8 SEO Approaches That Are Now Dead, Part One

8 SEO Approaches That Are Now Dead, Part OneIn my frequent reviews of client websites, I see many things done to a web or blogsite in the name of SEO that in reality have no bearing on it. Some will strongly disagree here, but there is too much proof to show otherwise.

In an effort to keep you from spending your precious time on supposed SEO tactics that will have absolutely no effect on your rankings, search engine visitors, conversions or sales, I present you with 8 of a two part series of 16 SEO tactics that you can disregard from your personal knowledge base and/or SEO toolbox as being in any way related to SEO:

1. Meta Keywords: Lord help us! I thought I was done discussing the ole meta keywords tag in 1999, but today in 2011 I encounter people with websites who still think this is an important SEO tactic. My guess is it’s easier to fill out a keyword meta tag than to do the SEO procedures that do matter. Suffice it to say, the meta keyword tag is completely and utterly useless for SEO purposes when it comes to all the major search engines – and it always will be.

2. XML Site Maps or SubmĂ­tting to Search Engines: If your site architecture stinks and important optimized pages are buried too deeply to be easily spidered, an XML site map submitted via Webmaster Tools isn’t going to make them show up in the search results for their targeted keywords. At best it will make Google aware that those pages exist. But if they have no internal or external link popularity to speak of, their existence in the universe is about as important as the existence of the tooth fairy (and she won’t help your pages to rank better in Google either!).

3. Link Title Attributes: Think that you can simply add descriptive text to your “click here” link’s title attribute? (For example: <a href=”page1.html” title=”Spammy KeywordsHere” >Click Here</a>.) Think again. I too thought these were the way to go. Turns out they are completely ignored by all major search engines. If you use them to make your site more accessible, then that’s great, but just know that they have nothing to do with Google.

4. Header Tags Like H1 or H2: This is another area people spend lots of time on, as if these fields were created specifically for SEOs to put keywords into. They weren’t, and they aren’t. They’re simply one way to mark up your website code with headlines. While it’s always a good idea to have great headlines on a site that may or may not use a keyword phrase, whether it’s wrapped in H-whatever tags is of no consequence to your rankings.

5. Keyworded Alt Text on Non-clickable Images: Thought you were clever to stuff keywords into the alt tag of the image of your pet dog? Think again, Ralph! In most cases, non-clickable image alt tag text isn’t going to provide a boost to your rankings. And it’s especially not going to be helpful if that’s the only place you have those words. (Clickable images are a different story, and the alt text you use for them is in fact a very important way to describe the page that the image is pointing to.)

6. Keyword-stuffed Content: While it hasn’t ever been a smart SEO strategy, keyword-stuffed content is even stupider in today’s competitive marketplace. In the 21st century, less is often more when it comes to keywords in your content. In fact, if you’re having trouble ranking for certain phrases that you’ve used a ton of times on the page, rather than adding it just one more time, try removing some instances of it. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

7. Optimizing for General or Peripheral Keywords: You’re not gonna rank for a one-word keyword. You’re just not. You are likely not even going to rank for a 2-word keyword. So stop wasting your time optimizing for them, and find the phrases that answer the searcher’s question. For example, most people seeking legal help aren’t putting the one word “lawyer” into Google. They have a very specific need for a certain type of lawyer as well as a specific location in which they hope to find said lawyer. So rather than throwing the word “lawyer” all over your site, ask yourself this: There are people out there who want what you’re providing. What are they typing into Google? Now focus on those words instead. And don’t even get me started on people who put words on their pages that are barely related to what they do “just in case” someone who types that into Google might be interested in what they provide. You won’t rank for those phrases anyway, but even if you magically did, they won’t make you any sales.

8. Targeting the Same Keywords on Every Page: The keyword universe for any product or service is ginormous. (It really is.) Even if there are one or two phrases that bring you the most traffic, why the heck would you want to miss out on the gazillions of others as well? Stop focusing every page on the same handful of phrases and start targeting each page to its own specific set that most relate to what you’re offering there.

Please stay tuned for part two of 16 search engine optimization tactics which are no more!

I would love to know your thoughts on this oh-so touchy subjects, so leaving a comment below will NOT hurt my feelings!

18 Responses to 8 SEO Approaches That Are Now Dead, Part One

  1. Tosin says:

    Hey Bryan,

    This is a mouthful for a SEO novice like myself and I’ve read blog posts telling us how important all these points are to the getting noticed by google. :(

    Looking forward to a post titled “8 SEO Approaches That Are Now Alive”.

    Till then, take care, Bryan!

    ~Tosin

  2. Bryan P. Hollis says:

    Hi Tosin,
    Yeah, I know that at least two or three of these points in particular would bring controversy, but since this is what I do on a daily basis, I have to keep-up. Google has really changed in such a way as to make “normal” folks that write in a natural way, to get noticed. What many don’t understand with respect to SEO is that blogsites are different from websites. Most just say, “yeah, here’s my web address”, but SEO development for a blog differs from say “Amazon.com’s Storefront” or some other chain. The most valuable item that a blogger has at their disposal in one plugin: The All in One SEO Pack. Without writing another whole post, try keeping your titles 50 characters or less, and your excerpt within 125 characters keeping your keyword(s) in the first 25 to 50. tags – whatever! Thanks for coming by Tosin. Bryan

  3. Steve Rice says:

    Bryan,

    This article was SO helpful as I’m relatively new to blogging and optimizing my sites. Fortunately, I have a friend who’s an SEO expert and has been helping me.

