SEO is something that every business needs to be aware of. Its importance is frequently underestimated and requires consistently implementing best practices to grow and maintain an online presence. There are two types of SEO practices – white or black hat SEO – and you need to play by the rules of Google Webmaster’s Guidelines to stay away from the dark side of the SEO world otherwise you jeopardise your website’s rankings.
Below is a list of seven bad SEO habits that you should make sure you stay away from. Although it may seem counter-intuitive to know what not to do, a lot of the below points are common misconceptions on how to improve your rankings. Knowing what avoid will in turn help you know what to do.
(1) Keyword stuffing
Keyword implementation is one of the crucial steps in a successful SEO strategy, but it’s important not to repeat the same words over and over again. Even if they’re relevant to your content, keyword stuffing in any form is looked down on by Google.
Not only it will disturb your visitors but also search engines will realise that you’re trying to manipulate them and may result in you being penalised.
If you mention your keywords on your page title, meta description and maybe a couple of more times in your page content, this should be enough for a good optimisation.
If you are still not yielding the results you want, think about using synonyms and connecting phrases instead of just the same words over and over again. Google’s algorithms are very advanced and they’ll be able to pick up on repeated keyword stuffing and content that is created solely for keywords and not with your audience’s readability in mind.
(2) Cloaking and invisible text
Hiding the real destination of a link or a text, which is known as cloaking, is a very old SEO technique and might have worked years ago when search engines weren’t that sophisticated, but certainly not today. Over the years, Google has improved its capability of determining if and where hidden content exists.
If you’ve tried to increase your page’s keyword count with hiding texts or links and somehow the crawlers missed it, it will be detected at some point. Google has manual reviewers whose sole task is to manually check for these kinds of practices and penalise the websites accordingly.
(3) Paid links
Creating unique and great content takes time and effort and especially making sure that content gets to the right people through valuable natural backlinks can be time-consuming. But taking shortcuts such as buying links or domains which you consistently link to can be detrimental to your rankings and lead to you being blacklisted by Google.
Buying links of any kind is a bad SEO tactic and sooner or later, Google will find out and you’ll end up losing your current rankings because you will be penalised. After you have been penalised it can take a lot of time, effort and money to regain your rankings.
(4) Duplicated content
In February 2012, Google announced the Panda algorithm that targets and penalises pages or entire websites with thin or duplicated content. After that algorithm, many websites suffered and it took a lot of work for those to gain their rankings back. Since then, people started to focus on unique and valuable content for two reasons – to keep users on their pages and websites longer and also to avoid being penalised by Google.
Google’s definition of duplicate content is “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.” When you create unique content that is engaging for your users and is valuable to them, Google rewards you by ranking you highly on that topic. It is entirely discouraged to copy specific content that is getting copious amounts of traffic and use it on your website. Because Google already indexed the other page and its content and will see yours as a duplication and simply ignore you. In that case, it’s always better to create your own content all the times.
(5) Not fixing critical and harmful technical issues
One of the most important elements of having a good SEO page score is to not have any major technical issues on your website. However, many clients that come to us here at Lucidica, the IT agency, for SEO audits are not aware that they have significant technical issues on their backend that truly harms their ranking. Whether you constantly update your content and build links or if your users encounter issues like slow page loading time, missing tags, improper redirects, mobile errors or such, they will not stay on your website and bounce off. Having a high bounce rate is bad for SEO and will lose you your audience as well.
You can always go to your search console and check if you have any improvements you can make to fix your technical issues.
(6) Excessive linking between your websites
Having a website with a high domain is a great way to improve other websites you are in control of, you can use this as an advantage for your backlinking profile and add some relevant links between your websites. However, if you have a total of 50 root linking domains and 40 of them are coming from your websites are manipulative backlinks that doesn’t look like natural to search engines. Thus, organically earned backlinks will always perform better, plus their success on your website to rank higher will be a long-term solution.
(7) Clickbait titles
I am sure you have seen some titles like “ you will not believe how…” or “shocking truth about…” while you are surfing on the internet and out of curiosity you click them, but after ten seconds you realise that the title has nothing to do with the content and you immediately close the window. Yeah, they’re misleading clickbait practices that are used to lure people onto a page for some seconds but as soon as the user realises about the ugly truth, they bounce off from the page. If you want loyal visitors, you should immediately stop creating clickbait titles and start respecting your audience.
So, there you have it. A little break down of what we’d advise against regarding SEO. Hopefully this also gives you an indication of what works for Google and your user and will assist in improving your rankings. SEO is a double ended process, you need Google to see your website as valuable, so it increases your ranking. But you also need your user to like your website and stay on it for a substantial amount of time so that Google registers that it is user friendly and it will change the ranking based on those user Google Analytics. If you are ever concerned about your SEO, the biggest recommendation we can give you is to request an SEO audit from an SEO agency or web development company, that will give you a list of actionable changes for you to go forward with.
This article comes courtesy of Lucidica, the IT agency that offers fun, friendly and reliable IT support to help over 500 businesses get the most out of their technology.