With Pandas and Penguins running wild in the forest of Google search, it is clearly evident that the search giant is looking to rid it’s results of poor quality sites looking only to take advantage of rankings created through gaming their algorithms. While there are finer details I do and don’t agree with based on some of the results changes that have occurred recently, the overall strategy of what Google is trying to do is in-line with what brands and websites should have been doing from the beginning. That is, focusing on the user, high quality content and delivering a sold experience from a high quality website. For many SEO’s however this hasn’t been the case. Doing legitimate SEO has seemed too hard (and it certainly is hard work!) so of course, along came methods that made it easier for a significantly reduced cost. Since then, most agencies have operated on the notion of “what will trick the search engine now” and have moved from service to service, using whatever methods will game the algorithm and rank their sites. Of course the problem with this method, is that you’ll always end up behind. Moving from one bad strategy to the next will only put you ahead for a moment, until the search engine updates its algorithm and you’re on to the next spammy service. As of late, these bad strategies have come tumbling down, leaving a lot of low quality agencies and SEO managers who have built their skills and knowledge based on the use of bulk services in a place where all of a sudden, their strategies no longer work. In many cases, they have driven theirs and their clients websites into the ground as a result of their work. Search Engine Watch wrote a great article on “Google Penguin Crashing a Wedding Site” demonstrating the extent of the latest algorithm changes and the impact they’ve had on such low quality link building activity. So in light of the current state of SEO, I’ve compiled a list of
10 ways to destroy your website’s SEO:
1. Use Blog Networks
We’ve had to work on tidying up link profiles for a number of clients based on activity from previous agencies and while doing so, it amazes me how many links I still getting published this month on these network sites, that have already been de-indexed by Google and caused major issues with many sites. DON’T USE THEM!
2. Build More (or as many) Links To Your Website As You Get Visitors
The search engines haven’t come out and said they monitor your traffic versus link volume, but you can almost guarantee that a site that receives as many links as visitors every month (or more!) is certainly using “black hat” tactics. If you’re agency is doing this, there’s something not quite right here!
3. Create Pages With Minimal or No Content
Large websites, particularly ecommerce or product-based websites tend to fall into the trap of creating hundreds or thousands of pages on their site with very low quality content as they add extra pages for various reasons. It might be a gallery that adds a new page for every image, pages which have no content at all and just 1 image per page. It could be because there’s a specials tab added for every product you have, which goes to a new URL, which would be fine if there was deals for every product, but what about when 95% of your products don’t have advertised specials? The Google Panda Update has continued to evolve over recent months and is targeting specifically the quality of your site’s content. 40,000 pages with low quality content and 300 high quality pages certainly doesn’t do you any favours!
4. Build Irrelevant Links
Tell me if this seems highly relevant, the article is titled “How to Find The Right Lawyer To Represent You”:
So it’s important to ensure that you find the right lawyer to represent you in court otherwise you could see larger fines or longer jail time than you may receive with good representation. You might want to go mountain bike riding one day, of course you can’t do that if you’re in jail!
Not very relevant at all! Pretty obvious you’re paying for a bulk link service or using similarly bad tactics.
5. Targeting Links with a Single Anchor Text per Page
Specifically relevant to the Penguin Update, search engines are looking to penalise people with their algorithms that are “over-optimising” their pages. It is HIGHLY unlikely that a natural link profile would contain 100% of links pointing to a page with the exact same anchor text. If people were linking to you naturally they would be linking with various anchor texts, including brand terms, URL addresses, etc. Keep this in mind while prospecting and working on links for your website.
6. Forgetting About Your Brand
Of course you want to be targeting terms outside of just your brand name, as they are the best opportunities to bring in new traffic and increase your brand awareness. But you have to keep in mind, that in a naturally built link profile, the majority of people will be talking about your brand and linking as such. A site that has their top 30 terms linked to their site as fully targeted terms outside their brand name are clearly link building to game the algorithm, as opposed to having people talk about their brand, or generating links through promotion of their brand.
7. Choosing Quantity Over Quality
Time and time again, we speak to clients that are focused on the number of links they are getting for their spend. It is no doubt due to a lack of knowledge, but the mentality of “But X Company can get me 500 links for $25” is only going to destroy your website as you dig a hole for it that gets deeper and deeper. Ourselves, as well as many other SEO authorities, have conducted numerous tests on links from high quality sites versus those of low quality sites and I can guarantee you that having one high profile site, with good social sharing and page authority linking to you is not only a great, natural way to promote your brand (if relevant), it will also boost your page’s authority and rankings faster than what 1,000 low quality links will do. Focus on acquiring links that are hard to get, that you have to earn and that will provide a good quality link back to your site. Do not use bulk social bookmarking services, directory submission services, article submission services, link exchange services, blog comment services, forum link building, forum profile links or any of these types of links.
8. Over-Optimise Your Website
Over-optimisation is also something that will quickly see your rankings drop. This does include the over-optimisation of anchor text as mentioned in point 5, but this time we’re referring more to the content on your website. An example of an over-optimised site might be one that has pages like this:
Page 1: ”Flights to Thailand”
Page 2: “Cheap Flights to Thailand”
Page 3: “Thailand Flights”
Page 4: “Cheap Thailand Flights”
Page 5: “Cheap Flights Thailand”
The use of multiple pages, essentially targeting and discussing the exact same thing is a quick way to demonstrate a low quality site that is simply built to target very specific phrases. One page should be used that has an authority built for “Thailand” and “Flights” which will in-turn help it to rank for multiple variations of the term.
9. Have Zero Understanding of SEO Before Working With an Agency or Service Provider
While I HATE to say this, being that we are an agency ourselves, more often than not, there are many “SEO Cowboys” out there in the market that have built their skills and knowledge off the click of buttons to order bulk services for their clients. They don’t understand SEO at the level they should to be able to truly deliver results and build a solid, long-term strategy for their clients.
10. Work With People That Won’t Share SEO Knowledge
Finally (I’m touching on the agency thing again, sorry!), similarly to the above, there are a number of SEO agencies out there that won’t share link reports with their clients, won’t share knowledge with their clients or treat SEO as some kind of “special formula” that they can’t share with you. In reality, proper SEO takes hard work, which most of you wouldn’t have the time to do yourselves anyway. Knowledge sharing is important, as it helps you to understand what you need to do in order to continually improve your site’s presence in the search engines, outside of what an agency is also doing. If someone won’t share information when asked, or even worse, won’t share link reports and show you what they’ve been doing, then you’re on the path to disaster. There’s a reason they don’t tell you or show you what they’ve been up to!