40 Outdated SEO Tactics to Avoid in Your SEO Services

As more businesses are competing for a limited market, the competition is getting intense. When compared to traditional marketing methods, SEO delivers better results.
SEO has several internal benefits that make it a much better option for brands. But the problem is that SEO has been evolving at a rapid pace to keep up with the modern business requirements. It means that most SEO strategies that you may have used before won't work today.
We will help you to remove the bad from the good. So we've come up with a list of SEO tactics that you need to avoid for effective results. Let's get to it!

SEO Tactics That Don't Work Now

The world of SEO was a lot simpler a decade ago. All you had to do to rank was to add a huge chunk of keyword loaded text, and it would work.
Fast forward to today, the situation is a lot more difficult. Search engines have gotten a lot smarter, and updates are becoming more frequent. There is no room to hide for average sites when it comes to SEO strategies today.
We've highlighted several issues that are part of the SEO problem.

1. Doing a Shallow Initial Analysis

The initial analysis is one of the most critical parts of the SEO process. Analysis forms the foundation for a fulfilling SEO experience. It is easier said than done. It is because there are many data sets when it comes to SEO.

SEO Metrics Have Grown in Complexity over the Years.

Just traffic and bounce rates are not going to give brands an accurate picture of website health.
Modern SEO agencies have complete analysis tools that probe into every bit of data. Things like behavior analysis and AI-assisted tools are the standard rather than the exception. By using their SEO, you can be at the top of things rather than catch up.

2. Using Unrelated Keywords

Keywords are the baseline for SERP and SEO performance for brands. It will not change anytime soon. What has changed, though, is how agencies are approaching keyword optimization.
In the initial days, you could get away by adding loosely related keywords to your content. That is not the case today.
Search engine crawlers has become smart. The panda update has completely done away with this process.
Websites using popular keywords that are not related to their product or service are getting penalized. The safe thing to avoid penalties is to have a list of optimized and related keywords and only use those.

3. Writing Only For Search Engines

Search engines are algorithms that find relevant pages and rank them according to user searches. They offer the best pages to users and help them find what they're looking for on the web.
In the earlier days, it was easy to reverse engineer search algorithms earlier. But it is pretty much impossible now.
Search engine updates were far and few ins between back then, and most of them are well documented. So all that the agencies had to do was check the right boxes, and they would rank. But today, the algorithms have improved so much that it is not possible to engineer results.
The easiest way to get pages ranked is to focus on the user rather than search engines.

4. Stuffing Keywords

Keywords are a critical part of the ranking process. It has been pretty much the same since forever. The difference today is the frequency of use.
Long ago, content in which every 4th or 5th word was the keyword might have ranked high. Today, it will throw your site to the 30th page.
Keyword stuffing is the not-so-subtle art of pushing in as many keywords into content as possible. It does not work today and even attracts a heavy penalty on your search engine rankings.
The key is to prefer natural writing to over-optimization of keywords.

5. Practicing Cloaking

Cloaking is perhaps one of the most widely condemned techniques when it comes to outdated SEO services.
Many agencies used to do to rank faster adapt different content sets to the crawler and the user. The crawler might think that this is a legitimate page. But it will serve the user will a spam page.
Customizing user experience is not a bad thing. But trying to avoid the search crawler while spamming your audience is not acceptable. It comes under the black hat SEO side of things.
You should not follow it unless you don't mind a heavy penalty.

6. Spinning Content

When we talk about old-school SEO tactics, spinning was by far one of the most used methods for generating pages upon pages of content. That is how it works - you add in links of the page you want to recreate, and it "creates" content at the other end.
Spun contents have a mixture of synonyms and articles with no regard for context or grammatical issues.
People used it to fill websites earlier, and it used to rank well. But today, search engine spiders are a lot more intelligent to manipulation.
Bots are rigorous when it comes to testing content for value to the user. Using simple techniques like this today will throw the websites to the other end of search results.

7. Buying Links

Backlinks can help as long as it is legitimate. It will work if experts carry out the process or people who know what they're doing.
A shortcut from way back was to buy a link on a popular article on another website.
Paying for links can get a huge volume of link juice to your website in a very short time. This technique does not work today because of several advancements in search engine technology.
Now, search crawlers can identify natural links from paid links. If you want to build a genuine link profile, you need to earn your links and not buy them.

8. Publishing Obsolete Articles

A good amount of content on a website can help rank it quicker. But not when it has outdated content. One method for better ranking was to use obsolete articles on a topic to boost websites.

Reusing Old Content Is the Best Example of Bad SEO Practice.

