During the formative years of SEO, the process of getting higher Google rankings was largely focused on tips and tricks of a technical nature. Over the years, however, Google analytics and ranking mechanisms have become increasingly sophisticated and discerning.
As a result, a number of formerly tried-and-true SEO practices are simply not working anymore. Here are a few insights into the mindset you’ll need to avoid these outdated practices — which can actually cause your Google rankings to degrade rather than improve.
Focus more on clicks vs. keywords.
The days of using a string of keywords to “game the system” into higher rankings are officially over. The fact is, this practice can now hurt your cause. You should be focused on writing a compelling headline for the title tag on each page. One that actually speaks to the page visitor in a relevant and engaging way.
Think unified URL vs. microsites.
In the not-so-distant past, microtargeting through the use of multiple sites was all the rage. Today, it’s a fulltime challenge to hone a website in order to get the most robust SEO results. The use of microsites with keyword specific URLs only serves to fragment your effort. While creating a group of inefficient sites with no synergy between them.
Avoid irrelevant exact-match domain names.
In the early days of the World Wide Web, the most desirable domain names were exact-match URLs such as mortgages.com or pot-racks.com. But today’s typical site visitor hardly ever chooses this kind of direct path to a generic site. That visitor instead chooses to “google” a mortgage-related term to unearth a wider selection of viable search results.
Generic sites with exact-match domains can also cause potential visitors to be wary of engaging with them. The focus of today’s most successful marketers is to build a genuine brand that earns trust and loyalty, by delivering visit-worthy content and a superior online experience.
Disguised duplication can be deadly.
A widespread SEO practice of yesteryear was the creation of multiple pages that address a common topic — each one targeting a slightly different keyword. Today, Google’s advanced algorithms perform sophisticated topic-matching procedures. This enables them to establish the overall messaging intent of each page, and to downgrade rankings for sites that use non-productive duplication schemes.
The reality is, you have a much better chance at improving rankings and engagement for a page by artfully distributing keywords across a page’s content and meta tags.
All linkbait isn’t good linkbait.
We’ve all seen sites with bad linkbait. Many use teaser “news” headlines to attract clickthroughs, which lead to content or popups that have no relation to what the page visitor expected to see.
As opposed to this SEO sleight-of-hand, savvy marketers strive to provide content of value. One idea: have the click lead to an infographic with arresting and relevant facts/statistics you’ve curated to serve a particular topic of interest. That way, on upon clickthrough, the page visitor is rewarded with genuinely valuable content — and will think of you as a credible resource.
Realize CPC rankings are irrelevant for organic SEO.
There’s a widespread misunderstanding that Google AdWords cost-per-click rates and posted competition levels can help to predict the relative ease/difficulty of ranking for a specific term in organic search results. In fact, there is no connection at all. The difficulty quotient for ranking in organic search depends on factors such as quality of content and links, social mentions, and a host of hard-to-measure intangibles. As such, any SEO firm worth its salt will base keyword difficulty scores on a variety of complex factors.
Choose link building/acquisition strategies carefully.
A number of widely used practices for link building and acquisition have become far less effective in recent years. The affected strategies and schemes — many of which now cause a decrease in rankings — include excessive use of anchor text on internal links, paid link networks, reciprocal and comment links, and any number of pay-to-play directory sites. In a nutshell, stay away from any get-ranked-quick offers that seem too good to be true. (They usually are.)