Almost every area of online marketing changes significantly on a yearly basis and search engine optimization is no exception. In fact, SEO has changed dramatically since it became a core part of online marketing around fifteen years ago. The algorithms which the search engines use to index and rank online content are smarter than ever, and no longer can webmasters hope to drive valuable traffic to their websites and build up brand awareness simply by artificially manipulating the search engine results. If you haven't done so already, it is time to get rid of those old habits and change your strategy, lest you end up facing the major consequences of not falling in line with Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
1 - Focussing on Keyword Searches
Not so long ago, the typical SEO campaign revolved around targeting keyword searches, but the way people use the search engines to find the content they're looking for has changed in recent years. Today, people are far more likely to use conversational queries such as questions rather than simple keywords and Boolean operators. The search engines are getting better and better at accommodating natural-sounding queries, with Google's latest Hummingbird algorithm accommodating precisely that. While keywords still and always will be important in SEO, it is now more important to pay closer attention to content themes and consistency while providing value to the user.
2 - Not Focusing on Mobile SEO
Most webmasters didn't start paying much attention to the increase in mobile Internet users until recently. The standard practice for a long time was to bundle mobile and desktop online marketing strategies together, often to the point of leaving mobile users as nothing more than an afterthought. However, with the unprecedented rise of mobile Internet, businesses can no longer afford to ignore mobile users, and it is now important to have separate mobile and desktop marketing strategies. Mobile users have different requirements: for example, mobile users are far more likely to carry out local searches for things like local businesses and news. Your SEO campaign needs to take this into account both for the search engines and your users.
3 - Over-Optimized Anchor Text
Anchor text is the visible text of a hyperlink, and it has been used and abused for years as a way to manipulate the search engine ranking of the pages that they link to. Countless websites were and still are littered with these spam links which look extremely obvious to users and detract from the overall quality of the website in question. One of the many changes which came about with the launch of Google's Penguin 2.0 algorithm was that such links were heavily devalued and many websites even provoked a significant penalty by using anchor text excessively to artificially manipulate search engine rankings. Instead, anchor link text should be useful and informative and should aid the navigation of your website.
4 - Press Releases and Advertorials
Article marketing, an area of content marketing by which online marketers used online mass distribution to post content such as press releases and advertorials is now highly frowned upon. Article and press release directories and similar websites exist for the sole purpose of providing webmasters with a cheap and now ineffective way to build links in order to show off their popularity to the search engines. Google considers the practice to be link farming, a violation of its Webmaster Guidelines. Instead, webmasters should focus on quality rather than quantity in order to provide value to their visitors. Advertorial content can still be valuable for increasing brand awareness, but only if it is not used as a link scheme.
5 - Mass-Produced Content
In the same way that advertorial content used for farming backlinks is bad, mass-producing content for your website simply to make it bigger no longer stands well in the search engines which are constantly trying to distinguish quality, original content from the mass-produced rubbish. As previously stated, content marketing is about providing value, and content which is created for the sole purpose of improving search engine rankings is not at all likely to be of any benefit to any human reader. Instead, content should be all about connecting with your readers and providing something relevant, useful and/or entertaining to them. Content may still be optimized for the search engines, so long as that isn't the primary goal.