8 Old School SEO Practices That Are No Longer Effective
Let’s start with the first one — keywords before clicks.
Look, I get the appeal here. The idea is that we’ve done a bunch of keyword research, now we’re doing keyword targeting, and we can see that it might be important to target multiple keywords on the same page. So FYI, ‘pipe smoking,’ ‘tobacco smoking,’ ‘very dangerous for your health,’ not recommended by me or by Moz, but I thought it was a funny throwback keyword and so there you go. I do enjoy little implements even if I never use them.
So pipes, tobacco pipes, pipe smoking, wooden pipes, this is not going to draw anyone’s click. You might think, ‘But it’s good SEO, Rand. It’s good to have all my keywords in my title element. I know that’s an important part of SEO.’ Not anymore. It really is not anymore an important . . . well, let’s put it this way. It’s an important part of SEO, which is subsumed by wanting to draw the clicks. The user is searching, they’re looking at the page, and what are they going to think when they see pipes tobacco, pipes, pipe smoking, wooden pipes? They have associations with that — spammy, sketchy, I don’t want to click it — and we know, as SEOs, that Google is using click signals to help documents rank over time and to help websites rank over time.
So if they’re judging this, you’re going to fall in the rankings, versus a title like “Art of Piping: Stunning Wooden Pipes for Every Price Range.” Now, you’re not just playing off the, “Yes, I am including some keywords in there. I have ‘wooden’ and ‘pipes.’ I have ‘art of piping,’ which is maybe my brand name.” But I’m worried more about drawing the click, which is why I’m making this part of my message of ‘for every price range.’ I’m using the word ‘stunning’ to draw people in. I’m saying, ‘Our collection is not the largest but the hand-selected best. You’ll find unique pipes available nowhere else and always free, fast shipping.’
I’m essentially trying to create a message, like I would for an AdWords ad, that is less focused on just having the raw keywords in there and more focused on drawing the click. This is a far more effective approach that we’ve seen over the last few years. It’s probably been a good six or seven years that this has been vastly superior to this other approach.
Second one, heavy use of anchor text on internal links.
This used to be a practice that could have positive impacts on rankings. But what we’ve seen lately, especially the last few years, is that Google has discounted this and has actually even punished it where they feel like it’s inappropriate or spammy, manipulative, overdone…
In this case, my suggestion would be if the internal link is in the navigation, if it’s in the footer, if it’s in a sidebar, if it’s inside content, and it is relevant and well-written and it flows well, has high usability, you’re pretty safe. However, if it has low usability, if it looks sketchy or funny, if you’re making the font small so as to hide it because it’s really for search engines and not for searchers and users, now you’re in a sketchy place. You might count on being discounted, penalized, or hurt at some point by Google.”