Outdated SEO Practices That You Should Definitely Avoid

By:  Ronaldo Stewart

Updated On: March 14, 2023

The search engine optimization (SEO) industry is evolving at a fast and continuous pace.

You’d be surprised at the number of techniques “experts” used just a couple of years ago that are entirely ineffective now! Advances in artificial intelligence (and Google’s algorithms) make it easier than ever for bots to identify genuinely valuable information as opposed to content developed to cater to the search engines. You must change your strategies to keep up.

Gaining new knowledge is one of the best ways to stay ahead, but sometimes it’s what you’re still doing is the real problem. Avoid these old-school hacks at all costs. If you haven’t stopped using such techniques, they could be leading you down a perilous path.

In this article, we have listed some obsolete and old-school SEO techniques that have either become irrelevant or would not give you the best results.

Old school seo

Article Directories

There was a time when one could submit article directories. Article directories can be understood as a short bio with a backlink. So whoever picks the article for republishing has to add the same bio and the link on their website too. 

However, after a certain period, Google started recognizing article directories as link farms that contained low-quality content. Google even rolled out the Panda update, which contained algorithms to stop valuing such backlinks altogether. Hence, it is advisable not to waste time on them.

Article Spinning

Article spinning is a tactic that can be used for creating a huge amount of low-quality content. It is typically done using software and does not require hiring people to write or rewrite the articles.

A content or article spinning software can rewrite a single content piece at a time in multiple ways, which helps in creating an infinite number of new articles. Although all of these pieces contain the same content, they have slight variations in the writing style.

Since the content is put together by software, it might not always read well or make sense. A general rule is to avoid using article spinning software to create content. 

Keyword Misuse

Keyword misuse can include irrelevant keyword targeting, keyword stuffing, as well as writing content for a specific keyword density. These can be understood in detail below:

Irrelevant Usage

In many cases, it so happens that a marketer does not keep the users in mind while ranking for high-volume keywords. They mostly pay attention to how to rank higher on search engines. This way, marketers tend to lose the reader’s attention.

Google improves the ranking of a website only if the right message is being communicated to the readers. High-volume keywords can enhance content visibility only if it is ranking higher in search engines.

Keyword Stuffing

Since SEO is all about keywords, keyword stuffing is on such an old school SEO technique that is used to rank high on search engines. Marketers tend to add high search-volume keywords in a website, wherever it is possible.

However, now this technique has become old and ineffective as search engines have started preferring natural text combination. Having high-quality content, along with the target keywords, would make your website rank higher, rather than just stuffing keywords randomly.

Keyword Density

The density of the keywords also used to play an important role in ranking a website higher on search engines. However, now Google does not depend on keyword density.

Google keeps a check on whether the web pages are effective in addressing the problems of the search users. Content quality and the quality of the message being conveyed are some of the important factors for SEO.

Guest Blogging Randomly And Indiscriminately

Sure, guest blogging has a lot of merits. It can help you get more exposure, build your brand, demonstrate your skills and expertise, and establish credibility, authority, and trust. 

But the thing is a lot of people make the mistake of taking whatever is available when it comes to guest blogging opportunities. The thing is, you need to be more discerning about where you post. Otherwise, you can most definitely be penalized as Google catches on to what you’re doing.

For example, if your niche is fashion blogging, a guest blogging opportunity for a cars enthusiast’s website most probably wouldn’t do you any good. Similarly, if your website focuses on tech and a marketer who specializes in finance offers to write you a piece on finance, that wouldn’t be very helpful to you, would it?

Exact Match Domains

Exact Match Domains or EMDs, are domain names that include the exact same keywords you’re trying to rank on Google’s SERPs. 

Below are some examples of exact match domains:




While at first, exact match domains were trending online and ranked quickly, Google soon changed its algorithms which affected their power to rank. What this means is that if you have an exact match domain with no content that adds value to the users, Google is not going to be friendly with you. 

