SEO = Change.
There are very few businesses left online who don’t understand this. From Penguin and Panda to Pigeon and Hummingbird, it’s safe to bet that almost everyone online has either seen or been directly impacted by one or more algorithm updates over the years.
And yet despite this, you might be surprised to find out how often this doesn’t translate into dramatically changed SEO tactics for a lot of businesses. Granted there are literally thousands of boxes to tick in order to have a completely SEO-friendly (and future-proofed) website, but it’s 100% worth your time to tick all of these boxes if you want to stay ahead of the competition.
So with that in mind, we thought we’d give you five SEO tactics still commonly used that are playing with fire, given the way search engines either have already gone or are indicating they’ll go in the near future.
Number 1: Exact Match Anchor Text. While this is still acceptable practice for onsite/internal links within your website, Google’s Penguin updates to the overall algorithm have been increasingly focusing on exact match anchor text in external links (i.e external websites pointing links to your website). Anchor text for these should be branded, a URL, or if necessary, junk text such as “click here” or “read more”.
Number 2: Link Networks. Anyone who owns and/or operates a link network will tell you that they can still work and it can’t definitively be said that with a very sneaky approach, they might not be correct. But at the end of the day, this is just not best practice. Rankings today could equal headaches tomorrow given that search engines are constantly looking for ways to identify and penalise anyone in any way involved with a link network. Google even maps websites together by a number of factors, including hosting, and links will either be devalued to a single link or penalties passed on! Don’t go for the “get rich quick” mentality. Put in the time to acquire genuine links from genuine sources because a) they’re more valuable and b) they will future proof you against future algorithm updates.
Number 3: Site-wide/Footer Links. We’re talking external with these. If you’re looking into acquiring a site-wide banner in the footer or header of a website (sidebar badges included) in order to drive traffic to your website, this is fine. Just make sure the link is a no-follow, meaning it ensures any attempted authority, which may backfire, isn’t passed on to the site being pointed to. On the other side of the coin, if you’re genuinely trying to link from your own website to someone you want to refer, make sure that you make the link no-follow so that you don’t hurt your industry partner’s SEO efforts! Google now reads all the content surrounding a link to get an idea of the context. This is why it’s better to have a link on a single page, surrounded by well-written, valuable content than a site-wide link – one of these links will add more value than 5,000 links from a banner ad as it has no context.
Number 4: Keyword Stuffing. This should be something that no-one utilises any more; it has been bad practice for a very long time. And yet people still do it. There are still people who think this is a good idea and those who don’t do their research into keyword density (the optimal amount of times a keyword can appear on a page before it’s considered stuffing). With the advent of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm that focuses on semantic search, keywords are still important, but try to be natural about it and spend a bit of time looking into semantic/related keywords. You can find our video seminar on current keyword density and LSI (Latent Semantic Index) keywords here.
Number 5: Guest Posting Services. Guest posts are not dead. There still is such a thing as a quality guest post; however, 3rd party guest posting platforms such as Post Joint or My Blog Guest are very much in the cross-hairs of search engines at the moment and that doesn’t look likely to change. If you are going to acquire a link via guest posting, write a real blog, build relationships with websites and bloggers, get the blog placed and acquire the link that way. If it’s real and natural, it will be viewed favourably. Also (and this is the most important part), post on highly relevant, quality websites. Don’t go cheap; you’ll save money but cost yourself results. There are also a variety of other link types you can acquire such as quality directories, charitable sponsorship links and organic links generated through quality content on your own website. Link profile diversity is also a key ranking factor given the natural look it will give, so do your research on this and put in the time.
There are a number of other outdated methods in use throughout SEO today, but these are the five the SEO team here at Search Factory felt were most prominent. With that said, you owe it to yourself to keep up on all the latest with regards to SEO, which you can do right here on the Search Factory Blog.