Cream rises to the top. That’s one of the reasons Google worked the Panda update into their core algorithm–to identify the best of the best in every search category. What followed was a period of readjustment, whereby content marketing standards were raised and scrutiny was applied. Many websites fell by the wayside: they just didn’t meet the most basic new requirements. It’s important to understand that using outdated SEO techniques to advance your company’s rank could provide less cream and more curdle.
Let’s see if these five SEO strategies are true or false.
Keywords are King?
False. There was a time when the goal was to create content, metadata and headlines stuffed with keywords to feed those ravenous search engine bots. Keywords were the kibbles that kept Google grazing on your site and raising your rank. We’re still keen on keyword identification, but it can’t take priority over well-prepared, prime content and enhanced user experience (UX).
Keywords must serve a purpose and sound natural for them to be valuable to your content. For example, a website may feature an educational article about applying to college. If the audience is reading along intently you can’t just insert “college prep courses” or “Sylvan learning centers” randomly several times into the article and not expect readers to be jarred and turned off by the obvious bias. You have to do the exact opposite. Keep editorial content clean and ad-free.
A Page For Every Keyword?
False. Spread it out and make it look like more. Not a bad tactic for ancient times but anathema to now. To rank for all the targeted keywords, web designers often dedicated a separate page for each keyword. That’s about as appetizing to Google as grandma’s congealed salad.
Dense content, or all your keyword descriptions concentrated on one page, is now highly regarded because it improves user experience. Gone are the days of twenty one-paragraph pages breaking out every corner of a company’s operations. A hair salon that made a book out of Colorists, Nail Design, Hair Extensions, Facials and Fabio’s fabulous and exclusive products would now succinctly explain each specialty on one well-written page. Search engines reward relevant, valuable, compact content that can be quickly found in one place.
Today’s artificial intelligence algorithms understand the intent behind a query and use semantics to guess what your keywords might be, even if you don’t embed them. An algorithm called RankBrain let’s Google rank a web page for keywords that aren’t even found in the content. For the hair salon above, Google knows from experience that “salon,” “beauty salon,” “hairdresser,” “dye my hair,” “hair salon near me,” etc., are all potential keyword phrases, so you can stop awkwardly squeezing them in.
It’s time to merge and purge. Review your site and delete all those sparsely populated individual pages you set up for every keyword phrase you could think of. These empty rooms could negatively impact the way Google views your site, and how frequently and thoroughly it’s crawled.
Content Quantity over Quality?
False. The more the merrier doesn’t work in this instance. Not many business owners have time to write their hearts out every week. Yet the creation of effective SEO content is a make-or-break component.
Some search engine marketers choose to just churn out sub-par pablum themselves. Others outsource the writing to budget services or even non-English speaking agencies. The resulting content is often funnier than a Kate McKinnon skit on SNL.
The days of drivel are over. To rank competitively, content should be robust, well-researched, useful, truthful, timely and just long enough to make a point. Low-quality content goes to the end of the line.
Unbridled Guest Blogging?
False. Years ago, SEO writers approached publications for expert guest blogger opportunities based on the size and interest of their audience. This was a targeted move within the industry that usually carried a brief bio and link back to your website. Eventually, we all got greedy, submitting guest posts to any willing website that was relevant or not. Your website is about music? Super! Here’s a blog about the history of blues followed by a bio and link back to my, well, insurance website. Relevance went out the window. Running off-topic articles by unrelated authors got website owners in some hot water. Google blew a gasket and websites were penalized, losing rank so badly some never recovered.
Exact-Match Anchor Text?
False. Anchor text is the colored or highlighted wording you click on, which links you to another site. This newfangled clickable text was highly regarded by Google once upon a time. If you wanted to rank for “Houston oil refinery,” you sought to earn, buy or barter for as many links using the precise phrase “Houston refinery” as you could get. Not Texas gas company, not Gulf Coast petroleum plant, not bayou-based energy producer–the wording had to be exact.
Predictably, this tactic was abused and text became a ridiculous repetition of keyword anchor text backlinks with a smattering of content in between. Google nixed the nonsense and switched to rewarding a broader variety of anchor text worked naturally into text. While still an important SEO practice, anchor text linking now aims to build relevance by incorporating many facets of the business brand.
The world of SEO has changed dramatically. Keyword stuffing has given way to artificial intelligence. Guest blogging has been reeled back into the industry tool it was always intended to be. Anchor text can now contain a variety of different phrases besides the keywords. Remember to write for humans and the bots will follow. Need help? Our content writers are ready to pump up your content using the latest SEO tactics.