In the final part of our 2019 Organic Search Trends webinar recap series, Amanda Haxton, Manager of Earned Media at The Search Agency, discusses some outdated SEO tactics that you should be retiring in 2019. If you missed our live presentation, don’t despair! We’ve put together a handy list of those tactics for you here.
To view the previous video in this webinar series, check out Amanda’s How to Organize Website Content with Topic Clusters recap post.
Date: April 23rd, 2019
Time: 11am PST
Full Webinar Recording + Q&A Recap: 2019 Organic Search Trends Webinar Recap
Search Optimization Is Changing – Keep Up!
SEOs are constantly jogging to catch up in the changing search landscape. Our 2019 Search Trends Webinar highlighted some of the many rich SERP changes and content trends coming our way. To make room for new strategies we need to leave some outdated practices behind and adapt our tactics to be successful in today’s organic search environment.
Here are 5 SEO tactics you should phase out this year.
Stop Keyword Stuffing
We aren’t the first to say it, and I’m sure we won’t be the last, but please, please stop keyword stuffing your content!
What is keyword stuffing?
Keyword stuffing is an outdated SEO technique designed to manipulate search engines by creating spammy content solely focused on keywords instead of quality content.
Why you should stop keyword stuffing
Keyword stuffing creates a poor user experience and results in low-quality content. It’s jarring and boring to read content that has been keyword stuffed.
Although it can see some short-term gains, keyword stuffing is now considered a ‘black hat’ tactic and could lead to ranking drops or penalties.
Replace it with:
High quality content, responsible keyword optimization, LSI keywords and topical relevance. We should be moving away from a hyper focus on individual keywords and moving towards in-depth topical relevance. That could be in the form of a topic cluster strategy, or simply high-quality, individual pieces of content.
Stop Over-Optimizing Your Alt Text
In a similar vein, over-optimized alt-text is a tactic that employs keyword stuffing and should also be retired in 2019.
What is Alt Text?
The purpose of alt text is to enable a screen reader or other assistive technology to describe the image’s content and meaning. Alt text is used foremost to describe an image to a visually impaired person and secondly for a robot who can’t see or read an image. Alt text has become a hot topic over the last 12 months as businesses move to become compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA).
Why you should stop keyword stuffing your alt text
Stuffing your alt text with inappropriate keywords or other irrelevant information is an outdated tactic that can be harmful in 2019. In 2018 the number of lawsuits over compliance with the American disabilities act (ADA) spiked against companies with inaccessible websites. Alt text has been a victim of keyword stuffing in the past, and just as keyword stuffing your body copy is seen as spammy, so too is stuffing your image alt text with a string or keywords.
Replace it with:
Accurate and relevant alt text descriptions which support relevant, rich content on a topic.
Stop Relying on Buying Links
Backlinks have always played an important role in the SEO landscape, and they ARE still relevant in 2019. Link building has been severely abused, but despite some reports, link building IS NOT YET DEAD. As the SEO landscape becomes more sophisticated, link building tactics must move with the times. Long gone are the days when your SEO strategy could rely on a handful of purchased backlinks.
What is a reliance on buying links?
It was once fairly common practice to purchase backlinks in bulk or pay to build backlinks on directories, ‘link farms’, private blog networks (PBNs)and other low-quality websites. Many of these backlinks have come back to haunt the people who purchased them. We’re not suggesting you ignore backlinks altogether, but don’t focus all you SEO efforts and budget on buying links as the be-all end-all of your SEO strategy.
Why you should stop buying backlinks
Buying or selling links is a clear violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and will result in a penalty if you’re caught, and a manual penalty is an organic traffic killer.
Replace it with:
Organically earned links are still important, but they should be part of a more holistic SEO strategy that provides quality content and a positive user experience that people want to link to.
Stop Choosing Quantity Over Quality
As we move away from targeting induvial keywords and move towards topical authority, we also move away from producing great quantities of content and focus more on quality.
What is quantity over quality?
Many businesses find they are producing masses of content which often underperforms and puts a strain on resources. Many businesses have produced masses of blog content over the years, with multiple posts on essentially the same topic, each targeting a different variation of a long-tail keyword.
Why leave it behind
Masses of low-quality content often underperforms. This could be because the content is hidden deep in your navigation, was low quality to begin with, or isn’t unique. If you have you could condense it into a single piece of quality content that ranks well for multiple keywords under a topic.
Replace it with:
If you have an abundance of similar low-quality pages you can condense them into a single piece of quality content that ranks well for multiple keywords under a topic. Going forward give your content teams the time they need to create fewer, better, pieces of content. Focus on quality over quantity!
Stop Creating Subdomains and Separate Domains
Many of the tactics we’ve talked about leaving behind so far are considered grey or black hat tactics, and this one is an exception.
What are multiple subdomains and separate domains?
Creating multiple subdomains or separate domains for your business is a legitimate white hat strategy. The aim here is to try and dominate SERPs by ranking with multiple domains. This has been and is still successful for many sites, such as Zillow and Trulia.
Why you shouldn’t create more subdomains
using this tactic to create new sites and subdomains in 2019 is unlikely to be so successful. Instead, you run the risk of splitting or cannibalizing your link equity, not to mention your resources.
Replace it with:
We recommend using subfolders to host content and focus on raising the overall SEO value and quality of your main site.
These are just a handful of tactics to retire in 2019, and we’re interested to hear your thoughts in the comments on any other tactics you’re leaving – or have already left – behind.
Meet Our Expert:
Amanda Haxton has spent 10 years in the digital content space in SEO, content marketing and social media. Amanda’s experience spans across both hands-on editor roles and strategic consulting for some of the world’s most well-known brands. As a Manager of Earned Media at The Search Agency, Amanda is responsible for planning and implementing SEO and organic audience-generation strategies for clients across a range of industry verticals.