Well, it’s 2015 and, although it was pronounced dead many times in the past, SEO is still going strong. The race for the SERPs is still on and the budgets that companies and businesses dish out for their SEO efforts are consistently getting larger. Still, a big budget doesn’t always guarantee the best results. SEO, like most online forms of marketing, continually changes and, compared to the pace of other online marketing forms, its development is quite fast. This is why SEO experts run into problems with clients who request “old school” tactics to be included into their SEO campaigns.
We are here to talk about some of the tactics that people still resort to without realizing that using them actually hurts their rankings. The reason most of these cause drops in rankings has to do with fact that they have been identified by search engines as manipulative and they corrected their algorithms to punish websites who rely on them. Let’s see what some of them are and why they were tagged with the label of manipulative tactics.
1) Repetitive Keyword Anchor Text
Having the same keywords over and over again is something that is easily identified by Google and other search engines and it drags your rankings down. There is nothing wrong with having descriptive keywords but targeting a specific keyword with an ultimate goal of ranking for it is considered and intentional attempt at manipulation. The key is to keep things natural and not think as an SEO expert, but as someone who genuinely wants to provide an anchor text that leads to a logical place. Not having an adequate anchor text and misleading the reader (regardless if it’s intentional or unintentional) is first and foremost rude and can be something that drags you down.
2) Broad Keywords
Coming from a time when reaching more traffic at all costs was a universal tactic, targeting the broadest possible keywords in order to get bigger exposure is a tactic that used to work. These days we know a bit better and we focus on getting traffic that is targeted specifically with the goal of getting traffic that actually converts, meaning that we are focusing on people who actually might be interested in what we have to offer and search engines like that. Targeting the keyword “basketball” just because you sell basketballs is something that Google, as well as all other search engines, are going to punish and this will impact your rankings.
3) Using Press Releases for Link Building
Honestly, it really is no wonder that search engines decided to put a stop to this tactic. I mean let’s face it, making up news that have very little value or weight just so you can add a few links that lead back to your website is an easy-way-out tactic for getting “link juice” and it was a blatant abuse of the way algorithms used to work. It was a way for businesses to get all the benefits they would from a guest post referral link but without putting in the effort required for quality content. This is why search engines no longer view it as a genuine signal.
It is amazing how many SEO specialists still recommend that you submit your website for indexing. If you website isn’t indexed a week after it has gone live, then you have some bigger issues and no submission is going to help you. The only thing Google needs these days to index your website is a link leading to your website. The Google indexing submission don’t negatively impact your SEO effort but is a quite useless as an “SEO tactic” and needs to be marked as irrelevant for you campaign. Search engines don’t need help to find your website.
5) Short Content
Many look back with nostalgia on a time when you could pile up short articles (200 to 300 words) and then use them in your SEO campaign to get better rankings, link referrals and more traffic. Still, that nostalgia shouldn’t blind you to the fact that this doesn’t really work anymore. The average word count of pages that rank best in Google SERP is somewhere around 2000+ which clearly indicates that search engines want to provide users with results that are of the highest quality and that are most helpful. In this kind of setup, short content, no matter how well researched, becomes useless because it doesn’t have the value longer content does.
6) Links by any means
An age in which any link leading to your website boosted your rank is behind us and this is definitely a good thing. Back then, people did all kinds of nasty stuff to get more links and zoom to the first page of SERPs. Comment linking, hidden text linking, whole websites built with the sole purpose of boosting the flagship website on its way to the number one position. These days, you have to be careful when linking. You need to make sure that these links come from relevant places, that they are niche related and that they are trusted sites. Linking porn, hacker sites and unrelated websites is something that will drag you down and destroy your authority. Also, bought links and link exchange schemes are a bit harder for search engines to identify but if they catch you, their penalty is going to be very severe.
Gateway sites are those that are merely used to redirect traffic to another website in order to boost its traffic. At some point during the navigation, you simply get rerouted to another address and land somewhere you weren’t planning to go to. Manipulating users this way is something that is frowned upon by search engines and with good reason. This is blatant trickery and it will destroy any results you might have had with your SEO efforts and may even result in the de-indexing of your website.
8) Cloaked sites
We are going to the black hat waters of SEO now, and we need to. Cloaking is a tactic where a website is setup in such a way that the search engines see one thing while the users see another. This is a spammer’s tactic and wasn’t considered a legit approach even when it first appeared, let alone now. This tactic drags with a domain ban and removal from the search engine’s index, the worst punishment of all! This is a very big deal and can leave a permanent mark on your domain name, rendering it practically useless.
9) Automated submission
Yes folks, unfortunately directories, blog commenting and other easy and fast ways to build up a link network is a thing that search engines easily identify and punish. It is manipulation on a grand scale and it brings about the swift, and in this case, righteous fury of Google and its colleagues. This means that colossal networks focused on this SEO approach are practically useless now, but these things happen in the online environment and just the fact that you can do something and loads of people are doing it, doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea.
10) Automated content creators
*Matt Cutts talks about big brand BlackHat
Believing that you can outwit search engines into thinking that you put out quality content while you use automatic content generators and content spinners is being naïve. There is no easy way out when it comes to content. No software will ever manage to replicate the creativity of a human, even when it’s a half-hearted attempt at creativity. Even if you could trick search engines with this software, the recent phantom update that Google pushed through which focuses on rewarding quality content makes sure that the automatically created content (which will always be poor in quality) remains far away from the first page of SERPs and stay buried without sending any positive signals when it comes to the ranking of the domain it refers to.
Not being aware of these common mistakes that businesses make when approaching SEO hurts your ranking and wastes you budget. It can be difficult to realize the fallacy of your own ways and admit to yourself that the approaches you were taking were counterproductive but the sooner you get passed this, the sooner you can actually get on the right track. Make sure that you keep an ear out for the latest changes and check up on the news from authority sites to remain relevant. SEO isn’t a marketing sphere where you can simply be set in your ways. It requires flexibility and the will to adapt in order to achieve the best results. Keep in mind that not all tactics work the same for everyone and that there is no fool-proof way to do it. SEO is individual for niches, sub-niches, different geopolitical locations and of course, for each separate business.
We hope we managed to shed some light on this a bit controversial subject. If you are doing some of these, we advise you to stop, if not, good job and keep up the good work!