SEO is not a stagnant science. It’s a very dynamic process with tricks and tips that may propel you to the top one year, and literally do the reverse the next.
Google’s mission is simple: They want to provide the most accurate, user-friendly search experience possible. This means the search algorithms they generate are always in flux, as the mission is a truly complex goal.
The result is that companies need to stay on the current pulse of SEO trends. Since most small businesses don’t have the luxury of a full time SEO professional, I have outlined below the most common past practices that will no longer serve you in 2015. In addition to calling out the most common archaic practices, I also suggest some modern alternatives that will help you in your quest for better rankings.
Stop Stressing About Backlink Volume
Some experts will still tell you that you need as many links pointing to your content as humanly possible. This is simply no longer the case. Links are critical to your ranking health (or at least a sizable factor), but more is not more. In fact, if you solicit links from sites that either have questionable reputations in Google’s mind, or are simply irrelevant to your industry, your rankings could suffer.
In this modern age, there are many websites with only a few well-targeted back links that own the top rankings. Relevancy is your guideline here, not quantity. Google’s pervasive Penguin update keeps emphasizing this necessity, so make this your SEO link mantra in 2015.
Change the Way You Monitor Your Success
In the old days, traditional ranking tracking was an obsessive practice to see how healthy your SEO efforts were. Now, however, we live in a long-tail world. What that means is you no longer need to spend scads of time seeing your rankings are for every conceivable keyword combo. In some ways, rankings have become irrelevant. What’s important now is tracking the power and accuracy of your long-tail keywords. Many websites are now reporting that up to 90% of their traffic comes from long-tails alone. Why? Because searchers are becoming more exact with their hunts, and that means you need to have a clear view of your long-tail search terms. Spend your time testing the validity of these longer keywords, and you can all but ignore head terms that are nearly impossible to dominate in our Penguin and Panda world.
Stop Publishing Content for its Own Sake
Just like more is not more for backlinks, having hundreds of content pages will no longer boost your SEO. Instead, it can be considered clutter. Google is very hip in offering search results that are relevant and valuable, so the days of being rewarded for any and all content are decidedly over. Content, just like backlinks, needs to be informative and high quality in order to elevate your efforts.
This is the key focus of Google’s Panda update. Panda is essentially the portion of the algorithm that deciphers the actual quality of content across the web. If Panda deems your content is low-quality and/or irrelevant, your business is in big trouble. Be thoughtful and strategic about your content releases; stop publishing things for the sake of having it. That’s now a losing battle.
Quit Obsessing Over Keyword Density
One of the major factors in bad content in the last handful of years stemmed from the obsessive practice of adding keywords. Many turned this into a mathematical quandary, insisting that X percentage of keyword density was required for significant rankings. This is very old news. Google quickly realized that writing content for search bots meant that human beings were turned off by the robotic, awkward language.
Now, Google uses something called latent semantic indexing (LSI). In essence, this means that you don’t have to litter your content with all the keyword phrases you want to rank on; LSI will assume that similar phrases are also relevant.
Here’s an example: If you want to rank for “affordable cell phones”, you don’t have to include “cheap cell phones,” “inexpensive cell phones,” “affordable mobile devices,” etc. Google will now assume that if you use a phrase in your content, similar phrases are also applicable.
The Internet became a much happier place thanks to LSI, because we no longer need to manipulate the copy on our websites to speak the language of search engine bots. Instead, they’re learning to speak ours.
No More Excessively Wordy Content
It used to be a practice that more words were more valuable, just like we assumed with keyword density. In part as a response to the short attention spans of most internet users, Google now values brevity over wordiness. This goes straight back to the focus on quality over quantity. It also highlights the power of various content offerings like videos and images. Words are no longer the darlings of SEO; since people appreciate multiple content types, search engines now do as well. This means you should no longer feel pressured to produce 2,000 word articles for everything you publish. Instead, focus on the quality of what you’re creating. Say what you need to say to impart value and education, and nothing more.
So there you have it; a handful of common SEO practices that are all but obsolete. Use these variants in your 2015 SEO efforts, and you’ll see your results improve.