SEO Techniques You Should Stop Using
Search engine optimization is an ever-changing, keep-up-or-get-out business. Every year (and every month) seems to bring world-rocking changes to Google’s ranking algorithm, changing the rules of SEO and rendering once-efficient techniques obsolete. While the core SEO success factors have remained essentially the same, changes to Google’s algorithm and web spam filters mean that brands should be consistently updating their campaigns to rank higher in search engines.
However, many companies still use old SEO tactics that keep traffic stagnant or cause it to drop. Let’s take a look at these 3 techniques you should stop using in 2015.
1. More Links Equals Higher Ranking
A common misconception about SEO is that acquiring as many backlinks as possible can increase one’s ranking. This used to happen in the past – a website would do keyword research, create pages containing that keyword, then pay other websites for linking back to these pages. Link building is no longer about quantity, and brands need to focus on the quality of their backlinks if they want to rank higher in search engines.
Google’s webmaster trend analyst, John Mueller, states that, while Google does count backlinks as an important part of the ranking algorithm, there are other factors that can influence a website’s ranking. As you have probably noticed, many authoritative websites have fewer backlinks nowadays, but they still rank higher than brands with an established reputation.
Let’s take, for example, the phrase “American clothing.” As you can see, AllAmericanClothing ranks higher than American Eagle and American Apparel, both of which are internationally recognized.
According to Ahrefs, American Eagle has 652k backlinks from 16k referring domains, American Apparel has as much as 5 million backlinks from 21k referring domains, while AllAmericanClothing has just 20k backlinks from 625 referring domains.
Both AE and American Apparel have a lot more backlinks and referring domains as compared to AllAmericanClothing. If we go as far as analyzing their PageRank, we will see that American Eagle and American Apparel both have PR6, while AllAmericanClothing is stuck at PR5. This shows that focusing on quality instead of quantity is what really matters today – and that’s what AllAmericanClothing did too.
2. SEO Is About Keyword-Rich Content
In theory, if you want to rank for a term such as “digital marketing agency Sydney,” you need to have this keyword included in your content. But that’s not the case in 2015, not since Google has started using latent semantic indexing, or LSI.
For example, “digital marketing agency Sydney” is contextually similar to “Sydney online marketing expert” – it has the exact same meaning. In other words, if you optimized your content for “Sydney online marketing expert” instead of “digital marketing agency Sydney,” you would rank for both phrases.
Instead of stuffing your website content with keywords, focus on writing user-friendly articles, and sprinkle one or two LSI keywords throughout the text. Search engines will naturally figure out the terms you should be ranking for. Keyword-rich content would have poor readability, resulting in visitors abandoning your website, which would hurt your rankings.
3. Lengthy Content Improves Website Ranking
We’ve talked several times about how lengthy content seems to be preferred by Google. As a matter of fact, there is data (reference: http://blog.serpiq.com/how-important-is-content-length-why-data-driven-seo-trumps-guru-opinions/) that shows how important long content seems to be, suggesting that ideal content length should exceed 2,500 words.
Yet, it seems that shorter content also does a good job at helping websites rank higher. If you have ever come across Buzz Feed or Huffington Post, then you have certainly noticed that their posts are usually very lengthy. Upworthy, despite relatively new on the Internet, has outshined them both in growth rate – interestingly, with significantly shorter content!
Sometimes, short content can still help your website rank higher if viral – and that’s exactly what Upworthy relies on.
The best way to identify what’s in and what’s out in terms of SEO practices is researching what your competitors are doing. Google doesn’t always publicly share algorithm changes, and even when it does, it still doesn’t provide enough information to help you understand how to do things well. Consider hiring a reliable company in your local area if you want to ensure that your SEO campaign adheres to Google’s latest algorithm changes, and whatever you do, make sure to avoid these mistakes that could get your website penalized (link to “30 Most Common Reasons That Might Get Your Website Penalized” article).