Which SEO tactics or metrics do you think people should just leave in the past (but they won’t)?

Which SEO tactics or metrics do you think people should just leave in the past (but they won’t)?

It really gets to me how in the SEO space, certain concepts and tactics are proclaimed “dead” every now and again. With Google Hummingbird for example, a lot of the headlines we saw said something like “Keywords are dead; your entire SEO strategy needs to change”. I can understand why the media are doing that, but I also feel it’s causing a lot of bogus controversy in SEO (which already is controversial enough).

It really gets to me how in the SEO space, certain concepts and tactics are proclaimed “dead” every now and again. With Google Hummingbird for example, a lot of the headlines we saw said something like “Keywords are dead; your entire SEO strategy needs to change”. I can understand why the media are doing that, but I also feel it’s causing a lot of bogus controversy in SEO (which already is controversial enough).

In reality, there’s rarely been a single update where Google would completely leave a factor out of its ranking algorithm. Instead, they tend to tweak the way they evaluate certain things to make the system more objective and harder to game. So when you hear about another big SEO game-changer, do some in-depth reading up at expert resources like Search Engine Land, SEO by the Sea, and Search Engine Roundtable before you change anything in your strategy. More often than not, you won’t need to change a thing.

Which underrated SEO tactic do you wish people would focus on instead?
I think user experience in the SEO context doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Improving the user satisfaction metrics on your site and focusing on increasing your SERP click rate should be your primary concerns if you’re looking to improve traffic and conversions. Additionally, our in-house tests (along with dozens of public experiments you can find online) prove these factors strongly correlate with rankings as well. Google’s always said that what they are after is providing the search results people want, and it’s sort of a no-brainer that those are the results that people click and dwell on.
If you could give a newbie version of yourself who’s just starting out in SEO one piece of SEO advice, what would it be?

Try to really understand how the tools you use work, and how the metrics you rely on are calculated. Even a process as simple as rank tracking or site auditing is very different depending on the tools you use, so it’s always a good idea to cross-check your data in several tools. You might be surprised to learn that on average, WebSite Auditor finds many more pages than the more popular Screaming Frog when it crawls a site. But there are also exceptions — that’s why we also do cross-checks in other tools when we do our own SEO. Ahrefs is generally believed to be the best backlink checker, and our tests do show that they win in ~42% of cases. But Majestic beats them in 34% of cases, and our own backlink index beats ’em both for 17.5% of sites.

When it comes to complex metrics — Keyword Difficulty, PageRank alternatives (Page Authority, URL Rating, Trust Flow, InLink Rank), TF-IDF, etc. — it’s crucial to understand that each tool calculates these in its own way. A lot of the time, two metrics under the same name aren’t even supposed to correlate with or mirror each other — because they are based off different factors. So before you use any piece of data to drive strategic decisions, take the time to research where it’s coming from. You’ll often be able to find the information on the tool’s website; if not, email support and try to get the most specific answer you can.

About the Author