You certainly wouldn’t be driving a car with an ancient transmission. So why are you still using search engine optimization tactics that were popular during the Internet equivalent of the Stone Age?
Too many businesses and bloggers adopt an SEO strategy early on in their online days and then never go back to tweak it as new research and case studies become available, showing more effective tactics to adopt. With search algorithms changing so frequently, it can be ineffective to continue with the same methods for years or even months at a time. Approaches that got great results initially quickly become outdated.
And employing black hat SEO tactics can be downright risky both for your site and your brand. You don’t want to risk being labeled a spammer.
Read on to learn which SEO strategies you should be removing from your portfolio of tricks.
Cloaking is a black hat tactic that quickly fell out of favor, even though it could be effective. It involves showing one version of your web site to web crawlers while offering another to people who actually come to the site. For instance, if you have a web page that’s heavy on advertising, and you know that the Google bots won’t like that, you instead present a page with fewer ads and more editorial content to the crawlers. Spammers employed this approach heavily in the early years of the web, and it ticks Google off when people try to play tricks like that. Your site will be punished if you cloak it.
2. Invisible Text Keywords
Using this approach is basically a way to put in some extra keywords that only search engines, and not actual web surfers, can see. It’s definitely a case of less is more; Google has issued warnings that hidden text is considered spammy and will be punished. Still, some sites try to do an updated version of invisible stuffing by placing keywords underneath other elements on the page, for instance. Just skip this entirely. It’s not worth the potential downsides.
3. Duplicating Content
When you write a great post, it’s tempting to want to reproduce it across multiple pages on multiple sites to get more play. But the SEO gods frown upon duplicate content of any type, even if it’s your own stuff that’s getting copied. When you post the same thing in multiple places, you’ll pay a price. Google wants you to create new, original content and lots of it. That’s a guiding principle to remember in the SEO trenches.
4. Getting Links from Bad Sites
You don’t just have to worry about the upkeep of your own site, where proper grammar, strong original content and correct tagging are key to staying in Google’s good graces. You also have to worry about which other sites are linking to you. If your site is getting linked up with spammy sites with questionable content and loads of ads, it’s going to hurt your page ranking.
5. Doorway Pages
Are you noticing a theme here? Anything that is deceptive and dishonest is frowned upon by search engines, and that includes doorway pages, i.e. fake pages that users are not intended to see. They are also known as:
- Portal pages
- Jump pages
- Gateway pages
These pages are usually designed to target a specific phrase. They are also easily detectible by search engines and will result in penalties.
6. Churning Out Short-Form Content
Aggregate sites that jumped on trending topics with dinky 200-word posts generated loads of traffic just a few years ago. But Google has become wise to their ways. The search engine has gotten more adept at separating the wheat from the chaff, which in this case means the reliable and informative content from the short pieces centered on a few keywords. Short posts are no longer in. Instead, longform content with depth of research and information will gain you better SEO results.
7. Keyword Stuffing
Stuffing is great for turkeys, but not so much for web pages. In the earlier days of SEO, web sites were nearly unreadable. They were chock full of so many keywords, many of which did not fit together naturally and thus made it hard for a reader to understand. There’s just no way to fit a phrase like “plumber Little Rock cheap” organically into a post. Google has moved on, too, away from keywords and toward a more phonetic type of search, focusing on answers to questions and anticipating search words rather than keying on specific terms.
8. Link Wheels
This strategy was popular all the way up until early 2013, but once Google caught on to it, it fell out of favor. The idea is to create a series of sites with content that is loosely tied together, then link them together and, in turn, connect them to your main website. In concept it’s not a bad idea, but it’s time consuming and too easy to try to take shortcuts, like the aforementioned duplicate content.
9. Using Bots to Generate Content
It is worth the extra money to hire someone to write your content. Using generated content is simply not smart. Web surfers have become way too savvy to fall for content with obvious keywords or clumsily worded phrases. Not only will potential customers distrust your site if it’s full of generated content, but Google will also hate you. The search engine has cracked down on generated content over the years, and few people are still using it. But if you’re stuck in the “cheaper is better” mentality, rethink your approach and get a writer to handle content.
The Bottom Line
So what’s the takeaway from these nine dangerous SEO tactics?
- Keep up with current SEO practices.
- Avoid deceptive techniques.
- Don’t do anything that appears spammy or black hat.
- Reassess your strategy regularly so you’re not left behind.
If you keep these ideas in mind, your search rankings should remain stellar, and you will be in no danger of incurring Google’s wrath.
What would you add to this last? Share your thoughts in the comments below.