Ronak Kothari is the founder of RONKOT, a full-service digital marketing agency.
Search engines, especially Google, take good care of their users by providing an exceptional user experience. But to take such good care, Google has to frequently revise and update its algorithm for optimization. From Panda to the recent Core Web Vitals update — search engine optimization has come a long way.
Earlier, optimizing your website by following certain SEO practices to rank better was effortless. But today, those practices have proven ineffective. They have grown to become outdated for 2022 and beyond.
As a part to improve user experience, search engines identify and remove anything that doesn’t fit their webmaster guidelines. What this means is website owners, marketers, and SEO experts who still follow bad SEO practices will fall behind.
What Are Bad SEO Practices?
SEO tactics that are outdated, unethical, and do not follow the Search Engines’ Guidelines for optimization are considered bad SEO practices. While SEO helps boost your web presence and search rankings, going about it the wrong way can prove counterproductive. It could hurt your Google rankings or in a worst-case scenario, search engines may even blacklist your website.
Clinging to such low-value SEO practices is either because businesses are not aware of the changes or they only know of these practices. Regardless, sticking with these outdated SEO tactics is still going to cost a fortune if you follow them today.
Here, we present 12 of the bad, outdated, and low-value SEO tactics to avoid.
- Writing for Robots
- Keyword Stuffing and Misusing
- Buying Exact Match Domain
- Creating Keyword Cannibalized Content Pages
- Bad Backlinks
- Hyperlinking to Only One Anchor Text
- Targeting Exact-Match Search Queries
- Article Spinning
- Article Syndication
- Duplicate Content
- Publishing Thin Content
Let’s take a closer look at each of this low-value SEO tactics that everyone should steer clear of.
1. Writing for Robots
SEO & content go hand-in-hand. Search engine crawlers or bots have become so advanced in detecting an unnaturally written piece of content from a piece that flows naturally.
The old belief that repeating a subject over and over again can lead to better SEO performance is not relevant today. It was widely used by webmasters back in the days to trick search engine bots into believing the page offers high value through multiple variations of the same keyword, which led to a higher page rank.
But the crawlers have moved on from this past practice and favor serving unique content that flows naturally for humans. Thus, practice writing content and keywords for humans not search bots.
2. Keyword Stuffing & Misusing
One of the oldest tricks SEO companies have in their playbooks is stuffing keywords or misusing them throughout the web content. It worked like a charm pre-Hummingbird Algorithm update of Google. Here’s an example of keyword stuffing:
The method was widely used to outrank competitors and beat the search engine algorithms. But today, keyword stuffing is considered as the black hat SEO tactic, which Google treats as its foe and may penalize the website that still follows it.
Google may even demote your page or remove it from the SERP altogether if it suspects search result manipulation attempts. There are exceptions, however, where Google may not penalize because
- The page may offer high value to users even though it has intentional or unintentional keyword stuffing.
- The page belongs to a highly authoritative domain.
Cloaking refers to a practice where content or keywords shown to search engines are different from what is shown to users. Since it violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, Google may penalize the website for following the low-value SEO tactic.
Cloaking can be achieved in a number of different ways as mentioned below:
- First up is serving different types or forms of content, keywords, or text to crawlers than to humans. E.g, serving HTML text to search engines while showing an image to users.
- There is IP-based cloaking where users are redirected to the desired page with high traffic & good ranking.
Such practices are sure to attract hefty penalties and rank demotion if found guilty.
4. Buying Exact Match Domain
Buying an exact match domain was another highly practiced trick to quickly rank higher and boost traffic. Here is a great example of this:
As seen in the image, many firms have bought a domain with an exact match or with a little variation. However, such domains are one of the outdated SEO tactics still in practice.
Instead, what you should do is focus on building a brand. Google used to value exact-match domains a long time ago as domain names sent a signal of what the page was about.
But today, the best practice for buying a domain name is to keep it consistent with your brand name. It should be short, concise, and highly relevant to what your brand represents.
5. Creating Keyword Cannibalized Content Pages
Once quite a popular technique to rank higher and drive traffic to a website, keywords cannibalization or content cannibalization is forbidden today. Updates like Hummingbird and Rankbrain enabled Google to understand that different variations of content for different high-value keywords are one and the same.
