Finding your way in the jungle of SEO measures, tactics, tips & tricks is not easy. This is especially true if search engine optimization is not your job, But you want to use SEO to make your company easier to find and more successful online.
You don’t have to be an SEO professional. You have other things to do too. Use this list to avoid accidentally getting out of date or dubious SEO measures and, in the worst-case, endangering your rankings instead of improving them.
Dusty SEO tips and black hat SEO
There are several SEO tips on the web, the implementation of which is guaranteed to promise success.
However, separating the wheat from the chaff requires some knowledge of current SEO standards and the development of search engines.
Outdated SEO measures can still be found on the web today because some practices have persisted. In 2021, metadata will still be mercilessly crammed with keywords that will hardly convince a user to click.
An SEO measure from 2005 may have worked back then, but the older it is, the higher the likelihood that it will no longer work in 2020 or even cause the opposite because search engines are developing at a rapid pace and react with Google updates on their new skills, questionable optimization strategies of SEOs, the advancement of technology and how we interact with it.
When researching SEO tips, pay attention to the publication date. SEO tactics that are more than two to three years old may already be out of date. Also, pay attention to the author’s authority or the domain and how often you find this measure in other current publications.
Then there is the so-called black hat SEO; these are SEO measures outside of Google’s webmaster guidelines. These measures are not designed to offer the user the best possible content but trick the search engine into thinking that your content is relevant and popular. For example, this happens via spam measures, link buying, link exchange, or hidden text that you never see as a user. The reason: Black Hat methods are often cheaper and quicker to implement but show maximum short-term success and turn against you sooner and later.
14 SEO Measures To Keep Your Hands Off
But you don’t have to worry about which tactics might be more of the dark side of search engine optimization. I have the ultimate guide to SEO measures for you that you can safely ignore. In the end, you will find the appropriate checklist to download.
Keyword stuffing is the excessive use of the primary keyword or related but superfluous keywords that have little or nothing to do with the page’s actual content.
With keyword stuffing, the keyword is placed as often as possible in the text (preferably in the undeclined form) and on the page. In this practice, too, the focus is again on the search engine, not on the user. This goes against the grain of Google, whose mission is always to provide the best answers. Texts that suffer from keyword stuffing are not one of them.
In the meantime, the understanding of language by search engines has developed so far that they can also deduce from the context and synonyms what your text is about. The relevance of keywords in a text therefore continues to decrease; The use of keywords is necessary for fewer and fewer places on your site.
Keyword stuffing in the footer
Once upon a time, you could achieve even better rankings with numerous keywords in the footer. The bottom of the page was downright fattened with relevant keywords.
That no longer works. Keyword stuffing in the footer has nothing to do with usability. Since footers are mostly used page-wide, Google even regards this outdated SEO measure as spam. Hands off.
2.Use (Ir) relevant keywords
Have you ever read a text that is crammed with related search terms but does not help you as a user at all? Me too. Most of the time, you can find them as so-called “SEO Text” on category or shop pages. Avoid keywords that are related but not relevant to your topic.
Don’t get me wrong: of course, you should use relevant search terms. This usually happens all by itself if you deal with a topic in detail and answer all user questions that you discover during your research.
However, what you shouldn’t do is cram a list of appropriate keywords but irrelevant to your topic, “no matter what,” into your text. Just because you write about women’s shoes doesn’t mean you have to mention men’s, children’s, and hiking shoes or torment your readers with long rows of different types of shoes.
Yes, the meta title is a ranking factor. And yes, this is where you should put your keyword. And exactly once. However, what you shouldn’t do is compulsively forcing your keyword or secondary search terms into the title and description.
You will rarely find such snippets on the first page of search results. I had to click my way through to the fourth search results page to find this example. Don’t make the same mistake. Instead, use the space to summarize your content, and it uses roughly.
The metadata is (usually) used to turn it into your search result (snippet). Don’t cram it full of keywords; use it to convince the user of your search results. Your snippet decides whether users come to your site or not.
