A Cautionary Tale: 8 Ways to Destroy Your SEO

by Sarah Hayes on January 20, 2016

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Do you want to fail spectacularly at an SEO campaign? Do you want your website to lose page rankings at top speed – or even better, get banned entirely? Then here are the top 8 worst practices to get you there. …(on a cautionary note) Please don't do any of these.

1. Machine-Gunning Keywords: Stuffing your articles full of keywords to try and artificially boost search engine ranking? Using random keywords in hopes of attracting accidental visitors? Nice try – those tactics haven't worked in a long time, and will tank your rank at light speed.

2. Repeating Text (Or Hiding It): Never duplicate content for the sake of having more words. Google senses all those duplicates, and it's really, really obvious when you're trying to cheat. Remember, the teacher will always catch you: Plus, would you honestly think that Google can't read text just because it's the same color as the background?

3. Selling Your Soul: If you are paying a cheap online mill to duplicate content or post poorly written content to directories around the web, you are in trouble. The same is true of cheap content mills that "rewrite" old articles by changing just enough words, a tactic Google excels at noticing. Oh, and if you are trying to sell available text links on your site to drum up attention and get some money on the side, you are in deep trouble.Sites get banned for this stuff.

4. Collecting Shoddy, Broken Links: If your backlinking has grown lazy over the years and you have links from ages ago that you haven't checked, you are in danger of being heavily penalized by Google. Do yourself a favor and search for any low-quality or broken links on your site – and then remove them. Google prefers things nice and tidy.

5. Leaving Error Messages and Empty Screens: Another thing that Google hates – sending a lil' bot to a web page and having it return error messages – or blank screens – due to poor website management. Your architecture and mapping needs to be top-notch, with no broken URLs. That just looks bad.

6. Never Changing Your Anchor Text: We know, you probably found a really great anchor text phrase for your brand. But you can't keep using it over and over for every link – search engines will throw a fit and kick you out if they see the same anchor going to many different pages. Use on anchor text phrase per link, and switch it up when you move on. This helps prevent duplication problems, too!

7. Hooking Up with Shady Strangers: We know it may be tempting, but resist getting into bed with cheap directories that allow anyone to come in and post articles at random for SEO. In fact, stay far away from them, because search engines absolutely believe in "guilt by association." If your brand name is connected to these hack sites, your page rankings will start to plummet.

8. Ignoring Metadata: If your website producers have never heard of URL keywords, image tags, phrasing headers correctly, or any other metadata practices – then congratulations! Your site is stuck in the dark ages and missing some of the most important page ranking activities. Surely that won't come back to bite you.

So there you have it - 8 ways to tank your SEO strategy. If any of these struck a cord with you and you feel like you are stuck looking down a deep hole of never recovering your SEO, there are ways to improve it! We would love to shake hands online and share some (no strings attached) SEO insights with you. 

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Sarah Hayes

Project Manager at 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. A self described life long learner that thrives on detail, I love bringing these skills to the table to help others succeed.

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