Knowing where to focus your time and energy (and which to aim clear of) when it comes to executing SEO tactics that will have value and drive rankings, traffic, and conversions is key to building a long term strategy to grow your online business.
Below you will find the 10 seo tactics to aim clear of because they just don’t work. I am sure some of you will disagree with me on some of them, which is ok, but if you disagree with me, ask yourself if the tactic you disagree with is a long term strategy that aligns with building a quality online business and brand.
A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself “would I feel comfortable explaining this tactic to the Google Spam Team”.
Aim Clear Of Mass directory submission
If you have a website or search Google, I am sure you have seen those ads for submitting a website to 1,000 directories for $99.99. They claim that you can get hundreds of “high quality” back links for basically no work. This is not a good tactic, especially for new sites and one you should aim clear of. It can hurt your link graph and be a signal to the search engines that since you are receiving a large number of low quality links, your site is a low quality website as well.
Aim Clear Of Reciprocal links
We have all received those emails from random people asking to trade links. This is an old strategy that was popular years ago when SEO was in its infancy. People would send out hundreds of emails to every site under the sun to try and get them to trade links with the purpose of manipulating rankings. These sites would usually ask for specific anchor text to try to enhance the manipulation.
Aim Clear Of Meta keywords Tag
The meta keywords tag has stopped being used for ranking purposes by Google. Bing recently came out and said they do use it, but it makes up a very small portion of their ranking algorithm, and is more helpful to them when defining spam websites.
Aim Clear Of Thin content
With the Panda update it is no longer ok to create thin low quality content, spin articles, or outsource your content overseas to save a few dollars. The search engines have become very sensitive to content quality and value it gives to the user.
Aim Clear Of Site-Wide Footer Links
This was a tactic used by spammers to inflate page rank. Google has become much better at segmenting content on websites and giving more weight to specific sections of a web page. Footer and sidebar links hold less ranking value (and in some cases close to no value) where as links contained within the body copy hold more value. This is usually due to footer and sidebar links appearing on every page of the website, and links located in the body of an article are unique to that article. The search engines can also get more contextual signals from links located in the body of an article by using contextual modeling.
Aim Clear Of Paid links
There is an ongoing debate about the value of buying links through link brokers or sites like text link ads. Google specifically says it violates their website guidelines here. Personally I don’t feel this is a long term strategy and holds a high risk of being devalued or getting your site penalized.
About a year ago I contacted one of the big link buying sites to do some tests around paid links and found that if I told them I had a large amount of money to spend and told them the niche I wanted to target with my links, they would send me a spreadsheet of all the websites I could buy links on. You’re crazy if you don’t think that Google has done this same thing and then gone through and devalued those sites from passing ranking metrics.
Aim Clear Of Keyword stuffing
Keyword stuffing does not only happen in the body copy of a website. It can also happen in the title tag, meta keywords tag, or links. This does not help a site rank better, it is a poor user experience, and it can have a negative affect on rankings – so aim clear.
Aim Clear Of Article Directories
Aim clear of this old tactic that attempts to build back links by submitting the same article or a “spun version” of an article to a large amount of low quality article directories. This is not the same as content marketing or guest blog posting (defined here), which is a valuable way to build links and market your business because it’s based on content quality, not quantity.
Aim Clear Of Using Only Exact Match Anchor Text
Exact match anchor text means that if you were trying to rank for “Web Design Studio” all (or a large majority) of the links you get from external websites link to your site with that exact anchor text. A part of link building is looking natural in regards to link growth and diversity. There is not a site on the web that would have almost all their links pointing to their site with exact anchor text being used.
Aim Clear Of Exact Match Domain Names
The big question in the SEO community is if exact match domains, or domains that have a sites primary keyword in them such as blueshoes.com (for a site that sells blue shoes) has SEO ranking value. The value a URL holds when it has the keyword in it comes primarily from other sites linking to that site using only the URL. Google and the other search engines can then parse out the keywords and give some relevance for the keywords in the URL. So for example, if someone linked to blueshoes.com with the anchor text www.blueshoes.com, Google could parse out Blue and Shoes and help determine what that site was about.