There’s such a thing as bad SEO? Yes, there is. SEO (search engine optimisation) is crucial to widening the reach of your online content, increasing traffic to your website and appearing in a search engine’s search results. But not all SEO is good SEO. What is bad SEO, and what impact can it have? What kind of practices can negatively impact your reach?
What Is Bad SEO?
Any practices outside of Google’s guidelines is considered bad SEO practice. These generally include practices deemed outdated or unethical, most commonly practices that try to manipulate Google’s search results. Google’s number one priority is finding unique, high quality, relevant results to their searchers. Bad SEO practices try to shortcut this. When you employ these bad SEO habits, Google will penalize your site, your ranking will go down and your reach to your audience is cut off. Bad SEO can be seriously bad for your online business strategy. Listed below are some of the common practices of bad SEO.
Unique and original content is valuable to users and Google wants to provide a good user experience. If a page has content Google sees as valuable, it gets rewarded by being pushed to the top of the rankings. Duplicate or non-unique content however, will be punished by low rankings. If the content has already been offered to users, offering it again has no value in Google’s view, and so the page won’t be ranked. Plagiarism has never been acceptable, and this is true online, too.
Keyword stuffing can be summarized as repeating the same words or phrases again and again in a text, without adding any value to the text, but only with the goal to optimize the keyword search return. Not only does it reduce the quality of your content and discourage readers from returning, it’s also a quick way for search engines to stop ranking you well.
Search engines don’t like being manipulated or ‘tricked’ by these kind of tactics and are now smart enough to know when sites are more concerned with beating the system than providing a great user experience. It will respond by dropping your rank which will negatively impact the traffic to your site.
It’s important to note that keyword stuffing isn’t the same as general keyword usage. Used in moderation, keywords are a helpful ally. But using key words in the title, description, opening paragraph and a couple more times naturally in the text is more than enough.
Unacceptable Link Practices
Using guest posts to get more links to your sites is not as secure as it may sound. If not done right, it can damage your ranking significantly. If the content isn’t original to the guest blogger and relevant to your audience, it’s better not to use guest bloggers at all. Repeated or off task content won’t improve your SEO and the search engines will again suspect your site of trying to manipulate the system. Guest posts that are for exposure and recognition, not just link searching, are far more valuable both to your audience and to your rankings.
Broken links are inevitable over time. But too many of them sends the signal that your site isn’t regularly maintained and could be out of date and not up to providing the user experience quality Google expects. Luckily it’s easy to fix, and there are many tools to help you comb your site for broken links and clean it up.
Another completely unacceptable and potentially unethical link practice is the use of paid links of any kind. These shortcuts to link building may give you temporary success, but often lead to irreversible failure. Buying links is a dodgy practice, and the search engines will find out and you will lose your ranking – undoing any good work that has been done for your site. Don’t risk it.
A doorway page is an extra page with no useful content or purpose, built in simply to try and expand the site’s ‘footprint’ in the search engines. Google has recently launched a new doorway page penalty and won’t be ranking these pages in their search results anymore. If it’s not adding value or serving a clear purpose, then it won’t be listed.
Slow or Unreliable Websites
Your website should be quickly available, anytime of the night or day. If it’s not, Google and other search engines will see it as a waste of the users’ time, and even if you have amazing content, it will never see the light of day – or show up in Google’s search rankings. A good hosting provider and modern software can help your site stay reliably fast. This gives your customers a better experience and keeps you in the SEO good books.
Joining Bad Link Directories
Link directories are meant to be a useful collections of sites relevant to a topic or company. However, this practice has been exploited to the point almost no link directories are considered trustworthy by search engines anymore. If anyone can submit links, then the collection of sites no longer has any value – and your blog gets tarnished by association.
Some link directories do still have value – if it is reviewed by a real person and all the links listed are of good quality and relevant to your site’s content, then it might still be worth using. But be very careful.
It sounds sneaky because it is sneaky. Sneaky is what you want to stay away from when it comes to SEO practices. Cloaking or invisible text or links hides the real destination of a link and displays different versions of the page to different visitors. Obviously this is bad practice and shouldn’t be done – one version of the page with a clear, visible link is what both people and search engines want to see. Inserting keywords in the same colour as the background is also unethical – and Google will pick this up easily and penalise you.
But good SEO is possible
There may seem like a lot to avoid – but the good news is that if you are simply publishing high quality, relevant content and building genuine relationships with customers and users, there’s nothing to worry about. Don’t waste time trying to manipulate Google algorithms and focus on building a good website, a good social media campaign and doing what your business does well. Avoid the things listed and anything else that seems unethical or manipulative and your ranking will reflect that – and attract customers and users to see what you have to offer.
If you need help with your website or SEO, please contact us. We are experts in high quality content, social media strategy and good SEO.