SEO, or search engine optimization has been an important part of digital marketing since search engines have been around. Site owners or webmasters want their pages to be front and center when prospects scan the first page of a Google search result, and SEO is the key to getting it there.
However, marketing in a digital world has had to evolve with the ever-changing trends of the digital landscape to serve users more effectively.
Because of this, certain SEO practices have become obsolete in the face of new and challenging algorithms. Here are some of the most common SEO link-building techniques that website owners, digital marketing companies, or SEO specialist need to stop using.
1. Keyword Stuffing
Didn’t see that one coming, did you?
One SEO practice that’s a tough line to walk is keyword stuffing, which is plugging in desired keywords repeatedly in the content for the sole purpose of getting more keywords onto the page.
If keywords get pages to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs), having more of them should increase the chances of a higher rank, right?
Not exactly. Search Engines know what keyword-stuffed content looks like and demotes them in SERP rank; Matt Cutts from Google has said that Google has a team working on filtering out pages based on relevance and not over-optimization.
Here’s an example of keyword stuffing:
“Looking for cheap kitchenware? Look no further for cheap kitchenware; we have a wide selection of cheap kitchenware for you to choose your cheap kitchenware from.”
See why it doesn’t make for a good user experience? Keyword stuffing makes content repetitive and less valuable to read. It might work on a short-term level if a user visits the page coming from a SERP, but if they won’t want to stay on the page or site, they aren’t likely to convert.
That being said, using keywords is still an important part of SEO. It’s possible for a page using keywords to not be demoted as long as the keyword usage is responsible, natural, and provides value.
A good online digital marketing agency would be able to optimize content for both users and search engines in a natural and valuable way.
2. Exact-match anchor text
Anchor text is the specific but of text in content that users click to be directed to a different page. It can be identified as the word, phrase, or sentence/s that are underlined (and usually blue). An example of exact-match anchor text for, let’s say a sports supply shop called Sports Central is:
You can check our Sports Central here.
In the past, digital marketing companies have wanted to control the anchor text that links back to their sites to ensure that the text would be an exact match. Now, it isn’t necessary to control anchor text because Google considers website relevance and authority more than that exact anchor text.
This is good for user experience since readers won’t have to read repetitive and unnatural writing.
Google’s Penguin looks for overdone anchor text too, so explicitly using this technique might result in penalty
3. Exact-match domains
Have you ever visited a website that looked like these:
These are called exact-match domains, which is what it’s called when marketers use the exact keywords they use for SEO in the domain name as part of their digital marketing services. Knowing how keywords work, it might seem like the smartest thing to do to put your exact keywords in the domain.
However, doing this won’t make the site seem like an authoritative or legitimate one. Instead, it could make it look like spam. A domain named cheapkitchenware.com isn’t brandable, so users (and search engines) might not consider it a trustworthy or valuable source of content.
4. Pages for all keyword variations
More entries, more chances of winning, right?
Again, not exactly.
An example of having pages for all keyword variations in one site would be something like this.,
Page 1: Where to buy cheap shoes near you
Page 2: Cheap stores nearby
Page 3: Affordable shoe stores
Marketers have done this so that each page would rank for each variation of the keyword. If all of these pages have more or less the same content for SEO, the site runs a risk of keyword cannibalization.
Keyword cannibalization is when pages from the same site tend to diminish each other’s chance of ranking high in a certain SERP, making your own pages compete against each other.
Not only will content not be optimized for user experience, but it also splits the click-through rates; instead of having one page perform excellently, there would be 2-3 pages of poor performance.
This would also sacrifice page quality. If a content can be condensed into one impactful article instead of distributing it into three thinly written articles then, it’d be better for user experience and overall site quality.
5. Using article directories
Marketers can write short articles and submit them to article directories; once they’re in the directory, other entities can choose to download and link them.
In the short term, this can provide you with multiple links back to your site, but it isn’t sustainable because it likely won’t be organically shareable by users.
Users need creative, relevant and valuable content for them to even consider sharing a page link. Matt Cutts of Google has also confirmed that using article directories doesn’t give “ranking benefits” as the content tends to be low quality.
6. Blog and Forum Commenting
In this process, you will search for blogs or discussion forums related to the niche of the site you want to rank and then post a comment or share topics and opinions to the writer or other bloggers. Years ago, blog and forum commenting were one of the most widely used link building techniques, and you can easily get a backlink by using this method.
Until a couple of years ago, people would read the articles and leave insightful comments and the posts became quite spammy which may cause problems for site owners.
As a result, the no-follow attribute has become popular among blog posts and forums and has little impact on your site’s ranking.