4 SEO Tactics You Should Stop Doing, NOW

Jen Saunders
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Search engine optimization has been THE primary service offers in a digital marketing scope for more than a decade. Without strong visibility in Google’s search engine, your customers can’t find you–the main reason why SEO is still a vital business investment to any company’s marketing efforts.

In order to get the most from a business investment, companies hire digital marketing agencies following best SEO practices to ensure their branding is grounded in ethical, effective, strategic framework. Then there are organizations who hire internal marketing teams (often these marketers don’t know how to execute a modern SEO strategy) or they try performing SEO themselves (typically small mom & pop shops). Whether you are a fortune 500 company and you want the knowledge to hold your digital marketing agency accountable, or you hired an internal team and you want to make sure they have the SEO chops, here are four common antiquated search engine optimization practices that old timey SEOs still perform that should be stopped, NOW.

SEO practices

Focusing Your Keyword Strategy on Exact Matches

Back when everyone was listening to Train and Usher, digital marketers were embracing SEO practices that included using exact match keywords. The idea was to try ranking for the keywords with the highest search volume. But as we approach 2018, such a practice is revenue suicide.

Search technology has advanced; buyers are using voice searches from their mobile devices to get educational information before they decide on a product. This means your keywords need to be more buyer specific and not strive for the mega keywords that you will never rank for. Here is a perfect example:

The keyword “refurbished Macbooks” gets 40.5K average searches a month. Ranking for this would be great, there’s no denying that. But Apple dominates page one of Google and you will never outrank this industry giant. Therefore nobody will ever see your content. On the other hand, “used Macbooks” has 4.4K average searches a month–a search volume not to frown at, and one that is reachable by following Google best SEO practices alongside a creative content strategy.

Let’s see what the ranking opportunities look like by studying the search engine results. As you can see, “refurbished Macbooks” is revealing Apple all over the organic results.

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Then “refurbished Macbooks near me” reveals results in Local Pack for companies like Best Buy and Walmart (you won’t outrank them either).

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Now, is we use the keyword “used Macbooks” we get small businesses coming up in the results.

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If we search for “used Macbooks near me”, we see small businesses appear in the Local Pack with one (Mac of All Trades…great name) organically ranking above the fold in the second spot right below Yelp.

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After doing some further digging, it is clear that Mac of All Trades is running a strategy fueled by SEO best practices for keyword usage while running longtail variations of lower-hanging fruit all while making themselves relevant to the big exact match keyword they can never outright rank for.

Writing for Bots

Three years ago we started to see search results drop in ranking that were still writing for Google bots. With the addition of RankBrain to the core Hummingbird algorithm, AI and machine learning technology helps the search engine understand the emotional intentions and pains behind search queries. While the Q & A style of writing jam=packed with keywords once worked, today’s top ranking results tell a story that touches on pain points while educating and delighting customers.

You still need to write for bots, but to a certain extent. By using the pillar content cluster model with blog titles that revolve around keywords while posing specific topics in a context that best suits your buyer personas, you can offer structured content that Google will love while writing high-value emotional messages that will resonate with buyers.

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Exact Match Keywords in Image ALTS

Image ALTS have high SEO value because, if setup properly, once an image appears in Google results buyers can click on it and wind up on your landing page. Rather than set your image ALTS for things like “Atomic skis” or “Salomon ski boots size 10”, consider “Atomic skis for men in Denver” or “certified used women’s ski boots”. Here, you will also want to avoid exact match keywords targeting a search volume you can never beat that is owned by big box chain stores.

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Chasing High Domain Authority for Backlinks

Years ago SEOs would seek backlinks from high domain authority sites with “follow” tags while completely disregarding subject relevancy. Today Google can lower your domain authority for links to domains that have irrelevant topics and mark it up as spam. Follow these tips:

  • Avoid getting backlinks from directories unless they are directly related to your products or services. For example, if you are a luxury kitchen remodeler, it’s okay to link to homebuilder directories but not dental care or hodge-podge industry directories that cover everyone from Joe;s Bakery to nail salons.
  • Don’t only go after “follow” links; Google likes a mix of “nofollow” and “follow” as it removes the appearance that you paid for your links.
  • In terms of relevancy, going after some high-value links from sites like Huffington Post or Forbes is highly beneficial; just make sure the content in the offsite article is relevant to your landing page’s subject and indicate the relevance through a keyword in your anchor text.

Google Best SEO Practices Powered by Inbound Marketing

To really capture the right consumers and nurture them into measurable revenue, consider incorporating the inbound marketing methodology into your strategy. As long as your SEO practices aren’t antiquated and spammy, the inbound method through marketing automation services can help you direct the right content to segmented audiences most likely to convert into delighted buyers.

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