Search engines are rapidly evolving and becoming more human-like. If you want to stay ahead of the pack, your SEO strategies and tactics better evolve with them.
Why? Because if you don't, your website will end up in the best place to hide a body: page 2 of Google.
The following are some once-popular SEO tactics you should definitely avoid moving forward.
1. Building easy links
Search engine ranking algorithms still rely heavily on backlinks, but they’ve gotten really smart at differentiating high from low-quality links.
Chances are, if a link is easy to get, it’s probably not worth going after. That includes blog comment links, guest blogging for links, and buying links. Search engines frown on these types of spammy links and can penalize you for them.
If you don’t have content worth linking to, it’s really hard to get quality links, so start by writing awesome content, then find people to link to it. Try tactics like broken link building or Backlinko’s skypscraper technique.
2. Creating pages for every keyword variation
If you’re a metal tubing manufacturer, don’t create pages for every variation of “metal tubing” under the sun.
The search bots know when you’re trying to game the system, so build your content around topics that target a similar set of keywords rather than unique pages for every variation you can think of.
3. producing El Cheapo Content
Just like backlinks, content that's easy to produce isn't worth your time and won't help your website's search rankings. Why? Because everybody else probably did it already. And to outrank someone, you have to one-up them.
What to do: Figure out what keyword you want to rank for. Then do keyword research and think about what kind of information, and in what format, a user might prefer when searching that keyword.
Search that keyword yourself and see if you can give the user what they want better than any of the ranking competitors. Is it a blog post? Is it video? Is it a PDF? An infographic? Only keyword research will tell you.
4. Writing meta data for search engines, not humans
Meta titles and descriptions are important ranking factors, but if you’re writing them only for search engines, you’re probably not doing as well as you could be.
This is because search engines are now consider click-through rate to determine your website's rank.
What to do: Run a PPC campaign and split test ad copy to determine what gets the best click-through rate. Then use that ad copy for your meta titles and descriptions.
Remember, PEOPLE are the ones reading your content and deciding in a split second if it's worth their time. By using power words in your meta title and description, you'll hugely increase your chances of getting them to click.
5. Trying to hit the perfect keyword density
Keyword density used to be important, but not so much anymore. It’s still important that your target keywords appear on the page, but trying to hit some magic number is a giant waste of time. In fact, too much keyword stuffing could result in your site being dinged (or banned) by Google.
Instead, use that time to better understand search intent and create content to meet that intent.
6. Using the keywords meta tag
Search engines don’t pay attention to this anymore. By using it, all you’re doing is telling your competitors exactly which keywords you’re targeting. Yikes.
Just remove the tag entirely.
7. Ignoring the user
At the end of the day, search engines exist to serve the user. Their goal is to provide people with exactly what they search for.
Notice this is entirely centered around the user. All the metrics search engines use to rank pages are just proxies for measuring what you, the user, want.
As the search engines improve over time, those proxy measures get closer and closer to the real thing.
So if you ignore what the user wants and instead only think about search engines, you probably won’t get very far.
Instead, work to understand search intent for the keywords you're targeting and create amazing content that meets that intent better than the ranking competition.
Only after you’ve done that should you then go in and make sure the content checks all the technical SEO boxes.
8. Relying solely on calculated competition scores
Many tools provide a calculated competition (or difficulty) score for keywords as a way to understand how hard it might be to rank for those terms.
Problem is, these calculations can’t tell you how well your competition meets a searcher’s intent. The only way to do that is manually.
Instead of relying solely on calculated competition scores to determine which keywords to target, manually inspect the pages ranking for the keyword you want to rank for. Then, figure out if you can meet intent better than your competition.
After that, use competition scores to help refine your options.