The term “SEO” triggers many emotions. For some business owners, it is the bane of their existence. They blame SEO for lost rankings, lost customers, lost streams of revenues. Other business owners delight in the term, proclaiming they owe it all to the Google.
Search engine optimization is still wholly misunderstood, even almost 20 years after the term was first put into use. If you ask whether or not your business needs SEO, you’re bound to receive one of two answers:
- Yes, everyone needs SEO.
- No, SEO is dead.
Go to Google and start typing “Is SEO” and you will probably see something like this:
SEO Will Die When Search Dies
No matter how many people claim “SEO is dead,” optimizing for search engines will not go away anytime soon. As long as there is search, there will be the need to optimize for search. Our society has become so entrenched in search that many of us would be lost without it. How would we get the answers to our questions, figure out where to eat, or find the best deal on that new whatchamacallit?
Of course, today’s SEO is a far cry from the SEO of two decades ago, or even the SEO of two years ago. Thanks to smarter search algorithms and the vigilant attempts to take down poor quality websites that game the system, SEO has become a completely new beast. In fact, the term “SEO” is no longer enough to encompass everything the industry has become. As a result, many SEO experts have become internet marketing experts.
Although SEO is far from dead, there are many aspects that have passed on. For the most part, these deceased pieces of SEO were all tactics used to manipulate the search engines rather than strategies designed to work in accordance with them.
As long as there have been search results, people have tried to figure out how the engines work and how they can get ahead. While many of these manipulative techniques worked for a while, they ultimately have gone the way of the dodo. Some will argue they still work, but only for the short-term. The end result of using any deliberately shady tactics is much more than a slap on the wrists.
Here are nine SEO tactics that are effectively extinct (no matter how many people insist on using them):
1. Keyword Stuffing
In the past, you could cram your site full of a keyword and achieve high rankings even if your site was otherwise garbage. From body text to headers to title tags, there’s always been plenty of space to hammer home your keywords. Today’s search engines are too smart for this. Even keyword density isn’t really a thing anymore.
2. Hidden Text
Along the same lines of keyword stuffing, “SEO experts” used to hide text on a page to help improve rankings. This hidden text would contain important keywords but wouldn’t take away from the user experience. In other words, only the search engines would see it. Search engines can now easily identify hidden text, and using it could get you penalized.
3. Guest Blogging (For Links)
There’s still much debate about the effect of guest blogging. It isn’t necessarily something to be avoided at all costs. If you have an opportunity to guest blog on an authoritative website, take it. But don’t guest blog with the sole purpose of getting links back to your site. This is especially true if you are thinking about participating in a guest blog network. It’s not worth your time and could land you in hot water.
4. Exact Match Anchor Text
Link building is not dead, but many of the old link building tactics just don’t work anymore. Links today need to be natural. If you are building thousands of links with anchor text that contain the main keywords you want to rank on, then you are risking the health of your entire business. In most cases, a natural link will contain a brand or business name rather than an industry-specific keyword.
5. Blog Comments and Forum Posts
If you are scouring the internet for blogs and forums where you can get quick links by posting worthless comments, then you are going about SEO the wrong way. These low-quality links aren’t going to help boost your site. Of course, if you host a blog, then you probably know that thousands of websites are still using this annoying tactic.
6. Article Submissions
Article submissions used to be a popular way to build links quickly. It really didn’t matter what the articles were about or how good the content was, as long as you threw in a few links back to your site (with exact match anchor text, of course). No one read these articles. It was pure link manipulation.
7. Low Quality Directories
There’s nothing wrong with directory submissions. There are plenty of high quality directories where you want to be listed. However, for every one worthwhile directory, there are hundreds of directories that exist only as link farms. When considering directories, here’s the single question you need to ask: Do people actually use this directory to find a business or service? If the answer is no, then don’t submit.
8. Link Exchanges
Remember when you could just ask someone if they would link to your site and you promised to link back to them in return? This type of “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” tactic doesn’t get you anywhere these days. That doesn’t mean you can’t link to websites you enjoy. It just means you can’t build links for the sake of building links.
9. Web 2.0s
In the SEO world, a web 2.0 is essentially a mini site designed to foster some “buzz” about your main site through discussion. In practice, you would build a bunch of blogs or other small sites that would direct more people to your main site. In reality, it’s just a gimmick to build more links or drive fake traffic. Some people swear they still work, but it’s only for short-term gains. In order to make them work, you really have to go out of your way to make them look natural. Any tactic that requires a lot of work to hide what you are really doing from the search engines is not a wise idea for long-term success.
So What Can You Do?
Will any of the above tactics work? Sure, if you are smart enough to know how to beat the search engines. However, none of them are sustainable. Whether you are running your own online marketing campaign or having a company do it, you need to be sure the methods you are using will work both today and tomorrow. How do you do that? Follow these guidelines:
- Don’t do anything that needs to be hidden from the search engines
- Follow webmaster guidelines
- Don’t put the fate of your company entirely in the hands of one channel
SEO is far from dead. If it ever dies, then we will be living in a very different world.