You have a company with some good years on the market, you are happy with your website, it has been online for quite some time, but it’s still relevant to your business. Somebody asks you about SEO optimisation and you say “we don’t need to worry about that because when we launched the website (insert the number of years here) years ago we paid very good money to the agency, which optimised it for Google. We’re good, it’s covered”.
Well, it might actually be true. However, there is one little “but” that you need to consider – there is no such thing as optimise one time and forget. Competition changes, new search terms appear, but most importantly, Google is constantly changing the rules of its algorithms. So it’s entirely possible to have some setup implemented that was very helpful and effective, let's say 5 years ago, but that is now useless or even a risky practice.
We’ve come up with three practices that were popular some time ago, but are now outdated because Google either discontinued them, or because people were abusing it and thus they became bad practices to use.
1. Pages dedicated to only one keyword
This one was a popular strategy just some years ago. After a thorough keyword research, website owners chose different variations of one and the same term that had the best potential and created a page per each term. It was thus quite normal to find on a website that offers flower delivery, for example, one page dedicated to “flower delivery”, another one to “bouquet delivery” and yet another one to “deliver flower to home or office”. That worked for a while, but with time Google’s algorithm became better and it now understands search queries not by simply matching it to page content on a word-by-word basis, but it learned to understand the users' real intent behind the query. So, by creating numerous pages with thin and similar content, you will end up having pages of your website competing with each other, as they all represent the same user intent.
What to do instead? The best practice now is to divide keywords by topics and user intent and to use all of them on one page, creating one piece of content, but a really good one, that satisfies to the fullest the intent of the user.
2. Keyword-rich anchors
Links have been, and remain, very important for your website’s SEO. It is thus no surprise that lots of website owners still try to use some “tricks” around links to “amplify” the effect of link building. An anchor text is the text on the page that contains a link to your website. There was a time when the flower delivery website from our previous example would get more “effect” if another site would link to it with text “urgent flower deliveries to homes and offices”, than just with text containing a brand name. Sure enough, this practice was used and abused by website owners, which led to today when Google might even penalise a website that has a great number of over-optimised anchor texts that look “spammy”.
What to do instead? You need to understand that Google’s algorithm has become “smarter”. Google no longer looks only at the anchor text to determine the value of the link. It sees the text before and after, evaluates, in general, the content of the linking page and how relevant it is to your website. Meaning, there is no strict rule here – if it is in the best interest of the user, you may use keywords in the anchors. But it is important to aim at a balance – do not have only keyword-rich anchors; if you optimise your anchors here and there, do not over optimise them. Going back to our example, if a flower delivery service has the majority of its anchors as the brand name or “website” and then some as “flowers” or “flower delivery”, i.e. if there is a balance in this “anchor portfolio”, then it is a good practice.
3. Meta Keyword tag
Some of you might not even know what this it. You know that SEO-wise, page title and meta description are important. And you are correct. But there is one more meta tag – the meta keyword tag – that used to be widely used. It was a tag to tell Google which target keywords the page had and wanted to rank for. Oh yes, those simpler times when you could tell Google how to rank your page! But of course, Google's algorithm is now smart enough to figure out the page’s keywords on its own. And Google even made an official announcement back in 2009 stating it does not use the meta keyword tag to evaluate a website’s pages. Still, some website owners today, in 2020, continue to carefully fill in this tag on each page, which is just a blunt waste of time.
What to do instead? Concentrate on your page title and description tags. Those are still very important in 2020. Nail them correctly and you will see the results. Leave the keyword tag empty; do not waste your time.
For more information, bespoke strategies and efficient digital marketing solutions, just contact the Clarity’s girls through firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.yourdigitalclarity.com.