Outdated SEO Tactics You Need to Retire Right Now

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  • While rankings are important, prioritizing rankings over traffic can actually hurt you if you aren’t focused on longer-tail queries that focus on user intent and engagement.
  • It’s always a good idea to focus on writing better content, even if that means you’re publishing less often.
  • Don’t ignore mobile. Doing so can result in higher bounce rates and less traffic.
  • Teams should replace exact match anchor text with natural looking long-tail anchors, navigational “read more” anchors, or phrases that are relevant to the topic.
  • Avoid automated link building services that associate with private blog networks.

SEO has come a long way since the early days of the web, and like most industries has seen its fair share of tactics come and go. Some tactics are worth retiring, however, especially in a time when algorithms are getting more sophisticated. We wanted to take a moment to address the SEO tactics that are less valuable now than they were yesterday.

Prioritizing rankings over traffic 

Not even a decade ago, nearly all SEO practitioners were hyper-focused on rankings –achieving page 1 results for any blog post, product, or service page they could optimize. While rankings are still important, prioritizing rankings over traffic can actually hurt you if you aren’t focused on owning longer-tail queries that focus on user intent and engagement. It’s one thing to rank well but it’s another battle to generate quality leads from your web pages.

Furthermore, pages that rank for long-tail queries typically carry more relevance to users. Think about how you would search for something using voice commands on your smartphone. You’d probably ask something like “How do I create a winning SEO strategy?”, wouldn’t you?

Chances are there’s an in-depth blog post ranking in the top five positions that is not only optimized for one keyword but multiple keywords or relevant phrases that will inevitably help educate you on various related topics. 

Creating shallow content

Shallow content, otherwise known as “thin content,” is another SEO tactic that you definitely should retire. Why? Because thin content does very little in the way of providing user value, erodes your authority, and ultimately leads to higher bounce rates when users discover you don’t have what they are looking for. Thin content examples include:

It’s always a good idea to focus on writing better, longer content, even if that means you’re publishing less often. A 900-word blog post published once a week tends to carry more weight than nine 100-word blog posts that are published nine times a week.

That said, there’s no need to obsess about specific word counts. While we do recommend shooting for at least 600 words, there is no magic formula for the perfect piece of content, including ideal length. The best rule of thumb is to simply write enough to cover the topic in-depth. Keyword stuffing, adding sections that are irrelevant to increase word count, or adding words simply for the sake of words will dilute the quality of your post, no matter how long it is.

Getting stuck in content silos

Content siloing is the process of creating categories and subcategories you can use to house related content. While this isn’t exactly a bad practice, it can inhibit the ranking power of service or product pages.

Workaround: Consider aligning with other teams in your organization to gain a better understanding of the types of content needed to support the business and focus on making it better. Key takeaway: You want to amplify your most important pages without diluting them through related, but less-important pages.

Fortunately, content is one of our specialties. Learn how our content development services can help prevent your organization from getting stuck in content pitfalls.

Ignoring mobile

The mobile-first index days are here, and this means that search giants like Google are indexing the mobile version of your website first. It’s important to note that in most industries, more than half of website visits are coming from mobile devices. With that in mind, it’s very important to not ignore the mobile-first index.

What you should do: You have two choices – 1) optimize your existing mobile site, or 2) create one website that is optimized for mobile that’s still desktop-friendly. What this means is going with a design that is clean, concise, and most importantly fast! The bottom line is do not ignore mobile, because doing so will likely result in higher bounce rates, frustrated users, and less traffic.

Exact match anchor text 

Exact match anchor text is the practice of anchor-texting an exact keyword or phrase you wish to rank for in hopes that a user will click through to a deeper web page. While this used to help send a positive ranking signal to search engines, this practice is outdated and ineffective. Exact-match anchor text is also a red flag for Google algorithms that may penalize your site for being spammy.

Teams should instead replace exact match anchor text with natural-looking long-tail anchors, navigational “read more” anchors, or phrases that are relevant to the topic of discussion. Floating a keyword towards the top of a paragraph is also distracting, not to mention more conspicuous to spam filtering search engines. Focus on earning a natural link and you’ll avoid pitfalls associated with exact-match anchor text.

Automated link building

Link building can get pretty dodgy if you aren’t careful about whom you work with. Avoid automated link-building services that associate with private blog networks, and lower quality sites that have names no one has ever heard of. Try working with a team of outreach specialists that are focused on building relationships with publishers before asking for a link.

The results and response might surprise you because all of a sudden you go from being a complete stranger to being a trusted source of information that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved.

Ignoring voice search

Voice search is becoming more and more commonplace, with 55% of users doing voice searches on smartphones and nearly half of all Google Home and Amazon Echo users finding them a necessity. Optimizing your site and content only for text search will make it a lot harder for about half the population to find it.

These days, it’s important to also optimize your website and content for voice search. Button up your schema markup, target content around conversational and long-tail keywords, and pay attention to mobile and local SEO, both of which are increasingly dominated by voice search.

We can help you now…and beyond!

That wraps up this installment of SEO tactics to avoid. For information about SEO, content, or how we can help update and improve your site, reach out! We’re friendly…we promise! 

Author avatar
Mariah Muller
Mariah is the Content Specialist at Redefine Marketing Group, supporting editorial operations for our clients' blogs and other written content. She studied Spanish Language and Literature at UC Berkeley and has worked in a variety of fields, including tutoring and law. She lives, writes, and watches too much TV in Los Angeles.
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