Six Keyword Tricks to Stop Using

With so much conflicting SEO information available on the Internet, it’s not surprising how much of it is outdated or just plain wrong. Nobody wants to spend many hours building a site, only to find that they’ve wasted much of the effort they hoped would bring targeted visitors from the search engines. Here are six time-consuming tactics centered around keywords that you can stop using right now.

There are plenty of things that you CAN do to bring visitors to your site, of course. Most of the keyword-related time-wasters I’m going to list are the kinds of mistakes that beginners to SEO will make, but even those who’ve been doing SEO for quite some time are not immune to these errors. So let’s take a look at the practices you can give up.

We’ll start with the Meta keywords tag. If you’re up to date on your SEO practices, you stopped using that tag a long time ago. Google and the other search engines started ignoring it because webmasters started stuffing it full of keywords, with no regard for their relevance to the web page or website. How irrelevant is this tag? If your child was born in the same year in which the search engines stopped paying attention to the meta keyword tag, she’d be graduating from sixth grade this year.

Next, we’ll look at keywords in the alt tag of images. Before you point to last week’s advice on website promotion, let me clarify. Is the image clickable? If it is, then the text you use in the alt tag for the image will be seen by the search engines, and may help your traffic. However, if the image is not clickable, it won’t boost your rankings in the search engines. It can still help make your site more accessible to blind and vision-impaired visitors who use special hardware and software to read websites to them, though.

The third strategy you can drop is stuffing keywords in your content. Please. It makes your content read poorly to your human visitors. Likewise, give up the idea of a “magic percentage” of keywords to help a page to rank. It doesn’t exist. And if it did exist, it’s probably a lot less than you think it is. As Jill Whelan notes, “if you’re having trouble ranking for certain phrases that you’ve used a ton of times on the page, rather than adding it just one more time, try removing some instances of it. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.”

The fourth keyword tactic you can give up is trying to attract a large audience by optimizing for one-word keywords or even two-word keyword phrases. There’s too much competition, and it’s not going to work. But more to the point, most people searching for answers to their problems have specific questions in mind. When they use a search engine, they build a keyword query based on those needs. They’re not going to search for a “lawyer” when they need legal help; they’re going to search for an attorney that offers exactly the service they need right then. So what services do you offer, and what terms do searchers type into Google to find them? You should optimize your website for those words. As they saying goes, you may attract more flies with honey than vinegar, but people searching for “organic clover honey” have a better handle on exactly what they want – and they’re more ready to buy than those just looking for “honey.”

If you stop doing the first three tactics, you gain back a lot of time. Stopping the fourth tactic means you must redirect your time into coming up with better, more diverse keywords; it may not actually save you time, but the time you spend will bring a much better return on your investment. The fifth tactic you need to stop will also mean investing some serious time. Have you been targeting the same keywords on every page of your website? If so, you need to diversify.

As Whelan explains, “The keyword universe for any product or service is ginormous.” Even if two or three key phrases bring you the most traffic, you don’t want to miss out on the others. Have you ever heard of the long tail? It’s shorthand for the point that, taken together, all of the key phrases that bring you only a few visitors in fact bring in as much traffic (or more) as the few keywords that seem to bring in the lion’s share. So instead of using the same keywords on every page, really think about what you’re offering the visitor on each specific page and target your keywords accordingly, one page at a time.

The sixth keyword-related practice you can give up is redirecting a keyworded domain to your real one. This common mistake can cost you both time and money, and it won’t gain you any visitors from the search engines. What usually happens is that a company uses its business name for its domain, which makes perfect sense, and then notices that Google seems to prefer domains with keywords in them. Well, here’s what you need to keep in mind, according to Whelan: “Buying one (or more) [domains] and redirecting it to your actual website can’t provide you with any advantage because a redirected website (and its domain name) is never seen by the search engines.”

Now that you know what keyword-related techniques and strategies won’t improve your ranking in the search engines or attract any traffic from them, you can spend your time on SEO that really will make a difference. Good luck!

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