The SEO world is extremely competitive.
In turn, this leads to competing ideologies and best practices.
If you’re new to SEO, it won’t take you very long to get confused about which techniques actually work and which ones don’t.
There are tons of old, out-of-date SEO practices that are still being recommended by so-called “experts” online today.
It’s like they haven’t bothered to update their advice since 2015.
And 2018 has only just begun. With each new year comes new SEO strategies floating out there on the internet.
Not to mention, in the recent months and years, we’ve seen a whole host of updates from Google.
It’s only natural that our approaches to SEO must be tweaked according to those.
Hence, we thought it would be great to list out five SEO practices that may be popular but already irrelevant as we’re moving forward with 2018.
5 Popular SEO Practices Which Don’t Work Today
1. Keywords in Meta Tags
People have been well warned about the effects of keyword stuffing.
Since Google’s Panda update, the overuse of keywords in the content has gone down, but SEOs still continue to use the Meta Description tag to insert keywords.
This act isn’t stuffing per say, but the SEO benefits have changed. There are three basic elements of the Meta Tag:
- Description or Meta Description
The usage of the Meta Keywords tag as Google’s Matt Cutts says in the video below, has completely been discontinued.
So let’s look at what you should do. Just as Matt Cutts indicates in the video above, since the Keywords tag isn’t in use, you can take advantage of the Description tag which can potentially contain an important keyword.
Ensure that the Meta Description tags vary across pages in your website. You must limit them to 160 characters, too.
You can improve the richness by creating natural descriptions, just like you would with content in general.
2. Paid Links
A complex category comprising of many different types of links, but all of them are extremely dangerous.
A lot of SEOs still to this day continue to buy links from link farms, directories and press releases. You often see advertisements like “SERP Package for $99” with claims for amazing results. The reality is that these links simply don’t work today.
Although they’ve been around for a long time, Google has become smarter. These links are now more easily detected, and the penalties can be quite severe.
SEO Directories, paid guest posts with article blasts linking to them aren’t completely obsolete.
So what would constitute an alternate approach?
Instead of buying links on forums, Fiverr and markets that advertise networks, try to focus your efforts on the quality of content.
Instead of using cheap content, create rich, meaningful content so that people automatically share and feel like linking to it.
Even though we mentioned paid guest posts as a bad thing, guest blogging on the whole is by no means dead. When done in the right spirit and the right way, it can yield some amazing results.
Search for different sites in your niche that will let you write for them, and create pieces of content linking back to your original.
Niche-related directories are also great, as they have very strict rules and guidelines for entering. This would be a great way to avoid all sorts of risky tactics.
3. Content Spinning
Although considered to be Black Hat, a number of SEOs use this method to put out content. It’s just bad. It’s not ethical from any perspective.
This is a method where a marketer uses a piece of software that takes an existing piece of content and rewrites it, so that it appears to be original.
Spun content is often used on sites that take money for links. Hence all these bad practices are, on some level, interlinked. Private Blog Network managers often employ content spinners to do the job cheaply at the cost of quality.
In 2018, Google is very clear about the quality of text.
Hence, after the Panda upgrade these techniques no longer work.
Some new article spinners that promise amazing quality will keep popping up over time. However, it’s very important that SEOs resist the temptation to put out quick and spun content.
The solution is simple. Make sure you get written content from real people. You can find many good writers on freelance sites that can create great quality content economically.
4. Using the Competition Level Specified in Adwords
For a lot of SEOs today, this is more of a passive element that plays on the mind, especially when doing keyword research.
In this day and age, it’s impossible to determine how difficult an organic search term is to rank for simply by looking at the keyword difficulty mentioned in the Adwords section.
For example, when we’re using the Keyword Planner Tool in Adwords to scout information about marketing practices, we can see the competition section below:
That section determines the difficulty for paid search alone and not organic search. Even though, for the keyword “Marketing” the competition level is stated as low, it might be impossible to actively target that keyword.
An alternate approach, would be to use SEO tools to assess the competition. This is a great way to determine how difficult the niche actually is. If you want a better idea of what you’re up against, then analyze the domain authority of the pages as well as their backlinks.
This can all be done in your Monitor Backlinks account.
This information should give you a more realistic picture of what you’re up against. If you don’t have a Monitor Backlinks account, you can try the platform with a 30-day free trial.
5. Long Form Content Guarantees
This is almost a rule of thumb that articles should be around the 500 word mark, minimum.
SEO guru Neil Patel has said that the size of the content is only relevant to a certain degree. Your niche, your competition and the quality of your writing all matter too.
The answer itself to the question of content length can vary greatly. Long-form content doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the top three of Google search results. It varies based on the niche you’re in. You might find many examples of where pages that have a significantly lower word count rank higher.
The examples below illustrate exactly what’s mentioned in the last two sentences.
Our recommendations involve two points for SEOs.
Firstly, forget about the length of the article, and ask yourself if every sentence of the article you create is essential. Articles that have interesting content might boost your rankings indirectly, because of the ease of distribution. Avoid aiming for a particular word count like 500 or 300. It would be great if your article is longer than that, but don’t make it too long and fill it with keywords.
If you feel long-form content is the way to go for your niche or topic, then simply make sure you don’t expect high rankings straight away. Long form content does rank well, but not in the top three in a very short time span.
Also, this doesn’t necessarily boost conversion.
Use it well.