The first search engine was only launched in the early 1990s, meaning Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a relatively young practice that is constantly changing and evolving. In order to ensure success, companies in Charlottesville and everywhere else need to make sure their knowledge and practices are up to date.

Here are a few practices that are out of date and can actually hurt your web success and new practices to implement instead.

1. Keyword Stuffing

In the past search engines skimmed articles for keywords that were popular search terms and would rank articles higher if they had a higher number of keywords in the title and article body. This is the practice that prompted people to write articles with titles like “How to Choose the Best White Wine, Red Wine, Sparkling Wine and Sweet Wine for Your Wedding.” While it may have tricked search engines for a short while, it didn’t fool readers, and came off as click bait-y and spammy.

Do This Instead

Instead of spending hours researching keywords and packing as many into your website as possible, focus on creating content that people actually want to consume. Search engines like Google now use clicks and hits from users as a way to rank websites higher or lower in search results, meaning you need to create content that people genuinely want to read in order to do well.

2. Using Keywords in Your Domain Name

Using exact-match website domain names is similar to the previous technique in that it is keyword focused instead of content focused. This led companies to select website links like bestweddingphotographerinchicago.com, diamonddogcollars.net or affordablephoneaccessories.com. While this may have boosted rankings in the early 2000’s, Google actually announced that their algorithm would penalize these website domains for being spammy a few years ago.

Do This Instead

Try to come up with a domain name that fits your business and is memorable and unique. You can still use keywords, but only do so if it sounds natural and not forced. You want to avoid looking sketchy and greedy for traffic.

3. Anchor Text Leading to Internal Links

Search engines used to see a higher number of links to pages as an indication of value and trustworthiness. This led marketers to rely heavily on internal links in the anchor text on each webpage, which contributes to the click-bait, spam type content that is now specifically targeted and avoided by search engines.

Do This Instead

You can still link within your text, but make sure you only do so where it is natural and makes sense. You definitely want to avoid loading paragraphs with linked keywords, and instead link once or twice in your content where it makes sense to do so. Again, the key here is value. Are your links adding value to your article or would they not be missed if you left them out?

4. Duplicate Content

This tactic worked for many years, but actually hurts your web presence if you’re still using it today. The thought was that having a webpage for each keyword you were targeting meant more followers would reach your content. Website developers would clone a page titled “Diamond Dog Collars” and create pages with the same content under the titles “Blingy Dog Collars,” “Girl Dog Collars,” “Sparkly Dog Collars,” and so on. With Google upgrades like RankBrain and Hummingbird, having the same content duplicated on your site actually hurts your success.

Do This Instead

Have one page targeting all related keywords and make sure the content has value and originality and try to incorporate these keywords in a manner that is natural and intelligent. Don’t clone content to try to trap people into clicking on your website, but rather create content that naturally attracts views.

5. Quantity Over Quality

Since keywords were once king, more content lead to more keywords and thus more engagement. This often means spammy blogs that were repetitive or devoid of substance and additional pages that were not necessary.

Do This Instead

Make sure each page, blog, article and image on your website adds unique interest and value. Try to streamline your page down to the pages that are necessary and relevant and chop the rest. High quality will serve you better than mass quantity.

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