Outdated SEO practices

Navigating Google's latest algorithm updates: how outdated SEO Strategies do more harm than good.

26 February 2024 min SEO

Dive into our guide on Google's latest algorithm updates and effective tactics for today's digital landscape.

Did you know outdated Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) content strategies can negatively impact your website rankings? 

With search algorithms evolving, SEO tactics that were effective just a few months ago might now be outdated, along with Search Engine Results Page (SERP) criteria that determine first-page rankings. 

There are, however, evergreen SEO techniques that still continue to be relevant.  

Let’s unpack what these are, when they became obsolete, and how your site could be impacted if left unchecked.

In this article, we will discuss:

Google's evolving algorithms

Since 1998, Google and other search engines (such as AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, and Yahoo) have been competing to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible in a way that delivers the best possible results.  

This led to the development of algorithms specifically designed to discover and rank high-quality content, tailored to individual search queries. 

These algorithms are in a state of constant evolution. According to Moz, Google implements around 500–600 updates annually. The pace and scale of these changes have accelerated over time, leading to once-critical SEO practices quickly becoming obsolete, resulting in the birth of Black Hat SEO and Grey Hat SEO approaches to SEO.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Black Hat SEO refers to the use of aggressive and deceptive strategies to manipulate search engine rankings. While these techniques were once considered legitimate strategies, they now violate search engine guidelines as they are designed to exploit weaknesses in algorithms, providing a quick boost in rankings but often resulting in severe penalties once detected.  

Examples of common Black Hat SEO practices: 

  • Keyword stuffing: Loading a webpage with irrelevant keywords to manipulate search engine rankings.

  • Clocking: Presenting different content to search engines and users to deceive search algorithms.

  • Link farming: Creating or participating in schemes that involve a large number of low-quality or irrelevant backlinks to manipulate link popularity.

  • Hidden text: Placing text on a webpage that is not visible to users but is intended to be read by search engines.

  • Doorway pages: Creating low-quality pages optimised for specific keywords to attract search engine traffic.

What is Grey Hat SEO?

Grey Hat SEO is a middle ground between ethical White Hat SEO practices and unethical Black Hat SEO practices. Grey Hat practitioners may use tactics that are not explicitly against search engine guidelines but could be considered manipulative or on the edge of acceptability. So, while they are not yet dated, Google may negatively penalise you if you are doing any of these.

Examples of common Grey Hat SEO practices:

  • Purchasing expired domains: Acquiring domains with existing authority to benefit from their backlink profile.

  • Clickbait tactics: Creating sensationalised or misleading content to attract clicks and traffic.

  • Aggressive link-building: Engaging in tactics that push the boundaries of acceptable link-building practices.

Keyword Stuffers and exploitation

Keyword exploitation (stuffing)

Keywords continue to play a vital role in SEO performance, but it's easy to lose sight of their proper use and relevance.  

Here are some outdated keyword exploitation techniques that are no longer effective: 

  • Keyword density: In the past, SEO strategies often emphasised on maintaining a specific keyword density: a set ratio of certain keywords to the total word count on a page. While this approach once influenced rankings, Google and other search engines have moved away from using keyword density as a key ranking factor. 

  • Keyword stuffing: This involved cramming web pages with target keywords to boost rankings. Common practices included:

      • Putting every plausible keyword variation into the website footer.
      • Scattering the keywords throughout the webpage.
      • Hiding keywords from visitors by matching text and background colours, so that they’re invisible to users but not to search bots.

These strategies are now identified as manipulative. Current search algorithms view such practices as attempts to skew search results and impose penalties accordingly.

Google released a few updates to target and penalise keyword stuffing practices specifically. Find the full updated list, here.

Writing for search engines (crawlers)

Writing for search engines involved content creators writing with a focus on web optimisation rather than audience engagement resulting in repetitive use of the same keyword whenever possible, along with its variations, acronyms, and plural or singular forms, to ensure comprehensive coverage. Alternatively, creating pages with the sole intention of ranking for a specific keyword, and then redirecting users to another page once the page was ranking. Now, algorithms are sophisticated enough to discern appropriate keyword usage, recognise variations, and evaluate the informational quality of content.

Find the full list of algorithm updates addressing practices writing content for bots, here

Duping web crawlers

In the early days of SEO, web crawlers were simpler, and we had more control over directing their actions and assigning page weightage. A common example was to add priority in our Sitemaps (ranging from 0.0 to 1.0). Google later realised that this system was often misused and replaced the 'frequency-based' ranking with a focus on content quality and relevance. 

Attempting to manipulate search engine crawlers is not advisable. Current rankings are determined by the quality and relevance of content. Tricks aimed at deceiving crawlers for better ranking can backfire, leading to negative consequences. 

Rahul Sengupta, Resolution Digital's SEO Account Director shares,

“One the biggest challenges for a brand is to try and recover from a manual penalty after getting caught by Google for duping its crawlers. If your strategy doesn’t rely on matching search intent with quality content that adds value and rather relies on making tweaks which is visible to Search Engines only, you are bound to face the negative consequences.” 

Read the full list of the algorithm updates addressing crawler manipulation, here.

