There are a lot of articles and people on the internet promoting “Quick SEO Improvement”.
A quick Google search for “SEO strategy” returned almost 14,100,000 results in less than a second.
But if the past few decades have taught us one thing, it’s that you can’t believe everything you read online.
Some of the SEO advice you find will be out of date, wrong – or even just plain stupid.
These recommendations and strategies may be based on the author’s misunderstanding of how search works.
They may be the result of a lack of experience or industry knowledge.
Wherever they come from, here is a list of seven of those stupid SEO tips so they don’t seriously hurt your long-term SEO performance.
1. Assembly Line SEO Strategy
I define “assembly line SEO” as when an individual or agency uses the same exact strategy for each client without any optimization.
Many large SEO agencies use this strategy for their SMB division because it is efficient to manage.
Typically, after the site has gone through the first round of on-page optimization, the regular strategy involves blogging and paying for links.
However, just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s always best.
This type of strategy may be fruitful for a short period of time, but unless there is zero competition, the website is bound to experience a growth plateau.
what to do instead
Instead of getting caught up in this regular “action-based” strategy, focus on finding unique ways to deliver value to your website’s audience.
Examine what your competitors’ top-ranking content is, and how they’re adapting to their content strategy.
Make a list of the strategies of all your competitors and look for opportunities for content gaps.
Take advantage of these opportunities and make sure your content is designed to serve your audience at every stage of their purchase funnel.
Continuing research and material production may take longer, but it will inevitably be more fruitful.
Another added bonus is that it will show your stakeholders that you really care about their performance.
2. Blaming performance degradation on algorithm updates (without evidence)
Performance degradation can be sudden and frequent in the form of algorithm updates depending on the website.
These days, algorithmic updates are so frequent that it can be easy to point fingers at Google and say they dropped your rankings and organic traffic.
Sometimes, it’s true!
However, more often than not, performance degradation can occur due to various reasons.
Some common causes of decline in biological performance include:
- Newly discovered technical issues on site.
- Significant material changes.
- Competitors change.
- manual actions.
With those possibilities in mind, it’s important not to take the easy route and blame an algorithmic update.
If your website just got hit recently, don’t panic!
Some things just happen, and your traffic will return automatically.
What you don’t want to do is start making significant changes to your site. This can cause even more complications with your biological performance.
what to do instead
There are many SEO recovery guides out there that you can refer to for more in-depth steps on how to bounce back from organic performance drops.
Here are some quick tips on how to check if your site has actually been affected by an algorithm.
Did Google discover new technical issues?
One of the common reasons for the degradation of a site’s performance is a technical issue.
This usually happens when a site administrator inadvertently updates various parts of the site and creates significant technical problems.
Check the issue by checking the following places:
- View the coverage report in Google Search Console.
- Run a screaming frog or sitebulb crawl to check for structural changes and crawl traps.
- Run an automated audit in your SEO tool of choice to look for any hidden errors.
- See robots.txt for any new disallowed directives.
- To see how Google is rendering your site, run a fetch and render.
significant material changes
This is another common reason for significant fluctuations in rankings. Some sites, such as e-commerce, change content frequently.
If your site rarely updates content and experiences a drop in organic traffic or rankings, you might want to check if your client or another site administrator made some unexpected changes.
Some ways to check for site changes include:
- Check out the Change Tool in the Wayback Machine.
- Install an Activity Log plugin to track changes to your site.
- Check which pages in Google Analytics had the most success and analyze those pages.
It is rare to find sites that are unaffected by any sort of seasonality.
Whenever a stakeholder is concerned about a decline in site performance near you, be sure to check your year-over-year benchmarks.
Compare quarterly trend lines on top of each other to show your stakeholders that these declines may not be unusual.
Additionally, you should make forward forecasts based on the previous year’s trends to tell you about the expected downtrend in the future.
The key here is that you’re still improving from year to year.
There may be some traffic changes due to a competitor improving its organic strategy.
Typically, this would be indicated by a steady decline in biological performance, and it is unusual for this to be accompanied by a sharp decline in performance.
If you think your competitors are stealing your ranking from you, don’t panic!
I have a Python script that allows you to spy on your biological competitors. This will display who is consistently ranking for your topic keywords.
Manual actions don’t happen as often as they used to, but they still happen.
If your site has experienced a significant drop in traffic, take a look at Google Search Console for any manual actions.
3. Copy Location Page
When developing location pages for large websites with multiple locations, creating unique copy for each location can be tedious and time-consuming.
It may seem like the easy way to just use a single copy for each location page, but I highly recommend against it.
You can achieve better local ranking performance by focusing on unique copy for each location page.
Check out the My Places Pages checklist to learn how to create the ultimate location page.
4. Using Automated Auditing Tools to Drive Strategy
Relying on automated tools may not be the best way to drive your organic strategy.
Many new SEO professionals conduct their initial SEO audits with automated tools and this guides their global SEO strategy.
What’s the problem with this?
These SEO Grading Tools “Don’t Ask Questions.”
The key to any good SEO strategy is to ask questions including, but certainly not limited to:
- Who is my target audience and what information do they need to take action?
- Is there an obstacle to Google crawling and interpreting my site?
- Does my internal linking structure facilitate unit optimization?
what to do instead
Invest in a tool like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb and learn how to get the look of a site as a whole.
Use visualization tools to analyze the structure of a site.
Look for opportunities for content gaps and make sure your technical infrastructure is sound.
When your technical foundation is clean, it can be easier for search engines to find, crawl, and render your webpages.
5. Pay for the Link
Now I know this article is meant to focus on white hat strategy but there is a gray hat method of link building in which you can pay link building companies for guaranteed links.
This is a great way to guarantee that you get a specific number of backlinks for your customers each month.
However, quality and relevance are not nearly equal.
what to do instead
Link building has a snowball effect.
If you find links in well-known publications, it is possible that another author will find you and link to you in their articles.
However, this is a less common occurrence with short DA backlinks.
I recommend investing in some PR partners to help you generate content and get featured in notable publications.
These larger publications have a higher rate of organically growing your backlink profile through the snowball effect.
6. Too Afraid to Ask Questions
It’s so easy to find answers to just your own questions, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, when it comes to strategy or tackling specific problems, Google may not always return the right answers for you.
It’s okay to reach out to your peers for help. Even the best of us often run polls and ask for help on Twitter. There’s absolutely no shame in that.
In fact, it is highly encouraged!
No respectable SEO will make fun of you for not knowing something.
We all have to learn in some way or the other.
If you’re still a little nervous, ask an SEO column in Search Engine Journal to get the public answers to your anonymous questions. That way others can benefit from the shared knowledge.
7. Ignoring the Other Pillars of SEO
Most SEOs believe that there are three pillars of SEO: Content, Link Building and Technology.
However, I prefer to add “local” as the fourth column because it uses elements of all three in a really unique fashion.
Ignoring any of these columns for too long can either delay improving your ranking or prevent them all at once.
For example, if your initial audit reveals that there are a large number of technical problems, you may be eager to get them out of the way and spend all your time cleaning them up.
If possible, try to allocate your resources to work on each pillar of SEO at the same time.
If you spend all your time fixing technical issues or conducting link outreach, but you forget to improve your content, your rankings may not improve the way you wanted.
Now, I know that some of these SEO tactics may work for some websites for a while.
The point here is that the big picture of SEO is much more complex than what is captured by these simple techniques.
Don’t get distracted by them and focus on achieving lasting, lasting results.
Featured Image: Montrie Thipshorn/Shutterstock