Some people do it even today. Today, this does not work because search algorithms have gotten good at finding outdated data. It cross-references hundreds of articles on the same topic.
People used it to find if the content has relevant and up-to-date information.
Ideally, relying on articles that are a decade old to leverage your website to the top is a waste of time.

9. Using Bad-quality Backlinks

Manipulating the backlink to establish a website's relevance was a much more popular practice earlier. When a website links back to yours, it is usually because your website has relevant information. But to force this through irrelevant websites is not going to help rank your website.
Linking back should be used as a tool to reward value and not something that exploits numbers.

Search Engines Can Now Identify Low-Quality Links from Websites.

It helps websites with a better content profile to grow and come out ahead.

10. Over-optimizing Anchor Texts

Anchor text forms a very important part of the user experience on a website. It gives the reader and the crawler context and indicates what to expect when they use a hyperlink.
Anchor text optimization is nothing but adding keywords to the anchor to encourage better rankings. It became another aspect of gaining rankings quickly for websites through manipulation.

After the Google Penguin Update, Over-Optimized Sites Got Heavily Penalized.

Penguin has bought a massive blow to websites that used anchor texts to rank.
You need to note that anchor text control comes high on the list of offenses today.
Google penalizes websites in real-time when they find over-optimized anchor text.

11. Not Integrating Social Media Accounts

In the early years, social media is full of small collectives without any real direction. They had very little commercial value apart from paid ads. But since then, social media has become a behemoth when it comes to people and engagement. It wasn't the case earlier when SEO was at its peak.
SEO agencies could produce results without needing to rely on another platform. But today, your SEO strategy needs to have social media as a part of it.
SEO pipelines without social media integration will underperform in comparison to those that do.

12. Practicing Reciprocal Linking

The process of exchanging links between two parties when they want to rank for a keyword is reciprocal. It is the manipulation of link juice without any clear benefit to the user.
Reciprocal linking is a divisive topic, even in top SEO communities. But the bottom line is that you are gaining control over ranking without offering value to the end-user. And another fact is that this is in no way natural.

Search Algorithms Are Getting More Advanced by the Day.

It means building a website's reputation using this way is not the best thing to do.

13. Not Optimizing for Mobile Phones

Mobile traffic has become a force to be considered. And this is mainly due to the penetration of high-speed internet and powerful smartphones.
In a few years, mobile users will outnumber web users. It is something digital agencies need to consider. It means that businesses today need to revamp their website to cater to mobile users.

Mobile Optimized Pages Load Quicker and Offered a Much Better Experience for the Audience.

The need to focus on mobile-optimized websites is critical, and you need to do it right away.

14. Pages With Repetitive Content

It was a common practice earlier to have several pages per website specific to each unique search term. Or, in some cases, multiple pages catering to the same keyword.
Creating individual pages worked to boost rankings quickly for the website back then. But today, it just doesn't work.
Search engines are focusing on making content easier for the user to find. It means algorithms will cut down on repetitive search results for the same page.
Repetitive pages will get hit with a penalty for attempting to use unfair methods.

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15. Using Low-quality Articles

Content farming is nothing but getting low-quality content from several writers. The sole purpose is to post content that fills your website.
As a ranking method, this would work well. Search engines were not smart enough to segregate between good and low-quality content.
Poor quality content is just not able to pull websites to the top of the rankings now. While the increased competition is just one reason, there is another as well.
Today, search engine algorithms have been able to sort good content pieces. You need to hire qualified writers or outsource it to experts to get good results.

Related : Search Engine Optimization Techniques That Will Be Effective in 2021 & Beyond

16. Using Exact Match Domains

One of the first 'hacks' to get good rankings back in the day was to get exact match domains for your website. You might have heard of something like many times. It was even encouraged.
Thankfully, exact search domains having unfair advantages over other websites are things of the past.

Search Engines Are More Concerned with the Quality of the Website than What It Is Named.

Crawlers know that certain websites have better content because of several indicators.

17. Using Thin Content

Thin content refers to the lack of adequate, relevant, or informative content on a website.
Websites that do not have enough content to be helpful is more of a problem than a tactic. In the earlier days, you can establish a ranking signal with any content. But, today is a lot different.
Google ranks content quality based on helpfulness to the user. Search engine crawlers calculate this with factors like bounce, conversions, and traffic.
Pages that weren't visited very often by people have seen a drop in rankings over time. The idea here is to create rich content that people want to read.

18. Using Keyword Density as a Metric

A lot of SEO experts are amazed that keyword density is still considered a metric. Keyword density works on the premise that the more times a word is present in the article, the more relevant it becomes.
To be honest, the following keyword density could do more harm than good. Since then, SEO firms have started to phase out Keyword density slowly.
Now, most of the brands consider it useless. Top search engines like Google don't consider it as a KPI to check.
Algorithms now look at more abstract concepts like helpfulness, navigation, and relevance.

