Almost all of the articles you will read on SEO describe how important SEO is for your business and the proper tactics to use to get the best results. While these tried and true best practices should be top of mind, it is just as important to know that there are some bad SEO practices that can result in some serious penalties for your website, such as being blocked from search engines.
According to a recent Forbes’ magazine article, Google blacklists nearly 10,000 sites every day! This means Google can remove your website from the search engine’s index without warning to you. Not only can being placed on Google’s “naughty” list result in a drop in traffic, it can also be detrimental to sales and your brand identity.
From innocent mistakes to downright sneaky tactics, the following 10 items are what NOT to do when planning your SEO strategy in order to stay on Google’s good side.
1. Mirror sites: using the exact same content with different domains.
Mirror sites are typically done to allow for more opportunities to divert users toward the primary website, however Google recognizes this as duplicate content and can penalize your site for doing this.
2. Cloaking: designing a website that shows one thing to the search engines and another to site visitors.
Used by spammers to trick search engines, this is possibly one of the top no-nos on Google’s list and will result in immediate removal from the search engine.
3. Keyword Stuffing: using a keyword over and over on your site hoping to get a better ranking.
As tempting as it is to want to boost your SEO by “stuffing” your content with your targeted keywords, this is a dangerous practice and disregards Google’s belief in quality over quantity resulting in a drop in rankings.
4. Unnatural anchor text: Using the same keyword rich anchor in all text links hoping that would get ranked for a specific keyword.
Building quality backlinks to your site is an important part of SEO, however using the same keyword anchors is considered artificial and can result in a blacklist action from Google.
5. Incorporating broken links into your site: adding or keeping broken links on a page to appear as if it contains more links.
A site with all working links will always outrank a page with broken links. One or two broken links on your site is no cause for concern, however it is always best to make sure you have accurate content on your site with updated links. The more broken links on a page, the more reasons the spiders will find to not display your website in search results.
6. Content Scraping: pulling content in bulk from other websites to your website.
Content scraping is not only frowned upon by Google, but is usually against crediting original authors and is in violation of copyright laws. In addition to the penalties from Google for scraping content, you could be fined for copyright infringement.
7. Title Stacking: adding more than one <title> tag per page.
As one of the oldest tricks in the book, adding more than one title tag to your page in hopes to gain more exposure will be penalized as Google will only recognize one title tag.
8. Buying links: purchasing links from other websites to gain higher rankings on search engines.
If you’ve ever heard the expression ‘guilty by association,’ this follows the same idea. Purchasing links from spammy, disreputable sites and social networking accounts carries a very high chance of marking your site as questionable and can be penalized by search engines.
9. Building fake links: creating links that have no connection to your website or industry in order to have more links on your site.
Google views random links on your website as pieces of spam and will mark you as a such. Only use relevant, useful links on your site and be worry free of crossing Google.
10. Article spinning: creating many versions of the same article by making small adjustments to the wording, then submitting the articles to different websites in order to receive links back to your site.
Trying to trick the spiders into thinking this content is unique is a bad idea as it will be recognized as duplicates and will drop all versions from search engines.
Avoiding these SEO mistakes can help ensure that your site will steer clear of Google’s blacklist and will continue to operate effectively and efficiently.