Search engines have made every stride to perfect their ranking algorithms. The appearance of Google Penguin and Google Panda is evidence of that. The first for off-page SEO and the latter for on-page. And while their existence shook the world of website owners and made the ranking competition even fiercer, they made the user experience better than before.
But that additional hurdle is not welcomed by everyone. And some of the more desperate web developers have also made an equally desperate move to bypass the algorithm. In order to prevent this from happening, Google makes sure to catch and penalize websites for doing so.
To that effect, let’s see some of the most common SEO mistakes you should avoid or, at the very least, quit if you want to move higher the ranking ladder.
1. Frivolous Content
Imagine looking up an answer to a question that has been plaguing you for quite some time now. Then you click on a link that appears to have a good title. However, you are greeted with half-hearted content that was not only created terribly, but doesn’t have the answer you were looking for – not even remotely related to it.
One of Google Panda’s goals is to address this problem. These half-heartedly created pieces of content do not bode well for users and search engines alike. Consequently, websites that only create content for the sake of ranking up with zero regards to quality, much less user satisfaction, are sure to get a result similar to how they treat their visitors.
2. Keyword Stuffing
One of the most common forms of so-so content is one made out of keyword stuffing. In case you missed what keyword stuffing means, then you don’t have to look twice – it’s as the name suggests.
The idea sprung up from the fact that keywords are important for search engine rankings. So why not stuff a bunch of keywords right in the middle of the article right? Or you know, spread it all over a hundred or a thousand times?
However, you cannot hope to have well-written content by doing this. And while there are no exact numbers to draw the line between what is acceptable and what’s extreme, spotting content with an intent to overload keywords is in fact, pretty easy.
This is why Google frowns on keyword stuffing and websites caught practicing this act should be ready to face consequences – which Google calls Manual Spam Action.
3. Hiding Real Content
“So if you can’t stuff keywords in the content, why not hide them instead?”, someone thought. And some web developers have done just that.
One example of hiding content is by camouflaging your texts in the background. Coloring your stuffed keywords with white to match the white background, or concealing them somewhere behind images or in the ads section.
However, some more sophisticated deception is by fooling search engines such to make your site look like one thing to web crawlers and another for its visitors. Ironically, Google AdWords, an online advertising platform developed by Google, tried to cloak its help pages and got banned by, well, Google for doing so. This goes to show how much Google dislikes deceit.
4. Paid and Spammed Links
Backlinks have always been one of the cornerstones of every SEO effort. And for a good reason, of course – it works. Backlinks give a website more credibility and a sense of trustworthiness. And Google aims to have the most credible sites on their first-page results to keep its users satisfied.
Knowing this, some websites have tried to rig their backlink profiles to help their own causes. But since links are willingly given by others due to a website’s credibility and quality content, some undeveloped sites just don’t want to go through all that trouble. So the way for them to get around it is to just to pay other sites for a backlink, or at least that’s what they thought.
There’s a heavy penalty awaiting for those who are caught buying links. To add to the AdWord incident, Google has once again banned one of its departments, specifically Google Japan, for buying links, ceasing its operations for 11 months. That’s right. When it comes to rule-breakers, Google shows little to no remorse in dishing out punishment.
But this punishment is not only reserved for those who had paid for links but also to those who go around the internet to spam theirs. Some web owners devise and use automated software to leave their crumbs on forums and blogs, hoping it would help them with their backlink needs.
It is best to build your backlink profile with integrity, even if it’s just one link at a time. A hasty attitude is what causes many to fall. SEO is a long term strategy and can benefit your website greatly over the life of your business.
5. Pirating Other Content
So you can’t make your content haphazardly, you can’t stuff keywords, and you can’t hide them. So what can you do? Unfortunately, some found their answer to this question through piracy.
Quality content is out there, and whatever subject you may think of for any niche, someone has probably already written an article about it. But just because they are free and accessible to you doesn’t give you the right to take advantage of what others have worked so hard for.
It is no wonder that Google would penalize websites with an overabundance of DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) violations and takedown requests. Piracy, in any form, has never been a good practice, so how can you expect a good result from it in your SEO campaign?
If you want to rank well in Google’s search engine results page, then you have to play according to their rules. As the old adage goes, ” Never bite the hand that feeds you.”
If Google is helping your business grow and helps you reach places you couldn’t have done alone, then following its guidelines is the least you could do you show your gratitude. Besides, isn’t it more fulfilling to reach your goals not by cheating but by sheer determination and honesty?
If you are a busy business owner and in need of assistance when it comes to creating content, we’ve got you covered. Schedule an appointment with us today and we can help you with your content creation needs to get your website’s blog active and ranking higher.