Discredited Tactics from the Wild West Days of SEO (And Why We No Longer Use Them)

In many ways, today’s internet landscape is still considered to be the “Wild West”. However, as far as SEO is concerned, several things have changed. Where we were once able to get predictable results on Google from our SEO efforts, the first algorithm update in 2002 changed everything.

But nothing would compare to the Panda update of 2011. This update targeted websites with very little content in an attempt to improve content quality and genuineness on the internet. As a result of the Panda update, thousands of sites saw their rankings plummet, and several of these were never able to recover fully.

Today, there are several tactics that are no longer considered to be viable means to getting a high Google rank.

Article Spinning

In the old days, a site owner who didn’t have the time to research and write original material for a blog post could simply turn to article spinning software for help. To do this, all that was needed was to copy the text from another blog, paste it into the spinner and alter a few words. It sounds good in theory, but all too often, the content generated by an article spinner was incredibly difficult to follow, grammatically incorrect and really not what would be considered ‘content’ at all.

Hidden Text

It used to be that all that was needed to get a good rank on a search engine was to insert invisible or hidden text on a page. This was done by changing the font colour to the same colour as the background of a web page, and then typing in text that was keyword-rich. Not only was this hardly noticed by site visitors, but the search engines of the day were not able to detect hidden text. Of course, today, hidden or invisible text is able to be detected – and penalised – by Google.

Many websites still try and make information available to Google in the form of both text and entire pages as they hide them from their site visitors. However, this is no different than the old way of doing things, and can result in the same penalties.

The SBlog

The spam blog, or sblog is just what its name suggests: a fake blog created for the sole purpose of increasing the ranking of a desired site. Sblogs would often contain information that made no sense, and even information that was blatantly stolen from another site without even changing the content. This was done with the purpose of manipulating search engine results by ranking for particular keywords. To do this, one would fill a blog with links to a particular address.

Thanks in large part to the Penguin algorithm update, today’s blogs contain content that is far more genuine. This is accomplished via guest posting, among several other methods.

Keyword Stuffing

Just as in the case of hidden text, keyword stuffing was once – about 20 years ago – the tactic of the day. Before algorithm updates, ranking for a particular keyword or phrase was as easy as stuffing a page full of that word or phrase, even if that made a page’s text completely nonsensical.  Even today, websites can be found which have bolded keywords in their articles and other site content. However, this does nothing for their rankings; sites that still engage in this kind of tactic can expect to receive an algorithm penalty for their trouble.

Link Farms

These used to be hailed as an effective way to get a website noticed. You simply post another’s link on your site in exchange for your link being posted on their site. This would result in a group of websites all having links to one another, which would make each site look authoritative.  While using this tactic to get backlinks to a website may sound like a good way to get help as you give it, it is now considered by Google to be nothing more than a scam.

But what’s a website today to do if they want their site to be noticed? They must work at getting quality sources of information to link back to them, as well as better target customers, going for those who will actually click the links to read the content that lies beyond.

While the aforementioned tactics may have you feeling nostalgic about the way things used to be, there is really no reason for anyone to pursue them. This is especially true since Google now clearly defines what it does and doesn’t consider as a violation.

Should You Try Using These Old Methods To Get A Good Google Ranking?

Of course, there are still many site owners who think they can beat the ranking system by employing the above tactics. Unfortunately, Google’s policies and detection methods are continuing to become more defined, leaving site owners with even less room to wiggle if they wish to try and artificially alter their rankings.

While doing so may not seem like a big deal, it can be if a site owner is using their own established web site to gamble with. This can also be a concern for those sites not having security in place to thwart hackers. These individuals can easily hijack an unprotected domain and use tactics like SERP hacking to boost the rankings of their own sites. Not only can this hurt the rankings of the original site owner, but it can also result in that site owner getting heavy penalties from Google, which can forever alter the popularity of a legitimate site.

The best advice for avoiding Google penalties is not to use any of the above tactics. The other option is to go ahead and use them, but at your own risk. Google’s continued development of algorithm technology means that it’s only a matter of time before sites attempting to unethically boost their rankings are caught.