3 SEO Practices That You Should Stop

by Jim February 4, 2015

I was talking to a couple of different clients yesterday about their SEO one at the very start of being our client and another that has been with us for nearly 3 years. A few  practices emerged good and bad, that I thought I’d share with you as examples of what not to do.

Forget About The “Longtail”

The longtail is all about those variations of phrases that not as many people type in but there are a higher number of them. The difference between targeting say “SEO” vs “SEO Melbourne based that can help me rank”. “SEO” is a word that will have the bulk of searches. The latter phrase will not have anywhere near the same amount of search but there will be a lot of little similar phrases being typed into Google. Popular logic has been to target the more obscure phrase as it will be easier to rank for and you’ll have results quicker. It sounds great in theory but the problem of it in practice is that no one is that happy when you end up ranking for it. Take the new client I was talking with this morning. Their last SEO had got them ranked for a phrase something like “Womens Online Fashion Boutique Apparel Outlet” or some equally god awful phrase that not even a delusional, freudian, word association playing fashionista would type in during a moment of verbosity. It’s a ridiculous phrase that is usually sold in by an SEO company as they know they can rank for it quickly so its a way of showing small incremental wins to a client.

SEO Longtail
The SEO Longtail

Don’t get me wrong. It’s the longtail type searches that will bring in the bulk of the traffic long term but you don’t need to target them. One of things Ive learned over the last few years as Google has improved its results is that if you go after the big short tail phrases, just by getting on page one for them is enough to drag all the short tail phrases along with them. Incidentally for the aforementioned phrase the SEO company got them ranked 5th. On the other hand  another client of ours has just doubled their traffic again this year by us focusing on the short tail phrases and creating great content around it. The bulk of the traffic though has come from over 600 longtail phrases even though we never targeted them.

short tail SEO
Focus on the short tail, the long tail will follow

As long as you create great content with a focus on your main keywords you will end up ranking for all the long tail you can eat.

Google Sitemaps Are No Substitute For Canonicals

Seriously. That is what one SEO company is telling their clients as a way to stop Google crawling areas of the site that they don’t want it to. I’ve seen it but I did not believe it.

SEO Sitemaps
Use Sitemaps for good SEO

That’s a bit like giving a box of chocolates to a kid without telling them what the names or the flavours of the centres are. Guess what? That is not going to stop the kid chomping down those chocolates. I’d thought Id seen it all but that one was a new one on me. What that SEO company could have done for their client was setup canonical tagging properly so that Google only ever saw one version of the page rather than 5. Simple but effective. By removing the sitemap your rankings will definitely drop. Ive seen it time and time again with clients.

Fast Ranking Is Not Necessarily Good Ranking

Everyone wants to rank fast. These days you are better off playing the long game though. You need to think beyond being no.1 for a phrase and think more about the journey of your brand to get there. If you can make your brand synonymous  with the keyphrase you are trying to rank for, you will rank for it. You do that by becoming the authority in the field on the topic. That means lots of great content about it over time. Not all on day one. SEO is a fragile iterative process. It’s about making incremental changes and learning from those changes. Got any good SEO stories?

Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.

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