The Grim Specter of SEO Past – Happy Halloween from Portent

Colin Parker

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog to bring you this Halloween-themed SEO lesson.

Spooky Lessons in SEO from Portent - Happy Halloween

Meet Tilly, a Portent pup. I could make a cloaking joke here, but it's too easy.

When your team is full of brilliant SEOs and digital marketers, Halloween bake-offs (and pretty much every other holiday function) risk getting into the deep end of the nerd pool pretty quickly. The Portent team had already put together a blog post for today, but when SEO Strategist Amanda Putney brought in this batch of home-made cupcakes, all bets were off.

And although these SEO tactics are long-buried, crawling with worms, and hopefully never coming back as zombies, we’ll throw in a link for the folks who are still somehow using them. And for the rest of you, a little black hat nostalgia.

The (Timely) Demise of Meta Keywords

Meta Keywords are Dead - Portent

Yoast has a good write-up about the life and death of the erstwhile Meta Keywords tag. One of the good old favorites for keyword stuffing, in the dark times of yore.

The Invisible Man: Hidden Text

Hidden text is dead and gone - Portent

At this point, if you’re still deliberately using hidden text for SEO (how is this not completely dead yet?!), and you actually manage to get the text past Google’s extremely sophisticated crawler, you’re essentially begging for a manual search penalty. Scary!

Hopefully this one is pure nostalgia for everyone that actually reads the Portent blog. If not, and I’ll assume you’re new here, Search Engine Journal does a solid rundown about this dead tactic.

Link Farms Abandoned and Full of Zombies

Link farming is a dead tactic - Portent

I just assume that the link farm is full of zombies at this point

Reaching way back into the Moz Whiteboard Friday archives to 2009, Rand does a great job of explaining why link farming was so bad for SEO. As with everything else here, if you’re still somehow caught up in a link-farming scheme, we’ll see you when it’s time to recover from the inevitable penalty.

‘Twas Google Killed the Doorway Page

Doorway pages are dead - Portent

Doorway pages pushing up daisies.

Designed to rank well for particular phrases or keywords, these pages are so often used by spammy operators that Google had no choice but to slay the doorway page.

The Bog of Spam Blogs

Quality over quantity - stuffing your blog doesn't work

Going back to Wikipedia for a definition on this one, Spam Blogs are among the walking dead that still crop up until they’re righteously slain, but they typically have pretty short lives before they’re detected these days. Typically announcing their presence with a blood curdling “Greetings of the day,” your best bet is to steer very clear lest you be affected as well.

Cloaking: Even Dracula Won’t Touch It Anymore

Cloaking is dead - Portent

"The cloak of terribly bad SEO"

A violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, cloaking or sneaky redirects boil down to attempting to show users something different than a search engine crawler. While some argue that there are still reasonable use cases for “white hat cloaking”, it’s probably a better idea to be straightforward with both your human visitors and the occasional creepy search engine spider.

Authorship, we barely knew ye.

“Quoth the Google: Nevermore.”

Candlesticks, skulls and a raven on a table - Google kills authorship as an SEO tool
The Raven

Amanda didn't make a cupcake about Authorship. We're going to have a talk about her continued employment at Portent.

A tale of woe about Google Authorship. Working title: “The Raven.” or “Why SEOs Can’t Have Nice Things.”

Possibly one of the more tragic stories here, the concept authorship had a bright future. Alas, the blood suckers got hold of it as will sometimes happen. The only solution: a quick stake to the heart.

The Keyword Stuff Marshmallow Man!

Keyword stuffing for SEO is dead - Portent

The only thing you should stuff this Halloween is more candy.

As much as I would love to end this on a post that’s all tombstones and brain-hungry zombies, this article from 2015 on the Contently blog is a great way to think about how SEO has changed since the days when all these tactics were commonplace, including the demise of keyword stuffing.

Happy Halloween!

We could do this all day, seriously. But sadly we’re out of cupcakes and it’s time for a game of Werewolf. Which ironically is all about convincing people you’re not the evil one they’re looking for. Perhaps there’s a bit of black hat somewhere inside the Portent soul after all…

Colin Parker
Director of Marketing

Colin is a lifelong learner, a graduate of the University of Washington, and is pursuing an MBA at the Foster School of Business. He gets wound up about marketing, new technology, and business strategy. Colin also acts as the managing editor of the Portent blog, and chief Portent content wrangler. Outside the office you can find him playing soccer, reading Seth Godin, or cheering the UW Huskies.

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