Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a fundamental part of internet marketing. Effectively using SEO can mean the difference between your site staying in obscurity or pushing to the forefront of your industry. The good news is that more and more companies are beginning to understand just how important SEO truly is. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean that they actually know how to do it well. In fact there are several bad SEO practices that can damage your site’s rankings that we are nevertheless still seeing being used. Let’s take a look at some of the worst offenders.
Tying Your Site to Low Quality or Spammy Backlinks
This is a great example of an always questionable practice that has just become more and more detrimental to a site’s SEO well-being over the years. For a long period of time one of the main ways to improve your site’s ranking was to get as many links as you could. As a result the focus was more on the volume of links versus the quality of the links.
As a result of this emphasis practices such as getting links from content farms and spammy link directories became a very popular and common phenomenon. What that essentially meant is that the links came from duplicate content and from places such as spam directories that offered no real user benefit. Instead it was strictly a game of getting your links out there regardless of value.
Logically this was frowned on by search engines, especially Google. Recent updates to Google’s algorithms have begun to focus on penalizing sites with these spammy links. That means that these links are now typically much more harmful to a site as opposed to beneficial. Unfortunately some sites haven’t caught on to this new trend and still mistakenly believe that they are helping themselves by generating these low quality links when they are in fact doing just the opposite.
Doing link exchanges was a practice that was very similar to the spammy link phenomenon mentioned above. The difference is that the sites themselves may not have been inherently low quality. Instead it often occurred that two perfectly decent qualities sites might decide to ‘partner’ and exchange links with each other in an effort to benefit from them both. This is known as a reciprocal link.
On the surface of things this practice can appear fairly harmless. However, once again it did not actually offer much benefit to users. As before it was also mostly an effort to game the system and acquire links without offering real value. Search engines such as Google have caught on to this practice and are penalizing sites that engage in it.
Ignoring Social Media
Making this mistake can seem like a really surprising error at first glance, but even companies who understand the growing power and influence of social media may not have yet updated their sites to reflect this emerging sector. Panels and widgets which make it easy for site visitors to share a link on their Twitter or Facebook are a must have. The good news is that in addition to these two big ones, most sites can also easily incorporate other social media sites like Google Plus, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.
Social media is here to stay and ignoring this traffic source is one of the worst things you can do for your site. Instead it is time to adapt with the times and capitalize on the social media trend. In addition to the SEO benefits that can be gained by optimizing for social media there are lots of other ways this strategy can prove helpful to your site.
Using Thin Content
The bad SEO practice of using thin content is something that is poorly understood by many people and sites doing it. Anyone who has done internet marketing research will have heard, “Content is king.” This catchy phrase means that in today’s internet marketing world users want to see high quality, fresh content. In turn search engines want to see sites that offer this great quality content because that offers a tangible benefit to visitors and therefore a reason for these sites to rank higher.
The problem is that many sites focus so much on content creation that they sacrifice quality and length just to churn out as much individual pieces of content as possible. This “thin content” is typically short and lacking in any real information or value to readers. Google is smart and its latest algorithms account for sites with thin content and rank them lower as a result. That means that it is unhelpful for you to focus exclusively on creating content if it is poor, thin content. Instead focus on creating high quality, useful posts.
Paying For Links
Google has made it very clear on this front. They will punish to the point of de-indexation if you are caught buying links back to your site. This games their algorithm and puts an unfair advantage on bigger budgets as opposed to providing search engine results based on quality. It has been going on for years and has been one of the toughest tactics for Google to police. That is the main reason it is still in existence and probably will be in the future. We sometimes get emails requesting a link and offering compensation. It is a ranking method that we do not accept nor practice.
These search engine optimization problems are so enduring because for many sites, and the people running those sites, they require a complete shift in paradigm focus to get away from. It can be tough accepting that the strategy that you have been using, the strategy that may have worked well in the past, is no longer successful. Nevertheless, hanging on to this ineffective strategy is only further damaging your site. If you are guilty of one of these common and pervasive bad SEO practices you must stop immediately and take steps to correct the problem.