The only real constant in the search engine optimization space is that it’s constantly evolving.
Keywords used to be the be-all and end-all of where a website placed on the SERP, until they weren’t. Then there was a bunch of stuff about inbound and outbound links, link juice, and nofollow. And we don’t even have time to get into all the ways social media has changed the face of search.
Basically, what I’m trying to say here is that many of the tactics that used to be surefire, tried-and-true ways to rank are obsolete at best, actively harmful to your reputation at worst. Today’s search engines are all about quality. About delivering users what they’re looking for in the best way possible.
You need to account for that when optimizing your own website – and stay far away from the following tactics.
Keywords, Keywords Everywhere
Keywords were all the rage back in the early days of search. The more often you could repeat a particular keyword or keyphrase on a particular web page, the better. Unfortunately, this led to a number of unsavory tactics, most of which have fallen well out of favor today.
- Exact Match Domain Names. This refers to a website whose domain name is aimed at targeting a specific keyword or phrase. Unfortunately, it was so frequently abused by spammy, low-quality websites that Google released an algorithm update back in 2012 to crush the practice.
- Exact Match Meta Tags, Titles, and Meta Descriptions. Again, since search engines are now more about intent than exact language, stuffing every corner of your website with the keyword you’re targeting is simply bad form. Meta keywords now have very little impact on a page’s rank,
- Keyword Stuffing. Don’t overuse keywords in the body of your website. This is a surefire way to create stilted, unnatural-sounding copy. Google’s getting better at recognizing that kind of thing, and it’ll drive users away regardless.
Instead of focusing on keywords, focus on intent. Why are people coming to your website? What question are they asking, and what needs do they want you to meet?
Avoiding External Links
Link juice has always been a bit of an arcane thing. Back in the early days, the idea was that by linking externally on your site, you were passing juice to someone else. You were sacrificing some of your own authority to another, more qualified website.
That’s not really the case anymore. These days, if you link to an outside source, it generally signifies that you’re treating it as a means of backing up your assertions. While you can still do a bit of harm to your site’s authority by including too many outbound links, you no longer need to shy away from doing so, either.
While we’re on the topic of links, Nofollow and Dofollow are meaningless in the context of internal links – there’s no point to using either.
Creating Content Just For The Sake of Having Content
The old adage “content is king” still holds true today – very much so. But there should really be a disclaimer on it. Good content is king.
Bad content is the court jester.
If you’re pumping out blog posts or creating new pages on your site just for the sake of having unique content, you’re probably going to get penalized by Google’s algorithms. Don’t publish a blog post unless you have something interesting to say. Don’t add a new page unless it’s valuable to your audience.
Put your users first. Create content that you think they want to see and put your own unique spin on it. Focus on quality over quantity.
Search engine optimization is an industry in flux. As the Internet continues to grow and evolve, so too will Google’s algorithms shift to keep up. There is no doubt in my mind that many SEO tactics which are common practice today might well become obsolete in the near future.
But such is the way of things. The best thing any of us can do is pay attention and try to keep up. At the very least, there’s some comfort in the knowledge that one thing will always remain the same – the websites that endeavor to provide the best, highest-quality experience possible to their visitors are the ones that will shine.