5 Outdated SEO Techniques to Avoid

Jessica Kent

Much like the landscape in the real world, the digital landscape continues to morph and shift. With marketers continuing to think up new and innovative ways to improve search engine tools and Google’s never-ending pursuit of giving the user the best search result, there are always going to be some people who are out to cheat the system.

Google’s updates are the answer to these manipulative actions. Adding roadblocks and tighter guidelines helps to keep the search results to only those most deserving sites that are following the rules.

Below we’ll take a look at some of the outdated SEO tactics that Google has penalised over time.


1. Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is quite literally stuffing a page with focus keywords in the hope of ranking better for a keyword or phrase. This is normally to the point that the content is beginning to sound unnatural. Keyword stuffing can happen from the on-page content, title tags, image descriptions and more. This was even taken a step further by some by adding large blocks of text to their site in the same colour as the background making walls of ‘invisible’ text.

Google’s response to this was to start updating its algorithm, with one of its first ‘Florida’ updates in 2003 and again in 2011 with Panda. While these aren’t the only updates over the 8-year gap, these two had some of the biggest impacts against content.


2. Thin Content

Sticking with a content theme, these pages were ones that had very little content on them. If a page has no real value such as answering a user’s question or helping them complete an action, then it is most likely what is called thin content. These pages provide a poor user experience for anyone who lands on them.

Google’s Panda update was a large step at dealing with these low-value pages making sure that all content that is in its results offers some value to a user.


3. Buying Backlinks

Google has always frowned on buying links. So much so that it is in their webmaster guidelines that you can not exchange money for links or even some free products or services for a review link. Getting links back to your site has always been one of the best ways to rank, as it shows that users who link to you must mean that you are a trusted source.

The problem comes with paying for the links to boost your rankings, as paying sites to link to you means that you would just be able to buy more links than the competition and rank a poor site.

Even though this is against Google’s guidelines, there are many people out there who are still willing to run the risk of buying links. Google’s constant updates such as Penguin are its way of keeping these in check by tightening up its view of webspam links.


4. Building PBNs

A Private Blog Network or PBN is in a similar vein as buying backlinks but a step further. Why buy links on websites when you can just buy domain names and set them up yourself? This gives you full control of a set of sites that you can link back to your website at any time you need it. However, this is still against Google’s webmaster guidelines as a PBNs sole purpose is to influence website rankings.

As Google continues to improve, it will be able to spot more and more patterns between these linked blog networks and devalue them which could even result in a manual action taken against a site.


5. Ignoring Mobile Optimisation

This is a bit of an outcast in the list as although people were ignoring mobile optimisation, it wasn’t without reason. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, mobile phones just didn’t have the capability they have now so there was no need for a mobile site to be optimised. Fast forward 20 years to today and an estimated 60% of all traffic comes from smartphones.

Over the years, with the rise of smartphones, Google began valuing better and better mobile experience until 2016 when it switched to a mobile-first index. This now means that your website is judged on how well it acts on a mobile device using the desktop version of the site as a backup if mobile has any issues. This has meant that mobile optimisation is now something that can’t be ignored if you want to rank well.


These are just a few of the techniques that we have seen changes to over the years but with an ever-evolving Google, we always need to stay up to date on the latest developments such as guidelines or when how AI will impact search.

If you have any techniques you would like to discuss with us then get in touch via our contact form or drop us a message today.

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