You’ve heard us say time and again that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is ever-changing. And you probably know by now that it's not something you can just "set and forget." That being said, it's important to stay in-the-loop about any changes Google, along with other well-known search engines, make to their rules. Tactics that were once considered best practices can now hurt your rankings, or even worse, cause the complete removal of your website from search indexes.
Avoid these 5 outdated SEO tactics to ensure your website stays in front of searchers:
Keyword Loaded Pages:
Keyword stuffing is the practice of loading a webpage with keywords in order to rank for them in search results. If you are inserting keywords into your content in ways that seem unnatural or out of place, you could be at risk for penalty. So when did this become a problem?
In 2013, Google began using a new search algorithm called 'Hummingbird' which focuses on the meaning behind the words found on your webpage instead of a singular, exact-match keyword. This change made it possible for Google to determine content quality, meaning crawlers could now tell if you were sacrificing the readability of your content to increase rankings for certain keywords. Since this provided a poor experience for users, Google implemented Hummingbird as a way to stop rewarding this practice.
While keywords still matter, it’s more important to focus on optimizing your website for a topic instead of specific keywords. You should definitely not incorporate keywords in a way that affects the readability of your content. Just focus on creating useful, informative content that your users will find resourceful and enjoyable to read.
Keywords Meta Tag:
Many websites using a content management system will have an SEO field in the administrative area of their website called 'meta keywords.' Website owners tend to think that this is the place where they should stuff all of the keywords they would like to show for. You can imagine how this field could be abused; adding competitor’s names, repeating keywords and even completely unrelated keywords.
Because of this abuse, Google no longer considers this tag when determining rank, and Bing even began using it merely as a way to detect when users were keyword spamming. Instead, focus your efforts on creating quality content and making sure that other tags, such as your meta descriptions, window titles and heading tags, provide descriptive, non-spammy information on what each of your webpages contain.
We all know links are an important ranking factor, but this is only the case if your links are coming from legitimate sources. In 2012, Google’s Penguin update was released, which penalized hundreds of thousands of websites for their spammy link building practices.
Google still strongly encourages natural link building, and this algorithm update makes it essential for websites to abide by their guidelines for acceptable link building. Avoid the penalties associated with bought or spammy link building by monitoring your inbound and outbound links, making sure that any links you do acquire are from reputable sources. And most importantly, if you are thinking about buying links, don't.
Invisible or hidden text is text that is visible to search engines, but not visible to website users. Hidden text tactics include adjusting the text on your page to be the same color as the background, changing the visibility of the text to hidden, or changing the font size to zero. This method was widely used years ago as a way to keyword stuff without compromising the quality of the page content, but Google knows when this is occurring and will penalize the practice.
Cloaking is a black hat SEO tactic that involves presenting different content to users than search engine crawlers. Typically this practice is used to present search engines with keyword rich content while presenting readable content to users. Because cloaking is creating content specifically for search engines and not for the experience of users, it fails to meet the standards of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and should be avoided.