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7 SEO Practices You Should Stop Doing Right Now

Joshua Steimle
7 SEO Practices You Should Stop Doing Right Now

If traffic to your website has been falling, your search engine rankings may be the cause.

Updates rolled out by Google over the past few years have caught many website owners off guard and SEO activities that once helped websites to rank better can now earn you a penalty. Here are seven of the SEO practices you should stop instantly.

SEO Practices You Should Stop Now

  1. Using Meta Keyword Tags

Although meta keyword tags have been ignored by virtually all search engines for several years many website owners still stuff this tag with every keyword they can think of. Not only does this do you no good in the search engines, it tips off your competitors to exactly which keywords you’re targeting. If you’re using keyword meta tags on your website you should delete them immediately.

  1. Stuffing Keywords

If you want to rank well for a certain keyword, placing it on your webpage 50 times is not the way to do it. Google has thousands of PhDs working to refine the search engine so that it delivers the results people want. Instead of stuffing your content full of keywords, focus on creating the kind of content people who are interested in your products and services will want to read. The keywords will work their way into your content naturally, and you’ll get better results.

  1. Exchanging Links

Part of how Google determines how to rank your website is based on the links pointing to your website from other websites. Several years ago website owners started trading links in order to build up their inbound link counts. Today this will earn you a penalty. If you link to a business partner and they link to you, and this occurs naturally, that’s fine. But don’t exchange links for the sake of exchanging links.

  1. Buying Links

Don’t buy links for SEO purposes. If someone tries to sell you a link on their website, claiming that it will boost your SEO results, run away. Google looks at purchased links much the way you look at spam emails and tends to penalize websites that buy them.

  1. Over-Optimizing Anchor Text

Once upon a time it was effective to make sure that links pointing to your website included the keywords you were targeting. No more. Today, links pointing to your website should mostly include the name of your company.

  1. Hiring Low Cost SEO Providers

Decent SEO starts at around $1,000 per month for a limited level of service. Any SEO service that costs less is likely to employ a cookie cutter, template approach that won’t produce the results you’re after. Higher quality, customized SEO services generally cost somewhere between $3,000 and $10,000 per month. Any company promising to provide amazing results for $500 per month, with rare exceptions for companies that specialize in local SEO or a particular industry, isn’t to be trusted.

  1. Low-Quality Guest Post Blogging

Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts declared guest blog posting to be “dead” in 2014. But a closer look shows Google is really targeting low-quality guest blog posting.

Just as low quality links won’t help your website and can actually hurt it, getting low quality blogs to talk about your website and link to it will bring low quality results in the search engines.

Bonus Tip: Quitting Your SEO Firm Too Soon

If you hire an SEO firm and quit two months later because you’re not seeing results, then you’ve quit too soon. It takes at least six months to accurately judge the work an SEO firm is doing, and in many cases it can take 12 months or more to generate substantial results.

SEO provides a great ROI compared to virtually all other marketing activities, but it is a long-term proposition. As long as you can see that work is being done, give your SEO firm time to deliver on the results they’ve promised.

What other outdated SEO practices do you see people doing? Let me know in the comments.

Joshua Steimle is a TEDx speaker, contributor to Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company and other publications, and CEO of MWI, a global digital marketing agency with offices in the U.S. and Asia. Steimle lives in Hong Kong where he enjoys trail running and spending time with his family.
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Irvin Banut

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Do blogs still need to be sourced or refrenced if information is being referred to from another website? Would this be penalised?
MD Yusuf

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Hi Joshua Steimle I believe you have been able to portray your opinion properly in the article.

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I love the article but i desagree in part with point 6 (hiring low cost SEO provider). There are exceptions. I've helped litterally hundreds of businesses in Canada at a ridiculous price. But then again, we work differently (

An experienced member who is always happy to help.

Great article, Josh. I would also add indexing bloat to the list of practices as well. For about 4-5 months in 2014, there were several companies out there touting that the way to success is to have a gillion indexed pages on the site. I occasionally still run across people who believe in this "strategy".
Josh Steimle

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Rob Wilson
Thanks Robby, indexing bloat is definitely another one that could be added. Frankly I'm glad Google is cracking down on quantity and forcing people to focus on quality.
Adam Dince

Occasionally takes part in conversations.

Great article, Joshua! I think the meta-keywords tag is still helpful from an auditing perspective. If I want to quickly find out (be reminded) of what keywords I'm targeting on a page, a simple right-click gets me the answer.

I could care less about competitors seeing what keywords I'm using. Any decent cheap SEO software will tell them that anyway. Additionally, looking at my Title tags, H1s and mark-up would provide that insight as well.

Also, I know of some SEOs that put the wrong keywords in the meta-tag to throw competitors off.
Josh Steimle

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Adam Dince
That's interesting, hadn't thought of either of those legitimate uses for the meta keyword tag. Thanks!
KnowledgePower Marketing

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Adam Dince
I also think meta keywords are potentially useful as a form of CMS-agnostic tagging, as well as for ecommerce where you can use them as a human-aided keyword source for improved product search matching. If search engines ignore them completely, so much the better, but it surely can't be seen as a negative factor to keep in use.

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Adam Dince
Ditto on the CMS usage. It's a good way to manage pages and other assets in DAM and cross-medium (e.g. print and electronic) digital publishing tools as well. Some SM image sites will use the keywording for search. See http://www.controlledvocabular... for more info and discussion of this. Surprising that more SEO folks are unaware of this stuff. You need to talk to your production people more...

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