SEO to content is like paleo chocolate frosting to a paleo chocolate cake.
(Ever had one of those? They’re decadent, AND good for you. 🤤)
It seriously is that important–and impactful–in content marketing.
SEO-focused content marketing has powered our own organic marketing at Express Writers for years.
Without good SEO practices, your content will miss out on the possibilities of earning traffic and leads through organic user searches.
The opposite, bad SEO, will make readers and Google look a little like Steve Carrell in this scene in the 2014 movie, Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day:
That’s why, this April, I presented a webinar for Search Engine Journal on the top seven bad SEO tactics to abandon forever – ones that are dragging down your search rankings, confusing users (see above photo), and leaving your content in the dust.
We had an amazing turnout for this webinar. Over 300 people tuned in live!
Here are the slides from my webinar, and here’s the YouTube replay.
For those who missed it, or those who want the highlights, keep reading – I’m recapping the major points, here, too. ✔
Before we get into the bad SEO tactics and practices people are still using, we need to answer one question…
Get your own content marketing all geared up for the ROI you've been waiting for with the help of good SEO. Watch @JuliaEMcCoy's @sejournal webinar about the 7 Do Not's of #SEO in 2019 Click To Tweet
Why Does SEO and Google Matter?
1. Most Internet Users Rely on Google
About half of the world’s population uses the internet. That’s no joke. Of those internet-users, about 60% begin their browsing with a Google search.
Over 3.5 billion Google searches happen in a day. Plus, Google dominates the market. Almost 60% of all web traffic begins with a Google search, according to the data from SparkToro and Jumpshot.
2. Google is All About the User
Most web traffic comes from Google, and Google is all about that end-user. From their Search Engine Evaluator Guidelines to their Webmaster Central Blog, the user experience takes center stage. When your SEO and website experience tick off human users, you tick off Google, simultaneously.
Therefore, good SEO practices are all about keeping users and Google happy. The better you do, the more highly you will be ranked in search (and loved by users!).
With that out of the way, let’s get into the bad SEO tactics that will make your two most important audience members (humans and Google) confused, annoyed, and fed-up.
SEO-focused content marketing has powered our own organic marketing at Express Writers for years. Know why SEO matters with @JuliaEMcCoy's @sejournal webinar about the 7 Do Not's of #SEO in 2019 Click To Tweet
7 Just-Plain-BAD SEO Tactics You Shouldn’t Be Using Anymore
1. Using Your Target Keyword the Wrong Way
An outdated SEO practice we need to do away with is targeting one keyword per page – especially similar or semantically related keywords.
Instead, it’s better to target both focus keywords and secondary, related keywords in the same piece of content. This will align your SEO strategy with modern semantic search, which is what Google is focusing on moving into the future.
Semantic search looks at a page’s overarching topic vs. individual keywords to determine whether it’s relevant to a user’s search query.
On the right side of this diagram, each keyword is targeted individually. A better SEO practice is to target related terms like these within the same piece (left).
Using a focus keyword + variations, related terms, and synonyms all within the same high-quality content piece signals to Google AND users that the page is topically relevant to the search query.
2. Developing Thin Content That Doesn’t Go the Distance
Short, thin content pieces are not SEO-worthy. If you want a page to rank, you need longer, in-depth content.
How do we know? Look at the data: From BuzzSumo’s analysis of over 100 million articles, long-form content (over 3,000 words) was most-shared. A Backlinko study came to the same conclusion – long-form content = higher search rankings.
To write longer content, focus on answering the user’s question(s) thoroughly and deep-dive into your topic.
3. Posting Content Whenever You Feel Like It
You can’t post content erratically if you want to rank higher in search. Many studies have shown that consistently publishing high-quality content leads to more ranking opportunities.
For one example, a HubSpot benchmark study found that companies that posted over 16x/month earned the most traffic and leads.
That doesn’t mean you need to start blogging like a madman (or madperson), though. If you push out tons of posts but your quality sucks, you still won’t get anywhere. That leads us to bad SEO tactic #4…
4. Focusing on Quantity Vs. Quality
Pushing out blog posts just to get them on the web is never a good idea for SEO. Quality matters more than quantity for rankings and readership.
If you can’t feasibly publish fantastic blog posts on a consistent basis (say, 2-3x/week), cut back. One amazing post per week or month is better than 3 mediocre or crappy ones.
Tip: Check out the top 5 search results for your focus keyword in Google. Try to create a post that’s better than anything in that top 5.
5. Publishing Duplicate Content
According to SEMrush, a study of over 100,000 articles showed the most common SEO error is something we can all easily avoid: duplicate content. Nearly 66% of the articles in the study suffered from this problem.
It happens when multiple pages appear very similar or match 100%. Usually, this is unintentional, but some people do plagiarize content. Either way, you will be penalized.
Luckily, this mistake is easy to avoid. Do it by running all of your content through Copyscape before publishing. Rewrite any pages that have a percentage match.
6. Using Shady Tactics like Link Buying
If you really want to get on the wrong side of Google, link schemes and link buying are the way to do it.
Google specifically states in their quality guidelines that “Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”
If you violate those guidelines, bet on getting de-ranked faster than you can say “blackhat SEO”.
Instead of trying to sneak your way onto the SERPs, make every piece of content you publish link-worthy. Then, amplify that content using every resource in your power (social media, email marketing, networking, and connections).
Make every piece of content you publish link-worthy. @JuliaEMcCoy #SEO Click To Tweet
7. Not Paying Attention to Customer Reviews (or Posting Fake Reviews)
70% of online consumers read reviews of a product or company before buying. If you’re forgetting or ignoring the customer review portion of SEO – why?!
Some marketers go in the opposite direction and resort to posting fake reviews to boost their reputation. (Did you know The Washington Post discovered 61% of electronics reviews on Amazon are fake? Yikes.) It’s not like this works, though. Review platforms are becoming more advanced at sniffing out and deleting fake reviews.
Fake reviews aren’t necessary if you know how to earn glowing ones from customers. A few tips:
- Ask happy customers to review you on the platform that contributes most to building your reputation (social media, Google review, Yelp review, etc.).
- Seek customer reviews when they’re super happy with your business. Say you exceeded their expectations or delivered a quality product early – those are prime moments to ask.
- Offer free samples to influencers and ask them for an honest review in return. This works especially well if you have a feature-worthy product.
Online reviews are a big part of building your reputation and authority. Seek them out from happy customers instead of resorting to fakery.
Turn to the Light: Good SEO Practices Are Worth It
Outdated, blackhat, or downright lazy SEO practices will make human users and Google shun your site like it has the plague.
What you really want is a site and content that shine like a beacon, beckoning and welcoming users with the warm glow of usefulness, quality, depth, and insight.
Look at what we’ve achieved at Express Writers, for example. 99% of our leads and revenue have come to us through our SEO content.
That’s what good SEO helps you achieve. Avoid the bad stuff and focus on the good for best results. Come back into the light!