Over optimised anchor text

Internal linking is a pivotal element in shaping a website's structure, enhancing user experience, and improving SEO rankings.  

Traditionally, the role of anchor texts in internal linking was important. The key to a successful internal link was once predominantly defined by its use of exact-match anchor texts.  

However, the landscape of SEO has evolved. As search engine algorithms shifted, various anchor text styles, such as branded links, naked URLs, brand names, and page title headlines, started to play a more significant role, each suited to different situations. 

The current trend emphasises creating content that is organic in tone, and easy to understand, focusing on natural readability for better user engagement. 

Read the full list of algorithm updates addressing over optimising of anchor texts, here.

Optimising SEO best practices

Optimising for text only

Text content is undeniably a cornerstone of SEO. However, focusing solely on text optimisation can limit the full potential of your SEO efforts. 

Google has been enhancing its image, video, and voice search capabilities, diversifying the ways people search. These formats involve different search behaviours and additional factors in the SERPs.  

By confining your SEO strategy to text-only, you are likely to miss out on broader ranking opportunities. 

Check the full list of associated algorithm updates, here.

Keeping up with an SEO Audit  

The evolving SEO landscape requires businesses to align their SEO strategies with the current algorithm updates. Which is why it is essential that any outdated SEO practices are avoided, to make your SEO practice is effective, and can positively contribute to your website's overall ranking.

Let our SEO experts help you conduct a complimentary SEO audit, so we can identify which outdated SEO tactics are being used, and develop the best strategy for your website's SEO.

The following updates by Google were released to target and penalise keyword stuffing practices specifically.

  • Florida - November 1, 2003 
  • Austin - January 1, 2004 
  • Penguin - April 24, 2012 
  • Panda 4.1 (#27) - September 23, 2014 
  • May 2020 core update - May 4, 2020 
  • BERT Expands - October 15, 2020 
  • December 2020 core update – December 3, 2020 
  • June 2021 core update – June 2, 2021 
  • July 2021 core update – July 1, 2021 
  • November 2021 spam update – November 3, 2021 
  • November 2021 core update - November 17, 2021 
  • November 2021 local search update - November 30, 2021 
  • May 2022 core update – May 25, 2022 
  • August 2022 helpful content update – August 25, 2022
  • BERT (Worldwide) - December 9, 2019 
  • May 2020 core update - May 4, 2020 
  • BERT Expands - October 15, 2020 
  • December 2020 core update – Dec 3, 2020 
  • June 2021 core update – June 2, 2021 
  • July 2021 core update – July 1, 2021 
  • November 2021 spam update – November 3, 2021 
  • November 2021 core update - November 17, 2021 
  • November 2021 local search update - November 30, 2021 
  • March 2022 product reviews update  - March 23, 2022 
  • May 2022 core update – May 25, 2022 
  • July 2022 product reviews update – July 27, 2022  
  • August 2022 helpful content update – August 25, 2022


  • Dominic - May 1, 2003 
  • Jagger update - September 1, 2005 
  • Big Daddy Update -December 15, 2005 
  • Penguin - April 24, 2012 
  • May 39 - Pack - June 7, 2012 
  • Penguin update 2.0 - May 22, 2013 
  • Penguin update 3.0 - October 17, 2014 
  • Penguin update 4.0 & core algorithm integration - September 23, 2016 
  • February 7 update - February 7, 2017 
  • December 2020 core update - December 3, 2020 
  • June 2021 core update - June 2, 2021 
  • July 2021 core update - July 1, 2021 
  • November 2021 spam update - November 3, 2021 
  • November 2021 core update - November 17, 2021 
  • May 2022 core update - May 25, 2022 
  • August 2022 helpful content update - August 25, 2022
  • Google Toolbar - December 1, 2000 
  • Brandy - February 1, 2004 
  • Jagger update - September 1, 2005 
  • Panda 3.4 (March 50-Pack) - April 3, 2012 
  • June 2021 Core Update - June 2, 2021 
  • July 2021 core update - July 1, 2021 
  • November 2021 core update - November 17, 2021 
  • May 2022 core update - May 25, 2022 
  • August 2022 helpful content update - August 25, 2022
  • Universal search - May 1, 2007
  • November 2021 local search update - November 30, 2021

Google has updated its algorithms to give more weight to various media types, reflecting this shift towards a more inclusive search experience. 

  • Universal search - May 1, 2007 
  • December 10-pack - December 1, 2011 
  • January 30-pack - January 5, 2012 
  • February 40-pack (2) - February 27, 2012 
  • Panda 3.4 (March 50-pack) - April 3, 2012 
  • Video carousels - June 14, 2018 
  • May 2020 core update - May 4, 2020 
  • April 2021 product reviews update - April 8, 2021  
  • June 2021 core update - June 2, 2021 
  • July 2021 core update - July 1, 2021  
  • November 2021 core update - November 17, 2021 
  • November 2021 local search update - November 30, 2021 
  • December 2021 product reviews update - December 1, 2021 
  • March 2022 product reviews update  - March 23, 2022 
  • May 2022 core update – May 25 2022 
  • July 2022 product reviews update – July 27, 2022 

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