SEO mistakes are easy to make. If you run an online business or a website to compliment your brick and mortar presence, you have some familiar with SEO. You may have even heard that it’s important to develop an SEO strategy. But your knowledge and use of search engine optimization is still limited.
SEO is constantly evolving. What worked last year may not work today. Much of what people think they know about SEO includes out-dated techniques that can easily hurt Google search rankings, rather than help.
Are you making these SEO mistakes?
1. You assume quality content is all you need
Compelling content is indeed crucial if you want to acquire and maintain a healthy traffic flow to your website. However, like it or not, you’ll need an SEO strategy if you want your content to get the attention it deserves. It’s likely that your competitors employ SEO strategies, so if you overlook it, your engaging content will sit there, forlorn and forgotten, while you lose visitors to more search-friendly competition.
2. You think keyword stuffing is a good idea
If you load your webpages with keywords to manipulate your site’s ranking in Google search results–bad idea. Nowadays, not only will keyword stuffing enrage the very people you’re trying to engage, but you’ll also tick Google off. Keyword stuffing is considered a black hat SEO technique. It’s an SEO mistake that will get your site penalized or banned.
3. You use meta keywords to impact search rankings
Meta keywords are meta tags that appear in the HTML code of a webpage to inform search engines about the topic of a page. In certain circles meta keywords are considered useful when it comes to Yahoo and Bing searches. However, don’t bother. In September 2009, Google announced officially that they do not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking. Today, the risk of using meta keywords outweighs the potential rewards. Furthermore, if meta keywords are placed in the header element in your HTML, they inform competitors of your SEO strategy. In short, meta keywords can easily harm your ranking and help your rivals.
4. You think comment spam is a good idea
If you spend any amount of time online, you’ve probably seen poorly-written hawking comments like: “My sister’s cousin makes $600/hr online.” When you see a comment like that, do you ever click on the link provided? Of course not, because you’re not an idiot. If you spam online magazines, blogs, forums with comments to spread your links it’s an easy way to get penalized and damage your reputation. Comment spamming is an ancient gutter-level SEO tactics that is both useless (if you want to improve your ranking) and will make people hate you.
5. You waste time PageRank sculpting
PageRank sculpting is the concept of tweaking links in your site internally to control the flow of PageRank from one page to another. PageRank sculpting – selectively using “nofollow” on certain outgoing links to improve Google PageRank calculation – is another outdated SEO technique that just won’t die. The fact is, Google advised against PageRank sculpting in 2009 and recently reaffirmed their disavowal. Include links to relevant content, but using nofollow in an attempt to game the PageRank system? Don’t bother.
6. You over-optimize anchor text
Text that links to another location online is referred to as anchor text. In short, it’s clickable text in a hyperlink. Search engine crawlers read and treat the hypertext as a sign of what you’re linking to; which helps search engines assess and rank your site. When your anchor text simply reads “Click here,” that doesn’t tell the crawler anything about the link. Moreover, if the link is not relevant to the content of the page, it does more harm than good.
SEMrush explains, “For anchor texts to work in your favor, they need to be relevant to the content you’ve placed them in. The more relevant your article is to your target keyword, the better your rank will be.” Be descriptive with hypertext links. Include keywords when possible (but don’t overdo it – that can hurt you). Don’t waste an opportunity to strengthen your SEO profile by saying “Click here.” Be creative!
7. Your inbound links are low quality
Some website owners simply try to acquire as many inbound links as possible. While it’s generally better to have more inbound links than fewer, consider the quality of those links. Trust me! Search engines will notice, and care, if the only links to your site are from spammy directories. A few links from authoritative sources will do much more for your SEO than a plethora of garbage links. Quality over quantity.
8. You submit your website to search engines
There are SEO companies that will offer to submit your site to every search engine known to man in exchange for a fee. This is a good way for these companies to earn side revenue from gullible site owners, but it’s entirely unnecessary. If your website is online and legit, search engines will find it and list it in short order. Turns out, they can do that now. You don’t need to submit it and you certainly don’t need to pay anybody to submit it!
Steer clear of out-dated and invalid SEO techniques. Time is the enemy of good SEO practices. Stay fresh, and don’t rely on practices that can subject you to sanctions, public embarrassment, or both. Grow your website – don’t shame it with easily avoidable SEO mistakes!
This article has been edited.
Jason Vissers writes for MerchantMaverick.com. He reviews website builders and loan companies. He likes delving into the latest tech and business trends.