Even though there are plenty of new guides, courses, and conferences, one thing remains certain: many SEO professionals still use outdated SEO techniques that are no longer relevant to the modern SEO professional.
That includes things like not using keywords correctly as it pertains to modern SEO, writing only for search engines, not taking into consideration user experience, and a myriad of other problems.
It’s important to consider the fact that as search engine algorithms change, the SEO professional must change to keep up.
What worked 5 or 10 years ago is no longer relevant in the modern SEO professional’s arsenal.
What does the modern SEO professional need to understand from this? It’s that if you don’t update your tactics as frequently as search engines change, then you may fall behind your competition in the rankings.
Not Using Keywords Correctly
Most SEO professionals begin their SEO campaign with keyword research. But, this is a place where things can go wrong quickly. If you get too deep into the weeds, and don’t figure out where you went wrong in the beginning quick enough, you can easily derail your keyword research.
This is especially true if you are not focusing on topics and instead focusing on just keywords.
Another mistake is using irrelevant keyword targeting, which can also lead to confusion on the part of search engines.
It’s possible that the SEO may shape their content focus around keywords which it may not be properly aligned with.
They may also not be focusing on the right user intent for the SERP that is being targeted by these efforts.
For example, they may be writing a buyer intent article for a SERP where informational intent is a majority. Or, they may be writing an informational intent article for a SERP where the buyer intent is a majority.
Either way, the user intent mismatch will be a problem and is something that may need to be corrected in the future.
Focusing Your Writing on Robots Only
Users are a big part of search nowadays. It used to be that focusing just on writing for what the search engines evaluate and want is key.
But, as it turns out, there are certain user aspects, such as dwell time, that are important to optimize for.
How do you increase your dwell time? By diving deeper into a topic (but not just focusing on word count…these are two different types), and making your blog as interesting as possible for readers to read.
You can also increase your dwell time by including videos, creating a podcast, or working on other valuable types of content that can rope in users from the search results.
Using Text Length as the Only Focus
Which brings us to our next problem: using text length as the only focus. Some SEO professionals have the erroneous assumption that focusing on only 2,500 word articles will somehow push them to the top of Google.
If this were true, many spamdexing programs would be able to rank nonsensical, 5,000 word content every single time.
As we all know, this is just not true. That’s why focusing on brute-force word count by pounding 4,000 word articles into Google per day is not something that is (or ever has been, really) a modern SEO technique that means much.
Instead, focusing on content quality, the value and meaningfulness that it delivers to users, and how it delights users is key.
This is also why a focus on just search engine spiders is a mistake. Because targeting just the robot itself neglects the meaning and user experience behind your content.
Individual Pages for Each Keyword
It used to be that focusing on a single page for each keyword phrase was the “in” thing. Also, Google could not really understand much else.
The reality today, however, thanks to algorithm updates such as Hummingbird and RankBrain, is that there are other things you will want to focus on rather than just having a single page for every keyword variation.
Here’s an example:
Say that you had variations of keywords like the following, all optimized around the broader keyword phrase “widgets”:
- Blue widgets
- Red widgets
- Green widgets
Instead, you could make an ultimate version of your article which would be very valid for ranking in the search results, all optimized around and targeting these keywords within the article, making sure that you hit the most important points for each surrounding your broader topic.
The intent of all of these keywords are the same, so we don’t have to worry about targeting a different intent.
But, if we had keywords like this:
- Buying blue widgets
- What are the best blue widgets
- Blue widgets page
They all have a different user intent, as we can see:
- Buying blue widgets – transactional intent
- What are the best blue widgets – informational intent
- Blue widgets page – navigational intent
Then this is a situation where we would want to build separate pages to target the individual user intent behind each page variation.
Excessive Use of Anchor Text in Internal Links
An old-school SEO practice that used heavy and excessive exact-match anchor text on internal links could have a negative impact on rankings.
John Mueller may be on record saying that “you can do whatever you want” with your internal links.
However, in practice, this is not the case.
Rand Fishkin has observed that:
Only Focusing on Text Search in Your Optimization
There are a myriad of other types of search results besides organic and text search nowadays. You have a wide variety of rich snippets, featured results like top stories and cards, video search results, Google discover, and others.
Having a healthy mix of these types of search results in your SEO strategy moves beyond the “10 blue links” model and into the more dynamic realm of search results.
Don’t forget about also making sure that you optimize for the knowledge graph and entities also.
Making sure that such optimizations take place rather than just focusing on text search are all great ideas.
Using the Meta Keywords Tag
Yes, even now, this is still something that shows up on some websites during the course of SEO audits. Some sites will show the meta keywords tag, clearly optimized for various keywords.