Article spinning (also called content spinning or text spinning ) is the automated creation of texts using spinning software. Hundreds of versions can be created from a single text at the push of a button. These are the same in content (depending on the software and the effort involved), but individual words, phrases, or even entire sentences are exchanged. Sounds tempting; after all, content creation is a time-consuming process.
Often even texts from other websites are copied together and then transformed into several “unique items” using spinning software. Not only is this a bad SEO practice, but it’s a copyright infringement as well.
As a rule, the result is texts whose legibility leaves something to be desired. The synonyms or alternative phrases used do not always fit the sentence’s context; German grammar with its declensions and gendered articles requires more text adjustments than the mere replacement of a single word or word group.
And Google is also able to recognize automatically generated texts as such and is getting better and better at it. The search engine thinks little of them – after all, every content should provide the user with added value. This is, of course, not the case with several texts with identical content.
5.Subpage for each keyword variant
There were times when a subpage was created for every imaginable spelling of a keyword – even if it was misspelled.
Hard to believe, but true.
Since there were bases for a chocolate muffin, chocolate muffin, chocolate muffin, muffin with chocolate, Schokomufinn, and so on and so forth.
This is, of course, a long-outdated SEO method. Since then, search engines have developed immensely and can rank a page for variants of a keyword.
“The main thing is that the URL is there and that it is keyword-optimized.”
The attitude was like this until the Panda update 2011 when the keyword and its frequency and the age of the page were assigned more importance than the content and its added value.
Several SEOs and online editorial teams created several pages with little or even no content on so-called content farms to present “fresh” content.
So the days of thin content on a large scale are over for almost ten years.
Don’t just create a page for the keyword’s sake. In the end, you want to convince the user of you; the search engine is only a means to an end. Think about which answer the user expects from his search and deliver it to him – as comprehensively as possible.
This is SEO from 2005. If you still do that today, it’s your fault.
The identical font and background color (e.g., white on white) hide text on the page that is not visible to the user and is crammed with the respective keyword and links.
The same applies to hidden links hidden in the source code or behind unique or inconspicuous punctuation marks and are therefore difficult or impossible to recognize for the user. This obsolete measure aims to increase the number of external links, regardless of the relevance for the page content.
Hidden text or hidden links are an apparent attempt at deception with which you are guaranteed not to rank and which will earn you a Google penalty. Hands off!
Producing content is time-consuming. The idea is tempting to copy an existing text, change it a little, and then publish it, especially if you have many pages with very similar content, such as products from different manufacturers or regional landing pages for branches.
Copied content (also called duplicate content ) brings with it several problems:
Copied content from foreign domains is copyright infringement.
If you copy your content and post it a second or third time, you trip yourself up. Search engines avoid having identical or very similar content appear in search engines, as this would not provide the user with any added value.
This can result in only one of the URLs in question being indexed or similar content preventing each other from achieving good rankings.
9.Identical anchor texts
One SEO measure is that anchor texts contain the target page’s keyword if possible. In this example, it would be “internal linking.”
Why? The search engine also reads the anchor texts to determine a page’s topic and determine the URL positioning for the respective keyword.
In the past, “hard anchor texts” were primarily used; Whenever possible, the target page keyword was linked. Such links have been classified as unnatural and penalized since the Penguin Update 2012.
Stay away from challenging anchor texts. Of course, use link texts that fit into the reading flow and reflect the target page’s content or title.
Yeah, it’s tempting.
A links to B, and B links to A. Some are a bit more sophisticated and link from A to C, B to A and C to B, etc…
Google will sooner or later discover this link exchange. It wouldn’t be the first network to go off. It may still work, of course, but Google is getting better and better at discovering these link networks.
Google honors natural links that are consciously set as recommendations. Of course, that’s more difficult to get – but usually more sustainable.
It could be so simple: For sum X, backlinks are set on page YZ: no time-consuming content creation, no outreach, but guaranteed backlinks. But: Purchased links have nothing to do with serious recommendations.
