#98 – Bad Tactics: 9 Internet Marketing Tactics We No Longer Use

What you will learn

  • Why you shouldn’t only target low competition keywords
  • Why you shouldn’t be too focused on social shares
  • How different types of content ranks for different types of keywords
  • Where you are probably spending too much on content
  • Where you are probably not spending enough on content

The world of internet marketing is a fast-moving game.

Arguably, SEO is even faster.

Sometimes tactics become spammy.

Sometimes it’s a game of cat and mouse.  SEOs come up with a new tactic or way to get easy links. Google figure out what’s going on and strike it down.

In this week’s episode, Gael and I are taking a look at the tactics that have changed, or we don’t recommend anymore and give our point of view on each.

Scholarship Link Building

What is it?

Creating a page on your site that donates an amount of money to a student (usually around $1,000) to help with their tuition fees.

You then outreach universities and tell them to spread the word to their students and link to it on their .edu domain.

The thinking is: links from .edu domains are powerful, so they will have a bigger impact on SERP results.

What’s wrong with it?

It’s essential buying links.

You are paying university students rather than the university. Just because the money is not going directly to the university itself doesn’t mean you are not buying links.

It became a popular tactic in 2016. White hats, gray hats, and black hats were doing it. A huge debate erupted around it when Luqman Khan sold 10beasts.com for around $500k.

17 days later, Google slapped it with a manual penalty.

While they managed to submit a reconsideration request and get the penalty removed within 48h, it made it clear that Google does not like scholarship links.

Do they still work and should you use them?


What’s the point if you have to remove or nofollow the links?

Content Stuffing

What is it?

When an e-commerce site is dynamically creating pages for products and pulling the information from a supplier’s feed, content stuffing is a way of adding additional, unique content to a product page in the hope it will rank.

Usually, it is added to a tab or button labeled ‘more info’. The user actually has to click the button to see this content.

From time to time it did work.

What’s wrong with it?

Firstly, it seems as though this content is weighted less by Google or not indexed at all in some cases.

Secondly, Google now prefers to show different types of results for different queries.

Best shower drains - review results
Best shower drains – review results
Shower drains – e-commerce results
Shower drains – e-commerce results

As you can see, when you search for ‘best shower drains’ you get review style results.

When you just search ‘shower drains’ the results are e-commerce style results.

So, paying a writer for 1,000 words and shoving it in a tab doesn’t really make a difference. In fact, you are probably wasting your money.

Do it still work and should you do it?


But what some people are doing is creating affiliate pages that mimic e-commerce stores. You can do this with the WooCommerce Amazon Affiliates plugin.

While this might work, it could be construed as trying to fool Google – something that never pays off in the long term.

I’d recommend being careful with this tactic.

Keyword Stuffing

What is it?

Version 1 – Put the keywords at the bottom of your page. Do this hundreds of times, make the font really small and the same color as your background. This way, search engines can see the text and users can’t. The more times you put the keyword in, the higher you will rank.

Version 2 – Forcing your keywords over and over again within your content. This often looks and sounds unnatural to the reader. Some people think of it as ‘optimizing content for search.’

What’s wrong with it?

Well, version 1 is extremely old. Google are smarter than this.

Version 2 can work. Up to a point, it helps to have your keyword in your content more rather than less.

Does it still work and should you do it?

There’s a fine line between adding your keywords to your content and content stuffing.

Adding your keywords to your content is fine.

But, at some point, you go too far. The issue is that it’s not a good experience for readers. The article doesn’t read well.

When you add in too many keywords, there is definitely some kind of over optimization penalty.

Targeting Low Competition Keywords

What is it?

Every KW research tool has some kind of KW difficulty metric.

Targeting low competition keywords means finding the KWs with high search volume and low competition.

What’s wrong with it?

These keywords are usually very specific:

  • Best drains for walk-in showers
  • Best drains for tiny showers

What happens is site owners tend to target a lot of articles like this and write around 1,000 words or so. But, there is no real flow to the site. It’s just a collection of articles rather than a well thought out and structured site.

Does it still work and should you do it?

Yes and no.

Yes, you should target low competition keywords. But, you should not only target low competition keywords.

If you create a content hub, where you target both high and low competition keywords they can help each other. The high competition keywords can be used to build links. This link juice can flow through the category to help the low competition articles rank.

Only Write Long Content

What is it?

Long content seems to rank slightly better on Google.

So, people make every article they publish extremely long so they will rank higher.

What’s wrong with it?

Google are taking an AI first approach.

Answers to questions should be simple, well-formatted and easy to understand.

There is no point writing 5,000 words for a question that can be answered in 500 words.

You should be aware that content length varies with different types of queries.

Does it still work and should you do it?

Long content still seems to rank better. But, we don’t recommend making your content longer than it needs to be.

Do a Google search and see what is ranking for that keyword.

We then look at the site with the lowest DR, see how long their content is and try to beat it by a couple of hundred words.

You’ll see we’ve done this with some of our short form content that does not appear on the blog feed:

This also ties in with position zero. When you see a featured snippet in the search results, you should try to copy the format with the hope of stealing that position.

Another point to note: if you are paying writer’s for more words than you need to rank, you’re wasting money.

Cost of Content

What is it?

Buying extremely cheap content that is not well researched, well written and the author does not care about.

What’s wrong with it?

Content is an investment.

Not only do we want it to rank first, but we also want it to stay in first for a long time. This is when you see a real return on investment.

Also, if the content is poor, it won’t convert. It’s worth spending more money on your content if it will up the conversion rate.

Should you do it?


Make a proper investment in your content.

Create content that will stand the test of time and make your money back over the years.

Pop-ups on Page Load

What is it?

Whenever a user lands on a page, a pop-up will instantly appear.

It’s a great, easy way to get people on your email list immediately.

What’s wrong with it?

Google is slowly killing it.

They’re putting an ad-blocker on Chrome that disables ads immediately when you go to a site – essentially blocking these pop-ups.

In simple terms, Google doesn’t like it. That’s fair enough, and it’s a bad user experience.

Should you do it?


Soon, Google will start penalizing this. Although they haven’t been as strict on this as we expected them to be, they have openly stated they don’t like it.

We try not to mess with Google.

Instead, you can:

  • Ask for push notifications on page load
  • Use pop-ups based on exit intent or different triggers
  • Use content upgrades

Stock Photo Personas

What is it?

We just did an entire podcast on stock photo personas.

It is using a pen name for your website and using a cheap, obvious stock photo as the image or face of your pen name.

What’s wrong with it?

While your readers will not notice, other marketers will.

This becomes an issue when you start trying to build relationships (and build links).

Should you do it?

Not if you can avoid it.

We attract copycats due to Authority Hacker. When Gael and I start new sites, we can’t put our faces on them. They would be ripped off instantly.

If this wasn’t the case, we would put our faces on any new sites that we started.

If you don’t want to put your face on the site, at least don’t use a terrible stock photo.

Pushing Social Shares Too Hard

What is it?

Having social share buttons in every location on every screen.

Above the content, below the content, scrolling with the content.

What’s wrong with it?

What is a social share worth to you? Is it the primary goal for your content?

We would much rather collect someone’s email address than get a social share. It’s more valuable to us.

Should you do it?

We would recommend cleaning up the design and putting fewer social share buttons in.

We have never been good at manufacturing virality.

There are ways you can do it. Greg at Empire Flippers managed to get onto page one of Reddit with an AMA. This drove a huge amount of traffic and a huge amount of leads to the site.

But we would rather give the user fewer choices so that they do what we want them to do. This is usually to sign up to our email list.