    This article really added to my understanding of SEO and will help me to tweak my optimization.

    I’m already noticing this, but your advice about ranking for 1-word keywords was spot-on. I’m eager to clarify my optimization and create some precision in my search results. Thanks.

    (Also, thanks for your kind support on Blog Interact. Really love the growing community there. Your support means a lot)

    • Bryan P. Hollis says:

      Hi Steve,

      Yes, this is what I actually do to feed myself. This is my personal blog and have started to really enjoy it. It’s like I was telling Tosin in a response, SEO for blogs is indeed dramatically different from a website. Many people don’t distinguish between the two. Once you get a system down that works for your exposure (with search engines specifically), you will know how to approach the giant monster (Google!). If you ever need any advice or help, let me know. Thanks for stopping by and reading my article, Steve. Have a great day, Bryan

  4. This is a great article! To the point, full of engaging stuff and well written and presented. I’ll be back here again for sure. Thanks for saving me a ton of very valuable time and clearing up a few things I wasn’t 100% sure about. Great stuff! Regards, Peter

    • Bryan P. Hollis says:

      Hi Peter,
      Thank you for the feedback and for the visit. I am glad I was able to provide some useful information. Part two has just been published when you find the time. Talk soon, Bryan

  5. AS great list to go over. But still the one that beats them all is Fresh Original engaging content. So many people try to write content for the search engines. While its good to optimize for search engines, The ultimate goal is to write good quality fresh original content for your reader.

    Do this, and the Search engines will find your naturally.

    • Bryan P. Hollis says:

      Robert,
      Thanks for making it over to read. I absolutely agree with you, and just covered this in part two. I started my ventures in SEO several years back by freelance writing. It just sort-of progressed from there. I saw so many pitfalls and was also against the “content farming” way back when. I was “fired” a few times for refusing to submit a repeated article under my name to reputable sites. It’s one thing – spam. Thanks again, Bryan

  6. I completely agree. Many of these things don’t work and with Panda, even the ones that used to seem to be detrimental now.

    Is it enough now to simply occupy your time with content? People still talk about back links, but my understanding is that Panda kind of knocks that thinking for a loop as well. Would you agree?

    • Bryan P. Hollis says:

      Hi Allison,
      Thanks for coming by and reading. I do SEO to pay the bills and actually “toy around” with Google a lot. (Have a few .info sites that I’m not concerned about rank just to see Google’s response to content). Many do and many don’t know that Google loses the patent / rights to “PageRank” in 2015 anyway. So, backlink relevance will really only matter where they are visible, say CommentLuv for example. I mean, something could come along and make them important, but we’ll see. My concern with SEO is where is affects my beloved Alexa ranking. Long-winded response, but social media and seo and online marketing are all one now and I don’t see it changing, nor do I see “Original Content is King” changing either.
      Thanks again for stopping by, Bryan

  7. Hi Bryan,

    You do have a point with meta-keywords, but they’re not quite completely useless. They probably do count for 0.01 optimization :). I agree it’s a waste of time to focus on them, but if it’s there and only takes a second to fill it, why not do it?

    Hope i didn’t offend you with my opinion, have a nice day.
    Maria

    • Bryan P. Hollis says:

      Maria,
      Indeed you are correct (regarding the time consumption). I still use meta keywords for WordPress or on-site searches so the site user can track-down an article / post via this data using the “site search” field, but (and I do seo for a living http://midcarolinafreelance.com) Spamming my own comment with links! With WP, if you use say the “All in one SEO Pack”, it says title up to 60 characters and excerpt up to 160. While this plug-in is GREAT and I use it everyday, Your title should never exceed 50 characters (depending on your permalink structure) If you want your site name picked up in searches as well as the title, 60 will cut it off. For example: Here Is My Post Title | News For Bloggers. I want Google to pick up News For Bloggers too. Excerpts should never exceed 125 characters with your keywords used right away. Google puts time stamps on cached SERPs which pushes your excerpt back about 15 characters, plus they reduced the excerpt characters number, so never keyword your excerpt at the tail end. Sorry for writing a whole entire post here!
      Bryan PS, Opinions are expected here, hence the comments area…you did not offend me at all :)

      • Don’t worry about writing a little more than usual, i can use the lesson. I’m just starting with all these and i’m aware i still have much to learn.
        For example, i didn’t know about the time stamps.
        Thanks a lot Brian.

        • Bryan P. Hollis says:

          Maria, you are welcome. Took me several years, especially with the fact that things change and you have to stay on top! Bryan

  8. Josh says:

    These are great tips for people who lack some knowledge about these SEO approaches. I hope to gain deeper learning of these tips!

  9. It was really nice to see an update on SEO practices. Not that this will help many people in saving their money and valuable time, instead they will also be set to think forth in the right direction.

  10. Jon says:

    Hmmm. Some very interesting observations! Not sure I entirely agree with you on the subject of h1 / h2 tags, but I agree that it’s time people stopped putting their faith in SEO ‘false gods’! In fact, I’m almost inclined to think that the best SEO is no SEO! Let’s spend the time instead writing useful, sticky content that people will actually want to link to and stop chasing our tails trying to keep up with the latest SE updates.

    • Bryan P. Hollis says:

      Jon,
      Well said. Google makes so many changes to their algorithms for this very purpose…to make an effort to reward quality content that is well-written.
      Bryan

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