless. Google still uses keywords in page content to understand and rank your website but the keyword tags are simply useless.
Create quality content that match users search intent and use targeted keywords in your content to help Google understand it better. Do not be bothered about the accuracy of your keyword usage, Google is able to understand the context of your writing and match it with search queries.
SEO has changed a lot and has also become more natural, easy and less susceptible to webmaster manipulations. So focus on quality and be natural, Google will find you and reward your good works.
Take note that the updates are not over. Google is continuously improving its search algorithm and that means it will only get better at catching the smart people who try to manipulate its search results.
The final advise will therefore be that you adopt the best standards in building your website, optimize it for speed and build quality content that are useful to your visitors.