What SEO Tactics You Should Stop Using in 2018

Search engines are in a constant state of change. In order to keep up with changing technology and meet users’ needs, algorithms and standards are frequently adjusted.

As a result, SEO techniques that once worked or no longer effective. Worse, in many cases these methods can actually result in poor SERP rankings and penalties. If you’re using any of the following strategies, it’s time to make a change.

Keyword Stuffing And Giving Keywords Too Much Focus

This is something that has been the case for quite some time. In spite of this, too many content creators are still stuffing blog posts and web pages with keywords. In some cases, they’re even using irrelevant keywords in an attempt to rank on trending topics. This doesn’t work because every major search engine has changed their algorithm to detect keyword stuffing.

Instead of assuming that your content is relevant to the keywords you use. Search engines use Latent Semantic Indexing. This is a mathematical formula that looks for synonyms indicating that your content actually matches the subject of your post. For example, a post on video games would likely contain words and phrases such as, ‘keyboard’, ‘controller’, ‘console’, ‘first person shooter’, or ‘high score’. If the post contained keywords like, ‘weight loss supplements’ or ‘payday loans’, that would send up red flags.

Most importantly, don’t overestimate the role of keywords in SEO. They are significantly less a factor than they were a few  years ago. For the most part, well-written content that is relevant to the topic being presented will naturally contain the high quality, long tail keywords you need.

Creating Multiple Pages With Different Combinations of The Same Keywords

This is a technique that is related to keyword stuffing. Once upon a time, you could create multiple pages with content featuring the same keywords. This would increase your SERP rankings for those keywords. This technique is no longer effective. In fact, it can result in your website being penalized with lower rankings.

Even if this practice didn’t result in poor search engine results, it’s still very irritating to users. Instead, organize and consolidate content. Use keywords naturally, and your SEO will be much improved.

Focusing on Link Quality Not Quantity

For quite a long time, common SEO wisdom was that nearly all links were valuable. If you could get someone to link your website or posts, that was considered a real win. Now we know that this isn’t the case. Yes, links do matter, but Google and other search engines  also measure the quality of those links. Paid links, and links from poor quality websites are no longer of any value.

Instead, focus on earning quality links from reputable sources. These links should be from websites and blogs that are reputable, and placed in content that is relevant. Follow links should be prioritized, and anchor text should be relevant as well.

Use of Link And Article Directories

Let’s start with link directories. These were once considered quite valuable to search engines. They were a way to create indexes of similar web content. Unfortunately, just like with keywords, people starting abusing them by stuffing link directories with spammy URLs. Today, link directories are absolutely useless and can even cause you to be penalized. There’s no fix or alternate method here. Just stop using them.

avoid article directories

Next is article directories. These have suffered the same fate. Many were created as a place for people to share content, and link to their webpages. The problem is that spammers began using content spinners to create hundreds of articles stuffed with keywords and links. On top of this, article directories usually have little to no standards or editorial oversight. This means that your content sits among a bunch of poorly written garbage. People rarely click these articles. Then, when they do, they usually bounce immediately.

There are many quality websites that allow guest blogging and invite people to write articles. Yes, it’s harder to get content accepted. However, once you do, you’ll find that you’ll get a lot more SEO traction.

Use of Doorways And Cloaking Pages

Doorways and cloaking pages are used to represent web pages in one way to search engines, and then route users to other pages entirely. For example, a web page may be represented as helpful and informational content on classic cars. So, it gets ranked as being relevant when people search for information on classic cars. However, instead of going to a page with that information, users are routed to a page selling automotive financing. It’s a dirty trick, and search engines are very aware of this technique.

Simply put, don’t do this. Not only will search engines penalize you, you’ll create some serious bad will with your audience. It just isn’t worth it.

Reciprocal Linking

reciprocal link buildingThis is just what it sounds like. The owners of two blogs or websites make connection and they quickly agree to link to one another’s content. The only problem is that this is often done with no consideration as to whether or not the two websites or blogs share anything in common with one another. In the best of cases, these links are inserted awkwardly in content where they have no real relevance. At worst, links are simply dumped onto appendix or resource pages where they have no context whatsoever.

Make no mistake, links are a good thing. It’s just that they should be earned, placed on pages that are relevant both in content and to your target audience, and they should be place on pages that are reputable. Earn links by building relationships with people in your niche.

Using a Flat URL Structure

This is something to be wary of, especially if you are a WordPress uses as it is the CMS’ default URL structure. Basically a flat URL structure gives no information on page hierarchy. For example, if you operate a website on healthy living, weight loss, and exercise, a flat URL would look like this:

www.wellnesssite.com/exercisearticle123

If you used a nested URL it would look like this:

www.welnesssite.com/exercise/exercisearticle123

The difference may seem insignificant, but it makes a big difference to search engines. By categorizing your content, you make it easier to for that content to be indexed. In addition to this, every time a web page is posted under one of your category pages, that category page earns more credibility.