19. Using Doorway Pages

Doorway pages are low-quality pages with thin content. People use it only to rank well for a specific keyword or a set of them.
Doorway pages act as a door, funneling in users from the search results to your website. That is how businesses got more traffic and reach back in the day. It is a perfect candidate for a bad SEO examples roundup. But coming to reality today, websites using this tactic will demote in their rankings.
Creating identical brand pages while offering very little value to users is not being productive. And when you think about it, it's a reasonable observation that can help users.

20. Only Optimizing For Google

Google has been the familiar giant amongst search engines for brands looking to advertise.
90% of all people today use Google for their searching requirements all over the world. And this is enough reason to spend all your resources on a single search engine.
Not really, because people use several other search engines. Because many people focus on Google, and they do not optimize for other search engines. It gives their brands an easier way to rank well without spending a lot of effort or money.

21. Preferring Backlink Quantity Over Quality

Backlinks are an integral part of the ranking process, and it has remained consistent through all this time. However, the measure of quality has evolved a lot. If companies wanted to rank quickly, they had to get many websites linking back to them.
However, this doesn't work now because of the obvious issues of manipulation. If you get low-quality backlinks to increase the numbers, then you are likely to get the penalty.
Invest time and energy in creating a backlink profile that you can be proud of yourself.

22. Following 'Rank #1 Or Nothing' Approach

The ranking is probably one of the most difficult things to do in modern times. With the level of competition today, even big brands struggle to find footing at the top. At times like this, an all-or-nothing approach is just not constructive.
While it is true that the first place is important, today, it just holds numerical importance.
Several brands that haven't ranked at the top still have huge shares of traffic and revenue. These days it's safe to say that the first page on Google can help brands rather than focus on the number one position.

Related : Reasons Why You Should Avoid Cheap SEO Services

23. Relying on Specific Queries

It is one of the more popular means of getting traffic and ranks back in the day. SEO agencies used a specific search term solely because it was popular. It would be in no way relevant to the website. It would result in huge traffic numbers for the website. But, conversions would be close to zero.
Once the Google Knowledge Graph was complete, they have moved this method to the bin. Pages using this to gain ranks will get penalized. Even if the website has no penalty in place, it offered no value to the people visiting it.

24. Using Plagiarized Content

An easy method to rank well back in the day was to copy and paste content from several ranking websites. The quality of the content would ensure that the target website also ranked well.
Plagiarism is one of the standard content creation practices earlier. And the shocking part is that, for a while, it worked as advertised.
Content duplication is a serious issue, but search engines didn't check it thoroughly. Algorithms today have built-in checks. It will prevent websites from having duplicate content from ranking.

25. Using Exact Match Anchors

Anchor text was a big ranking signal back then. Marketers figured out that adding keywords to it could push higher ranking to your website. People were using it over the next few years until Google stopped it through one of their updates.

Unless Anchor Texts Are Part of Your Brand Name, Using Them as Exact Match Keywords Can Result in Penalties.

In any case, keyword stuffing is a problem, and you should try to create better quality content.

26. Using Poor-quality Guest Posts

Guest blogging was a truly innovative strategy. You can get more content for websites looking to climb the ranks. The problem here is that you need to validate it better.

Poor Quality Guest Posting Can Do More Harm than Good.

Several websites reject better guest post content to get more content. It will result in a huge drop in the website's overall content quality. In turn, this will lead to bad rankings on searches.
Guest blogging is a great way to get fresh content. But, it must strictly adhere to quality standards.

27. Signing up For Too Many Ads

Ad revenue is a primary source of income for several niches of websites. However, a few websites tend to overdo it. It will result in bad user experience, and followed by a drop in traffic.
Signing up for too many ads can be problematic because they can put people off.
Opt for ad campaigns that have placements so that they don't cover content. They should ideally be related to the same niche as the website. It can result in better conversions as well as affiliate pay for the website.

28. Overloading Website With Images

Another mistake many SEO agencies make is that they spice up the website with a lot of images. While images do attract people, it is not great for getting ranked on searches.
Crawlers do not see images as people do. For crawlers, it might be a blank space. To ease this, consider adding appropriate alt tags to the images. It is the only part that is critical to search engines.
Another fact is that images slow downloading times for any website. Remember to keep your images optimized and small.

29. Posting On Random Directories

Several SEO agencies still follow directory submissions. It is not a bad thing to do, but you need to pay attention to the directory niche before posting.

Search Engine Algorithms Have Been Cracking down on Links from Random Sources.

