Fads go out of style for a reason. After all, you wouldn’t be caught wearing neon shoulder pads or animal-print spandex in the 21st century.
So why do some of us still hold on to outdated trends when it comes to digital marketing? The world of web content cycles through trends faster than we could have ever imagined, and it’s important to reflect on what doesn’t work anymore.
We’ve listed some of the most common marketing strategies from recent years that have lost their magic. Avoid these at all costs – they’ll produce weak content, disgruntled site visitors, and a poor reputation – not to mention a low SEO score.
Why “Black Hat” Strategies Don’t Work
You might describe some of the outdated strategies on this list as “black hat.” What does this mean exactly?
Think of who might be wearing a black hat: a sneaky villain or a sketchy magician. Those personalities are represented in black hat marketing strategies. Content is shared with the goal of misleading the visitor in some way, or “cheating the system” to trick search engine bots and show up higher on searches.
Both search engines and internet users have caught on to most or all of these techniques. In fact, Google updates its search algorithm hundreds of times per year, often finding ways to penalize pages that rely on unethical SEO practices.
Outdated Content Trends to Avoid
This Web Content Technique Will Save Your Life. Just kidding – it will actually push readers away.
Even casual internet users are familiar with the term “clickbait.” As the name suggests, these articles lure readers in to clicking the link using a headline that is alluring, but often deceptive or found to oversimplify its content.
Customers groan at the sight of headlines like, “7 Ways to Grow Your Business — #3 Will Shock You.” Instead of relying on content that reeks of desperation, publish sincerely helpful articles.
Using keywords in your content is a must, but avoid keyword stuffing. This practice involves overusing a single keyword to boost a site’s ranking on a search query for that keyword. If you’ve ever seen content that aggressively repeats a word or phrase to the point where it seems unnatural, you’ve probably stumbled upon keyword stuffing.
Aside from being transparently greedy, you should drop this tactic because it probably won’t work anymore – Google’s search bots can identify keyword stuffing and penalize you for it.
This technique is similar to keyword stuffing. Spinning involves taking content and using software to create nearly-exact copies – usually, a few words are slightly changed. These are then distributed across the web to avoid being perceived as duplicates to bots.
Search bots are being tuned to catch on to spinning, and it can ultimately damage your SEO ranking.
Have you ever clicked on a link only to be taken to a page you weren’t anticipating? This is called cloaking, and it’s one of the most frustrating black hat content techniques.
When this happens, the site takes Google bots to a page filled with the keyword the user had searched – meanwhile, the user is taken to an unrelated page. This is usually a spam page, an undesired advertisement, or something malicious.
Like many other items on this list, search engines are becoming better at identifying cloaked sites, and they are frequently blacklisted.
Content for The Sake of Content
You don’t want your website to empty, of course. However, you shouldn’t just fill your site with weak, unnecessary filler content. Instead, consider that potential visitors are real people who are drawn to content that is genuinely useful. Keep this rule of thumb in mind: quality trumps quantity.
Copying Another Site’s Content
A student would receive a failing grade for copying answers from a classmate’s test. Using another site’s content won’t land you in summer school, but you will face other consequences. Search engines are able to identify content that is duplicated, and often flags this content, lowering its chance of success in searches. It’s better to give your site’s visitors unique content.
The items on this list were once viewed as clever techniques to earn clicks. Now, they’re widely considered to be cheap and unethical tactics. You’ll push away visitors and sabotage your SEO score by doing these. Instead, publish genuine content that visitors will really benefit from. You’ll be surprised at how far authenticity can go – even on the web.