Sarah thrives on optimizing on-page content, increasing keyword rankings, and writing blog posts. Outside of work, you'll find her painting, on the hunt for Houston's best coffee shop, or at home with her furry friends.
SEO is booming business driver for many companies that has seen tremendous growth over the last few years. With each day that passes, Google updates, new algorithms, and shiny new tools grace our screens and exemplify the “SEO is never done” mentality. Meaning that falling into outdated tactics is a possibility and a reality. With the growth of this digital marketing channel, many tactics that had once positioned websites to page 1 on search results could dock you points in the SERP and ultimately get you suspended. We have compiled a list of tactics that fall in that category to provide companies and specialists with the tools that they need to be successful.
What Not to do When Creating Content
Keywords offer a plethora of benefits when it comes to your site’s visibility, as they help your page rank for relevant searches. While it is an incredibly useful strategy when used correctly, there are ways keywords can be used that can quickly destroy your rankings.
The wave of keyword optimization was initiated by the search engines pushing for tracking relevancy; it is common knowledge that creators can optimize their content by implementing related keywords into their pages to serve as a beacon for search engines. The first mistake a specialist can make is writing content that does not reflect the keywords for which they want to rank. Practicing this method works against your strategy as you essentially block off your transparency to the search engine. Keywords that do not correspond to the content is a surefire way to set you back.
In addition to implementing irrelevant keywords, the way you integrate them into your content can hinder your rankings as well. It is easy to fall into a trend that optimizes your page purely for search engines and not considering users.
In the age of keyword optimization, you may feel the need to integrate keywords into your content just for the sake of rankings. While that may seem like a low hanging opportunity, stay away from writing content to appeal to robot crawlers instead of your audience. If your content is full of unnaturally formed phrases that are clearly placed for rankings, not only will this deter viewers and detract from your user’s experience on the site, but it will also dock you points from search engines.
In recent years, algorithms can detect unnatural text. Giving way to a movement that emphasizes content quality. Therefore, regardless of the innovations in SEO, we should always focus on creating stellar content that is topically relevant for our audience.
In tandem to writing for robots, another strategy to achieve stagnant writing is to “keyword stuff.” Keyword stuffing refers to content that repeatedly uses certain phrases or words with the intention of being more visible to search engines. This tactic generates content that is awkward and difficult to read, therefore damaging your user’s experience. Not only does it damage the quality of your content, but it will also ensure you get penalized by the search engine as your content will be marked as spam. To combat this outdated technique, Google launched Latent Semantic Indexing which recognizes the topic you are writing about without the need for repetitive keyword use.
Duplicating Content Throughout the Site
Another technique penalized by search engines is duplicate content. This is in reference to identical pieces of content that are on several domains or present in multiple areas of a site. Duplicate content has been marked as bad practice as it takes away from the quality of your content.
Search engines have moved to rank content that is unique, informative, and diverse. Duplicating content within your site is also bad practice from a user experience standpoint as it can be redundant while making the text itself harder to get through. While simultaneously taking away from your credibility and message. If you must rework messaging on your site, instead of simply duplicating the wording, reimagine the content into new formats such as video, graphs, or related imagery.
Technical Tactics to Toss
Did you think we were done talking about keywords? Well, there is another way you can implement them in the worst way possible. And that’s with cloaking. Cloaking refers to stuffing your keywords on a page and then proceeding to edit them to match the color of the background. This is done to make them visible to the robots that crawl the site but not the users. This technique is a direct violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines and will promptly get your content penalized.
Black Hat Link Building
Finally, let’s talk about link building. Link building can be a great technique to help expand your reach to a wider audience while simultaneously sending the message that your content is authentic, reliable, and is well referenced. While link building has many benefits, there are techniques that allow you to gain links through black hat SEO practices. Black hat SEO refers to practices that are implemented to increase page rankings by violating search engine terms of service. When applying them to link building this may include buying or selling links. These practices fall under a category known as link manipulation or link schemes. These are any links that intended to manipulate page rank in the SERP. Practicing link manipulation will send you a one-way ticket to getting your website permanently removed as they are a direct violation of the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Other examples of link schemes include:
- Excessive link exchanges
- Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
- Low-quality directory site links
- Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites
You can view the full list under the GSC Quality Guidelines page.
Let Us Do It So You Don’t Have To
As we mentioned at the start of this article, the digital industry is ever-expanding, making it easy to fall behind on all the trends and tactics that you should be implementing. This list scrapes the surface that is the deep trench of black hat SEO practices. Partnering with Forthea’s expert team of digital marketing specialists will help you negate that risk. We pride ourselves on a commitment to continuous learning in order to combat the ever-changing digital industry and to stay ahead of trends before our websites are ever affected by them.