The internet is a constantly changing landscape of what works and doesn’t in terms of marketing and SEO. Over the years many practices have changed and some tactics that were once commonplace are now heavily penalized by major search engines. We wanted to lend a hand to anyone that may be just getting their feet wet with SEO and show them exactly what NOT to do online.
We touched on this briefly above, but it is worth a bullet in and of its self because a lot of new marketers and site owners don’t really understand the term, or what is/ isn’t considered to be keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is when a content creator over-uses a keyword or phrase in order to try and manipulate the spiders crawling the site to rank the page higher for that/those keyword(s). The best way to avoid keyword stuffing is to write your content naturally, with a few keywords in mind and use those when it sounds most natural. Talking about “cheap jet ski repair” in one sentence, then “Jet Ski repairs cheaply” in another and a third variation in the following, etc… will get you penalized by both Google and the visitors to your site, who will clearly see what you are trying to do.
Search Engines hate duplicate content, whether that content is from your own site, or someone else’s, they will see the content as a duplication of something they’ve seen before and they won’t like it. In some cases the owner may not realize that they are even using duplicate content so it’s important to use duplicate content checking tools, which are free, to make sure your content isn’t an exact copy. If you find yourself getting penalized for duplicate content, a great practice is to open your text editor and find a new way to share the information, use your own words, summarize, etc… and if you want to keep the content, be sure to correctly source the original.
Never Use Fake Reviews
If you own a local business, you likely know how reviews can have an impact on your rankings in Google. What might be tempting is to get a few friends or coworkers to write a bunch of fake reviews on your company. Google can easily sniff out a fake review and will penalize your site by dropping it from search rankings or completely de-indexing your site, making the risk far greater than any reward. Instead, set up a system for requesting real reviews from your customers. This can be in the form of an email to recent customers, or asking long term clients if they would post a review for you.
We mentioned the counterpart to this above in our good SEO strategies, but many sites are still suffering from the penalties of the past from when buying links wasn’t necessarily a “bad” thing to do. When you buy links, the content you are buying the links too is almost certainly going to be from very low authority, irrelevant sites, the next time your website gets crawled, the spiders will see this, and penalize you for it. If you aren’t sure if your site was ever involved in buying links or might have spam links out on the web, use a backlink check to see who out there is pointing to your site and the content they have.
Participating in Link Exchanges
We’ve mentioned already that links created from link exchanges are not the links you want to create for your site, but it’s a point that deserves some emphasis. When you get a link from a link exchange, it isn’t because a site owner finds your site useful to themselves or to their site visitors, but because they are trying to manipulate Google’s search engine algorithm and Google does not like that. If you engage in link exchanges, Google will catch you. This also applies to buying links, link farming, and other non-editorial link building techniques.
Creating “Click Bait” Headlines and Content
A poor practice in recent years has come about where a website will create a headline that is likely to attract traffic to their site and then using very generic non-unique content for the actual page. A great example of this tactic is a headline that reads something along the lines of “Top 10 Best_______”. Then, upon landing on the article page, you find obvious or unrelated content and immediately leave. Remember that the next time it may seem like a good idea to write such an article, or if you currently have articles like the one mentioned above, visitors leave, and they don’t leave happy. Traffic is something we all want to our site, but more important than traffic is quality traffic and visitor conversions, something you won’t get from a “click bait” article.
Bold / Italicize Keywords
In the past, a common SEO tactic was to bold your keywords within your site with the idea being that the spiders crawling your site would see these bold or italicized or underlined words and make note that these are extra-special and should be noted as important. That is a myth that needs to be busted. Not only does formatting your keywords independently provide no noticeable difference to any crawler, visitors to your site may see it as a “spammy” tactic, as it does not appear to look natural, something we mentioned before. If your site is currently using this tactic, simply go un-format the words as it really isn’t helping.
Submit Your Site
Another old SEO myth was that you needed to submit your site to be found by web crawlers and findable by web users. It went further to say that every time you updated your site you needed to let the search engines know that you did so, so that they would re-crawl and index your new content. This is completely false, there is no reason to do either of these things, as your site grows and builds links it will be crawled and indexed regularly.
Outsource Your Link Building
Link building is time consuming, tedious, often boring work, but it is work that needs to be done by you, your company, or a proven SEO company. While it may seem easy to outsource this process link building is relationship building and often times, when you outsource your link building, the company doing it will put minimal effort into building that relationship and getting that link for you. A webmaster from the potential linking site is much more likely to respond to a friendly well thought-out email talking about both sites, the links etc… than they are an email full of misspellings, incoherent sentences and generic messages. While time consuming, developing a good relationship with the sites you link to and from is essential for good SEO.
Irrelevant Doorway Pages
A doorway page is a way some SEO’s try and trick web spiders into thinking that the site they are visiting is a highly-relevant site to a certain topic or niche, where the rest of the website is not. These are easily spotted by spiders and will be penalized.
You won’t get any SEO benefit from commenting on a blog post just to get a link, mainly because nearly all links in blog comments are given a no-follow tag these days, comments must be approved by the site owners, and because Google has cracked down on abusers of this strategy in its recent algorithm updates. You can and should comment on articles where you can provide useful and relevant information to the readers to help network with others and improve your own personal brand.
In the past, Article sites were promised as a way to submit content you wrote to a site with high authority and drive thousands of new visitors to your site. The problem however, is that most of these sites were unregulated and allowed nearly anything to be posted to them, greatly devaluing the content and link to your site. While there are still some reputable article sites, tread carefully and remember that it’s not just about getting visitors to your site, but getting those visitors to convert to customers.
Link ANYWHERE that will have you
Back in the day, when a link was a link, many SEO “experts” advised to post your link whenever you could, this included creative ways like: posting craigslist ads, answering yahoo answers, commenting on any blog, reviewing amazon products, and anywhere else they could throw a link. We’ve mentioned how to see if your site was ever guilty of doing something like this, and if so, those links need to be removed ASAP.
One of the overarching lessons to keep in the back of your mind at all times is that if something seems to good to be true, it probably is. Remember that good SEO takes time and effort and nothing will happen overnight so never trust any of those sites, or “SEO Experts” that make claims to guarantee you the top spot on Google. We hope these tips will help you on your next SEO project and keep you on the right track!