5 SEO Mistakes That Can Deal Your Website A Crushing Blow In Search Results
When it comes to SEO, everything’s somewhat volatile — at least more volatile than a traditional marketing campaign. Your rankings can change quickly thanks to a new inbound link, a new page of content, or a new competitor emerging with new feature of their own. On top of that, Google is almost constantly changing its algorithm to provide better results for users, shuffling the rankings of websites to better inform searchers. Because of that, when you make a mistake, it usually doesn’t carry much in the way of long-term consequences.
However, there are several SEO practices that aren’t easily or quickly overcome. They’re typically more egregious, blatantly bad practices, and if you engage in them, it could mean severe manual or algorithmic penalties, dramatically reducing your online visibility in organic search results. Avoid these 5 common mistakes at all costs:
1. Manipulative Link schemes. Engaging in a link scheme can trigger an algorithmic or manual penalty which can deal a crushing blow to your organic search visibility. “Link scheme” is a somewhat general term that can refer to a number of different ways to manipulate search rankings deliberately to artificially boost the rankings of those involved by building links unnaturally. These include excessive link exchanges, link wheels, using exact-match keyword anchor text in your links, buying links, building links using automated software, and building links from link farms and other bad neighborhoods. Google has a dedicated FAQ page for identifying and understanding link schemes, so I won’t get into much detail here. Just be aware that anything designed to “trick” Google is probably going to fail in the long-term.
2. Keyword Stuffing. Keywords aren’t quite “dead” in the idea that you can still use keyword research to come up with good content ideas, but you can pretty much forget the idea that keyword frequency matters. It’s a good idea to write content (and titles/descriptions) that accurately convey the ideas of your pages, but don’t needlessly stuff keywords into your content in an effort to rank higher. There’s no way this can actively help you, since Google’s algorithm uses semantic search instead of keyword-based identifying methods. Keyword stuff too many times throughout your site, and your rankings could plummet due to Google’s Panda algorithm.
3. Publishing Crappy Content. Keyword-stuffed content isn’t the only kind that can get you in hot water. If your site consistently produces or hosts “bad” content, it can cause long-term damage to your site’s credibility not just in search engines, but also with any visitors who see it. By “bad” content, I mean content that’s painfully short, inarticulately written, non-descriptive, unhelpful, general, vague, poorly researched, or flat-out inaccurate. Google strives to populate its search results with known producers of high-quality, well-researched, error-free content. Spend too much time building a negative reputation, and that reputation will stick with you for a long time.
4. Being Unnatural. Variety is not only the spice of life; it’s the spice to a successful SEO campaign. For example, the inbound links pointing to your site need to be varied (ie, from various sources, various types of content, and pointing to various destination pages), or it will become obvious to search engine algorithms that you’re artificially trying to manipulate your rankings. The reason that variety is important is that naturalness is important, and variety is what we see from naturally-occurring, organic methods. Vary your tactics, vary your content, vary your links, and you’ll achieve a natural, credible SEO profile that search engines will reward you for.
5. Migrating Irresponsibly. Redesigning or migrating your site is exciting, but you can’t neglect the SEO requirements of completing a migration successfully. You’ll have to update your sitemap, put 301 redirects in place for old pages, and update all your meta data, among other necessary steps. Neglecting this delicate transfer process could end up sabotaging the value of your existing inbound links, interfering with Google’s indexation of your site, or even decrease your overall authority.
If you’re worried about long-term negative consequences for your site’s rankings, remember two things about these mistakes. First, with the exception of irresponsible migration, all of these are deliberate bad practices for SEO. You don’t stumble upon these mistakes innocently; you have to consciously make an effort to do them. Second, even though they carry long-term consequences, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to recover from them. As long as you delete the offending material, restore your SEO campaign with true best practices, and adhere to Google’s terms and conditions, you can eventually get your site back to where it belongs.