There are many SEO tactics that used to work in the past but nowadays are considered dangerous and should be avoided. If you are not up to date with the latest SEO guidelines there is a chance that you are still using these 5 tactics and naturally this is one of the reasons you are not getting the results you want.
#1 – Trying to trick search engine ranking algorithms by building low quality links
If you ask anyone who is outside the SEO industry ‘what is SEO’ or what do you need to do to push a page higher in the rankings, they will tell you that you need to create a page, add the keywords you want to rank for and build incoming links to those pages.
While this used to be a common SEO tactic of the past, it’s not the way today to get a page in the top positions of Google.
The problem with using such techniques is that Google no longer tolerates link building that has no other value than passing ‘link juice’ from one page to another. Their updated quality guidelines state clearly that any type of links build for this purpose are against their guidelines and may lead to a penalty. In particular they talk about:
- Guest posting with keyword-rich text links
- Guest posting on article directories
- Bookmark site links
- Forum commenting with optimized links (either in the post or signature)
- Paid advertorials or advertising
- Cross linking or link exchanges
Does this mean that link building is dead? Absolutely not. Google was the first search engine that came up with the idea that a link is a ‘vote’ of trust and that websites with the highest number of links should rank better than websites with lesser links; and this worked great for them for many years.
They actually did several tests for removing links from being an important ranking factor but they concluded that the quality of the results is better with the incoming links taken into account. Besides Google, Yandex also started using links as part of their ranking algorithm and so does Bing and Yahoo.
So, how do you build links that matter without getting into trouble? This is a huge topic which will covered in more details in an upcoming post, but the general idea is that you should pursue links that are hard to get from websites that have authority (even if the links are ‘nofollow’).
Getting a link from wikipedia, established newspapers & magazines (Forbes, New York Times, Huff Post etc), authoritative websites in your industry or niche, is much more valuable than a link from a low quality blog or directory.
How do you get those links? It’s not easy and it needs a lot of work:
First you need to make sure that your website and content are of good quality and professional. Trusted websites don’t link to any website so before even trying to look for link building opportunities make sure that you are proud of your website and content.
Second, build your personal social media brand. When applying to guest post on big websites one of the things they look is your social media profiles. You have more chances of being accepted if you are active in social media with a good number of followers rather than having a poor social media presence.
Third, make connections with people that can help you get a guest posting position. It’s easier if you are recommended by someone who is already publishing content than applying alone.
Fourth, you need to be ready to show samples of your published work (besides your blog). If you want to publish your content on good websites you will have to show them examples of your work published on other sites.
When beginning this may be difficult since you may not have any BUT you can use ‘social proof’ to convince them that your content is good. The LinkedIn publishing platform is a good place to start, I got one of my posts featured in Marketing & Advertising and that helped me a lot to be accepted as an author on leading SEO sites.
#2 – Creating too many pages for SEO purposes
Web sites that have more pages in the index rank higher than websites with less pages, correct? Not necessarily. Websites that have a lot of quality pages indexed will rank higher and not just any type of pages.
Pages with thin content, duplicate content or repeating content do not add value to a website, they actually harm a website’s SEO performance.
If you are aim is getting as many pages you can indexed in Google, you may have to stop and revise your thinking. In a typical website, category, archive, tag and pages that do not have unique content should be set to ‘noindex’. This will most probably reduce the number of indexed pages but it is a more optimized approach and will help your website in the long term.
Instead of trying to duplicate your pages, concentrate on creating pages with valuable content that have more chances of ranking on their own. Use canonical urls and page directives for pages that need to be present for navigation purposes or useful to users.
This is also a common mistake made by ecommerce owners when trying to optimize their online stores and you need to avoid it.
#3 – Using press releases for building links
I did not mention press releases in point 1 above, because I wanted to give it more attention. Some people still believe that adding links to press releases and distributing them through various channels will help SEO.
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Should you stop using press releases? Not at all, there are still benefits from using press releases as a promotion channel but you need to ensure that any links in the press release are ‘nofollow’.
#4 – Targeting only high traffic keywords
The first thing that many webmasters or non-professional SEO’s do when trying to optimize a website is a keyword research. So far so good. The mistake they are doing is that they only take into account high volume keywords because they believe that this way they will get more traffic.
High traffic keywords are highly competitive and if you are starting out now (or have a relatively new website) you will never rank for those keywords, at least not in this life. I am exaggerating so as to give you an idea of how difficult is to go after high traffic keywords with a ‘normal’ website.
What you should do instead? There is a lot of traffic that is easier to target on long-tail keywords. Long tail keywords as their name implies are search queries with more than 2+ words. For example here is a high traffic keyword “SEO tips” and a long-tail keyword “SEO tips for beginners”.
To use this technique you need to know how to do a long tail keyword research (I will create a new article dedicated to this) but for sure is a method that works and can generate traffic for all kinds of websites.
#5 – Separating SEO from your overall digital marketing strategy
For successful SEO these days, you need to do more than just SEO. SEO needs the help of social media, content marketing, mobile marketing and other tools available in your digital marketing arsenal.
If your tactic is to concentrate only on SEO you will not go far, it is necessary to go beyond SEO and create a digital marketing strategy rather an SEO strategy alone.
Use traditional SEO techniques to optimize your website and content but for promotion purposes think outside the box and don’t be afraid to try things. Don’t always try to think of ways to get more links but on ways to get more traffic and the links will naturally follow.
For example, let’s assume that you are hired to do SEO for a company offering services in the Financial sector. What can you do to help this company get more traffic and business?
A couple of years you would do your keyword research and fix their on-page SEO and then look at their link profile and start thinking of ways on how to get them more links. That’s what most SEO’s would do.
Today you have to do digital marketing and not only SEO so the above scenario becomes:
- Keyword research
- Fix on page SEO
- Do social media marketing
- Do content marketing (start a corporate blog)
- Build a Wikipedia profile
- Implement Structured data markup
- Optimize internal links
- Start with PPC (either adwords or Facebook)
- Enable remarketing
- Do email marketing
The list is bigger but I think the point is taken, it’s a bad SEO tactic to concentrate only on SEO without exploring all opportunities that can help a website attract more traffic and customers.