My Top 5 Least Favorite SEO "Best Practices" Digital Agencies Try to Sell Us

Mar 13, 2017SEO

Please forgive an element of snark in this post about SEO and agency best practices. All agencies say they know how best to do something, and while some really have mastered elements of digital marketing, the vast majority still really don’t know squat about SEO. Below are my least favorite “best practices” I’ve encountered from digital agencies.


Yes, SEO is still a thing; I get asked about it on a weekly basis. “How is our SEO?” “What are we doing to improve our SEO?” “Are we working with anyone to optimize our SEO?” Do you hear that chanting coming from the c-suite?


The business side, it seems, is still fixated on “having good SEO” and they’re willing to pay for it in many cases. Of course that also means agencies will be willing to charge for it, too. But I’m so over some agency’s so-called “best practices” they keep trying to sell me. Below are the five worst “best practices” I’m still hearing and really wish all these SEO experts would just stop.

Literally Anything Involving “BackLink Building”

At least once per week, I receive an email solicitation from a “backlink building” agency that can guarantee me #1 spot on Google.

My dad used to say something about sales tactics – that if people were still using them, they must still be working.

Let’s make a pact right now to put these backlink builders out of business, shall we? Stop rote link building. Right now. It’s dead and it will only hurt you in the long run. Use that money you would have wasted and start link earning by focusing on your customer’s content needs for a change.

Blah Blah Blah Keyword Density Blah Blah Blah

Okay, yes, keyword density is still a relevant element of SEO. How frequently (or infrequently) you mention a particular term will obviously be relevant to how likely it is your page will show up in SERPs.

If you’re targeting a term but you never use it on your page, guess what? You’re not likely going to rank. On the other hand, if you mention it over and over (and over) without a real purpose – aside from keyword stuffing – you’re going to hurt your ranking as well.

Fine-tuning your keyword density really isn’t something you need to focus on. If you’re concerned with a 2% variation in your density, then you should already be #1 in search. Stop wasting your time (and budget) on over-scrutinizing this metric.

Long-tail Keyword Targeting so you can say you ranked on page one for something

Back in the day, we used to target the large volume keywords. Then, as the competition grew, our attention turned to long-tail search terms. Long-tail means they’re longer, and more narrow – more “niche” with presumably less competition.

However, I’d say that in 2017, long-tail is no longer SEO, it’s journey-mapping. Long-tail isn’t optimizing for anything other than your knowledge of your customer. Stop calling them long-tail keywords and start focusing on personas and customer journeys. Identify the questions your customers have and answer them…thoroughly and efficiently. Stop focusing on long-tail SEO or at least stop calling it that and call it what it is.

Daniel Ruyter - Sitecore Marketing & Technology Pro

Who is Daniel Ruyter?

An Orlando, Florida Sitecore enthusiast and MVP hopeful, a marketing consultant, content creator and photographer.
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Superstructured Page Titles and Formulaic SEO

I am a pretty structured person. I like processes. Step one – do this. Step two – do that. I get it, we like to systematize things. However, systematic SEO is really not the best idea.

Defining “rules” for your SEO elements to follow can get you into trouble. I’m not talking just about structured SEO “rules”, but superstructured rules. I found this statement for how to build SEO-optimized page titles – a very formulaic approach to SEO.

“Your title tag should be written like this: Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name”

Let’s use an example of two keywords:

  • Primary – Orlando Lawn Service
  • Secondary – Cheap Lawn Service Orlando

If we used this approach on our target page, the page tile would read like this:

  • Orlando Lawn Service – Cheap Lawn Service Orlando | Our Brand Name Goes Here

Doesn’t that page title look robotic? How is that useful to the user? I get that having some formula for things like page titles can be helpful, but if it’s at the expense of the user’s experience it should be avoided. In the above example, we should take the time to write a meaningful page title, rather than trying to assemble one from our target keywords for the page.

Oh, and of note, the #1 result in organic search for this term for me has neither one of those terms as the page title.

Google SERP Example

Google SERP Example

Generic “Write Compelling Content” Guidance

Gee, thanks genius. I couldn’t have figured that one out on my own. Of course we need to write compelling content. That’s why good copywriters come at a premium.

I’m not really even a fan of the “10x” content guidance provided by Moz. I mean, it’s clearly not wrong, I just don’t think it’s realistic for most companies to produce 10x better content than what is out there. This is especially true for small businesses. You should strive for better, but setting that bar at 10x may discourage companies from even trying and I think that’s missing the mark.

Video: How to create 10x content from Moz.

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The Story Behind the Photo

Orlando Wetlands Park - Orlando, FL

A number of the photos I’ve used over the past few years come from this wetlands park just east of Orlando. I really like the tranquility of this park. I also like that you can usually see a gator every time you visit. Sunset photos at Orlando Wetlands Park are the best, and this is one of my favorites.

Orlando Wetlands Park

What SEO Best Practices Do You Question?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article and your experience with SEO providers. Please leave a comment below or feel free to contact me with your thoughts.

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