4 Outdated SEO Tactics to Avoid

By: Faiza Akbar

Effective search engine optimization requires consistent effort. You need to modify your approach and adapt to be in alignment with Google's constantly evolving algorithm (and yes other search engines too). While the algorithms are somewhat of a mystery that aren't completely transparent (both for intellectual property reasons and to avoid exploitation), there are a few tactics that while effective in the past, have proven to be ineffective today, and should be avoided as much as possible. Not only are they unsuccessful, but some also risk getting your business flagged and potentially blacklisted. Here are a few of those tactics, why you should avoid them, and better alternative approaches.

  1. Pages for Keyword Variations
  2. What is it?
    Up until four to five years ago, it was commonplace to create a separate page for each variation of an optimized keyword. This worked well for many businesses trying to cover all their bases. It ensured that if someone searched something, they would find a specific page for that term, and another page for another extremely similar term. This would increase the chances of ranking highly in searches.

    For example, a dentist might have separate pages for the following variants:
    • Teeth-whitening same day
    • Teeth-whitening at home
    • Teeth-whitening for sensitive teeth
    • Teeth-whitening take home kit
    Why should you avoid it?
    Search engines, and Google in particular, are smarter now in rendering this practice of the past excessive and unnecessary. Google is precise enough to detect when someone employs this tactic. Not only does doing so no longer improve your SEO ranking, but it can even make it worse.

    What to do instead
    A better, modern alternative is to create a page for each keyword topic, and implement any related variants into it, under subheadings. Going back to our teeth whitening example, you should instead create a page for "Teeth Whitening" and talk about each of the aforementioned subtopics under it.

  3. Exact Match Domains
  4. What is it?
    Just a few years ago, this was a widely employed SEO tactic. Multiple microsites were readily produced to reflect very specific key terms. Expanding on our teeth whitening example, a dental office trying to optimize their whitening service might have a URL that looks like this:

    www.teethwhiteningdentistmarkham.com (or

    This was used to allow for high rankings faster than a generalized domain name.

    Why should you avoid it?
    The glory days of exact match domains are over. Today, exact match domains do retain the potential to rank as well as any other domain, but they also seem to have a higher risk of being flagged for spam. Having excessive domains risks diluting the power of your rankings altogether. It also requires extra effort for potentially no extra results, and could appear confusing to users in addition to making your brand less cohesive and recognizable.

    What to do instead
    You want to combine and localize all your efforts under one domain to see optimal results, and minimize risk for being flagged as spam. It is best to choose one domain that encompasses your brand as a whole, and use pages and content to reflect specific terms. If you do intend to use multiple domains, ensure that one is made primary and that the rest properly redirect so as to not dilute your rankings or risk duplicate content.

  5. Writing for Bots
  6. What is it?
    This can take a few different forms, the most popular being "keyword stuffing", in which a web page or article overuses a specific keyword, but in a way that does not make sense to a reader. The repeating keyword is sometimes interspersed with a few other words, but still states the same idea over and over again. This is done to outline words to search engines by increasing how frequently they appear.

    For example:
    Our company provides software development and consulting services. We are the best software development and consulting services company. Our professional staff provides development and consulting services. We offer the best software development and consulting services. Our software development and consulting services is the right solution for your business. Satisfaction with our software development and consulting services is guaranteed. We build your business solution with our software development and consulting services. Contact us and you will receive quality software development and consulting services.

    Why should you avoid it?
    Catering your site to bots rather than humans diminishes the appearance of your website overall, making it appear messy and hard to read. As this is a black hat technique, it also puts your website at risk for being flagged and potentially blacklisted. Search engines are much smarter today, and better able to extract relevant information. A word does not need to be repeated hundreds of times aimlessly for it to rank highly. Similarly, natural learning AI algorithms are better at recognizing proper phrasing, which could flag keyword stuffing.

    What to do instead?
    Today, it makes much more sense to write for the consumers that will actually be visiting your webpage for information. Include your keywords in your content enough times for them to stick out to readers, but still flow well with the rest of your content.

  7. "Easy" Backlinks
  8. What is it?
    The more your website is backlinked on other sources, the more likely it is to rank highly on search engines for related keywords. As the name suggests, an "easy" link simply refers to a backlink source that is easy to get to. This includes but is not limited to comments on random unrelated blog posts and forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature. For example, if someone left the following comment on this blogpost,

    Thanks, this is great info!
    - Paul
    paul's pizza san diego pizza best pizza san diego

    it would be seen as an "easy" backlink.

    Why should you avoid it?
    As with all other facets of search engine algorithms, this too has modernized. If your website heavily uses "easy" backlinks, it is seen as spam, and is not highly regarded by search engines. In fact, excessive use now falls under "link scheming" which violates Google's guidelines, and can get your webpage flagged and potentially blacklisted.

    What to do instead?
    It is important to note that when done right, backlinks remain beneficial to SEO rankings. Not all blog or forum comments are seen as spam. If you are leaving informative, relevant responses that add value, others will naturally link to your website. Work on producing written content that is engaging, and thereby likely to be shared and linked to organically on credible and legitimate websites. If there are genuine webpages linking to your webpage, it is likely to rank higher, and evade the risk of being flagged for spam.

These are just a few of the many SEO tactics of the past that should be avoided today. To learn more about SEO best practices, and to improve your SEO altogether, contact UpOnline to speak to us about our search engine optimization services.