These SEO tricks had a good (or in some cases, not-so-good) run. Now, as search engine optimization continues to evolve, retirement is the best option for the following SEO tricks and tactics. Whether it's a bad practice or simply an outdated method, the following list is full of poor ideas. If you're currently doing any of the below, stop. Even if it appears to be working at the moment, Google (and the industry as a whole) is moving in another direction and it's in your company's best interest to follow:
1. Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is predicated on the idea that SEO hinges entirely on keywords. Looking at your website and its content, your first instinct is to decide which terms you want to rank for, research the best variations, then cram those long-tail keywords in however you possibly can. The result? You've flooded your site with keywords that don't enhance content. Google notices.
2. Paying to Appear in Directories/for Links
Any time you're paying to be included in directories or paying directly for other sites to link to yours, you think you're building authority. You're actually building a bad reputation. Google sees a bunch of bare sites with random links and out-of-context shout-outs and may penalize your site for what is clearly a trick, not an earned link. Links do matter, but only if they're legitimate.
3. Keywords Over Coherence
Typos draw search traffic. So, marketers started targeting those long-tail keyword variants. The same holds true for long-tail keywords that are grammatically incorrect. That's why you see headlines like "5 Best Coats Scarfs Winter Buy Soon." It's not coherent, but it's targeted. Ultimately, though, any traffic that can be gained by this tactic pales in comparison to the drawbacks - including those related to SEO - that come from incoherent content readers will reject.
4. Including Text Just for Search Engines
Whether hidden with small text or invisible in white text at the bottom of a page, any copy that is aimed at search engines instead of people is risky business. Obviously, this doesn't apply to alt-text or anything specifically intended to be read by search engines. But, if your site has text that readers will find odd, but search engines will understand, that's a problem. Your content should be high quality and helpful.
5. Writing the Same Blog 10x
Targeting long-tail keyword variations is a quick way to end up with a bloated website. In an attempt to rank for as many terms as possible, companies started writing blogs that are essentially the same. Instead of original, helpful content that resonates with potential customers, your website is filled with redundant content. When readers aren't happy, Google isn't happy either.
6. Nonsensical Guest Blogging
You've likely received a solicitation email like this: "Hey Your Name, I wrote about Common Industry Topic and would love it if you could send it to your audience! I think they'll get a lot from it!" You don't know this person. You've never heard of his or her company. Upon further inspection, this person works for a company that has nothing to do with yours. It's an obvious attempt at link building. Any dishonest attempt at authority building should be left in the past.
7. Exact Keyword Domains
If you subscribe to #5 above and you feel you need a blog for every keyword variation, why wouldn't you have a website for each keyword variation too? Snapping up domains that match keywords is bad branding and it's a bad SEO practice. When Google sees the same content attached to multiple domains, it can tell that it's a tactic and not a true attempt at helping customers.
8. Fake Google+ Reviews
You'll notice a recurring theme at this point: if it's fake or inauthentic, it's not a good long-term SEO strategy. While a trick like fake Google+ reviews may momentarily boost your ranking, it won't last long. Even worse, your company could be penalized for it. The best SEO strategy is quality. If your strategy is based around tricking Google, it's not going to end well.
SEO has changed. Google is smarter. RankBrain can now judge intent. Creating quality content that makes sense and helps potential customers is a strategy that will always win.