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3 SEO Tactics That Are Dead

It is a phrase that haunts those of us who own an SEO agency; SEO is dead.

Of course, it isn’t dead, but it changes A LOT. And maybe just some of the SEO tactics are dead.

So, like the snakes that we are portrayed to be, we often shed our old tactics and emerge glistening and new. Sometimes (usually)

Some of these tactics still get baked into everyday practice because less informed/scrupulous practitioners don’t bother to see what’s new and just do what worked for them 5 years ago.

I recently watched a webinar hosted by Ryan Brock from DemandJump that he did as part of the Search Engine Land SMX! Digital conference.

The topic was a cute memorial to SEO tactics that are dead (i.e.: don’t work anymore) and it got me thinking about some SEO tactics that I would like to lay to rest once and for all.

So here are 3 SEO tactics that are dead. I will also put in 4 bonus dearly departed tactics that Ryan Brock mentions.

So here are 7 SEO tactics that are dead.

Nobody expects the SEO Inquisition.

SEO Tactics That No Longer Work

  1. A Page Per Location
  2. Volume Of Backlinks
  3. Domain Authority
  4. Keyword Difficulty
  5. Search Volume
  6. AIDA
  7. Millions of short blogs

1.      RIP A Page Per Location

In the olden days, if you wanted to rank locally for your services, you would be tempted to have a page per location, so you could rank for, say, ‘Plumbing Sheffield’, as well as ‘plumbing Doncaster’ and ‘Plumbing Barnsley’.

The pages would all be more or less the same with the exception of the keyword and, if you are lucky, one paragraph about the area.

But Google, in their never-ending quest to cut the server space they are using, decided this was not useful to a user and would be actively working to prevent those individual pages from ranking.

So now, if Google thinks there are pages on your website that are too similar to another page (in URL and content) or to another page on the internet, it just won’t index them.

That’s not to say you can’t have those pages if they genuinely provide value to the user-just don’t expect them to be indexed and don’t rely on them for your local SEO.

2.      RIP Buying Backlinks

This one has been dead for a while but just last month I got wind of an agency promising to increase organic rankings by providing around 10 backlinks a month.

It blows my mind that this is still a thing.

Backlinks are a good way of demonstrating one of the Es and an A (and maybe a T, depending on the link) in EEAT (Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trust).

Buying loads of backlinks from spammy farms is a shockingly bad practice when we consider the whole point of EEAT is to provide authoritative, trustworthy content. It’s been long-dead since about 2019. Please let it rest in peace.

3.      Here Lies Domain Authority

Which brings us to the first of the points Ryan made in his webinar.

Domain Authority Is Dead.

I would go so far as to say it never lived in the first place but instead has always been a specter in SEO.

Moz made DA up. It’s a fairly helpful indication of the backlink profile of a website but it absolutely cannot be used as a trustworthy way of ensuring a website ranks.

Here is why.

  1. Correlation is not causation in SEO. Just because a website with a high DA ranks top, doesn’t mean that a website needs to have a high DA in order to rank. I so often see webpages rank in the top 3 with a very low DA because they have really relevant, quality content from an authoritative author on a fast website.
  2. Its arbitrary-again…Moz made it up
  3. A website with 5 really amazing, genuine backlinks from relevant, trustworthy websites will have a lower DA than a website that has a bazillion spammy backlinks. But how do you know just by looking at DA? Ya don’t!

Here at GT, I will look at it as another piece of the jigsaw. But I don’t make it a metric or a tactic when doing strategies for people.

4.      Burn In Hell: Picking Easy Keywords

This tactic can burn in hell, as far as I am concerned.

Ok, maybe a bit strong but I’m running out of death analogies.

Picking the ‘easy’ keywords is lazy. Sure, go for some that are going to get you good gains but pick the keywords that will genuinely drive traffic and grow your business.

Just have a bit of patience and a shit-hot strategy.

5.      RIP Search Volume

Well, you learn something new every day and I thank Ryan for teaching me this today.

I didn’t realise that search volumes are from Ad Words data and Google doesn’t think you can place ads on questions, so therefore questions usually have a search volume of zero.

I just thought they were too niche, but no. The data is incomplete.

So don’t dismiss keywords based on a low search volume.

Similarly, we always advise our clients against just chasing the keywords with enormous search volumes if they are very generic, ambiguous, or broad. Because they won’t drive targeted traffic.

Have a nice balance of keywords that your target audience will genuinely be interested in and search for.

Bonus tip from Ryan-don’t worry about Keyword Cannibalisation here. If you are writing content that genuinely answers the questions people have about your product or service, and you take them on a journey, the benefits of having similar content will outweigh the risks of cannibalisation.

I’m not sure I agree. I think a really good piece of content will rank for (and answer) all the semantic versions of your customer’s queries and you don’t necessarily need a page per long tail keyword.

Ready for two lovely acronyms?

6.      RIP AIDA

I bloody love AIDA. I think it is a really succinct way of explaining the process people generally go through before making a decision.

Ryan said the AIDA funnel is dead and I sort of agree that the Funnel part needs to meet its maker (incidentally, that was Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898).

Instead of a funnel, it is more of a squiggle.

We don’t neatly make our way through the funnel. Instead, we flit around, sometimes over weeks, months, or even years. Or, sometimes, that journey takes mere minutes.

Ryan’s point was that, instead of making people follow one linear path, we should build a web of content. Like a mind map of what people will read next.

Then, arrange it into Pillars. A bit like this.

Pillar pageSub pillar pageBlog
Sub pillar pageBlog
Sub pillar pageBlog

Again, I’m not sure I agree with Ryan so much here.

It sort of feels like the same thing, packaged in a gimmicky way. Having said that, I do think it will really benefit the internal linking structure, which, as we know, is still very important.

Certainly food for thought.

Although, As Mark Ritson pointed out in pre-apocalyptic 2016, tactics and strategies are not the same thing. As he wearily puts it;

‘Can I again remind the reader of the difference between strategy, in this case working out what the stages are and which one to focus on in order to increase sales, and tactics, the various actions I will invest in to execute the strategy.’

Mark Ritson

So perhaps I can give AIDA the kiss of life but euthanise the funnel.

7.      RIP Millions Of Short Blogs

As an SEO agency owner, I do kind of miss the days when we could just churn out 8, 300-word blogs and see the rankings shoot up.

It really was quantity over quality.

And, of course, it flooded the internet with gallons of raw sewerage.

Google clamped down and slowly started to roll out the Helpful Content Update, which has, ‘coincidentally’, come at the same time as the rise of AI content.

So, you can no longer churn out content that just ticks the boxes. It’s got to be meaningful. Helpful. Well researched. Useful. Wonderful. Awesome. Amazing. It’s got to roll over and light you a cigarette once you’ve finished reading it.

So when we tie that with what Ryan was saying about making the content into pillars that represent a map, not a funnel, you can see how your content creation can start to take shape.

7 Dead SEO Tactics-The Takeaway

SEO will always evolve. As technology evolves, as we become wary, then resistant to tactics that used to work (hello, gated content) us SEO-ers change track.

We have to. And that’s what makes it exciting.

But it is time to leave these 7 tactics in the ground where they belong.

The takeaway is what Google has been saying for a year or so now. Just create content that really genuinely helps people. Make sure it’s accurate.

Want Help?

If you would like to be ranted at about SEO in person, feel free to give me a bell or drop me a line.

Or, if your agency is still deploying some of these tactics, then give us a shout and we will get you a proper strategy in place.

Hannah x

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