The Top 5 Bad SEO Practices That Affect Your Ranking
SEO is constantly changing, so you may not realize that some of what you’re doing may be hurting your ranking on SERPs. Here are 5 Bad SEO practices to avoid.
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Change is inevitable, especially in business. When you fail to move with the times, you may find your enterprise kicking the bucket. Just consider brands of the past that didn’t respond well to change, from Blockbuster Video and Toys R Us to Borders and Polaroid.
Organic search engine optimization work is the same — when you don’t meet the current best practices, you lose ranking and with it, the lucrative opportunities.
SEO best practices rarely stay the same because search engines, particularly Google, update algorithms. What used to be acceptable then isn’t acceptable now.
So what is considered a bad SEO practice?
In general, bad SEO is outdated tactics and ones that do not meet current Google webmaster guidelines. Most businesses follow Google’s guidelines because it has the largest market share of users worldwide — 86 percent of the world’s users go on Google. And 1.2 trillion searches happen on this search engine every year.
It’s good business sense to avoid what Google considers bad SEO practices.
1. Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is the same kind of content that appears on different pages of your website or on other websites. Although Google does distinguish deceptive duplicates, intentional copies of content to gain traffic, versus non-malicious duplicates, like printer-only versions of your page.
Malicious or not, similar content across pages and on other websites is not advisable. Why? It affects user experience, and Google values good user experience when ranking websites.
Always check for duplicate content. Use tools like copyscape to make sure you’re publishing unique materials.
2. Buying Links from Other Webmasters
In the past, Google could easily rank a website based on how many links are pointing to it. It then became a practice to pay to have a high volume of backlinks.
Google’s algorithm is much more advanced than before, easily identifying websites that are duplicitous or low-quality. For a backlink to be valid, the website or backlink profiles must be as well maintained and should be credible. A low-quality website with many backlinks pointing to it can be harmful to your website.
Agencies that do link building services use only the best practices. So even if you don’t have the time or capacity to do link building, guest blogging, or content creation yourself, you can now work with an SEO agency to get high quality link building services that can deliver the best results for your business.
3. Keyword Stuffing
A keyword is the query or phrase that your target market uses, and which you aim to rank for. Keyword density pertains to how many times you have used the keyword in an article or a page.
When trying to rank for search engines, many take the shortcut and bombard the page with the target keyword. This can hurt your rankings.
Keyword stuffing is when a page is filled with target terms with the purpose of ranking higher in search engines for that term. It was a popular method in the past, and some websites may still use it today.
Here are some types of keyword stuffing:
- Unnecessary repetition of keywords
- Adding keywords even if it’s out of context
- Adding keywords even if it’s not relevant to the topic of the page
Keyword stuffing is wrong because a website’s purpose is to educate and relay information in a way that a user can easily understand. When a page is stuffed with keywords, the main purpose of educating is lost.
The right thing to do is to assign a primary keyword to each page and make sure that the keyword density remains below 2 percent. This will allow you to remain within the guidelines of best SEO practices.
Also, when writing any kind of online content, prioritize user experience. If you find that you’re forcing yourself to include keywords in your sentences and they don’t sound natural when you read them out loud, you’re committing keyword stuffing.
Cloaking is a black hat SEO tactic where brands create two types of content, one for search engines and one for the visitor. Just in case you haven’t heard, black hat seo is Bad SEO.
This involves ranking for keywords that are completely different from what the content is all about. It will also include titles and descriptions that have no relation to the content.
For example, search engines may have understood that your topic is all about web design, but when the visitor gets to the page, it talks about computer parts and not web design.
This method doesn’t help anyone and will only end up with the website getting penalized and excluded from the SERPs.
5. Not Fixing Technical Errors
Finally, technical SEO may not be “sexy” or exciting to some, but it’s a big part of optimization work and your efforts to rank better. Google not only penalizes for technical glitches; they also affect user experience, turning away potential customers from e-commerce sites, blog sites or social media pages.
What are these errors that need correction right away?
- Slow loading times for pages
- Unstable elements that affect the appearance and functionality of the site
- No HTTPS security
- Broken internal links
- Mobile usability errors
Several more technical errors could get you off the SERPs. Do an audit to uncover website glitches you need to fix. When you resolve these technical issues, you’ll be halfway through the most fundamental formula for SEO success.
So what can you do if you can’t do all of the above?
Some SEO tactics have stayed relevant, becoming critical to any marketing plan. These include performing keyword research, generating content that’s helpful, authoritative and relevant to your target market; developing an appealing and functional website across all devices and OS, and keeping up-to-date with SEO trends.
Implement SEO the Right Way
SEO has been around for more than a decade and has proven beneficial for many businesses — when implemented correctly. So don’t cut corners, be flexible with your marketing strategy and recognize that results don’t happen overnight.
The best SEO practices will stand the test of time and help you succeed even with drastic changes and updates in search engine algorithms.