For those of us on the search engine optimization scene since the beginning, we remember the top search engine was Yahoo and a live website was all it took for businesses to get noticed. Rooted back in 1997, best SEO practices look radically different than they did two decades ago.
As more companies got online, site developers wanted their clients to stand out from the competition. Renegade SEO providers offered black hat services to “trip” the search engines and gain the lion’s share of the search traffic.
Google became the search engine leader, ironically after a partnership with the then-leader Yahoo, and started developing algorithms to improve the search experience for its users. Black hat SEO meant searchers got results that had little or nothing to do with what they wanted.
If you haven’t updated your SEO campaign in the past year or longer, it’s time to consider best practices immediately. Discover outdated SEO strategies to eliminate right now, and fresh ones to brand your business and attract your target audience.
Dealing With Keyword Density
A sticky topic until today, keyword density evolved to provide a better experience for users. Years ago, black hat SEO providers stuffed industry-related keywords into content to attract the search engines. Often searchers landed on a page with little or no information pertaining to their inquiry. Google improved the search engine experience with advanced algorithms.
Businesses lost because brands were negatively impacted by poor search engine experiences. Searchers no longer trusted sites because irrelevant content appears at the top of the search pages. Companies lost trust and as the search engines evolved, their rankings plummeted.
Now keyword density refers to more than the volume of keywords used in content. The goal is to naturally weave relevant words into the web pages and articles to attract a specific target audience. Once upon a time, a five percent keyword volume was recommended by SEO experts. Now known as keyword stuffing, it made for a very poor reading experience!
Most SEO web pages and articles focus on a primary and secondary keyword. These keywords are peppered into the content where they fit, as opposed to following a certain percentage. Adding them to the title tag and metadata also help attract targeted traffic from the search engines.
Everyone Has an Opinion…But Make It Matter
Comment spam was a popular way to get a backlink to your site without paying for it or working very hard. People would make irrelevant or random comments on blog articles for the sole purposes of linking back to their site or content.
Soon blog articles were populated with dozens or hundreds of comments with less-than-enlightening statements such as, “Good read,” and “Thanks for posting.” Blog owners started to shut down comments, negating the interactive benefits of posting fresh content at their sites.
Using blog comments to get a backlink is a tired tactic to retire. Visiting competitor blogs and industry articles is an excellent way to detect trends and get updates. Many savvy site owners stay on top of related blogs to keep their content fresh.
Blog comments are still viable for interactive purposes. Leaving a comment is an excellent way to network with other industry professionals. If you have something useful and meaningful to add to the conversation, leave a comment with a link back to your site. Otherwise, keep moving forward.
Links Just for the Heck of It
Directories such as Yelp are still essential for strong SEO. However, a host of directories popped up about a decade ago with one purpose – to create backlinks. Some of these directories are just lists of links, making them obvious linkbait.
Once again, the focus of SEO campaigns should be providing value to the target audience. Directories with thousands of competitors do not provide a platform where your company can stand out from the crowd.
Plus, many of these spammy directories can lead to a site being penalized by the search engines. Link building still has a valid place in SEO campaigns, but must be done with its worth in mind.
Instead of paying to appear in useless directories, hone your business profiles on Google, Yelp!, LinkedIn, and other leading sites where business professionals legitimately connect and network for opportunities. Remember to include your NAP for localized SEO, hours of operation, websites, social media links, and a keyword-based description of your products and services.
Random Keyword Stuffing
If your site markets diamond engagement rings, those are obvious keywords to attract visitors and search engines. In the early days of SEO, all it took was adding a bunch of relevant keywords to your site to earn rankings.
Abuses of this practice lead to convoluted content that was barely readable to the public. Searchers were displeased with the results, and Google clamped down on sites that focused on keyword stuffing as an SEO strategy. Many were completely removed from the search engine results, and businesses tanked because of poor SEO practices.
Today it takes more than a few relevant phrases to rank on Google. Well-researched content starts with high volume, low competition keywords to gain rankings as quickly as possible. Research the target audience to find phrases and terms they use to find specific products and services. Keywords should be sparingly interspersed into the content, web pages, and backend of the site.
Content also needs to be refreshed every few months to remain relevant based on keywords and the latest available information. Adding new facts, keywords, and links can help boost existing content to maximize its potential.
Obviously Optimized Anchor Text
Choosing words to use for backlinks continues to be an SEO challenge. In the beginning, links were created using the company name, basic keywords, and statements such as “click here” or “find out more.” Soon SEO pros realized an opportunity to strengthen keywords by using them for backlinks.
Optimized anchor text became the new norm, resulting in less-than-satisfactory reading and search experiences. Google honed in on the practice and developed algorithms to discourage the unnatural use of keywords as anchor text.
A mix of various keywords is the key to SEO success. Your link profile should include a variety of anchor text keywords, ranging from basic terms to describe your offerings to click here now. Flush out the use of unnatural keywords for anchor text.
Backlinks should also provide actual value to the readers. Link to authority websites with additional details about the subject. Include links to your relevant blog posts and internal web pages to further boost SEO.
All You Do Is Talk, Talk
Rehashed content with no fresh details or relevant insights fails to hit the mark. Effective content helps companies build authority, gain trust, and create meaningful relationships with potential clients and associates.
Talking for the sake of SEO falls flat in more ways than one. Sophisticated algorithms detect copied and unoriginal text, leading to lost rankings. Original content with authority links, relevant keywords, and length ranks always ranks best.
The Internet is filled with generic articles reciting the same stuff. Make your content fresh, helpful, and valuable to readers. Great content is shared for a broader marketing reach. Include sharing buttons to make it easy.
Older sites should re-evaluate content produced before the latest Google updates. Refresh articles that sound old, boring, and unoriginal. Add new facts, figures, and information to provide value. Perform updated keyword research for optimum results.
Failure To Pay Attention to Site Functionality
Around ten years ago, countless platforms arose to create websites in an hour or two. The result were generic sites that looked similar. Site owners populated these platforms with keyword-rich content to gain rankings fast.
Since Google’s BERT algorithm update in 2019, page speed has become increasingly important. Users want instant access to information without lag time, links to broken pages, and images that take several seconds to load.
Modern sites must load instantly and be mobile-friendly. Users access the Internet from smart phones, tablets, and other devices on-the-go. Appearing in localized searches is particularly important for companies that depend on neighborhood business.
Finally, security is a cornerstone of trust. A secure website is crucial to get visitors to take action. People feel confident to share their personal information at a site that is proven to be secure and bears the certificate to prove it, with HTTP sites updated to HTTPS.
One and Done Approach to SEO
SEO proves to be a long game again when it comes to effective content management and development. Focusing on both is the recipe for success in modern SEO. Old content should be analyzed via Google Analytics to determine its performance and target audience.
Examine underperforming content to determine ways it could be refreshed or rewritten to be relevant and engaging.
Keeping up with SEO and running a business is a monumental task. Partnering with a strategic SEO expert ensures outdated practices are eliminated for a modern approach. Best SEO practices ensure trust, authority, and continued rankings on the search engines.