In my blog I have published plenty of articles on how to optimise your website properly so that the search engines can read and index your website well but lets remind ourselves of a few don’ts that will likely result in a penalty at some point in the future if not already for you website.
Here are four poor SEO tactics which could end up destroying your rankings:
- Use of doorway pages to improve SEO.
This used to be a common tactic to redirect search engine traffic to websites. After Google penalised the practice in 2006, a number of companies found themselves falling foul of its rules on ‘black-hat’ SEO tactics. Recovering from a Google penalty can be very difficult. One multi-national car company found its domain authority fell right down to zero as a result of its doorway page. A temporary hike in traffic just isn’t worth it in the long term.
- Use of link wheels or link pyramids.
Link wheels or pyramids are paid link exchanges between different webmasters to manipulate rankings on search engines. They were more widely used before the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates in 2011 and 2012, but have been heavily penalised by Google since then. Manipulative tactics will only ever get you a short-term increase in traffic – the penalty will severely restrict the SEO of your site.
- Content spinning.
This is replacing words or phrases in content with synonyms or similar phrases in an attempt to avoid search engines’ rules on duplicating existing content. This is a massive no-no, heavily penalised by the Penguin and Panda algorithm updates. Search engines want fresh content, not re-heated left-overs. There are a number of online services which test content for originality. Copyscape is the best-known. Search engines suggest a minimum of 80% originality.
- Keyword stuffing.
We’ve all seen those sites – with blog and website content packed full of ‘garages in Manchester/Wigan/Warrington/Preston/Chorley…’ Thin content like this, stuffed full of keywords but offering little else to the reader, used to be the order of the day when the first attempts were made to assist sites’ SEO. Now, though, SEO experts and good content writers will be able to include a few keywords or long-tail keyword phrases in an organic fashion – without turning off your readers. As well as ranking for search engines, your content has to convert your readers into paying customers.
There are a number of horror stories about businesses being targeted by SEO companies which operate these and other ‘black-hat’ tactics. Well-meaning amateur SEOs can also do a great deal of damage. Many of them aren’t up to date with the latest moves in Google’s algorithms, and some can put your site at risk of being infected with a bug which re-writes code to prevent engines like Google and Bing recognising it.
The best way to find a reputable SEO company is to:
- Look for someone with good word-of-mouth recommendations and testimonials.
- Listen out for a dose of realism about how SEO works – this is a project which takes months rather than weeks. Distrust anyone making you promises of a hike in rankings within days or weeks.
- Ask what SEO tactics will be used on your site. Beware of anyone highlighting any of the four tactics I’ve mentioned in my ‘black-hat’ list.