When it comes to SEO, Google pretty much keeps webmasters in line, but that doesn’t stop some less-than-above-board practitioners from trying tactics that are a bit, well, questionable. If you’re new to doing your own search engine optimization, make sure to avoid these practices. Many of these will be penalized by Google and won’t help you rise in rankings anyway.
1. Overuse Keywords
It’s amazing how many companies push to get the maximum number of keywords in a blog post or web copy. To what avail? Humans want to read text written for and by humans, and using the same keyword over and over and over again doesn’t draw in customers. Sure, you want search engines to rank you higher, but ultimately, you want the visitors to your site to like being there.
Pay attention to your keyword density, meaning the percent that your keywords take up in the total number of words. Experts say that Google responds best when keywords have a density of 1-3% of total text.
2. Get Links on Unrelated Pages
I get a lot of requests to guest post on my marketing blog. And as long as they’re related to topics my audience cares about, I don’t mind accepting them. But today I got a request from someone to write about real estate. That in no way relates to marketing! It does you no good on search results to guest blog or otherwise get links from sites that aren’t in your industry. So if you do want to guest post (good white hat SEO technique) find blogs in your own industry.
3. Pay People to Comment, Review, or Link to Your Site
You simply can’t pay for good SEO. I see a few reviews on Amazon that are questionably positive. Maybe customers really like the product, or maybe the brand paid people to leave good feedback. If your product genuinely is good, don’t be afraid to let customers speak for you. It’ll take time to get mass results, but it’s worth it.
4. Hire an SEO Firm to Get You on Page 1
I’m surprised at how many companies still get taken advantage of on this. No SEO expert can guarantee to get you on the first page of Google results. It’s an ever-changing game, and you never know what your competitors are doing to get and stay on that page too. Often these scammers really mean they’ll get you on the first page of results for a really weird keyword that no one will be searching for, like “the best marketing firm in all of Ottowa.” Who’s searching for that??
5. Mislead People to Get Clicks
Whether you set up a Google AdWords ad or create a doorway page, then pull the old “bait and switch” to take visitors to a site they didn’t plan to visit, this never works. First, you’ve invalidated any trust you might have had with your visitor, and you’re taking her somewhere she doesn’t want to go.
Moving up search results takes time, and it’s worth investing in white hat strategies to get there. Focus on creating useful content on your blog, well-targeted copy on your site, and getting reputable sites to link to you.
Want more SEO tips? Join us for the free webinar, “SEO 101” on May 28, 2013 at 10 am Pacific, 1 pm Eastern.