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Debunking Old SEO Tricks – What Doesn’t Work in 2023?

Staying up-to-date with the latest SEO strategies is a big part of what we do. Back in the mid-2000s, certain SEO tricks could easily help websites climb to the top of Google’s search results. Fast forward to 2023, and the landscape has changed dramatically. Old tricks such as keyword stuffing, using invisible text, and cloaking are not just outdated, but can actively harm your website’s ranking.

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Introduction: What is SEO?

If you’re a business owner venturing into digital marketing for the first time, you might have stumbled upon the term SEO. But what exactly is it? SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is the process of tailoring your website so that it appears higher up in the search results on search engines like Google. It’s a bit like arranging a shop window to attract more customers; the more appealing and easy-to-find your display is, the more people are likely to step in and browse.

On the web, this shop window is your website and the people passing by are the internet users searching for products or services you offer. The higher up your website appears in the search results, the more visitors you are likely to get. Some of those visitors may turn into customers.

SEO is all about understanding what potential customers are looking for and fine-tuning your website to meet those needs. It’s about making your site user-friendly, fast, and full of the useful, relevant information that people are looking for.

And the best part? When done right, SEO can help you reach more people without spending a fortune on advertising. To go back to our previous metaphor, it’s like having a shop assistant who works round the clock, helping potential customers find exactly what they’re looking for, right at your virtual shop front.

There are some SEO tricks out there that some people still swear work. Unfortunately, SEO has moved on and most of these tricks cause more harm than good. Below, we delve into some SEO tricks from yesteryear that no longer work so that you can avoid them/

Keyword Stuffing: An Outdated Trick with No Tricks Left

Back in the early days of the internet, website owners discovered a simple yet seemingly effective trick to climb up the search rankings: keyword stuffing. This tactic involved repeating the same words or phrases, those which they believed people would commonly search for, numerous times on a webpage, sometimes to the point of nonsensical repetition.

Imagine reading a paragraph where the phrase “best plumber in Liverpool” is shoehorned in almost every sentence. It not only disrupts the natural flow of the content, making it a less pleasant read, but it also doesn’t add any real value or additional information for the reader.

Fast forward to today, and search engines have become incredibly sophisticated. They prioritise content that is genuinely helpful, informative, and well-written. Google’s algorithms can now easily spot attempts to ‘game’ the system through keyword stuffing, and instead of rewarding this behaviour, they penalise it, pushing the site further down in the rankings. The worst offenders can be punished by removing them from the search listings altogether.

In the modern web, it’s quality over quantity that reigns supreme. Rather than stuffing your content with repetitive keywords, the focus should be on creating content that speaks to your audience’s needs and queries in a natural and helpful way.

What does this mean for business owners? It’s time to say goodbye to outdated tactics and embrace a strategy that revolves around understanding your audience and delivering content that meets their needs with well-researched, relevant, and naturally placed keywords.

Do away with clutter and focus on crafting content that resonates with real people, not just algorithms. After all, it’s real people who will be your customers, visiting your website, and hopefully, choosing your services or products. Keeping your content genuine, helpful, and free of keyword stuffing is not just an SEO best practice; it’s a way of showing your audience that you know your subject matter.

Invisible Text: The Hidden Trick that No Longer Hides

In the earliest days of the web, some crafty individuals came up with a way to try and sway the search engine’s favour without altering the website’s layout: invisible text. This method entailed including lists of keywords on a webpage in the same colour as the background (e.g. white text on a white background), making the text invisible to the visitors but still readable by search engines. The goal was simple — to rank higher in search results without cluttering the website with unsightly lists of keywords.

Fast forward to today, this trick is not just obsolete but can seriously backfire. Search engines have grown tremendously sophisticated, capable of detecting such sneaky tactics with ease. When found out, and it’s more a case of when not if, the website can face penalties, including a significant drop in search ranking, or even being removed from search results altogether.

For business owners looking to build a trustworthy and authentic online presence, engaging in such tactics can risk damaging your reputation irreparably. It is crucial to build a website that is transparent and offers value to its visitors.

Today, the pathway to SEO success lies in creating high-quality content that is naturally integrated with relevant keywords, designed to aid real humans in finding the solutions or information they are seeking. It’s about crafting content that is not just visible, but vivid, resonant, and genuinely useful to your audience.

Cloaking: Showing Different Content to GoogleBot vs. Users

Imagine putting on a show where the rehearsals are filled with spectacular performances, but on the day of the main event, the audience is presented with something entirely different, and sadly, far less impressive. This essentially describes the frowned-upon SEO trick known as cloaking.

In the early days of the internet, some website owners would show one piece of content to search engine “bots” to get a favourable ranking, while presenting different content to actual visitors of the site. It was a deceptive method to lure in traffic based on misleading representations of what was actually available on the site.

As you might guess, this didn’t go down well with search engines like Google, who have the primary aim of helping users find exactly what they are looking for. To preserve the trust and utility of search engine results, Google and others have developed mechanisms to detect and penalise websites employing cloaking tactics.

Today, it’s essential to maintain a one-to-one relationship between what you promise and what you deliver. It is not just about obeying the rules; it is about building a sustainable, trustworthy brand. Your website should offer content that is consistent, honest, and valuable to all users, ensuring what they see in the search results is precisely what they will find when they click through to your site.

Buying Links: Why Purchasing Backlinks is a No-Go

In the early years of SEO, it was a common practice for website owners to simply buy a large number of backlinks to boost their website’s ranking quickly. A “backlink” is just a term for a link from another website to yours. The idea was, the more links you have pointing to your website, the more popular and trustworthy your site appears to be to search engines.

But, just as in the real world, it’s not just about the quantity but the quality of the connections that truly matter. Search engines have caught on to the practice of buying links and have updated their algorithms to penalise websites that engage in this practice. Buying links is now a risky game, as it can lead to your website falling sharply in rankings, or even being removed from search listings altogether.

Instead of buying links, the focus today is on naturally earning them by creating content that others find valuable and want to link to. It’s much like building a good reputation; it needs to be earned through hard work, reliability, and offering something of value.

For business owners, this means focusing on developing a website that offers something unique, valuable, and share-worthy. Whether it is informative articles, helpful guides, or entertaining content, the goal should be to build a resource that people naturally want to share and reference.

Building a Future with White Hat SEO: Ethical Methods that Truly Work

In SEO, you’ll hear terms like “white hat” and “black hat” SEO. But what exactly do they mean?

White hat SEO refers to the use of ethical, transparent, and Google-approved strategies to improve a website’s ranking on the search engine results page. It’s all about playing by the rules and focusing on offering real value to your users through high-quality content, a user-friendly website, and natural link-building strategies.

On the flip side, black hat SEO involves using deceptive techniques, such as the ones we discussed earlier in this article, to try and trick search engines into ranking a site higher. These tactics are not only frowned upon but can incur penalties that could significantly harm your website’s online presence in the long run.

At Ombush Media, we stand firmly in the white hat SEO camp. We believe in building sustainable, long-term SEO strategies that help your business grow organically, attracting the right kind of traffic that translates into real business results. With years of experience helping businesses in Liverpool and beyond to thrive online, we have built up a set of proven, white hat SEO strategies that truly work, using ethical methods aligned with the latest industry standards.

If you’re ready to work with us (or have any questions on SEO) then we’d love to hear from you. Give us a call on 0151 662 0088 or drop us an E-Mail at hello@ombush.com.