It’s time to give up these old-school SEO practices

content marketing, SEO

chima mmeje


Thanks to Google, search is always evolving. A strategy that worked in 2017 could be obsolete by 2018. Marketers, copywriters and businesses are always running around trying to figure out what Google is going to do next.

The frustrating part? Just when you feel like taking a breather because you’ve finally got a hang of it, Google turns your world upside down and you’re doubting everything you thought you knew.

The key? Don’t be afraid of change. Evolve with Google. If you want to improve your search rankings, improve your techniques or you’ll be left behind on page 10. Searchers don’t get to page 10.

Misusing anchor links

Both internal and external links can increase your website traffic. Conversely, it could hurt traffic when you link to irrelevant pages, simply for the sake of visibility. Click baits are infuriating and manipulative. Backlinks must be limited to web pages that offer more insight or are related to the content.

Article spinning

I am a little torn about article spinning. It’s a common trick that search marketers use to help their clients rank for industry keywords. They conduct keyword research and create web pages for all variants of the keyword. For instance, a copywriting agency trying to rank for “website copy” could use “web copy”, “online copy”, “online copywriting”, “web copywriting” and website copywriting”.

It increases the agency’s chances of showing up on the first page of SERP because they have multiple articles linked to similar terms. They also interlink between web pages for increased relevance.

Google no longer depend on keyword density to rank a webpage. They use multiple signals to determine the best result that answers a search query.

Remember that Google’s algorithm update filters out low-quality content. If you’re going to engage in article spinning, ensure each web page is unique, high-quality and comprehensive.

Exact matches

Prior to the Panda and Hummingbird updates, domains could rank with exact matches in anchor text and domain name. Today, Google bots view it as over-optimising. I’ve not seen any of the top ranking websites practice this tactic in years.

Variants of the keyword such as synonyms and similar phrases have more value. Anticipate your audience needs and use long-tail keywords to serve organic content.

Keyword stuffing

I know what you’re thinking. It’s 2019. Who stuffs keywords in a copy? Well, people still do it. It’s like they can’t help themselves. Keywords are important but cramming six or seven in a single post hurts your ranking. Google interprets it as low-quality content.

Focus on creating good content with one keyword. Use related phrases and terms people might use when searching for that keyword. Find entities that tell Google what the copy is about.

Writing exclusively for Google bots

You want your web pages to rank high. You settle down to write a content that looks and sounds unnatural. Your goal? You’re trying to “game” Google into giving you high rankings.

Some webmasters mention the keyword in singular and plural variations. They believe they rank well for keyword variations because it’s repeated throughout the copy.

Google bots are smarter. They recognise keyword variations and repeated keywords. Write like there’s someone in front of you. Your web copy should read like a conversation that carries the reader along. You will get higher rankings when you write for humans, not robots.

Paid links

This one is a harder to stop. We all want to follow white hat SEO practices, but sometimes it’s difficult. I’ve heard stories of editors who charge $20-$40 to post your content on their site or get a backlink. The money is paid through PayPal. How is Google going to find out if no one is reporting these sites?

I can only advice you to stick with reputable websites. Someday, someone will report these websites to Google and everyone who paid for a link will be penalized. You don’t want to be on that ship when it capsizes.

Link directories

Link directories are pretty much outdated. Only a few are relevant. They are niche-specific, high-quality directories with strict editorial regulations. In the past, link directories were a way to categorize websites and make it easy for users to find them.

Search engines ignored them because they stopped providing value for readers and became a way for marketers to get links quickly.

Article directories also fall under this category. It was a way to share your best content, earn a link and drive traffic. Marketers also abused this tool. They used software to rewrite their content so it could pass plagiarism checks and share the same content to thousands of directories at the same time.

Google’s Panda update took care of these problems. Avoid article and link directories entirely. Why take the risk of a Google penalty when there are other ways to get backlinks and visibility?

Failing to create fresh content for your readers

You’ve built a gorgeous website.  You created high-quality service pages, FAQ and About Us pages. You also threw in a few blog posts. Next, you rest on your oars and wait for the chickens to hatch. Wrong.

Don’t get complacent. You need a content strategy to guide your content marketing efforts. A regular flow of content translates into traffic from search engines. Get in touch with an SEO agency or content strategist to help you create a plan that works, today.

Prioritising quantity over quality

In my early days as a copywriter, I exclusively wrote on Ezine Articles. All the content had a 500-word count, with a few going up to 1,000 and 1,200 words.

Marketers at the time wanted to maximise their budget. They figured they could rank for multiple keywords and phrases by slapping together a 500-word article. At the time, it worked. Ezine Articles was the king and everyone was there.

Today, only high-quality content ranks on Google. It must be useful, relevant and valuable. I advise you to write blog posts that are 1,300 words or more. Create content that solves a problem for your audience or answers questions they’re asking.

Intrusive ads

You know those websites that display a mighty ad banner at the top of the screen, two on the right and several more sprinkled throughout the blog post. To add salt to injury, some websites have auto-play videos that are very annoying. You can’t close the intrusive Ad or turn off the video. They make me want to throw my laptop on the ground and stump it into oblivion. On mobile devices, it’s worse.

Despite a resounding warning from Google in 2017, many websites are unrelenting in their ad usage. It’s how they generate revenue. However, is it worth it if you drive away your mobile customers? Considering that mobile users are a significant portion of your web traffic.

Re-access your ad placement. If it’s affecting user experience, find a new tactic. You can place your ad at the top of the screen but don’t let it cover a significant portion. Ads should only take up a small section of the screen. An SEO company can help you determine what works best.

Ignoring your mobile users and social media

Over 70% of my audience is mobile. A significant portion of my web traffic comes from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Both are connected. When creating my website, I told the web designer to design first for mobile. This was in accordance with Google’s mobile-first index.

Don’t use flash or software that won’t run properly on a mobile device. Ensure text on your website has a readable zoom.

Regarding social media, you don’t need a profile on all social media platforms. Choose three platforms where your audience hangs out and engage your audience. There’s no point creating 10 social media accounts if you can’t create content, answer questions or grow your audience.


Most traditional marketing strategies are still viable. However, the SEO landscape is a continuously changing environment. You cannot afford to hold on to outdated SEO practices if you want to increase your website visibility in search results.  The only solution is to stay on-top Google best practices and apply it to your website.

2 thoughts on “It’s time to give up these old-school SEO practices”

  1. Great insight!

    It’s very annoying to see some of what you highlighted still in vogue, especially the intrusive ad.

    I hope we unlearn this soon enough.


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