You know what? SEO isn’t really that difficult. It’s time consuming, and it can be frustrating at times, but it’s all pretty straightforward as long as you have a bit of common sense (or have someone who knows what they are doing). Like most things in life, SEO has developed over time, but unfortunately some of the old, spammy and blatantly ineffective techniques are still prevalent by some SEOs. If you are using an SEO service that are utilising any of the following, it might be time to have a word with them…
Link Building by article submission
One good way of identifying somebody who knows absolutely nothing about search engine optimisation is if they menton article submission as a good way of getting backlinks. OK, it might have been a good idea 10 years ago, but even then it wasn’t really a productive use of your time in getting good quality links. Now, since Google’s Panda update, it’s even more toxic and should be avoided at all costs.
When I say article submission, please note I’m talking about submitting articles to sites that simply publish articles for SEO purposes like EzineArticles and others. I’m not talking about having articles published on good quality websites that are highly relevant to your niche. This is a much better way of getting links, and because of their quality and relevance, they’ll be looked on kindly by Google.
Link exchanges and reciprocal linking
Something that is still quite popular amongst more unenlightened SEOs, exchanging links is a really bad idea. Why? Because what more obvious and easily detectable way is there to let Google know you are trying to ‘game the system’? The worst type is when reciprocal links are built between sites that have absolutely no reason to link to each other, such as a company in Blackpool that sells women’s designer clothing and a pet store in Milwaukee that specializes in fish. Links like that are really going to raise the red flag at Google.
Having two way links isn’t always a bad thing though if they’re natural and improve the user’s experience. If you had a site that reviewed restaurants in Lancashire, then quite rightly you’re going to link out to the restaurants in question (reader reads a review, likes what they read and decide to check the restaurant out by clicking the link). It’s good practice and a good user experience. The restaurant may link back to your review in their blog for example. ‘Check out our latest review from xxxxxxxx.co.uk. Once again, this is quite natural and provides for a good user experience. What I’m trying to get at is two-way linking in this sense is perfectly natural and won’t be looked down upon by Google.
Creating poor content
Do you have a blog? It can be an important part of a good SEO campaign but only if done well. For years, it was good enough simply to place a few articles on there, share them on social media and that was it. But not any more. Your content has to be GREAT now for it to gain traction.
We all know that this is the way to drive the really good links, but why do so few people act on this and actually do it? If you’re outsourcing your content writing abroad for example then stop now and either write it yourself or get a good quality content creation service to do it for you. When writing a piece of content, you need to ask yourself a few questions:
Who am I writing for? You need to know who you are writing for, otherwise your content will be poor and unfocused.
Why am I writing it? This is related to who you are writing for. Your writing must have a purpose, it must be answering their question, their needs. To put it bluntly, your content needs to ‘scratch their itch’.
Spammy guest blogging
‘Guest blogging is a big no-no! Matt Cutts said so!’ Well no, guest blogging isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all, but only if it is done right. What Matt Cutts was getting at was the sort of guest blogs that were done purely for SEO value and were poor quality and not of any relevance or use to the user.
So a guest blog by a car accident claims company on a food blog? Bad, and will almost certainly be seen as spammy by Google and risks more harm coming from this link than good. A car accident claims company blogging on a petrolhead website? Yes, there is common ground and people interested in cars will most probably find some value in a well written blog about car accident claims and so this should be absolutely fine. Just be careful about overdoing anchor text, which we’ll come onto next…)
Excessive anchor text
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. For many years, using it with the keywords you wanted to rank for, aka optimizing your anchor text, was a surefire way to improve your site’s SEO. Today however, using optimised anchors that use the exact phrase you are trying to rank for is like screaming ‘HEY GOOGLE! HELLO! HOW ABOUT YOU GIVE MY SITE A PENALTY!!!!’ Google warned about this very specifically in their Link Schemes document so when hyperlinking, use safer anchors such as:
- Naked urls such as www.karmacontent.co.uk
- Brands such as this: Scott Brerton is the director of content writing service Karma Content.
- Long phrases (like I’ve used in this article) such as this: “It may sound crazy to say this, but a ‘successful website should treat its visitors like idiots’.
Utilising these will give your site a far more natural and effective link profile.
Keyword stuffing is one of the oldest tricks in the book but one that simply doesn’t work now. If you want to know what it is, there is no better place to start than Google’s own definition of keyword stuffing:
“Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.
Examples of keyword stuffing include:
- Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value
- Blocks of text listing cities and states a web page is trying to rank for
- Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural, for example:
- We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Of course your keywords need to be in your content, but not too many times. Think firstly of your content, write for your reader, make it useful and make it interesting. Make sure you keep on topic, keep to your theme and make your content lively and engaging. Play around with your keywords too, get yourself a good thesaurus and use synonyms and phrases that are similar to your keywords. So, for example, if you want to rank for ‘cheap office seating’, instead of keep using the ‘cheap office seating phrase’ you might want to use phrases such as:
- Are you looking for low cost seating for your workplace?
- There are certain things to look for when buying cheap office chairs…
- What’s the most important thing for you when buying office chairs? Cost? Quality?
You get the idea? This will build up the theme of the page and as well as helping you rank for your chosen keyword, you should rank for some good long tail keywords too.
Good SEO is all about having a long term strategy that doesn’t rely on the latest trick or fads. If you’re trying to game the system in some way by utilizing one or more of the above, you may be successful for a while, but it will catch up with you eventually. And what will you do then? Do it right and you’ll rank well in the long term, and that’s where the real money is!
Need help with your recruitment agency’s SEO? Get in touch!