The only constant in digital marketing is that the industry is always changing. New technology has completely altered search strategies from the rise of mobile search to voice search and the endless quest for the featured snippet. ComScore even estimated that 50% of all searches would be voice by 2020, although that is subject to debate.
The point is that new devices and technology have opened up new marketing strategies, such as influencer marketing, and destroyed old ones like keyword stuffing. Despite all of this, there are some strategies that businesses and agencies just can’t let go of. Whether it’s long-standing myths or plain misinformation, here eight digital marketing strategies that will hurt you more than they help you.
Changing Your URL
Perhaps the largest mistake I see businesses make is changing their domain or URL after a site migration or rebranding campaign. Essentially, all of that money you spent on content marketing and optimizing your old site is wiped out just like that.
Despite popular belief, there’s really no such thing as a Google or Bing penalty. Recovering from such requires the best practices and it’s better to keep a webpage that’s driving you traffic then to start from scratch altogether. Even with site redirects, switching to a new URL leaves your business vulnerable to lost search equity and is never recommended.
Hosting Multiple Domains or Subdomains for Multiple Products
On the same note, I have found multiple examples where clients have created separate domains for their products or business offerings. Even if your business does sell two different products, keeping them under the umbrella of your brand is much more advisable from an equity standpoint.
Now, hosting a subdomain is an option and will still generally receive the same equity from your parent domain, although this is also not fully concrete. But any ‘link juice’ that flows to your subdomain won’t necessarily reciprocate to your parent domain, so be careful about organizing your site as such.
Poor URL Structures
URLs are so important for crawling and indexation, that I find that they are typically the number one error impeding website rankings. Mainly, webmasters struggle with URL parameters and often settle for flat architecture URLs. An example of this would be:
The problem with this is that you have essentially eliminated all hierarchy from your site and made each page equal. That means that a blog post is treated the same as a category or ‘contact me’ page. For that blog post, the most appropriate URL structure would resemble something like this:
Resolving these errors will require a lot of work, such as altering default permalink settings and re-optimizing slugs. Avoid these errors early on by building out top hierarchy pages and then filling out your website with lower hierarchy pages, such as blog posts.
Leveraging Ineffective Link Building Strategies
Spammy link building remains the scourge of the industry. Despite all of this, Google still confirms that the number of unique referring domains to a webpage is one of its three most important ranking factors.
Examples of link building strategies you need to cut out include:
- Paid links
- Reciprocal linking
- Spammy guest posting (e.g. link directories)
- Stuffing footer links on pages
- Inserting links into forum comment sections
This doesn’t mean you should avoid low hanging fruit, such as guest posting for high authority sites or registering for local listings. But these are not high-value strategies.
Ideally, you’ll want to promote onsite content that is powerful enough to people in your industry that they will want to link back to you. Influencer marketing and more top-level branding strategies are also highly effective.
Over-Optimized Anchor Text for Link Building
Along the same lines, over-optimizing your anchor text on guest posts and link reach outs can be dangerous. Now, from an indexing perspective, it could be argued either way if anchor text affects rankings, but sending links to the same page with the same anchor text over and over again will definitely alert search engines to some pretty spammy link building strategies. While a Penguin penalty no longer exists, it kind of defeats the purpose of the link itself and could end up just not being counted by search engines.
Going Broad Tail
Optimizing your website and link building campaign around broad tail keywords are a waste of time. If you’re in a competitive vertical, chances are established brands and retailers already outrank you for those terms and you will probably never outrank them in the search.
A majority of Google searches are four words or more and long-tail keywords allow you to target products that appeal to specific niches and underserved customer segments. That’s why a white label digital marketing firm will generally recommend short and medium-term strategies that reflect optimizing content for long tail keyword searches.
Creating Pages for Each Keyword Variation
Of course, becoming too granular in your campaigns could end up cannibalizing your own content. With advanced machine learning in place, search engines can register LSI keywords and serve up your content for related keyword searches, even without exact match phrases. The need to optimize a specific webpage for ‘digital marketing’, ‘digital marketing services’, and digital marketing company’ would become fruitless as they all revolve around the same topic. In fact, this would present some uncomfortable indexing errors if you make any mistakes in internal anchor texts.
Focusing on Quantity Over Quality
Finally, this long-stated belief that you must produce consistent content to rank your domain higher should not compel you to produce thin content. Quality content wins every time, whether it’s through organic link building, offering a higher valued user-experience, or guiding customers through your sales funnel.
As organic blue links begin to disappear on SERPs and the industry focuses more heavily on voice search and other new trends, you will kill your own strategy by following these outdated practices. Pursue other strategies outside of SEO to truly extend your brand’s reach and always prioritize branding as the main vehicle to retain existing clients/customers and acquire new ones through word-of-mouth advertising.