If such an activity is practiced today, Google may start penalizing webmasters. Since all your pages have almost similar content, they start to compete with each other and may result in a drastic drop in the:
- Page rank
- Website traffic
- Click-through rate
- Conversion rate, etc.
Due to these effects, your website may start to lose its authoritativeness.
6. Bad Backlinks
Link building was and is a backbone for your website. It acts as word-of-mouth from authority websites in your niche and pass on the link equity from theirs to yours. But people started to manipulate link-building.
They started using unethical and shady practices such as buying links or creating a pool of irrelevant links from:
- Link exchange
- Guest posting on irrelevant websites, etc.
Backlinks became the most exploited SEO practice in history, which Google tried to put a pin on by releasing Panda and Penguin algorithm updates in 2011-12.
Today, building bad or spammy backlinks is highly irrelevant and the only thing it does is waste your time, effort, money, and resources.
7. Hyperlinking to Only One Anchor Text
Anchor texts are meant to interlink pages from the same website or another. It’s a good sign for site architecture and user experience. Anchor text is an HTML element to tell users what content they can expect if they click on the link.
Before the Penguin update, SEO professionals focused on hyperlinking to only one or exact-match anchor texts across all their content pages for on-page optimization. Suppose a page is about “mobile app development” and the only anchor text used to link back to the page is also the same.
Today, the Google algorithm will consider such practices as non-user-friendly and over-optimization of the page which fails its purpose. The golden approach is to insert links naturally to your content with variations in anchor texts that are relevant to the final destination.
8. Targeting Exact-Match Search Queries
Another decade-old SEO practice marketers strived to use is to target exact-match search queries. The sole purpose of doing so was to hope for a high rank and increase the traffic volume.
However, as seen in the image, exact-match search queries don’t rank well on Google as they used to before. Since it didn’t stress on answering the queries users had in mind, Google stopped ranking them high on the SERP.
Moreover, such pages add no value for the users even if they had an exact-match search query. Google now emphasizes presenting pages that match the user intent for search queries.
Also, optimizing for long-tail keywords instead is a healthy habit for an on-page SEO boost. Further, long-tail keywords also help in boosting your local SEO.
9. Article Spinning
Typically a black hat SEO tactic, article spinning is a way to recreate the high-quality content published on the same or another website. The words, phrases, or sentences may not exactly match but the content and intent are highly similar to the source.
Even using the advanced AI to rewrite the articles, the quality of the content remains lower than what creative humans are capable of producing. Thus, it’s of no value to you and doesn’t give much SEO boost to your website.
10. Article Syndication
Article Syndication is somewhat related to article spinning where the quality blog is ripped apart to create different low-quality versions to post on other platforms or websites. The primary reason for creating article syndication was to push out a pool of SEO content across the web for a higher ranking of the source article.
It seemed like a sure-fire digital marketing tactic back in the days but makes no sense today. Because today, Google is all about favoring qualitative content that establishes expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
11. Duplicate Content
Since we are talking about creating quality content, duplicate content is another low-value SEO tactic to avoid. Whether copied from elsewhere or plagiarized, duplicate content won’t help you get much further ahead. As much as Google values quality content, it also prefers showing unique and original content.
Since duplicate content has nothing value-additional to offer to the user, it won’t get indexed by search engines. And non-indexed pages won’t show up in SERPs, meaning all your SEO effort will go in vain.
12. Publishing Thin Content
Apart from article spinning, duplicate content, and creating article syndication, thin content is a big no for SEO. There was a time when publishing even less than 500-word posts and blogs could drive millions in traffic. But that’s not the case now.
Google and other search engines have realized this common SEO mistake. Through Panda update, Google put a stop to all the shady content strategies including publishing thin, stolen, duplicated, plagiarized, or low-quality content,
All these SEO practices were most popular to drive exceptional results pre-2010 era. But since we have entered into 2022, all these practices pose no value and all the industry publishers, bloggers, and business owners should take note of the same.
Following these bad SEO practices could be lethal for your business and your traffic may fall drastically. Google and other search engines may also permanently blacklist websites that follow them. Thus, to avoid getting blacklisted or penalized, it’s imperative to have a dedicated team of SEO specialists.
Grab a cup of coffee with us or simply get in touch with the experts at Ronkot to have a detailed discussion on strategic SEO implementation for your website.