With search engine optimization (SEO), your past actions can unfortunately hinder any future effort to improve Google rankings. Even work that was done years ago could be holding your website back.
Think of it like a politician that made some poor decisions in the past and is now struggling to regain trust. The same thing can happen with your website and if you ignore it, then you’ll likely never regain Google’s trust to rank your website high in their results.
That’s why in the spirit of Halloween, I’m going to walk through 3 scary SEO tactics that will forever haunt your SEO. If you, your team, or someone you hired in the past used any of the tactics below, then you’ll struggle to get your website ranking in Google.
Scary Tactic #1: Keyword Stuffing Webpages
In the early days of SEO, the webpage that mentioned a certain keyword more frequently than other webpages would tend to rank higher in the search results. That led to the practice of “keyword stuffing” which is to force keywords unnaturally into your webpage copy.
While keyword stuffing used to work for SEO, it still was not a great experience for the end user because the copy would be poorly written. Nobody naturally writes by repeating the same phrases throughout an article and that can turn off visitors that are looking for higher quality information.
As a result, Google updated their algorithm and keyword stuffing will now do more harm than good. Yes, you still need to ensure your webpage is relevant for your target keywords, but it’s important to write naturally for your prospect who will be reading the webpage.
Scary Tactic #2: Multiple Webpages for Similar Keywords
The next scary tactic is something I see quite often when I audit websites. Again, this tactic is the result of the way Google’s algorithm used to work, but times have changed and if you’re still doing this, then you’re hurting your chances of ranking high in Google.
As you can imagine, people search for the same thing using many different keyword variations. For example, I may search for “infant car seat” while you might search for “newborn car seat.” You and I know we’re looking for the same thing. But for a computer program like Google’s algorithm, it’s not that simple.
That’s why in the past it was a good idea to create separate pages for all the different keyword variations you could find. The result is that many businesses now have websites with dozens or even hundreds of very similar webpages optimized for minute keyword variations.
Google’s algorithm has since improved and can now recognize synonyms and similar phrases so this tactic now does more harm than good. Instead, make sure to group similar keyword phrases together and optimize just one “master” webpage for each core keyword/topic.
Scary Tactic #3: Unnatural Backlinks
The 3rd and final scary tactic is unnatural backlinks. This tactic got a lot of attention when Google released the infamous Penguin update back in 2012. Many businesses lost their Google rankings after this update and the old unnatural links have been haunting them ever since.
What’s an unnatural link? Any backlink pointing to your website that Google determines was not naturally created. For example, if you, your team, or someone you hired created links on websites that were built for the sole purpose of linking to other websites (aka link networks), then you have unnatural backlinks pointing to your website.
Another example of unnatural links is over-optimized anchor text. Anchor text is simply the words that are hyperlinked (ex. “click here” is the anchor text in this link: click here). If most of your website’s backlinks are using the same anchor text, then that’s a red flag that tells Google you’re likely creating unnatural links.
To review your website’s links, go to Moz’s free Open Site Explorer tool and search for your domain name. This tool will show you the other websites linking to your website, along with the anchor text so you can see if unnatural links are likely haunting your SEO efforts. A sign of natural anchor text is that the majority of it is your brand name, and a sign of unnatural anchor text is having a high percentage of keyword-based anchor text.
If you’re worried that your website is not set up properly for SEO, then I invite you to our upcoming live training called, The Complete SEO Tune-Up: 6 Steps to Get More Traffic from Google.
During this 90-minute webinar, I’ll show you exactly how to audit and edit your website to ensure your webpages are optimized for your target keywords.
Main Street ROI is a digital marketing agency based in New York City.
Our mission is to help small businesses thrive. With our services and training, we help small businesses succeed with marketing regardless of their budgets.
Since 2010, we’ve helped thousands of small businesses create profitable digital marketing campaigns.
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