5 Old SEO Tactics So Bad it’s Embarrassing They Worked!

by Jon Quinton September 28th, 2011 


For a bit of fun, let’s take a look back and see what worked, and probably never should have worked in the first place!

Ok, so it’s time for a bit of nostalgia! The one thing about SEO that many people either love or hate is that the algorithm is constantly changing and updating in an effort to provide users with better search results. This keeps everyone in SEO on their toes as old tactics become redundant. I struggle to think of many other professions that are so fast paced; ten years is a lifetime in SEO! In particular, it’s the slightly dodgy tactics that usually suffer from the updates; but once upon a time they did actually work!

White Text/white Background

If you dare to do this now, you’ll pretty quickly find yourself in the doldrums with a severe slap on the wrist from Google. But yes, it did actually work when the search engines first started operating. It’s hard to believe that cloaking a ton of keywords would actually fool anyone! This was probably one of the first tactics to die out, and I’m sure it caught many an ‘SEO guru’ out!

Duplicate Domains

Another old way to ensure some pretty good rankings was to go out and buy a ton of exact match domains, and then duplicate the site for each one. The issue here is that you can quickly end up with thousands of duplicate pages, all competing for a ranking and in effect you’re wasting a heap of Google’s crawling time. Many of the algorithm updates in the past year or so have focused on duplication issues, so this is definitely a tactic that is now dead in the water.

Rolling Out 10,00 Pages Of Nonsense

Commonly used by websites aiming to earn a quick buck from Adsense revenue, it used to be possible to auto-generate thousands of pages, point a load of crap links at them, and have the content ranking for long tail terms for a good month or so. Nowadays, Google is much faster at detecting this kind of activity and your site is likely to get burned very quickly if you try and do this.

Roasting Exact Match Anchor Text

Over the past few years, Google has become much better at detecting spam signals via anchor text. It is now absolutely crucial to balance out and effectively manage the distribution of anchors. Even slightly overdoing it can see a huge devaluation in link power, but until not that long ago it was possible to rank fairly well by gaining a large volume of exact match anchors. Like all of the tactics listed, this had a certain time limit to its effectiveness, but Google is certainly much quicker at detecting it now.

Tons Of Footer Links

Footer links started losing their effect a while ago, with Google now devaluing links in footers and sidebars. Some people believe that in large volume, these links can still have a positive effect on rankings. However, it used to be quite easy to build up a large volume of very effective links by giving someone a bit of cash for a ton of site-wide footer and blog roll links. Obviously, all with keyword anchor text!

Jon Quinton

Jon Quinton works as an SEO, running his own consultancy Go Search Marketing. In addition he also runs an ecommerce project; The Jewellery Boutique.

Go Search Marketing

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3 Responses to “5 Old SEO Tactics So Bad it’s Embarrassing They Worked!”

  1. Marie says:

    Interesting article. I wish I was an SEO ten years ago…sounds like so much fun!

    I'm interested in what you said about exact anchor text. It makes sense that Google would zero in on that as a manipulative factor. So, do you try to make the majority of your links link to you with your brand name?

    • Jon Quinton says:

      Hi Marie,

      Thanks for the comment. With anchor text, I try to stay on the safe side of the line with plenty of brand anchor text and also variations on the keyword. To get a rough idea, I'll check out the top ten results for a certain keyword and look at their link profiles to see what they're doing.

  2. tristan says:

    Sadly this is all true! Great informative post Jon. Sometimes i really do need a reminder of what still works and what doesn't. Appreciate the time to keep people updated like this. I found this http://www.emdvault.com posted on a forum. Have you tried this. I've been wanting to try it but i'm still unsure. If you could review this for me that would be great!! let me know! it has to do with exact match domains