It was a cold, dark night. At the end of the long path was an old, dilapidated mansion covered in cobwebs. Inside, a candle flickered next to a person’s shadow.
You rub the frost from the stained glass window onto the sidewalk and there is just enough light to see what the man is doing inside. He moves his body back and forth and sings songs – what could it be? Black magic?
You put your ear to the window to find out what you can hear – and you can… distinguish something:
“One, two, three, four paid links!”
Sadly – he’s not a wizard at all – but something even more chilling: a marketer running the old practice of black hat SEO!
Does this story scare you as much as it scares me? It’s almost 2023 and if you’re involved in link buying – or any of the 10 things I’m going to describe in this article – you have no chance of competing in search results.
So without further ado, here are 10 spooky SEO practices to stop in 2023.
1. Not getting buy-in from the top
Your company may say you can “do SEO” without really understanding what SEO means.
Fast forward to a few months later when you have big decisions to make about the site and management is nowhere to be found.
To be successful in SEO, you need commitment from the top.
In addition, SEO must be considered, even if you, the marketer, are not present in the room.
Every decision about the website affects SEO. If you have the right buy-in, you can solve so many other problems mentioned in this article.
2. Hiring people that know less about SEO than you
You hired a big branding agency because you heard they were the best.
The company assigns an SEO professional with a nice title to your account – what could go wrong?
Except after just a few weeks, it’s clear that you know more than your SEO team.
And with a little digging, you’ll discover that the person maintaining your account has only a few years of SEO in their pocket.
This is a real phenomenon, folks.
Be sure to research the people you hire before signing that contract. Otherwise, your working relationship will not be fruitful.
3. Being sure you have a plan that will stick
OK, that’s not quite how that old expression goes, but the reality is that the only constant in SEO is change.
With Google making thousands of changes to search every year, and your competitors even more, how can you make serious plans for SEO in six months?
You have no knowledge of the changes you will encounter. So accept the fact that a long term SEO plan is worthless.
Run four-week sprints and re-evaluate what the website needs after each sprint.
4. Getting SEO advice and not implementing it
If you’ve invested time and money in hiring an SEO to ignore their recommendations, don’t be surprised by the results you don’t get.
I understand. Sometimes it seems like an uphill battle to get things done.
Therefore, having buy-in and a plan for how you are going to implement SEO strategies is the first step before engaging in SEO services.
5. Ignoring the hard changes
Faced with business silos, competing priorities and a lack of resources, it may seem impossible to make the “hard” changes to a website.
Sometimes they are partially or even poorly implemented to try to move the needle.
However, the hard changes are those that can make a fundamental difference to your SEO program.
If the recommendation is to do them, advocate for getting them done and hire outside expertise if necessary to do them properly.
6. Thinking any content is good content
If you go through almost every update to the Google algorithm, you’ll see that it’s all about high-quality content.
To succeed now and in the future, you need useful content: expert, authoritative and trusted content.
You have to somehow differentiate yourself from the competition instead of spouting what everyone else is saying.
Spinning the ideas of others equals average content. And Google doesn’t reward the average.
7. Thinking all keywords are equal
Inventing keywords doesn’t mean anyone would search for them. That way they can’t get traffic.
That’s just one point, but you should also keep in mind that there are many keyword strategies and they vary by industry.
Matching your content to the intent of your search can help you perform better in search results. This is the key to being considered an expert and getting a higher position.
And if it’s not ranked, the content is almost worthless.
8. Not looking at PPC data
Unfortunately, PPC data is often ignored. And SEO and PPC teams are often at odds with each other.
Knowing what converts in PPC is a solid indication of the ROI for any keyword.
By studying the negative keywords in PPC that identify ambiguous keywords, the SEO also sees issues that indicate the need for a schema.
In short, if certain keywords have a clear meaning and have a good conversion rate, then you may want to include them in your SEO program.
9. Buying links
By now we shouldn’t still be having the conversation about “paid links”.
Yet many websites still engage in this practice – unconsciously or consciously.
To be fair, buying links isn’t always a black and white matter; there are shades of gray.
For example, if I pay someone to write an article and post it on another site, is that a paid link? Google thinks so.
The cure for paid links? Make things worth linking to and let others know.
10. Not taking any SEO training
How do you have meaningful discussions with your SEO team if you don’t know what they’re talking about?
How do you get Bob in IT to actually make changes to the website if he doesn’t have SEO knowledge?
It’s so important for internal teams to have a basic understanding of SEO and stay on top of emerging strategies.
SEO training is an excellent way to keep teams up to date on SEO.
This proactive step helps ensure you make good decisions and keep things moving forward.
Let go of these spooky SEO tactics
These are spooky times and unfortunately for many websites, scary SEO tactics still exist.
Give the ax to the 10 items in this article and you have a chance to compete in the search results in 2023.
The views expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. The authors of the staff are listed here.
Bruce Clay is the founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing optimization company that provides search engine optimization, PPC management, paid social media marketing, SEO-friendly site architecture, content development, and SEO tools and education .