But if you have quality content and if the users are accessing it and providing positive feedback, you still have a chance to rank higher. The only thing is that you may not get the same advantage from having the exact match domain as before. 

Also, if you are doing a lot of exact match activities, even with backlinks, which we will discuss below, you have a higher chance of getting penalized by the search engine giant.

Use of Anchor Text

The use of anchor text, especially in the internal links, used to be a technique that used to have a positive impact on the SEO ranking of your landing page.

However, in the past few years, it has been observed that Google is giving less importance to this and has even penalized the websites where such anchor text appears spammy, manipulative, or inappropriate. 

In case the internal link is in the navigation, footer, sidebar, or the content, and it is well-written, relevant, and has high usability, your anchor text is pretty safe.

However, if the internal link has low usability or does not appropriate, it makes your website sketchy. Google might even penalize you in such a scenario.

Weak Metadata

Although now it is considered outdated, however initially, SEO experts used to recommend adding the target keywords into the meta tags and meta descriptions. It was considered that the bots would crawl the meta description, and rank the web page based on this small information.

As a result, the meta descriptions that the users saw in the search results were more of a keyword-stuffed garble, which made little or no sense.

Google now has an official stand that meta descriptions do not affect page rankings, though that might not be 100 percent true either. While the actual text of the meta descriptions may not impact the rankings, Google takes into consideration the number of people who click on your web page.

If the meta description causes a user to click on your link, it indirectly supports your SEO efforts and enhances the overall ranking of your web page.

Low-Quality Content

Google ranks high-quality content higher on its search engines. So, it’s baffling how many people think writing a lot of low-quality content for their websites is good. 

The implications of low-quality content (or thin content, as it’s also known) are massive. Your ranking will be severely affected by thin content. Here is a checklist below of things to avoid when posting content:

Unattractive Design: Stay away from tacky fonts or low-quality pictures and videos, as well as ugly design. 

Little Text On Main Webpage: Low-quality websites don’t have much to show in terms of how much content they have on their main page. 

Content Is Filled With Mistakes: Either it’s riddled with human-made grammatical errors or the content has been generated with the help of an article spinner or generator ( more on that below). 

The Content Isn’t Original: It’s completely copied or heavily plagiarized from another source. 

The Content Isn’t Updated: Lots of old information that’s not relevant or useful. 

The Site Is Spammy: There’s a whole bunch of pop-ups and intrusive ads. 

Investing time into writing high-quality content, even if it’s not a lot of content, will rank you higher. Remember –  it’s always quality over quantity! 

Unfocused and Non-Strategic “linkbait”

Catchy titles on one website that leads to unrelated or irrelevant content on another website are a big turn-off for users. The main idea behind this old-school SEO technique is anchored in the belief that the backlink to your website is what matters the most.

However, it is important to remember that you need to create content that gels with the link and adds value to the reader. Many search engines such as Google have started discarding such links altogether.

Engaging in Comment Spamming

SEO specialists and bloggers used to post comments on several relevant blogs to create backlinks for their websites or blogs. One could even indulge in mass posting with the help of software and spun text.

However, today this has become one of the old school SEO methods that no longer work and might even be considered spammy by search engines

The best way to avoid being scammed is to try posting relevant blogs and of high-quality. This way, not only would you be able to attract your target audience, but would also be able to build good relationships with other community owners and blog owners.

Using Short-tail Keywords

Long keywords are gaining paramount importance in today’s digital world. One needs to use long-tail keywords to stay ahead of the competition.

According to a survey, about 70% of Google searches are made up of long-tail keywords. Thus, you should forget about short keywords and phrases. Long-tail keywords also tend to have less competition, a higher purchase intent as well as a higher conversion rate.

A Page For Every Keyword Variation

Confused? Let me explain. We’re talking about sites that have a separate page for each keyword.

For example, not only would a website have a keyword for “laundry services”, but it’d also have one for “washing”, and “ironing and folding”. In this case, it may be best to just create one page with subheadings related to laundry and attach the keywords on one page.

