The world of SEO is a lot like the world of fashion: if you want to stay relevant, you’ve got to keep up with the latest trends.
For SEO specialists, that means staying abreast of the latest Google algorithm updates and failing to do so can see you fall behind as a result. What’s more, continuing to use outdated SEO techniques can not only be ineffectual, it can even result in you being penalised as a result.
While the list of ageing SEO tactics grows with each passing year and every additional algorithm update, there are still a few old-school SEO techniques that continue crop up, despite their ineffectiveness.
Here are a handful of the most common outdated SEO offenders still prevalent in 2019.
Exact-Match Domains (EMDs)
Exact-match domains are essentially examples of websites where the web address itself is rich in keywords and describes what the site itself does.
For example, a business that focuses on student housing in Cardiff may have opted for a domain like studenthousingcardiff.co.uk. Think of it as the Ronseal effect – it does exactly what it says on the tin.
EMDs were once deemed to be a fool-proof SEO tactic, allowing sites to scale the SERPs like Sly Stallone in Cliffhanger. However, their effectiveness has since plummeted and the popularity of EMDs has fallen dramatically… like John Lithgow in Cliffhanger.
Nineties movie references aside, EMDs today are more of a deterrent than an SEO tool, appearing spammy and illegitimate to both Google and Joe Public alike. This can, in turn, hinder conversions and make link building more difficult.
Exact-Match Anchor Text
Exact-match anchor text is hyperlinked text that matches the exact desired keyword or phrase of the page. While sparing use can be…well, useful, overuse can be extremely detrimental to your site.
Exact-match anchor text can be seen by Google as a tell-tale sign of deliberate link building and, as such, can be deemed to be search engine manipulation, resulting in your page/site being penalised.
To avoid incurring a penalty, try to create natural links related to the anchor phrase by either opting for a partial match or an unmatched linkable phrase.
For example, if the exact match keyword is “Halloween costumes”, a partial match could be the phrase “Check out our range of Halloween costumes”.
Meanwhile, a safer bet would be to link the phrase “Check out our variety of spooky fancy dress options” – relevant yet completely unmatched.
Dedicated Pages for Keyword Variations
While the old-school method of targeting a single keyword on a specific page may have worked in a by-gone era, Google’s ever-evolving algorithm has luckily put this process to bed and tucked it in tight.
Thanks to the increasingly clever semantics of Google’s Knowledge Graph, the search engine is now able to take into account relative words and phrases that correspond to the search term.
The arrival of RankBrain – Google’s cutting-edge AI system – allowed it to understand the user intent even further, providing even more relevancy and accuracy in the search results.
If you have created singular pages for keyword variations in the past, keeping such superfluous content can be an issue and actually hinder your positioning in the SERPs.
If possible, merge the content and remove the surplus pages, placing their desired relevant keywords in positions of prominence within the surviving page.
Writing for Bots
Another classic way of attempting to boost Google rankings is to tailor your content to appeal to Google bots, keyword stuffing and shoe-horning phrases in wherever they will fit (and even where they won’t).
For example, once upon a time, a blog targeting the keyword term “writing for bots” may have looked like this:
“Writing for bots is great for SEO. If you’re thinking of writing for bots, check out our guide on writing for bots to help you uncover the secrets of writing for bots.”
Thankfully, this form of content manipulation has been largely eradicated, allowing the content itself to flow naturally and freely in a far more logical and readable way.
Think of it as the digital equivalent of forcing an impressive phrase into your French oral exam. While it may tick the box in terms of application, the phrase itself can be extremely out of place contextually and stick out like a sore thumb in practice.
Bottom line: write for the individual reading it, not the bot combing it, to ensure your content is extraordinaire and not a whole lotta bof.
Google is continuously updating its system to keep spam to an absolute minimum, with algorithm changes constantly evolving the way it processes our search requests.
In the pursuit of backlinks, some SEO strategists will opt to link to any content regardless of quality, provided it garners reciprocated backlinks to their site. Nowadays, if this happens to enter spam territory, it could spell trouble.
Relevant backlinks that are relative to your target demographic, your business or your market, providing useful user information can help improve your SEO standing.
Conversely, off-topic, irrelevant links that have nothing to do with your content can have an adverse effect and attract penalties from Officer Google.
For more information on outdated SEO techniques and the best tips for today, why not check out our other SEO blogs? Alternatively, drop us a line on 01446 339050 or use the button below to get in touch online.