While this worked in the early 2000s, it hasn’t really been much of an SEO technique since then. In fact, for a long time now (for more than a decade), the major search engines discontinued the use of the meta keywords tag in ranking.
Sadly, for SEO, there is no further benefit of using this particular tag.
However, instead of blindly using the meta keywords tag, there are certain reporting situations in which this may be useful, such as using them for easier reporting for large-scale e-commerce websites.
But, other than that, trying to use them to game Google rankings won’t give you much game.
Writing Low-Quality Content Without Enough Significant Value-Add
It used to be that you could get away with stringing a few headlines together from the search results, and writing your content quickly. You could also sprinkle in a few keywords throughout your page, and call it a day.
Sadly, those days are long behind us.
Now, you have to write content that consistently matches or beats your competitors within the SERPs (search engine results pages).
You also have to use best-in-class on-page optimization tools to figure out what, exactly, the pages are optimizing for.
It’s no longer enough to use a few target keywords sprinkled throughout the page of your content, and call it a day. A tool such as Surfer SEO or Frase.io will help you find all the mentions that you need for the topic you are writing about, and then you can naturally write your content with these keyword phrases.
It’s also no longer enough to write low-quality content without enough value-add. If you want to rank your content, you want to make sure that you write high-quality content with enough value add to make it even better than your competition.
Shaun Anderson of hobo-web.co.uk provides more guidelines to follow when creating great content and avoiding duplicate content:
The more modern approach to SEO is to make sure that you have better content than your competitors, that is also optimized, but also provides significant unique value-add.
Link Bait That’s Not Focused and Strategic
It used to be that you could create any kind of link bait that goes after a particular topic, and your audience would eat it up.
Sadly, that’s not the case anymore. If social media sites like TikTok, YouTube, or Twitter are any indication, trends come and go. And quickly.
It seems that every month there is a new TikTok or shorts video trend. And social media is not the only limitation in this regard.
Creating link bait is the same way. In order to be a great link bait creator, it pays to stay on top of the trends and make sure that you are capitalizing on the latest and greatest trends before they go stale.
There are several types of link bait that likely will not be a stale topic anytime soon. You just have to figure out a way to create your own spin on it to provide a fresh, original, and unique theme.
- Controversial topics
- Short-form bite-sized video content
- Long-form video tutorials
- Being the first to talk about the topic,
- Expert roundups
- Creating your own free tools and software
- Giveaways, freebies
- Being first to cover breaking news
Optimizing Only for Broad Short Tail Keywords
This used to be a popular tactic – going after the high search volume, broader keywords in order to focus on driving traffic to your site.
However, over 70% of search queries are made up of long tail keywords, according to BrightEdge.
Long tail keywords are more specific, have more of an intent behind them, and provide more information than short tail versions of those keywords.
As a result, more people who are closer to the bottom of the funnel tend to have them in their search criteria when they are ready to buy.
Having a mix of short tail and long tail keywords is a great way to go for your modern SEO strategy.
Remember when we discussed the variety of search results earlier? A variety of keyword types in your strategy is also a good thing in that vein.
Not Optimizing for Mobile-First
In the yesteryear of 20 years ago, all search marketers had to worry about were 10 blue links. There was one type of search result, one device, and you didn’t have to worry about optimizing for everything else.
Today, that has all changed.
Google has a mobile-first component baked into its algorithm, so your first-tier strategy should be to optimize for mobile devices.
Oh yes, don’t forget about including a responsive design. If you use a responsive design, tailored to mobile devices, then your site will most likely be tailored to Google’s mobile-first
It’s just not feasible for modern SEO techniques to focus on desktop only anymore, considering that Google has moved to mobile-first.
Using Third-Party Domain Authority Scores for Performance Evaluation
Using third-party domain authority scores was a frequently used method.. Evaluating performance was something that could easily be done by doing this.
Sadly, this is not always going to yield an accurate evaluation.
Domain Authority is a third-party metric, and has nothing to do with what Google actually does with their algorithm.
So while they may evaluate links as part of domain authority, there are still many questions, such as how they use it, what they use it to assess, and how they provide you with that data.
It’s not as simple as simply looking at a tool, saying “Oh, look at that high domain authority! We must be doing great!” and calling it a day.
More intensive analysis is necessary in order to examine that particular authority and what you may want to focus on in that regard.
Are You Still Using Outdated SEO Techniques? If So, Now’s the Time to Get Updated
If your SEO techniques are still a bit outdated, not to worry. There are plenty of learning resources here on iloveseo.com to help you stay updated.
If you continue learning and updating your skills as Google algorithms shift, then you can ensure that you won’t fall behind.
If it’s one thing about SEO, it’s that it’s always changing, and you must continue your education through conferences, staying updated, and continuing to practice and test on your own.
When do you plan on learning more modern SEO?