SEO has existed nearly as long as the Internet itself, and certainly as long as search engines have been important. In that time, it has been a constant struggle between the people who will do anything to get ahead, and the search engines trying to keep the playing field level. Honest webmasters are caught in between, struggling to keep up with the fallout of the way they barely see.
Due to the nature of the Internet, and SEO in general, once something is published, it stays published. With the power of SEO behind it, it tends to stay highly ranked. This means you can find highly ranked, perfectly legitimate-looking articles on SEO techniques that no longer work. Unless you know what’s up, you might start implementing a strategy that will just hurt your site. To help you in this task, here’s a list of techniques that either aren’t beneficial, are actively harmful, or are tricky to pull off properly without backlash.
Guest blogging is one of those “tricky to do properly” techniques. By itself, guest blogging isn’t a bad technique. It gets your presence out there as an authority on sites with potentially much more traffic and readership than yours. It’s only when you start spamming every blog you can find with requests to guest blog, with the insistence they include a link, that you find the line for spam.
Also known as Rich Anchors, using your SEO keywords in link anchors, particularly in off-site links, can be harmful. It’s okay for some keywords to show up sometimes, but when every link pointing at your site uses a keyword in anchor text, it doesn’t look natural. It looks like you paid for those links, which in turn is bad for your site.
Keyword stuffing in general is detrimental. When you’re focusing on keyword density, or you’re cramming as many keywords in to your content as you can, you’re going to have a bad time. This includes putting excessive keywords in content, keywords in titles, in meta descriptions, and most of all the meta keywords section, which is completely unusable in modern SEO.
Hidden text is one of those techniques that is legitimate when used for, for example, jQuery drop-downs and FAQs. When you’re using it to hide text, specifically to rank using that text even if your users don’t see it, you run into problems. Be very careful when you use hidden text. When in doubt, avoid it completely.
Submitting your content to article directories doesn’t work primarily because Google knows about the strategy and it knows all of the article directories you might submit your content to. Because directory submission is just a way to get links from other domains, Google views it as a black hat link building strategy. At best, your articles will do nothing for you; at worst, they will be actively harmful.
Syndication is similar, but causes issues such as:
Duplicating content from another location on the web, even if you control that other location, is frowned upon by Google. Just look up anything on the Panda update series to see how much of a shakeup it was when Google made this change. Duplicate content means anything from copying too much of a product description from a manufacturer’s website, to copying entire articles from another source, to even publishing the same content on two or more different sites.
Link exchanges just by their very name should sound like a black hat technique, because they are. As a general rule of thumb; anything that involves building links in a way that isn’t “because they liked my content and thus linked to it” is an artificial link building issue and can be cause for penalties. Avoid any sort of link building beyond having good enough content people want to link to it. Only once you’ve learned the ins and outs of SEO can you know how to build links effectively without skirting the line or getting burned.
Imagine if I created a hub page that included each subtitle of this article as a link, and each linked page included the lone paragraph beneath. I would have a lot of pages, and it hurts usability for anyone wanting to read the full guide. If I then slapped pay-per-view ads on the content, it would be a thin method of monetizing content that’s not very valuable. Google dislikes thin content; condense whenever possible.
If I tell you a link is going to www.example.com but when you click on it, it actually goes through a redirect and puts you on www.mymonetizedsite.com, that’s a cloaked link. It brings you to a place you didn’t expect or want to visit, and consequently disrupts the user experience and causes a loss of trust. In general, avoid cloaked links and be clear and upfront about your redirects.
The concept of a link pyramid is that a lot of bad sites can link to a lot of mediocre sites to make them increase in PageRank. Then those sites can link to a lot of better sites, making them even better. Then the better sites all link to you, and the links look legitimate. The problem is, the passing of PageRank that allows this to work, well, doesn’t work. Link building in this manner will get you penalized if you’re caught out.
Another form of bad link building is to identify authority sites and get links on those sites, regardless of their content. Your site about bike repair doesn’t need links from a site about commercial fishing; those links add nothing to the users of the fishing site and those users don’t want to see your bike content. Google realizes that the link has no value and consequently assigns it no benefit.
Examine these two sentences:
Both of those sentences mean the same thing, but they look different. Spinning content is the idea of taking full blog posts and giving them that treatment, then using the new version for other purposes. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t just parse content based on wording; they parse meaning and semantics, so those two sentences look identical to the machine.
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