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Breaking 3 Old SEO Habits

Josh McCoy
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No SymbolKicking old habits can be very tough. I can’t tell what is worse, staying away from a fast food drive-thru, quitting smoking, and now, learning to be a better SEO through the adoption of new techniques. 

In today's search marketing landscape, we're seeing more frequent changes from Google’s algorithm, quite frankly, enough at times to make one’s head spin. But when we stop to compare our SEO strategy with what we've done over the past few years, are we really changing anything? Might we be stubborn in our ways knowing what has worked in the past but are too ignorant to pay attention to new needs in SEO? 

Much has transpired with the Google algorithm over the last year or so. Sometimes SEOs are reluctant to give up old tactics because simply have seen it work in the past. But as Duncan Heath points out in "Why Google’s Panda Update is Different to All That Have Gone Before," your SEO mindset must evolve as fast as the major algorithm changes, or else you'll be left in the dust.

Here are three techniques SEOs should retire.

Exact Term Anchor Text in Link-Building

Years back, there was nothing better than good old link-building based on keyword-rich, if not exact, anchor text. Over time it was advised that maybe one should shy away from exact phrase usage as it looks manipulative and unnatural to search engines. 

Google has done some paid link house cleaning over the past six months, so it's very important to possess a link profile with anchor-text distributed between keyword variations and branded text. Having more links to your site on exact text rather than your brand/company name may be warranting a penalty. 

If you want to look natural, you have to mix it up a bit. This sure is hard when you have the chance to get a great link with your choice of keyword-rich anchor text.

Content Division

Once upon a time, it was thought that one of the key SEO elements that really mattered was the size of your site. It also made clients really happy to divide content into separate pages, gear them toward several new terms, and attain additional visibility. 

This tactic doesn’t work so much now, but it's hard to shy away from easily expanding a keyword set and watching indexed page counts rise. With the Google Panda update indicating that pages of shallow content that don't provide real value will be disregarded, it shows that we can't go out and drum up new pages to chase a new term. 

The new way of thinking forces us to provide a meaningful experience for visitors and ultimately think about the end user. Yes, we should have been doing this all along, but sometimes you get so far into the SEO trenches that you forget about usability and purposeful content in your pursuit of high rankings and traffic generation.

To Brand or Not to Brand?

Anyone worth their “SEO salt” knows just how important the title element of a page is, especially the homepage. Removing the brand/company name from the title element in favor of top campaign non-branded terms has been a good strategy.

Now that Google has elected to change the title element to whatever they deem necessary, you may see a branded search query only result in a listing with the brand/company name. With this in mind, we have to start thinking about the way we create these title elements to share top non-branded terms with a brand mention. 

Now, it's best to add the brand into the homepage title element so that your branded search results show a listing that is not void of other keywords. Over the past six months, Google has allowed the intended title element when displaying brand related search results.

Summary

There are a few other techniques prime for retirement, but these three are a good start. SEOs can't be expected to go cold turkey, especially some of the stubborn who find it hard to move away from things that used to work. 

Search engines have forced us to give fresh thought to how we adapt as “optimizers.” If anything, Google is forcing SEOs to get out of the bot-minded mentality and think about what types of sites should be in the SERPs – those that provide a rich-meaningful user experience.


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