Keyword stuffing, an SEO tactic where keywords are unfairly loaded onto webpages to try to climb search rankings, is mostly a thing of the past. Today’s digital marketers understand that if they are caught doing it, they will be penalized. That has not stopped some marketers from perpetuating other SEO bad habits, however.
Google’s algorithm now recognizes that pages full of relevant terms don’t necessarily add value for readers. Likewise, search engines have other ways of pinpointing poor practices. So, it’s wise to consider some SEO habits to avoid.
Here are 7 bad SEO tactics you should stop using in your SEO strategy:
1. Overemphasizing Keywords in Your Content Strategy
The new version of keyword stuffing involves focusing your content around keywords and ignoring your buyer personas and their pain points.
While offenders may not be directly penalized by Google, there are consequences to ignoring your potential customers.
“If you solely focus on keywords, you’re going to emphasize terms with a high search volume which may be less relevant to your personas and what they care about,” says Guido Bartolacci, New Breed’s Head of Demand Generation.
If consumers don’t care about your content and you aren’t positioning your product or service as a solution to their problems, they are unlikely to visit your site. Overall, when you attempt to drive traffic without providing value, your website won’t perform efficiently, and it will fail to convert visitors into leads.
2. Creating Content Inconsistently
You can create all the content you want, but if it’s not providing value then you shouldn’t post it. Creating content inconsistently can also hurt you. Some SEO thought leaders discuss the importance of producing quality material over large quantities of material. While the emphasis on quality is important, posting frequently can also help you immensely.
“You need to create enough content that people understand you have a complete understanding of a given subject,” Guido says. “Creating good content consistently positions you as an authority on a topic.”
If you present value for the people consuming your posts and demonstrate authority, you can garner consumer trust. Once you have it, you must continue producing relevant material.
“You’re going to need to create content period — that needs to happen… new insights, strategies and ideas are introduced often enough that you need to be talking about in your space,” says Guido. “Think about which sites you visit the most online. If they had the same content every time you went there, you probably would stop going back. Having fresh new content being presented through your channels can really attract people into returning to your site.”
3. Focusing Too Much on One Topic
People are unlikely to return to your site if you don’t regularly produce content, but they are also unlikely to come back if you only post about one topic. New ideas are constantly arising, so no matter what industry you’re in, you should have different things to write about.
Each subject you write about can help you expand your potential reach. If you optimize your content for search, writing about different topics allows you to target different sets of keywords. With each keyword, you add that term’s search volume to your potential reach. For instance, if you write about one term whose search volume is 750, your potential reach is 750. If you write a different post around a keyword with a search volume of 500, your potential reach expands to 1,250. In this way, you can attract more visitors to your site with each new topic you write about.
Of course, it’s important to note that new companies should maintain a slightly more focused content strategy. Since they haven’t built out a content library, they need to make sure they address their core areas of expertise before expanding into related topics.
It’s also noteworthy that you should only write about topics that are relevant to what you do. You could write about a term that’s completely unrelated to your industry, attempting to build traffic to your site, but you risk alienating your existing audience and any additional individuals you happen to attract.
“We typically don’t do well on the posts that we have less expertise in for two reasons,” says Guido. “One is because we know less about the topics and the content isn’t as good, but also, the content we already have doesn’t support that piece.”
When visitors reach your site, they expect to find relevant content and related pieces that provide value. If they don’t find that, they’ll likely look elsewhere.
4. Not Referencing Your Own Content (Through Internal Linking)
By building out your content strategy, you will hopefully gain authority and people will recognize you are skilled and trustworthy in your area of expertise. This gives you the perfect opportunity to reference your own content through internal linking.
If you have a library of related content, not referencing yourself is a mistake. Ideally, when visitors come to your site, you will provide a one-stop-shop for them. Basically, they should be able to visit your domain and learn whatever they need to about your subject matter.
For example, when you write a blog, it’s wise to discuss related topics and subtopics, linking out to other posts covering those concepts and forming a network of relevant information. If you were publishing an SEO blog, you might reference internal linking, external linking, content creation and a number of other things. Citing and linking to posts centered around those ideas would be useful. In that way, your audience can learn about everything in a particular post and any new information you present without ever leaving your site.
A topic cluster and pillar page strategy follows a similar layout with one page, the pillar, discussing a subject in-depth while linking to other cluster pages that cover relevant subtopics.
5. Failing to Build Relationships (and Facilitate External Linking)
While creating and linking to your own content is important, it’s also vital you don’t focus too much on yourself.
Over time, if you produce high-quality, valuable material, other people will likely start linking to it. When that occurs, Google notes that other domains are recognizing you as an authority in your space, which boosts your search rankings. That is why external links are integral to your SEO strategy.
Of course, people won’t always come across your material, love it and share it by themselves. Most often, external linking requires prompting. In this way, building relationships with other companies and thought leaders is key to facilitating off-page SEO success.
“You need to do outreach, talking to people within your space and encouraging them to link to your content,” says Guido.
Offering to link back to their content or promote their blog on social media is a great way to garner links and develop relationships.
6. Allowing Content to Sit Too Long
Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you could have content that sits for a while. Ideally, your material should be evergreen, creating value over its entire lifetime. This type of content is not published once and left untouched, however. It is something that must be continuously optimized over time.
Content that is left unchanged for too long could eventually become out of date or irrelevant. Even if the actual topics discussed in a piece are largely the same, a post could slip in search results if it is too old. Basically, a search engine would favor a newer piece of content if the content was largely the same.
Alternatively, a post could fail to perform if it was not initially executed well. Maybe it didn’t focus on your buyer personas’ pain points, or it was poorly written and never became established on search engines. Sometimes unpublishing poor performing posts is a good idea because they can drag down your stronger content, hurting your domain overall.
Of course, while it’s important you don’t let your content sit for too long, it’s also important you be patient. Sometimes it takes pages a while to be indexed and gain traction, so you should give them enough time. For instance, blogs normally have a three- to four-month lead time before they really start to provide value.
7. Letting Technical Errors Accrue
As you create content on a regular basis, technical errors will pile up. If you don’t properly create your title tags, meta descriptions, alt tags or other basic webpage elements, you will experience an influx of issues. Also, as you unpublish and redirect blogs during content optimization, the probability of technical errors occurring increases dramatically.
Failing to fix these errors will cause them to accumulate. Google penalizes websites for technical errors because it indicates that they will not provide a valuable experience for users. So, the more errors you accrue on your site, the more you will slip in search rankings.
Alternatively, if you get rid of technical errors, you can quickly climb search engine ranks.
“We’ve seen situations where we’ve corrected technical errors and gone from unranked to number one in a day,” says Guido.
Even though correcting technical errors is not one of the most attractive parts of SEO, it can provide some of the quickest wins.
Overall, it’s easy to develop these bad habits and not put any time or attention into improving them. However, if you are developing good habits and already putting some of the tactics we’ve discussed into action, it should be easier and more effective to adopt the rest.
There are compounding effects to using these tactics. For example, if you start regularly posting valuable material about relevant topics within your industry, it will be easier for you to gain authority by linking the content together, creating a content library. By developing authority internally, you can also induce more people to reference your site, facilitating external linking.
Thus by following SEO best practices, you can fuel results more efficiently. If you combine these elements into a full-fledged SEO strategy, it can make a remarkable difference.