It is important to stay up to date with the latest trends in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but with Google making changes to their search engine algorithm every so often, it can be difficult. We’ve put together a list of 5 SEO don’ts that are definitely out of style—and some are even considered to be Black Hat SEO techniques.
Don’t use unnatural links.
Links are very important to your SEO, but poor linking strategies can cause your website to be flagged by Google and greatly decrease your website’s effectiveness. These linking strategies include buying links, or paying for other sites to link to yours; and link farming, where you hold a page on your website filled with links to other sites that are all linking to each other. These techniques were founded on the thought that search engines will rank your website higher if more sites are linking back to yours. The truth is, Google considers unnatural linking to be spam, and while sites may be getting away with it, eventually they will be penalized. Instead of using unnatural links, try to only link to high quality, related websites. Even if that site doesn’t link back to you, Google will find it more valuable when people go to the link from your site and stay on the site because it was meaningful to your visitors. So if your website has a page called ‘friendly links’ with a list of links to other businesses that are completely unrelated to your business, ask your webmaster to remove that page ASAP, as it is considered to be a Black Hat SEO technique.
Don’t overuse keywords.
Commonly known as keyword stuffing, putting too many of the same keywords or phrases in your website’s content can also cause Google to remove your website from Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). High quality keywords used naturally can greatly enhance your website’s SEO, but be sure you are not using them too often just for the sake of your Google rank. An extreme example of keyword stuffing includes using hidden text to use more keywords, but not damage the content visitors see. Websites would use font color to make the text invisible, such as using white text on a white background. Google can detect these methods, however, and will punish your website for trying to trick the search engines. We recommend selecting 3-5 keywords per page and using them naturally in your content.
Don’t repost full text of articles.
The problem of duplicate content doesn’t only relate to pages within your website, but on other websites as well. If someone has written a great article about a topic you think your readers would enjoy, always be sure to post your own original content, and never repost the full text of the article. Not only does it make it hard for search engines to know which version to rank, but it also may cause your website to be marked as spam. The quality of your content is very important. It needs to be original, relevant, and a minimum length of 400-600 words per page. It is also important to remember to not duplicate content in multiple pages of your website – keep it fresh and engaging.
Don’t ignore your competitors.
While you shouldn’t be worried if your competitor is a spot or two ahead of you on SERPs, you shouldn’t ignore them completely either. You can learn a lot through different paid and free tools that analyze a website’s links, tags, and more by simply entering the URL. For a list and review of these sites, check out this article on SEO Competitor Analysis. For sites that are doing very well, learn from them, but don’t assume that they are doing everything right if they are above your listing—there are other factors that contribute to page rank that are out of your control, including the age of a website.
Don’t forget about SEO.
You’ve deleted your overused keywords and removed your link farming pages, so you’re good to go now, right? Wrong. Your SEO needs to be revisited often, and you should follow Google’s articles to make sure you are staying up to date with the latest changes in web design and SEO. For instance, is your website optimized for mobile devices? Is it responsive? Google recommends that websites remain relevant, both with content and design.
While there are many things you can do to help your SEO, this is just a list of a few things that can hinder all of that hard work. Keywords and links are important to providing value to your website, but their overuse has the opposite effect.