As search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo continually make tweaks and changes to their algorithms and methods of ranking websites. This means that it is important for digital marketers to adapt their SEO practices to suit (and make the most of) these changes.
If you use any of the increasingly outdated SEO practices detailed below, your website may not be performing to its full potential in search.
Prioritising Keywords Over Readability
Keyword research is a time-consuming process and website owners and SEO account managers are always looking to draw as much benefit from this process as possible. Adding a list of keywords and keyword variants in a page’s title tag and meta description has historically been one of the more effective ways of doing so, why does that need to change?
The main thing to come to terms with is the fact that our use of the Internet has developed and users increasingly have preconceptions about what a reputable website should look like in search engine results. As more and more large organisations and reputable companies abandon title tags stuffed with keywords and keyword variants, those still following old practices look increasingly outdated and even untrustworthy in some circumstances.
Getting your site ranking well is one thing, but those rankings are meaningless if nobody ever clicks your links.
Try updating the title tag and meta description on at least one of your landing pages to read more a brief advertisement for your company and the product or service it is promoting. When this is done, monitor your Analytics and search engine ranking positions for at least one month to see if click through rates increase and whether the change has a negative or positive effect on your site’s appearance in search.
Excessive use of keywords as anchor text in internal links
There will always be a use for internal links, as they can quickly and easily get potential customers and clients to the pages they need. A well placed internal link, be it in the top menu, in the page footer or somewhere in the page content, is a useful resource, when user experience and the customer or client is kept in mind.
Highlighting keywords with bold text or underlining and turning every instance of a keyword into an internal link causes alarm bells to go off for search engines and users, as it gives the impression that the content exists purely for ranking purposes and any value the visitor receives is secondary, if considered at all.
The key is to stock each page of your website with industry or service-relevant content that is easy to read, focused and, above all, useful. If you add too much keyword-dense text with too many internal links, you run the risk of reducing the readability of the page. This can often lead to your site being flagged for ranking penalisation by Google and other search engines for attempting to manipulate them, no matter how honest your intentions.
Directory Links and Blog Network Submissions
If you have premises you would like customers to visit, well known business directories, such as yell.com and Yelp can be beneficial in confirming your location to search engines, which in turn increases the likelihood of your establishment appearing in local search results and map listings.
Completing each listing and keeping track of the account details needed to maintain each listing is a time-consuming process, but it can really help establish your business locally.
You could be tempted to hire someone to complete these submission for you en-masse using a service website such as Fiverr, which will save you some time, but will ultimately be in vain. Links from the majority of directories, blog networks and press release sites just don’t provide authority anymore and are ignored altogether by Google and the other prominent search engines.
Any directory or network that claims it can help improve your site’s ranking with a paid submission or reciprocal link should be avoided at all costs.
The best way to approach the optimisation of your website is to look at it from the perspective of a consumer. What gives you confidence in a site? What makes you click on that search result over its competitor above or below it? What is it about their site that gives you the confidence to utilise their services or buy their products?
If you can apply your answers to these questions to your own site, your search rankings and site visitors should certainly improve.