Any marketers that have been around a while have seen the SEO landscape change significantly over the years. Most changes have been good, and a few have been frustrating. Like it or not, if you want to see legitimate results, you need to know which SEO tactics work and which ones need to be left behind.

Keyword stuffing

keyword stuffingAn oldie but a goodie! Back in the day, if you were trying to rank for a certain keyword, all you had to do was include it multiple times in an article. The problem was some SEOs took it a tad too literally and would stuff keywords multiple times in a text to the point of being distracting, if not plain obnoxious. The tactic worked for quite a while, so why not? Not only that, savvy SEOs would also stuff keywords in the meta information as well, hoping to stack the deck even more. However, over the years, search engines like Google noticed the tactic and how it negatively impacted the quality of the content. Google no longer depends on keyword density (or the ratio of specific keyword usage to the overall page copy) to determine whether a webpage is an effective source for answering a search query. Nowadays, the better option is to write with synonyms of the keyword phrases you’re targeting. Search engines will like it, and so will your readers!

Focusing on text length

Marketers used to write copious amounts of blog posts to add “fresh” content to their websites. Great idea, except some of these posts were measly and thin, adding no real value to the reader. In response, search engines started looking for more substantial content. However, there’s no real definition for “substantial,” so of course, marketers created their own guidelines. Google “ideal word count,” and you’ll find must-follow recommendations saying posts should be at least 300 words, 600 words, or 2000 words. So, which is correct? The answer is all and none. Again, it’s about quality, not quantity, and that goes for words in a blog post or article. What we suggest to clients is to write for readers, not for robots. Have a meaty topic you want to write about? Go ahead and write that 2000-word article! Want to share a fun update about your company but don’t have much to say? 300 words are just fine. Bottom line is, don’t be chintzy with your writing, and don’t be verbose. Write naturally the way your readers want it and let go of the “ideal” word count.

Spammy comments

spammy commentsIt’s hard to believe this tactic still exists, but anyone who manages a website knows that for some unknown reason, it still does. Back in the day, you could drop comments in other people’s blog posts with a link back to your site. Link building, right? Well, those days are long gone, so if spammy commenting is part of your marketing routine, free up some time and stop doing it. Got something legitimate to say? Comment away! But if you’re out there dropping numerous comments for the sake of links, you’re wasting your time. Most webmasters simply delete your comments. As a matter of fact, many webmasters apply “noindex” or disable hyperlinks in comments completely to avoid spam attacks.

Exchanging links

Link building is hard, and getting good, valuable links back to your site is really difficult. It used to be that the more links back to your site, the better. The rule of thumb is that the better the links are to your site, the better. Why would you want a dog food company to link to you if you sell snow tires? It’s no value to you or readers following the link from one site to the next. Want to give or get links to your site? Make sure you’re in the same industry or the same niche. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time. A better way to get valuable backlinks? Try guest blogging. Provide useful information that can be posted on other sites with a link back to your site. A small business marketer familiar with content marketing can help with that.

Market for your audience, not search engines

Looking at the SEO tactics above, it was all about gaming the system against search engines. While it worked for a while, it simply doesn’t anymore and is outdated. Market for your audience. Provide useful information your target audience wants and use language and a writing style that makes it engaging for readers. That’s how you’ll win the long game in SEO and help your small business market smarter and more effectively!

Patty Hughes
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