Over the years the ranking algorithms used by search engines like Google have changed a lot. The most recent iteration employs natural language learning and artificial intelligence with a strong emphasis on mobile search.
Although algorithms are closed-guarded proprietary secrets, search engines provide free resources and guidelines on how to optimize your website’s content. Despite this, an unfortunate number of websites continue to use outdated, obsolete practices. At best, doing so is ineffective—at worst, they can actually heavily penalize your website’s ranking.
Here are some of the methods worth avoiding on your own website:
The authority of your content depends not only on its quality and how well it is written but also on its backlinks—that is, the links directing people to it from other sites. People used to swap lists of links or buy links in an effort to ramp up their total number of backlinks. It’s not much different from the people still trying to sell “likes” on social media networks. These practices don’t work because links or likes that can be bought are not high quality.
Because Google factors in not only the number of links and social proof but also the quality and relevance of these referrers, it is better to let backlinks develop in a more authentic way (as we detailed in length in this post). If your content is really good, people will want to link to it anyway.
In the past, it was common to just list every relevant keyword possible in your website metadata (hence the “keyword stuffing” name). Metadata is the information you don’t see when you load a page. It’s background information intended to help search engines understand your content so they can index it more accurately. But times have changed and algorithms have grown wiser. It’s better to write a natural text description of the page, including keywords only when they fit in naturally. Write it as a simple, informative description that might even sound a bit like an ad. And be sure not to duplicate your descriptions—each page needs its own unique one.
This logic applies to other types of tags too, such as the image ALT attribute (aka the “ALT tag”). This also shouldn’t be a list of keywords—it needs to describe the image in a meaningful way. Alt tags are often read aloud for visually impaired people so make them meaningful.
Keyword stuffing hasn’t remained in the background of websites either. Perhaps you’ve encountered the choppy, hard-to-read genre of Internet articles with randomly-placed words throughout. Indeed, people have tried stuffing keywords and keyword phrases into all varieties of content online. It’s one of the reasons that search engines are now designed to spot quality content online. They’re also able to recognize choppy content like this and flag it as spam, effectively lowering the ranking of the website using such tactics.
Closely associated with keyword stuffing is the dying trend of creating a new page for each related keyword phrase. This tactic was based on the idea that each page would be an exact match for the search phrase, thus ranking at the top of results. Truth be told, it worked for a while, but now search engines work hard to deliver relevant, quality content that directly addresses what people are searching for. In other words, instead of having multiple pages flirting around a topic, you should have a single, definitive page that delivers accurate, quality content that is interesting and informative.
Another outdated SEO strategy was to register domain names that exactly matched keyword phrases. For example, “www.bestpizzainnewyork.com.” Now, if your business name is actually Best Pizza in NY, then obviously this domain would be reasonable. However, if not, then buying an exact-match domain name isn’t going to guarantee you a high ranking unless this is also paired with great content and other ethical SEO strategies.
You may have noticed a common theme in the tactics above. They all skirt the most effective way to build a resilient online presence: great content. We focus a lot on creating quality content (like here, here, and here) to boost your website’s visibility and your professional credibility online. And the truth is, search engines are now able to notice when you do.
The speed of technological advancement is hard to keep up with these days, but luckily many of the maxims of traditional business still remain true today: Focus on the customer. Provide a quality experience. Serve them in a way they won’t forget.
In the end, getting noticed online is a lot like getting noticed in real life—you just need to be sure to translate your customer-centric intentions into the actions you’re taking on your website.
If your website isn’t bringing in the new patients your practice deserves, it’s time to rethink your digital strategy. Our clients continue to praise their decision to hire us for help online. With over 20 years of experience in the hearing industry and a team of SEO experts, we can improve your visibility online so local patients can start finding you.
Contact us now to get found by new patients today.