Mass And Otherwise Indiscriminate Guest Blogging

Basically, this is the new version of using article directories. It started with a great idea. Then, people started exploiting the concept. They began creating websites with little to no oversight, and then opening them up for guest bloggers. In other cases, owners of fledgling websites make the mistake of allowing anyone and everyone to guest blog for them. Regardless, nobody comes out a winner.

If you’re going to write guest blogs for other sites, do your due diligence. Vet them out to ensure that they are the quality of site that you want to be associated with. Ideally, these should be sites with established audiences that will be interested in your brand.

Exact Match Domains

At first, it seems to make sense. Wouldn’t the best way to boost SEO be to have a URL that matches the most common short tail keyword that I’m trying to optimize for? It was certainly a very popular technique for quite a while. For example, if someone owned an insurance agency in St. Paul, it was considered a victory if they managed to register a domain name like, stpaulinsuranceagency.com.

Truth be told, if you use this technique, you won’t necessarily be penalized in search engine rankings. However, you do risk being flagged as spam by search engines and individuals. This is because it’s difficult to connect domain names like this with a particular brand. Think about it. If you were shopping for shoes online, would you be more likely to trust, bobsdesignershoes.com or designershoes.com? If you pick the first, you are definitely not alone.

Using Automated Link Building

Once marketers realized that links were important to SEO, they decided to maximize this via automated link building. This involves the use of software, created by not so scrupulous companies. Basically, this is the automated insertion of links into comments, link directories, guest posts, etc.

Not only does this not work to boost SEO, it also fails to increase traffic. There is now automated way to build traffic. Instead, the focus should be one earning organic traffic and links.

Disregarding Social Signals

Surely you have social sharing icons on your web pages and blog post. If not, you should. If you do, don’t underestimate the power of these. You may see social shares and likes as being relatively meaningless. After all, how long does it take to like, follow, or share.

What people often fail to realize is that these indicators really do hold a lot of water with search engines. Social signals indicate engagement, interest, and trust. Work hard to earn them, and when you do earn them work hard to make the most out of them.

Earning Bounces Through Poor UX

This is not an SEO tactic. However, it can be a result of overly focusing on SEO while sacrificing other important things. This includes user experience. You can rank at number one or higher on any keyword or topic search you want. If you have poor UX, that will soon go out the window with every bounce. If you have to focus on only one thing, ditch SEO and work on your UX game.

Failing to Keep Your Content Game on Par

There is nothing more important to SEO and your online presence as a whole than quality content. Unfortunately, for so long people were told that the goal was to simply get content out to as wide an audience as possible. For many, this meant lifting and rewriting articles, writing and sharing very short posts, and basically plagiarizing the work of others.

Avoid this pitfall by ensuring that your content is original, relevant, and of good quality. Detailed posts, of significant value to your target audience are best.

Using Clickbait Posts to Drive Traffic

Everyone wants to create that hook that will get people to their site. Nothing wrong with that, unless you use dishonest tactics like clickbait. Let’s be honest, we’ve all fallen for click bait. Something catches our eye, and before we know it, we’re clicking our way through a bunch of random content in search of what we were originally after.

click bait

This is a huge turnoff for audience’s so much so  that they have rebelled. Not only will they not click on this content, they will boldly and loudly red flag this content. Don’t use this technique, it may earn clicks, but they aren’t that valuable.

Attempting to Leverage Low Quality Spam Comments

This is another technique where there is no alternative. It’s not only bad for SEO, it’s bad for the reputation of your business and site in general. If you are participating in comments section with the sole purpose of linking to your website, or social media page, you are guilty of this. Be aware that other participants will quickly label these comments as spam as well as publicly call these comments out. Website owners are usually very quick to ban audience members posting these comments as well. It simply is not worth the bad press you’ll receive for driving a miniscule amount of traffic to your website.

Instead, participate genuinely in these conversations and reap the benefits of engagement and establishing thought leadership.

Misuse of Press Releases

Truth be told, press releases are a very valid tactic. In fact, in some cases they may even be underused. Unfortunately, when they are used, they are often used incorrectly. First, there are the companies who believe that press releases are the perfect way to stay on the radar of media outlets, bloggers, and influencers. So, they send out multiple press releases each month, always announcing things that don’t come close to approaching newsworthy. Then there are those who improperly target their press releases. For example, they target news outlets whose audience members simply aren’t interested in their products or services, or they direct them at influencers before making any effort at building a relationship with them.

The best solution is to simply use discretion and good judgement before sending out press releases. If you’re sending out press releases as means of getting your name out there, it’s time to rethink that. Instead, wait until you’ve got something truly newsworthy to share.

Feel Different Now?

If you see tactics that you’re currently using on this list, don’t be dismayed. You certainly aren’t alone. Fortunately, many of these tactics have alternatives or quick fixes you should have. The others are easy to simply stop using. By dropping these arcane tactics and adopting new ones, you can expect to see much improvement in your SEO efforts.

Amanda Sparks, head of content at Essay Supply, professional writer and analogue soul striving to make this world digital.
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on RedditPin on Pinterest