Different sources will tell you different things on what an SEO optimised blog should be. Companies, and content writers, should focus on legitimate, well-researched, written content,that engages with the reader - and user-base they are aiming at. But as the internet evolves, so do the search engines on it, and so too do the techniques used to optimise the content that appears on those search engines. Some techniques that were ‘ideal’, or appropriate even a few years ago, may not be any longer. In fact, they may well be counterintuitive to the purpose of search engine optimisation in the first place.
Ethical SEO techniques, which do not use underhanded workarounds in order to optimise content, are known as white hat techniques. These take time, care and precision, and quality is paramount when optimising a web page. Often, those optimising websites will resort to what are known as black-hat SEO techniques, which include unethical ways to rank higher in search results.
Techniques that were once widely used are considered black-hat now, and Google has tools to detect black-hat SEO, automatically ranking your page lower than it would have been.
Here is a list of six old-school SEO techniques that you have always sworn by but need to drop right now!
1. Keyword stuffing
Keywords have always been a holy grail for SEO. Using targeted keywords, which are high in search volumes and speak directly to your audience have always been on top of the list.
But, when did too much of anything resulted in good?
Same is the case here! Keyword stuffing, as the name suggests, is inserting large number of keywords in the web content and meta tags to artificially increase one’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) and drive more traffic to their website.
This method might have worked in the past, but now is obsolete. According to the Google Panda algorithm update in 2017, quality of keywords and content rules over quantity.
2. Spamming footers with tags and links
Effectively done, headers and footers on any website can promote cross-navigation and facilitate easy movement on the website, automatically pushing it up the search rankings on Google. This kind of cross-linking to different pages on the website (that are connected one way or another) can result in more clicks and higher conversions.
However, some websites will often stuff these sections with irrelevant tags and linking to peripheral pages, with the hopes to rank up higher on search engines. In 2017 again, Google Penguin update drastically changed SEO landscape, debarring webspam and manipulative link building tactics.
3. Swapping content
Content swapping could easily be one of the oldest tricks in the book of SEO. How does it work? Well, first, a piece of content would be uploaded on the website, and the owner would wait till the content gets crawled and indexed on SERPs. Once the website is closed for indexation, the content would be swapped with something else. What this means is that the page that was initially indexed may have had an article on, say, home care for a senior dog, but the content was swapped out for that of a veterinary pharmaceutical company. While content swapping may have always been looked down upon, many continue to do it regardless.
4. Content spinning
To understand why content spinning or article spinning is bad, we must first understand what it is. It is, as the name suggests, re-writing a piece of content in a way that portrays, in essence, a pre-decided upon central idea. It involves re-creating volumes of the same set of content by putting it through an AI, or software, by simply rearranging words.
This may or may not affect your SEO, depending on how you spin your content. But, this definitely adds to the volumes of unnecessary content on the internet. And if Google finds a better article against yours, on any given topic, guess who will get the preference?
5. Hidden text
Hidden text is another old trick in the black-hat SEO! It is a large chunk of data literally hidden in website footers far away from any browsers reach.
It is often uploaded in the same colour as the website background to keep tidy. This text heavily contains almost all of the targeted keywords. However, these might be invisible to the naked eye, but are meant to be read by bots and crawlers for an increased SERP ranking.
While it used to be effective, search engines now have tools to detect black-hat SEO, particularly hidden text, and using this technique will certainly result in pushing down your search engine rankings, rather than promoting it.
6. Internal linking with keyword rich anchor text
Internal linking, by its very name, is not a bad thing. A well-linked website forms its own network, making it accessible, smooth and friendlier for users. In addition to this, linking can also be used to connect to other web pages in your industry, creating a path that Google can effectively crawl.
Using keyword-rich anchor text is good, but focussing too much on the same phrases over and over can result in keyword stuffing and negatively impact the ranking of your website.
The internet and search engines are changing, and as they morph, so too do the techniques SEO specialists and digital marketers ought to use to promote their web pages and sites.
At the end of the day, ranking on Google and other search engines is crucial to a business, but marketers and specialists need to decide where to draw the line on techniques that are and are not ethical, especially considering that today, search engine tools are adapting themselves to combat exactly that issue.
Think you might be doing something wrong with your SEO? Share your challenges with us below and we will help you!