Backlinks from link farms
This is especially true for backlinks from so-called link farms or link networks, i.e., websites that only exist for placing backlinks to other domains. These websites usually provide the user with not the slightest added value and are crammed with links to numerous domains.
Backlinks from private blog networks
Google loves private blogs. The topics published on them are often highly relevant without pursuing commercial goals, such as an online shop or a company website.
Webmasters and SEOs took advantage of this for link building. They created “private” blogs on a wide variety of topics, which seem to be run independently of each other, but belong to one person. Thematically appropriate backlinks can then be acquired from these “private” blog networks. Private blog networks are one of the black hat SEO methods. Hands off.
If Google notices that a page is selling links, there is a risk of penalties for both sides, and the money is thrown out the window. Hands off.
In SEO, one speaks of cloaking when different content is displayed to the user and the search engine. The search engine is distinguished from an actual user based on its IP address ( IP cloaking ) or by the user agent ( user agent cloaking ). The aim is to trick the search engine. Of course, this is an attempt at manipulation and is one of the black hat SEO measures.
There are also exceptions for cloaking; however, their goals are not in search engine optimization. Cloaking is also used, for example, for paywalls and legally required age queries. Or else, you offer user-optimized content; in these cases, crawlers are treated like first-time visitors and receive the content that a first-time user would also see. In these cases, cloaking is not considered a manipulation attempt by the search engines.
Cloaking through doorway pages
Imagine clicking on a search result. Of course, you assume that you will also get to precisely this page and see its content. Not so with doorway pages. If you call it up, you will immediately be redirected to another page without noticing it. However, they are programmed so that the Googlebot cannot see the forwarding and indexes the doorway page. Thus, the search engine is shown different content than the user.
Doorway Pages are created exclusively for the search engine. Your goal is to be as comprehensive as possible in the search results.
For example, individual doorway pages were created for keywords such as “Buy a gas grill in Bremen,” “Buy a gas grill in Cologne,” and “Buy a gas grill in Munich”; However, the users were forwarded to the start page of gas grill sales.
Google evaluates doorway pages as an attempt at manipulation; they are part of the Black Hat SEO measures, and their use is now out of date. Doorway pages lead to manual penalties, and you run the risk of being banned from search results. Hands off!
You must never leave the user outside of your SEO and content creation. Today landing pages serve a similar purpose as doorway pages. However, the same content is displayed to the user, and the search engine and the focus of landing pages is not the search engine but the user. Landing pages are designed to convince the user of a particular thing and provide him with all the information he needs.
Let’s stay with the gas grill example: Here, the company could create landing pages for each branch that provide the user with all the information about the branch, travel and contact information, opening times, and facilities.
13.Abuse of markups
Structured data is a useful tool for increasing your rankings and traffic because Google & Co use structured data (such as Schema.org) to deliver better search results.
However, what you should not do is to fool your users into facts and mislead them.
An example: You run an online shop, and each product page has a markup that shows the number and an average number of stars in the search results. What you should NOT do is display the number of ALL reviews of your shop for the product.
Likewise, do you have good reviews on Google My Business? Excellent! These reviews concern your company as a whole; So use them on your homepage, but NOT for a product page.
Google My Business is a must-have, especially for businesses and regional services.
Be sure to use markups! You are very helpful. However, don’t use them to mislead your (future) customers.
14.Thin Content Affiliate Links
Google has nothing against affiliate links and participates in affiliate programs. But if you create pages with little content (thin content) to place your affiliate links there, it becomes problematic.
So if you copy the product description of the landing page, your content does not offer any added value.
You create added value by providing a test report, product comparison, instructions, possible uses, or other useful content for the user in their purchase decision.
Conclusion: optimize for the user
These no-go SEO measures have one thing in common: The “optimizations” are carried out for the search engine, not for the user.
Google’s mission is always to provide the user with the best answers – that is, the best content in terms of content on a technically flawless and well-implemented page with which the user can easily interact and navigate on all end devices.
So Google expects you that all your optimization measures are always designed to deliver the best content and the best experience to the user; instead of SEO, you are doing UEO – user experience optimization.