SEO Practices That No Longer Work

As a business owner, keeping up with the constant stage of change that is SEO, should be one of your top priorities!

Why? Because many businesses are being hit with penalties due to bad SEO practices that they may have practiced in the past, most unaware of this fact.

Practices that got you to the top one year, can affect you negatively the next. Small businesses are not alone in this unfortunate consequence of the ever changing, and complicated effect of SEO.

Large online businesses are hit by the same Google penalties, including Thumbtack. The online marketplace recently received a penalty which made it ask thousands of users to remove links from their sites, linking back to Thumbtack.Ironically, Google has invested 100k in this startup!

It simply goes to show you, that no business, no matter it’s size, is immune. In the past, larger brands, like Mozilla, BMW, BBC, Forbes, WordPress, and more have also been penalized for various reasons.

Penalties, are not the only reason that you should understand SEO as a business owner. The fact that it does work, is the second reason you should make the time to understand SEO practices that can affect you both negatively or positively. The first step of having an optimized website, is conducting an audit, in order to determine if there are problems that need fixing — problems that may have been caused by you, or others.

Below is a list of the most common practices that no longer boost your ranking, or may result in penalties in Google’s algorithm.

1) Backlink volume:

You may be familiar with backlinking. Many business owners, even those who may not be very knowledgeable of SEO have heard of this term. Usually from so called SEO experts, who use practices that can affect you negatively.

Reason being that, in the — not so distant — past, marketers were obsessed with creating as many links as possible linking back to their websites, without analyzing the linking domain. As of May of 2013 and the release of Penguin, this practise is no longer ok. Although links are still important, quality and relevancy have now become a lot more important than quantity.

The traffic you receive from Google Organic results will drop if you are linking back from any of the following:

  • Sites with questionable reputation, such as low quality blogs.
  • Sites that are irrelevant to your topic, or industry.

The best ways to avoid making these mistakes, is to stop using the following practices, or hiring professionals that use them: using automated programs to create links to your site, exchanging links with other sites, creating backlinks in directories, guest posting to any blog that would have you and so on.

The websites with a few well targeted backlinks are in the top of the search results these days. A few links from high trust and high authority websites will get you there too and not a sea of irrelevant links here and there.

2) Content misconceptions:

Are you one of the many misinformed business bloggers, who spends hours creating pages of wordy content of any type, expecting to be rewarded with traffic and good rankings? Don’t worry, unfortunately, you are not alone!

I say that because thanks to Google’s Panda, it is quite easy for the search engine giant to distinguish ‘fake’ content from valuable, informative and high quality content which is all that matters now.

How many relevant, and informative words should your articles have? Well, for one you no longer need to feel the pressure to produce 2,000 word articles, but you should still remain above 300 words. Approach all of your content with more thought and strategy, like we mentioned previously. Your readers should want to read your content, or Google will penalize you.

3) Keyword centric approach:

If you are an experienced online business owner, you understand the importance and benefits of using keywords the right way. Keyword stuffing is the act of shoving as many keywords onto the page as possible. It is not user friendly, and will drive your visitors away, not to mention, it is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Google now uses something called LSI (stands for Latent Semantic Indexing) which determines the most widely used phrases or words of a page to use them as keywords.

Why is this good for you? If your article is about “business accounts“ then it will rank for “corporate accounts“ too without you having to put this keyword in yourself. So here are a few tips for you: You no longer need to mention the same exact keyword every other phrase. You can use synonyms of your keywords, but do not overdo it. Your headline should be written according to what makes sense to your audience. Practices that included the manipulation of H1 tags or the use of too many meta keywords, are no longer necessary.

In this case technology works for you, negating the use of copy manipulations for ranking purposes. Algorithms have started to speak the user’s language so make sure your content is optimized for best user experiences and not bots!

4) Rankings obsession:

Obsessing over rankings, is so 2013…

Tracking keyword rankings, obsessively to determine your success, no longer matters. Users need to click on your search results to matter, meaning that improving rankings does not guarantee increased traffic, and with so much competition in the game, websites report that 90% of their traffic comes from long-tail keywords.

What should you do instead?

  • Focus on a few right keywords and do not target an abundance of unrelated keywords.
  • Make appealing meta descriptions so that users are intrigued to click when they see your site in search results.
  • Create a long tail strategy through content marketing and ensure that the long tails that you are targeting are valid.

A third, and valuable example that in today’s SEO quantity means little, while quality creates greater value. You will have more time to optimize and create content, instead of obsessing over a painful success monitoring.

5) Neglecting images:

Although optimizing images on your website made little difference once upon a time, text is no longer the only form of valuable content. Users enjoy images, and other alternative forms of content, like videos, and infographics, and so do search engines.

The problem, is that search engines need help finding the images on your website, meaning that you need to place alt text in all your images to let Google know what they are about. Appropriate, and descriptive file names for your images will also help to boost your page relevance.

For example, an image for an article about TVs, should be renamed to something useful, like sony_smart_tv_kdl_40Wt605B.jpg, rather than the generic DCS_1001.jpg

Usually something that we can forget as business owners, but can be a huge missed opportunity with valuable content hidden from search engines.

Conclusion

It is time to forget about old SEO tactics. As a business owner, your energy is better spent on correcting previous mistakes, and creating new strategies based on the latest trends. A few things that you can start with:

What other obsolete SEO practices have you stopped? Have you seen an improvement?