Web technologies change fast and with them, website optimization is constantly evolving, leaving many people confused about which SEO strategies are still relevant, and which have become obsolete.
In 2017, good user experience makes the best SEO strategy. Optimizing content for users is the best way to rank higher since RankBrain rewards content, garnering clicks and engaging users. Google webmaster guidelines always urge brands to create content for humans and the newest algorithm updates recognize user intent. But in spite of producing content for users, there are other things you need to look out for, like staying up to date with the SEO tactics and strategies and selecting which you should continue to use.
Truth is, many tactics and strategies that used to work are no longer relevant, and may actually hurt your website. If you still use any of those strategies, your site might be penalized or even lose your presence in the SERPs. In order to help you stay up to date, and to prevent you from going down a rabbit hole, we outlined five outdated SEO strategies that you should stop using right now.
1. Don’t Create and Optimize the Content for Search Engines
In the beginning of SEO, content would fall into one of two categories: content for people, and content for the spiders which crawl the web and are responsible for page ranking. The first type often meant creating clunky, keyword-heavy content, which would be awkward for users.
Now, years later, even though keywords remain important, this practice is not only outdated but can get you penalized. Keyword stuffing is considered a black hat technique and you should avoid it completely. Focusing on optimizing your content for search engines is a waste of time, and resources.
Instead, write your content in a natural and friendly tone, make it readable and understandable for your audience, and use your keywords moderately. Only by making your content high-quality and valuable, you can convince RankBrain that your content is relevant and useful for the users.
2. Don’t Neglect Optimizing Your Website for Mobile
After Google officially announced in January 2017 that: “…pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as high.”; you’d think that it’s natural for businesses to optimize for mobile, but many still neglect this crucial aspect of SEO.
Many web designers noticed and accepted the mobile-first trend that started a few years back. And companies are beginning to get more and more aware that they are missing out on a lot of mobile traffic even when the majority of their visits come from a desktop computer.
So, if you want to improve your ranking, first, start by switching to a mobile responsive WordPress. Make sure your text has readable zoom, and avoid using Flash or other software that is uncommon and won’t run on mobile devices. Try to place your links far enough apart so the users won’t click multiple at once. Also, AMPs are becoming increasingly important, so consider using them. Lastly, don’t forget to check out Google’s webmaster’s guide on mobile friendly sites for in-depth information on how to keep your website mobile-friendly.
3. Stop Trying to Rank Multiple Keywords on a Single Page
As we mentioned before, keywords are important, but are beneficial only if you use them moderately. There are two extremes that are still out there though. One, trying to rank multiple keywords on a single page, or two, creating individual pages for each keyword you wish to rank for. In both cases, the results are penalized.
Whether there is a redundancy of keywords and long-tail keyword variations on a single page, or too many similar pages covering different variation of a keyword, it creates a usability nightmare.
Instead of doing this, try using a SEO plugin that can help you with the quality of the content, helping you analyze the keyword density. Focus on the clicks and quality, using proper calls to action and good writing. Make sure usability is your first and foremost consideration, and you will not get penalized.
4. Don’t Use Old Link Building Strategies
One of the best ways to get high-quality websites to link back to you is to create relevant content. And network with those who write about the same topics in order to get insights and strengthen connections. There’s no shortcut around this.
But many sites still use some of the old strategies for getting backlinks, like link exchanges, buying links, comments and forum links, article spinning, etc. And sadly, these can get you penalized.
As we said before, don’t go looking for a shortcut to link building. And stop obsessing over quantity. Develop relationships with high-quality websites in your industry, focus on creating valuable, original content and they will naturally link back to you. Engage in guest posting, it’s still valuable, especially when you’re present on sites with high Domain Authority.
5. Stop Using Irrelevant or Over-Optimized Anchor Text
Optimizing your anchor text is, again, related to the content quality. And it plays an important role in creating a great user experience. Using the exact keyword into anchor texts for external and internal links used to be a thing for getting a higher ranking, but it got over-used, and now this outdated SEO technique can get you penalized because Google considers those “unnatural links. And you should stay away from them.
Stick to writing for people, and inserting the links in the text naturally. Don’t add words or phrases just to link them, but find a way to turn a part of a sentence that has a natural flow and talks about the subject from your link into anchor text. Other good practices are using the exact brand name you are linking to, such as Visible Factors, or the naked URL, like visiblefactors.com. Each link should fit the content and add extra value for the uses.
BONUS: Don’t Ignore Social Signals
The times are changing, and SEO is no longer all about links, code and content. But now social networks and social signals play important roles in sear engine rankings since both Google and Bing use that data to determine how to rank websites.
Plus, having more social media followers means that your brand and content get exposed to a larger audience, which means more chances for engagement and content traction, increasing your chances for getting backlinks.
So pick a social network that best suits your business needs, learn how to best use it, and make your presence noted. Generally, start by posting regularly, be consistent in your efforts, engage your audience and be responsive. Then, include ways for visitors to sign up for your social account on your website, and to your email newsletter. And if you still feel like you are stuck and wish to give up, read up on Social Media Examiner’s guide on improving ranking using social media. You might get a few ideas.
Search engine optimization is a crucial part of growing your website and getting more organic traffic. But it’s not something you can learn once and practice it in the same way indefinitely. SEO trends change, and if you want to keep your high place in the SERPs you have to keep up with the trends. Out with the old, and in with the new. It’s the only way to stay on top.
This year, the focus is on creating better user experience and value for your prospects and customers. So make sure you provide them with a seamless experience. If you’re still unsure whether your website is stuck with outdated SEO techniques which actually hurt your ranking, here at Visible Factors have an awesome SEO team ready to help you.