SEO Stuff You Shouldn’t be DoingApril 27th, 2012 by Mack Web Solutions
Ok, people. Here’s the deal. Google’s most recent updates have cracked down on spam and penalized websites for poor SEO practices. It’s real, it’s happening, it has already happened.
Not coincidentally, our hero Rand Fishkin (of SEOMoz fame) has been focusing on this topic recently. What we have here is our take on the whole deal (by which we mean, the big list of optimization no-nos).
If you’re worried that your site may be at risk for being hit by this recent update (or if your website has already experienced a loss in traffic), here are some of the possible reasons (P.S. that means that if you ARE currently doing these things, we would highly recommend making some revisions….and fast):
Don’t Stuff Your Page Titles
One of the easiest ways to alert Google to over-optimization is through your page titles. What is the page actually about? That’s what your page title should reflect. Sure, if there’s an opportunity to use a keyword in there, use ONE. Don’t stuff. You want the engines to know what the page is about, but it’s important that your users understand what they’re clicking on (this helps to boost conversion).
Don’t Spam Your In-Text Links
Too many in-text links stuffed with keywords are going to throw red flags. The pages on your website should talk to each other, but in an organic (not-forced) way. For example, when you’re on a services page and there is another related page on your website that would be useful to the user, you should provide a link to that page where it naturally fits in the text. See this example:
As shown, this link can include one of your keywords (we call that anchor text), but it needs to be a natural fit. Don’t keep using the same anchor text over and over throughout the site. Make a natural variation on the theme and you’ll be in good shape.
Don’t Abuse the Footer
The engines see links on a website in a hierarchy, and so do your users. Anything that you put at the bottom of your website, in the footer, clearly hold less importance than the links in your main nav. Don’t stuff your keywords into the footer with links to the pages you optimized with those keywords. Put links in your footer that your users expect to find like Policy info or other quick links.
Don’t Write Crappy Content
This one is a no brainer, but it must be said again. Your content has to be valuable, useful, and meaningful. You have to have content that is serving the needs of your target audience, NOT just a bunch of crappy content that you’re paying someone who knows nothing about your business to write so that you have new content for the engines. Your content needs to be well written and when it includes your keywords, they need to be incorporated in a natural, organic matter.
What you’re really working towards is developing as much universal content (images, info graphics, video, etc.) as possible. This enhances user experience, which helps engagement, which makes people want to share your stuff and link to you, which helps your rankings.
Get Rid of the Spammy Backlinks, Inbound Links, or Poor Link Building Practices
If you’re noticing a drop in rankings, this is most likely the cause. If you have been spamming for links to raise your domain authority (and rankings), you’re going to be in trouble. Google has been shutting down link networks and also handing out warnings to all of the websites who were affiliated.
In terms of link building, here are the things to stay away from:
- Paying for or getting links from link networks
- Spamming for comments and reviews
- Reciprocal links
- Article marketing sites (or any sites that make a point to say, “we can help you rank higher!”)
- SEO focused directories (directories that talk about how they will help your rankings)
Don’t Optimize More than One Page for the Same Thing
Instead of optimizing more than one page on your site for the same keyword, dedicate your time and effort to consolidating and making the most of one page. Write some quality content for it, create some images or info-graphics to compliment, maybe even develop a video. Go for a stellar user experience on one page so that you are providing value and attracting quality links.
Our Soap Box
Here’s the bottom line: there is no way to get desirable, long term rankings by doing shady things (like paying for links and poor quality content).
If you want sustainable rankings and relationships that you can benefit from in more ways than just a link, you have to do the work:
- You have to build the value (good content, info graphics, video, etc.).
- You have to provide a good user experience.
- You have to create a website that people want to visit, re-visit, engage with, and share with their friends.
- You have to build relationships with people (yes, real people) and let them know that you are doing good things that they should take a look at (and yes, they will want to share and link to you!)
In the end, good SEO is all about building value in your business that also shows your customers that you are awesome. That’s the trick (which isn’t a trick at all, get it?).
BTW, SEOMoz has the complete low down on this in an awesome video that you can watch here: