Every SEO expert and online marketer knows that Google (to our eternal dismay) loves updating their search engine algorithm almost every year. In this industry, frustration is a familiar friend. To spend months figuring out Google’s new ranking factors only to have them change again in a few weeks is a common shared experience.
Yes; at this point, it’s pretty much a love-hate relationship.
Ergo, staying up-to-date with the latest SEO trends and techniques is crucial for keeping your website fresh, relevant, and—most importantly—Google-friendly. Sticking to old school SEO tactics can have several repercussions. Best-case scenario, your website ranks poorly. Worst-case scenario, Google penalizes you.
Here’s how to avoid both instances:
Stop Using Guest Blogging for Link Building
While guest blogging started out as a great white-hat SEO strategy for link building, it slowly turned into a black-hat technique used by spammers to beef up their link quantity. Because of this, Google has (obviously) tweaked its search engine algorithm to crack down on websites using guest post content.
No surprise there.
Thankfully, there are still specific parameters to the penalization. Google is very particular about guest posts that it deems irrelevant or low-quality, as well as guest post links that seem to have nothing to do with the site they’re posted on. However, websites that prioritize quality over quantity get a pass, and can indeed get a little SEO boost if they comply with Google’s algorithm.
But guest blogging simply for the sake of link building is now frowned upon, as the content is often considerably shallow. So right now, focusing on using guest posts for PR purposes, increases exposure, or simple networking seems like a safe bet. If a backlink enters the equation, consider it a nice bonus—but not the end goal.
Takeaway: There are newer, better approaches to link building. Guest blogging isn’t dead per se, but it’s certainly a lot trickier to get right this time around.
Do Not Create Pages per Keyword Variation
Keyword stuffing is not cool, and it certainly isn’t going to help your site’s SEO rank—
—but this is old news.
Google launched Panda to deal with user-generated spam and keyword stuffing way back in 2011, and it’s just gotten stricter ever since. Even black-hat SEO-ers know better than to go above 60% keyword density now for fear of getting penalized—hard.
Unfortunately, keyword stuffing has a close relative that uses keyword variations, and the corresponding SEO tactic is just as bad.
Back then, people got around the keyword stuffing rule by creating new pages or new posts targeting each variation of their chosen keyword. It was a good way to ensure that Google would still consider their site for the keyword in question and avoid stuffing each post with the same keyword.
Say a site’s target keyword is ‘pillow cases.’ Some search engine variations for this could be ‘pillowcases,’ ‘pillow-cases,’ ‘pillowcase,’ ‘pillow case,’ ‘pillows,’ ‘pillow covers,’ and ‘pillows cases.’ What the site owner would do would have different pages with the same content. The only difference was the keyword variation.
If this sounds pretty old school, it really is, but some people haven’t gotten the memo yet.
Takeaway: Focus on creating just one rich, well-structured, and visually appealing page for one or two main keywords, and stick to your chosen words all throughout. Again, prioritize quality over quantity, and Google will reward you.
Don’t Overuse Anchor Text on External Links
Anchor Text refers to the blue, clickable, hyperlinked word that leads you to a different post or page. This was also considered a pretty good way to improve your website’s SEO ranking, as it could organically link to other pieces of quality content.
But as with almost every simple SEO technique, people started to overuse it.
Anchor texts that are worked organically or naturally into the content won’t ping Google’s radar, but anchor texts that are considered:
- Inappropriate (e.g., using tiny font so that the text is missed by readers but not search engines)
- Manipulative (e.g., “click here,” “get it here,” or “click on this,”)
… will no doubt be discounted.
In other words, if your hyperlinked anchor text has little to no use in your post, it could be taken as a strike against you. If there are multiple hyperlinked anchor text in a single post, your site could be penalized.
Takeaway: To be on the safe side, we recommend ditching this practice of anchor text for SEO purposes altogether and focusing on using hyperlinks the way they were originally intended to be used: for providing relevant information and navigation.
If you’re still using any of the aforementioned techniques, it might be time to start brainstorming new strategy. Google’s pretty lenient now, but it won’t be long before they launch yet another version of their existing algorithm—or even a completely new one. Stay one step ahead of the game and ditch those outdated tactics before Google ditches you.