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What You Should Avoid When Doing SEO

AvoidOne of the biggest problems in the SEO industry is the amount of misinformation and “snake oil” that you will find when you search for information on how to do SEO. For newcomers to the SEO space, the whole thing can be a bit of a minefield. Contrary to what you will read in some corners of the Internet, SEO is not about tricking the search engines into giving you higher rankings; it’s about working on a site to make it worthy of a top ranking and then helping it to get there through effective marketing.

Unfortunately, what a lot of business owners who aren’t very SEO savvy do not realise is that bad SEO will not only yield no results (or very short-term results), but it can and probably will harm your site, especially with Google. Over the past few years, Google has become very good at detecting websites that are trying to manipulate search results through off site spam (links) and they have algorithmic filters in place to deal with websites that are involved in these activities. Not only that, but if a website somehow manages to slip through the net and get by these algorithms, someone from Google will simply apply a manual penalty to the website as soon as they find out about it.

For these reasons, it’s absolutely essential that you work with the search engines and give them what they want rather than working against them with short-term “loopholes” if you want to experience long-term success in the search engines. So without further ado, here’s what you should be avoiding when you’re optimising your website:

Creating dodgy backlinks to your website.

There are many different kinds of websites that can fall under this category such as blog comment spam, forum links, blog networks, article marketing and tiered linking. Let’s look at each of these a little more closely.

Blog Comment Spam – Perhaps not as popular amongst spammers as it once was, but anyone that owns a WordPress Blog without a comment spam filtering tool such as Akismet can attest to the fact that there are still plenty of blog comment spammers out there. The idea behind comment spam is that an automated tool will go and scrape the Internet, find blogs that are open to comments and then leave a comment with a link back to the website that the spammer wants to promote.

It’s quite common to see thousands, even tens of thousands of spammy comments on unmoderated blog posts promoting a whole range of “over 18″ websites. The sad thing about this is that sometimes these blogs belong to regular people who just want to blog for fun, but they end up getting swamped by all of this spam.

Forum Spam – The same as the blog comments – a tool scraping the Internet and signing up for forums and leaving comments or creating links on the “bio pages” for the profiles that they create. Spam is a real headache for forum owners to deal with.

Blog Networks – The idea with a blog network is that someone, or lots of people, put a lot of blogs together and then allow other people to post on them and leave links back to their site, for a price of course. Google really doesn’t like these networks and there are countless reports all over the Internet of Google performing mass de-indexing jobs on these networks, rendering them as useless.

Article Marketing – This is similar to the blog networks, but instead of submitting “content” to a blog network, you submit it to a bunch of article websites. What’s worse is that most of the time, the content on these article sites is “spun” which means that someone writes an article and then replaces words and phrases throughout the article with synonyms to make it “unique”.

Tiered Linking – Because Google has clamped down hard on websites gaining links through the methods described above over the past few years, some people have attempted to do “Tiered Linking” instead. This means that you don’t directly link to your website when spamming; instead, you try to set up a link to your website on a page elsewhere on the Internet, let’s call this Page B.

Then they will send loads of links to Page B using the above methods. The thought process behind this is to give some link juice and Page Rank to Page B so that the link from there to your website will be worth more, while at the same time, not directly spamming your website. However, Google is very much aware of this kind of linking activity as they are all the others. Tiered linking is likely to be as unsuccessful as all of the other methods above and at the same time, it’s just as risky to the long-term success of your website.

Those are the main promotional mistakes you can make when doing SEO. No agency with your best interests in mind would promote your website in any of the ways described above, but sadly, many still do. It’s quite common for agencies to offer multiple of the above in what they describe as a “link packet” and there are several different levels that you can choose from. For example, 20 blog comments, 10 forum links and 5 blog network links for £100 or 30 blog comments, 20 forum links and 10 blog network links for £150 and so on.

Now that you’re aware of the different link building methods that you need to avoid, there are several “On Site” pitfalls that you need to avoid as well.

Keyword Stuffing – To a seasoned SEO/Web Developer, this is an obvious one, but to someone that’s just starting out it’s an easy mistake to make. Let’s say that you were the owner of a local pet shop and you wanted to rank well on Google for the search term “Pet Shop” in your local area. There could be a temptation to write “Pet Shop” a few more times than necessary in the hope that you will get higher rankings as a result.

The reality is that search engines, especially Google, are very good at deciphering what a page is about and they have been for several years now. Not only will keyword stuffing not help your search engine results, but it could negatively impact them and that’s before we get into the poor experience it will give the readers of your website. One rule that you should always follow when writing a web page is to write it purely for users, as if search engines didn’t exist. If you do this, the search engines will then naturally pick up what your website is about.

Hidden Text – This is a sneaky way of keyword stuffing but rather than having the text in plain sight for everyone to read, you “cover your tracks” by hiding the text, for example, white text on a white background. Not only will this not help your rankings, it will probably land you with a penalty because Google are very good at detecting this kind of behaviour.

Doorway Pages – This is when you create multiple pages on your website that don’t really have much use other than to rank in the search engines. Typically, doorway pages target a specific search term and the actual content on the page is similar or the same as several other pages on the website targeting a different search term. An example of this would be a “review website” writing a review of a product and then having pretty much the same review on multiple different pages but with a different title targeting a different keyword, for example, [product name] review, [product name] honest review, [product name] experiences and so on.

Cloaking – Nobody really does cloaking anymore because it’s very unlikely to work and highly likely to land you with a penalty. It could also be described as an advanced method of search engine deception that the average business owner wouldn’t know about, but it’s still worth a mention due to its history. To cloak a website, you would create a bunch of keyword rich pages and present them to Googlebot as regular pages of your website when it is crawled. However, when a user clicks on any of these pages, they would be directed to regular pages instead. The most famous case of cloaking was in 2006 when BMW were penalized by Google.

Conclusion

Different SEO “fads” come and go all the time and it would be almost impossible to list all of them here and a lot of these fads are a slight variation of their predecessor. However, the above information is certainly a good reference point on what you should not be doing in SEO and if you’ve been in contact with an agency who have intentions of doing any of the above (or won’t tell you at all) then it would be in your best interests to avoid them. I’m delighted to report that here at SEO Lancaster we don’t engage in any of the above and we’re only interested in achieving long-term results for your website and that’s just one of the reasons why you should choose us as your SEO company.