Proper SEO can greatly help you increase traffic, improve your search rankings and overall make your site more successful. However, it’s also a field that is constantly changing and evolving over time. Many tactics and strategies that used to work are no longer up to snuff in today’s online world. In fact, some of the obsolete SEO techniques still out there can greatly hurt your site. In order to prevent you from going down that rabbit hole, it is important to know what SEO techniques to avoid at all costs and what to do instead. Knowing where to focus your time and energy and avoid SEO mistakes when it comes to executing local SEO strategies and advanced tactics that will have value and drive rankings, traffic, and conversions are key to building a long-term strategy to grow your online business.
You’ve probably heard of link building, but you might not know what it really is or how to do it effectively. Sure, you can go ahead and hire a digital marketing agency, but unless you know the ins and outs, you won’t be successful. What if they use PBNs? Or a bad linking strategy? or they are wasting all your budget and don’t deliver any results? It’s important to understand link building practices and how Google can change your website — especially with Google’s recent updates. Here are some of the SEO strategies that might be hampering your business:
Building Links To Home Page
It seems logical to send all of your SEO power to your homepage because that’s where you want everyone to start. But, it’s wrong. In fact, it’s probably one of the biggest SEO myths. The homepage shouldn’t be used for your top phrases. Now, a common question would be “But then how do I target the key phrases I want to rank for?” You should build out content-rich subpages on your site to target those phrases, then build backlinks to those pages. By following this method, you will have links going to many pages on your site, not just your home page. This is a much more natural way to build links to your website. One of the biggest reasons for spammy link tactics is the myth that more links are always better. Just get enough websites pointing to your page and it will soar in the search rankings. However, especially since the Google’s Penguin update, the search engine cares more about the relevance of your links than the sheer number.
Therefore, by concentrating on volume over quality, you might be doing more harm than good, especially if the linking site has been penalized or has low Domain Authority and your site gets a lot of these types of links in a short amount of time. Yet, at the same time, links continue to be one of the strongest ranking signals and link building definitely has its place in the SEO puzzle. So, what is a website owner to do? The solution is to concentrate on natural link building and link quality rather than quantity. First and foremost that means creating something worth linking to. If you want backlinks, make something that others can’t help but share with their own readers. However, there are also more active ways of link building such as developing relationships with high-quality sites in your industry so that they naturally link to you. Another example is doing email outreach and actively asking for links from other such sites. Of course, guest posts are also still an option.
Too Much Anchor Text
Exact match anchor text means that if you were trying to rank for “Web Design Studio” all (or a large majority) of the links you get from external websites link to your site with that exact anchor text. A part of link building is looking natural in regards to link growth and diversity. There is not a site on the web that would have almost all their links pointing to their site with exact anchor text being used. Well unless they were buying links, which is a low return, high-risk tactic. Your homepage is not the place to target all of your important key phrases. Use it instead for building the brand and creating trust with the search engines. So, when you are building links to your home page, the majority of the anchors should come from your brand or some form of your URL. Most SEO strategies want to build links that have their important phrases as the anchor.
This principle of building branded links also applies to subpages, if you want your link profile to look really natural, you need to have some anchor texts that have no key phrase at all, some links with the URL as the anchor, and some with your brand as the anchor. This is how other website owners would link to you naturally. It is unreasonable to think that anyone who ever linked to you because they loved your site would use your main key phrase as the anchor. So, you can’t do it either. Putting exact keywords into anchor texts of both internal and external links used to be a thing to get your site ahead in the search rankings. However, today it’s the complete opposite because this is what Google considers an “unnatural” link and you best do your darndest to stay away from it. So what are safe ways to phrase anchor texts? As usual, the best way is to forget about search engines and concentrate on users instead. In the case of anchor texts that means building them into the text naturally.
Lack Of High Content Pages
Advertisements claim that you can get hundreds of “high quality” backlinks for basically no work. This is not a good tactic, especially for new sites. It can hurt your link graph and be a signal to the search engines that since you are receiving a large number of low-quality links, your site is a low-quality website as well. Building links is a process that includes creating valuable content and then marketing that content to other blogs, websites, and social networks. Acquiring quality trusted back links is a slow (in most cases), tedious and difficult process, yet is a necessary evil for any new or existing website. With the Panda update, it is no longer ok to create thin low-quality content, spin articles, or outsource your content overseas to save a few dollars. The search engines (Google specifically) have become very sensitive to content quality and value it gives to the user. If they see a website consistently publishing low-quality content, they have machine learning in place to start and devalue the content and website as a whole.
With the Panda update from February 2011, it is no longer ok to create thin low-quality content, spin articles, or outsource your content overseas to save a few dollars. The search engines (Google specifically) have become very sensitive to content quality and value it gives to the user. If you want people to link to your website naturally, then you should create amazing content ever written so people will link to it. In fact, in order to build a lot of links to a page, you need good, in-depth content. If you’re not doing that then getting a lot of links pointing to a page of yours will not look natural. Google would never believe that a post with 500 words would naturally get 100 links pointing to it. But, the ultimate guide on a certain topic with 2500+ words could bring in hundreds of links naturally. That is where you need to focus your content marketing efforts.
If you are not aware of that yet, your SEO education really needs to start somewhere further down the ladder. Not that keywords aren’t important. However, go overboard with it and you will achieve the opposite of what you are trying to do. What does overdoing it look like? Well, the classic example is repeating the same (long-tail) keyword over and over again. For readers, that’s the equivalent of talking to a sales representative who keeps repeating the same sentences from their script. However, some people also opt for stuffing all possible keyword variations in their page title and meta description. While this might seem like good SEO practice, it is far from a pretty sight, is it? So what’s the alternative? The most popular WordPress SEO plugin has a great content analysis tool that will tell you the keyword density of your content and whether it’s too high or low. If you are new to Yoast SEO, don’t miss our in-depth tutorial and comparison with All-in-One SEO Pack.
Concentrate on clicks over keywords – especially true for titles and meta descriptions. These are not made purely for search engines but primarily for the ones clicking on the links — the users. For that reason concentrate on making them appealing to human visitors. Use proper calls to action and good writing. Google takes clicks into account and a high click-through rate will propel you forward in the search results over time. Likewise, when someone does click on your link make sure it’s worth their while. Instead of stuffing keywords, concentrate on more and better content and user friendliness. Write for readers first, deliver value, help them, make their life better and do it in style. Use your energy to become a better writer. Use related keywords. It basically means that the search engine has a thesaurus and thus understands synonyms. Therefore don’t be shy to use related keywords instead of the same one over and over.
Legitimate guest blogging is a pillar of SEO, especially among bloggers. However, over time it has been turned into a black hat technique by spammers. So, does that mean we are back to writing only on our own blogs and hoping people will link to us by chance? Not quite. You see, guest blogging is not actually dead. After all, Google’s crusade was not so much targeting real guest blogging but spammy link building techniques. As a consequence, the search engine will crack down on – low-quality or irrelevant guest post content, guest post links that have nothing to do with the site they are posted on, optimized anchor texts. If you avoid the above, guest blogging can still be used for link building and SEO, however, with a few caveats. If you only guest blog to pepper in a link to your own site, Google will sooner or later catch on to it. A much better idea is to concentrate on guest blogging for growing your personal brand, reaching a wider audience and cooperating with other bloggers.
When you contribute great content to other websites that are helpful, unique and helps their visitors, the latter will happily come to your site — even though a nofollow link in your author bio. Don’t worry if that’s not a “real” backlink, with additional eyeballs on your content the chances of someone shooting you a link also increase. Plus, search engines will notice the additional traffic and reward you for it. This happens for two reasons. Your pitch email is a template that could apply to any blog in the world or your writing isn’t good enough. Then pitch your guest article that helps solve those needs. After that, make sure you write an amazing article. If writing isn’t your greatest talent, then find someone who is a stellar writer and get them to help you.