As more businesses move towards an online strategy, small businesses are relying on digital marketing strategies to attract new customers. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the primary and most effective strategy for businesses more discoverable on the internet. However, SEO requires a mixture of technical and creative tactics that need to adhere to the rules set by search engines.
Algorithms used to index websites are constantly updated by search engines and, as a result, tactics that used to work can become redundant overnight – resulting in a Google ranking penalty on your website, rather than a ranking boost.
The following are nine bad SEO habits that will kill your business’s Google ranking:
1. Over-using target keywords
Using target keywords throughout your pages is a great way to help your website’s ranking and associate it to a particular search phrase, but overdoing it results in “keyword stuffing”. Google sees this as spammy and penalises websites that are caught doing it.
2. Using irrelevant keywords just for rankings
Some businesses will try to trick users into visiting a site and generating traffic by using keywords that are not very competitive and have no relevance to their website. This tactic is considered unethical by Google and will lead to your website being blacklisted because of the completely different search result to what the visitor expected.
3. Computer-generated articles
It’s common for small businesses to lack the resources and time to develop original content for their site, but using software to automatically generate articles and publish it to your website will result in a Google blacklisting. It is obvious that this content is not written by a real person and has no value to your site’s visitors.
4. Buying links
The major search engines punish websites that pay money (or trades something of monetary value) in exchange for links pointing to back to the website, as these links have been bought and are not considered authentic by Google.
5. Using too many headings
Headings on web pages are known as H1 tags and are a great place to use keywords. However, Google considers using too many headings on the same page to be manipulative because a normal webpage should only need a single heading with subheadings (H2, H3 etc) following it.
6. Using clickbait
Although clickbait can be a tempting tactic to lure potential customers in, Google considers this to be unethical as it deliberately withholds information in order to entice people to click. Both Google and Facebook have cracked down on this tactic and it’s no longer a valid way to drive traffic to your website.
7. Link bait and switch
This method involves generating links to a page, then replacing the text of the page with something entirely different. For example, a discussion article that has been widely linked is changed to show marketing material instead. This practise is against Google’s guidelines and puts your site at risk of being blacklisted.
8. Using spammy links in the footer
Links that are included at the bottom of your page for ranking purposes, and not for the benefit of visitors, will result in a drop in your Google ranking. When using links on your site, it should be included naturally in a way that provides value.
9. Duplicate web pages
Web pages that are functionally identical to something found elsewhere on the web will be penalised by Google’s algorithm, as it is regarded as plagiarism. Often, it doesn’t provide new information to visitors, and therefore only the original content will be served to visitors.
Davide Defendi, Head of Strategy, SEO Shark