It means that directory submissions on irrelevant websites are going to get penalized. As it stands now, directory submissions form a very small part of the SEO strategy.
Digital marketing agencies have moved on to productive strategies like word-of-mouth marketing.

Related : Importance of SEO for Small Businesses

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30. Practicing Comment Spamming

During the early days of SEO, comments ruled supreme as one of the best link juice sources.
Commenting on a popular article is a way of sharing juice that the article has generated. It has led to comment spamming, and Google has clamped down on this.

Spamming Comments on Another Page to Your Website Will Get You Penalized.

True comments are a good way to get people interested in your website. As always, it is important how relevant your comment is as well as where you are posting.

31. Being Inconsistent

It has been a problem then and is a problem now. Several agencies post unevenly in hopes of getting their ranking numbers up. It does more harm than benefit your website.

You Need to Keep the Posting Schedules Consistent to Reap the Rewards.

The key is to plan and queue up content. Don't push content through as soon as it is ready to be published—plan for a rainy day.

32. Skipping Metadata And Tags

Several digital agencies overlook metadata, categories, and tags. Metadata and tags are probably one of the basics of SEO that are still critical today. These are components in the digital world that will never cease to be relevant.
Put this early on your SEO checklist. It is the right thing to do. And getting this right is important and can save you a lot of headaches later.

33. Having an Outdated Website Design

Website design may not have been a critical aspect of getting results earlier, but it is now. As customer expectations increase, you want your design team to keep up with them.
Google focuses on giving the client what they want, and good design is attractive to people. It is as simple as that.

34. Relying Too Much on Competitor Data

A critical part of the SEO strategy is research. You can reverse engineer what your competitors are doing. It will help you to develop a strategy. It is good in theory because you'll be able to avoid several pitfalls along the way.
When put into practice, SEO agencies more often go on tramlines without deviating from their data. It means they end up making the same mistakes competitors did.
You must take care to iterate on their methods consciously.

35. Having a Flat URL Architecture

More of a switch, rather than a strategy, flat URLs are the default way for most WordPress websites.
A flat URL is only one level deep, and it blocks search engine performance. Flat URL structures do not categorize your pages correctly. It will result in hurting your rankings.
The remedy is to opt for a proper hierarchical URL structure. It delivers much better results when it comes to analysis, crawling, and UX.

36. Not Focusing On User Experience (UX)

UX is one of the most important metrics for digital marketing and SEO today. As search engines grow more complex by the day, focus on UX has remained consistent.

Brands Spend a Lot of Time and Money to Score High on This Metric.

The goal here is to keep the end user's preferences to build an SEO campaign. It will offer brands the best returns on investment rather than other SEO metrics.

37. Creating Poor-quality Websites For Linking Purpose

Creating inferior quality websites with the sole purpose of linking back to your main website is a bad idea. It will land your website in a penalty.
People did it in the past with variable results, and it is now a black hat technique.
Also, this requires you to create several websites regularly, which are a waste of resources.
Focus on a single page and get it up to speed with current SEO trends. It is because the effort expended is just not worth the results in the end.

38. Automation Link-building Process

Many have praised link building automation as an evolution to manual link building. It was quicker, more effective, and produced more results. Well, at least that was the brief.
The reality is that automating link building brought with it more problems than solutions.
Manual link building will never be out of date. People are tightening up their backlink profile. So, link building automation will never produce good results. It is especially true in specific niche services where automation will never be able to succeed.
A person will be able to establish relevance that an automated service can't.

39. Republishing Content Without Adding Value

Syndication is another method that you can add to the outdated bin. It is reusing or republishing content with little or no changes. It is normally used by brands that can't create the content of their own.
It is a Grey area because you can reuse the content into different forms.
For example, you can reuse a video into an infographic. But don't do it without offering anything new for the user. Also, if you use repetitive subjects in the same medium, there is a problem. You can reduce it by referring to the source material or preventing the page from indexing.

40. Not Optimizing For Voice Searches

Text searches are what people have been using for decades to search for what they want. But this trend is changing, and now people are opting for voice searches.
Voice searches will be huge, given that most smartphone users now have access to an assistant.

SEO Agencies Should Be Focusing on Providing Rich Answers to Rank Better for Voice Searches.

Search engines are optimizing unique results for voice searches. These are separate from text searches, so unless you optimize your website for voice, it won't show up in the results.
These are the things that you should avoid as part of your SEO services.
Do you have more to add?
Let us know in the comments about what you think are some trends that do not work today.

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Joseph Schneider

He has spent more than 12 Years in strategising and executing SEO campaigns. He is interested to writing Digital-marketing, PPC and Social Media Marketing related topics.