Time-wasting SEO practices are everywhere, surprisingly still being used by some “modern” digital marketing companies. Keyword stuffing, shady links, thin content- these practices haven’t always been misguided, they’re just out of date. While some marketers and too-trusting business owners may think just knowing about SEO puts them ahead of the game, this mindset is unfortunately no longer true. Your competition is using SEO tactics to build their organic rankings too, and if they’re using a more updated rulebook than you- they’re doing a better job of it. What exactly are some old techniques, and what would be put in their place? Let’s dive a little deeper:
The Old Way: Keyword Stuffing
A Better Approach: Write for Your Readers
“Fort Myers Ford is your Fort Myers, FL dealership for Ford trucks, Ford cars, and Ford crossovers.” Sound familiar? If you were writing SEO copy a few years ago, it unfortunately does.
While it certainly worked in the past, keyword stuffing is ineffective and offputting today. Not only is not helping, but it's also actively hurting you. Google and other search engines now penalize keyword stuffing by diminishing your ranking. Instead, focus on creating valuable content that just so happens to include keywords in a natural way. Clarity trumps keywords, for your potential customers and search engines. If your reader is confused by the awkward keyword phrasing, they’ll click off immediately. This then hurts your SEO because it sends a signal to search engines that your content is of poor quality. Don’t force the issue. Let’s fix the sentence above:
“Fort Myers Ford is your place for the best deals on Ford trucks, cars, and crossovers in the area.”
Trust me, Google knows that you have Ford crossovers now. And what’s even better, your viewers don’t think your website was written by a robot with placeholders. The old rule of thumb to add an exact keyword into the content four times no longer applies, so let it go.
The Old Way: Thin Content
A Better Approach: Quality Content Your Audience Wants to Read
Once upon a time, there was a mindset that topics like “ Ford F-150s for sale in Fort Myers, FL”, “Ford F-150s for sale in Bonita, FL” and “Ford F-150s for sale in Naples, FL” should be three separate pages, with strikingly similar content except the cities, and all linked from the bottom of the homepage. Let’s not forget, each Ford model needed its own set of location pages. All of a sudden, a viewer is looking at a huge link table of nonsense (and not clicking on any of them) and Google is looking at a thousand pages of 400 words or less.
Your page doesn’t have to have a small word count to be “thin” though. Thin content means any content on a website that is of little value to the user. It is content that stands in the way of informing viewers of what they’re really looking for, ultimately causing a lot of white noise to a search engine. If you’re creating a page to sneak your way into rankings, stop. Today, great content is the minimum requirement to compete. Google’s Panda update was designed to combat websites with poor content so this tactic isn’t even really an option anymore.
The Old Way: Crafting Meta Descriptions for Crawlers
A Better Approach: Optimize Meta Descriptions For Organic Clicks
After years of Google updates, meta descriptions have become snippets of information shown on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) to entice a viewer to click to your page. This was not always the case. Until 2009, it was standard SEO practice to place keywords in meta descriptions to improve overall rankings. Meta descriptions are no longer crawled for this purpose, but it doesn’t mean they should be ignored altogether. If the viewer doesn’t think the page applies to them, they won’t go to your page and your views will suffer. Your meta description tells a user why your content is more valuable than the other links begging for attention on a search results page, so just like with the content in your actual blog or article, there should be keywords placed organically throughout.
The Old Way: Article Submissions
A Better Approach: Social Media
Remember a time when article submission was a requisite tool in search marketing? I do. It was one of the first SEO lessons I learned when I got into the industry four years ago, and I even used the company credit card to pay for these. It was the way to get your content seen and to secure backlinks…back then. In 2015, this is a complete waste of time and money (please, don’t still be paying for this!). Google is much smarter about these unnatural links now, but luckily for all of us we don’t need them anymore. What else has changed in the past few years? The total domination of social media! You don’t need to put your blog articles anywhere except your own Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or whatever else social media platform your company is using. This will get your content seen by people who actually want to see it, for free.
The old school of thought is about adhering to an exact formula for search engines, creating a page to create a ranking. Now, it needs to be about molding an insightful, useful experience for the site user. If you’re not keeping up with Google updates and best practices, moving forward, and improving your position, you’re losing ground to a competitor who is. That’s a simple fact of how the SEO process works.
The constant changes in SEO may seem daunting. After all, If you’re still working the same way you did even a few years ago, you are missing out on a lot of potential customers. Download our free eBook now and never miss another potential organic visitor again.