If you don’t do this (and instead, create separate pages for different keyword variations), you’ll face the consequences of having your pages not rank on search engines. Not to mention, missing several keyword variations for your main page makes your content thin and further reduces the chance of ranking higher.

Writing For Bots 

You probably did a double-take on this one. You might be thinking, “Who the heck writes for bots?” By writing for bots, we mean tailoring content for AI (artificial intelligence) and search engine crawlers. 

So, what are search engine crawlers? A web crawler, also known as a spider or spider bot, is a bot that scans, discovers, and collects data from websites automatically. 

Trying to rank higher by writing for search engine crawlers doesn’t work anymore. Search engines are now advanced enough to understand what you’re doing and it won’t reflect positively on your site if you’re writing for crawlers or bots.

Flat URLs

Wondering, “what are flat URLs, anyway?” Well, when a website implements a URL format wherein all the pages branch out directly from the domain without any subcategorization it’s called a flat URL. Basically, it has no subcategories. 

Its counterpart hierarchical URL structure categorizes URLs based on category, which makes it easy for Google to index and understand the topic relevance, which is currently a big ranking factor.

Here are some examples: 

Flat URLs 






Hierarchical URLs






Neglecting Mobile Optimization

With the introduction of Google’s mobile-first index, the digital world has started moving to smartphones and tablets. High-speed internet, as well as the introduction of 5G, has also contributed to the mobile-first approach.

A mobile website that has a low page load speed would not have a good user experience. It can also hurt the search engine ranking of a website. Since about 50% of Google searches are done on mobile, the page load time on mobiles has gained paramount importance. 

Mobile SEO is an important practice wherein you can optimize your website for smartphone and tablet users across the globe.

Since the number of mobile users is increasing with time, it is important to ensure that you optimize your website for mobile SEO. Work on it to ensure that a user can search for the required information on your website easily and quickly.

Not Including Images

For a long period, it is used to be fine to neglect images on your website and still rank higher on search engines. Website owners and marketers did not use to use alt text or image files to boost the page relevance.

However, with the growing importance of on-page SEO, not including these would prevent your website from ranking higher on search engines. 

Since search engines cannot see or read the images on a website, it is important to give an alt text to the mage along with a relevant file name so that the search engine knows what the image is all about. If you do not create text, you lose a huge opportunity to be visible on the search engine results page.

What You Must Do to Build Links?

Google, in spite of tagging all the above as spammy link-building practices, still continues to weigh heavily on the quality of backlinks when ranking websites. That means you as a website owner have to build backlinks to rank higher. Period.

If all these are spammy practices, what are the options you have at your disposal in 2021 for quality link building?

So, Google says if you want to build backlinks, make sure you have content that people love linking to. Though the idea seems to be great, it’s not always possible.

Think it this way, if you have a brand new site with quality content but zero backlinks. If Google doesn’t rank you, how can anyone read the content?

The answer to this is quality blogger outreach. Reach out to bloggers and influencers within your niche and send them the link to the content you have published.

We have done an in-depth article on manual blogger outreach to help you build backlinks in a way that Google doesn’t find spammy.

Don’t worry, that’s not the only way. There are multiple ways to get out of this conundrum.

Read our list of must-try link-building strategies.

With the continuous changes and updates in SEO, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest developments in the industry. It can turn out to be a huge problem if you are using old SEO techniques for your website. Above, we have listed the old-school or outdated SEO techniques that you should avoid remaining at the top of the game.


Ronaldo Stewart

Ronaldo is one of the co-founders of Thunderhawk and has been doing SEO for local businesses for the past 5 years. He's helped many business owners grow and scale through a combination of SEO and paid advertising on Google and Facebook. He can usually be found in the gym or out fishing and loves spending time with his daughter.


One thought on “Outdated SEO Practices That You Should Definitely Avoid

  1. Hey thanks for the info.

    Could you please keep me up to date with the latest Google updates?

    According to the most recent update this month, my website traffic has slowed down and so has my rankings.

    Can you help me see if the new update will affect my site?

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