It’s no secret that SEO, or search engine optimization, is used to lure more traffic to a site and to help domains rank higher for certain keyword phrases. The SEO industry is the result of the massive business potential that the web has introduced to society.
Everyone wants a piece of the pie (visibility) and there are people that go about it the right way and there are people that go about it the wrong way. The good news is that the unethical strategies that try and manipulate the search engine rankings, also known as black hat approaches, are being devalued thanks to Google’s continued algorithm updates.
The key to quality SEO is being genuine with your practices. If you are trying to increase website traffic or search engines rankings, there are certain things that you should be aware of. Listed below are some ideas that help explain what search engines are not looking for when they scan a website for quality. You want to do your best to avoid any association with these SEO strategies because every one of them will result in lower visibility and position that your domain may or may not recover from.
1. Paid Links and Sketchy Schemes
The Internet is built of links and therefore links will be part of the web infrastructure indefinitely. It’s understood that domains are rated for popularity by the number of links connected to them. However, links that are purchased are being devalued faster than you can ever imagine. Don’t do it. Google is and has been implementing changes to its algorithms that quickly identify backlink portfolios that don’t make sense or are suspect. If you buy links, they won’t make sense and they will be suspect. Partaking in a backlink strategy that gets you something like an immediate 1,000 links is a serious red flag.
Search engines are looking for relevant links, both incoming and outgoing with relation to your domain. The robots want to see links that bridge similar content so that the end user has the most efficient experience possible.
Key advice: Paid links used to work, and although they may still work for you short term, you will undoubtedly be penalized in the near future when the next algorithm update rolls out. Whether it’s writing great content or doing some serious research to place relevant links, the search engines are asking you to earn your rankings and visibility.
2. Stuffing Your Content with Keywords Like It’s Thanksgiving
In the olden days, it was enough to simply load up a domain’s content with the particular keywords that it wanted to rank for. This strategy is a thing of the past and you should be very careful if you’re still deploying it. For one, keyword stuffing does a disservice to the end user. No one wants to go to a site and read the same sentence thirty times in a row.
Search engines want to see legitimate content that is informational in nature and helpful in motive. Usability is becoming and should become a leading factor in determining a website’s visibility and ranking. SEO should be all about how quality a website is, and part of achieving the “quality” label is avoiding shallow and manipulative content. Load your website up with information, but make it unique and worthwhile.
Key advice: If your intentions are good, you will most likely always be rewarded as far as SEO is concerned. The point of SEO is to help the user find your page, not trick the user into landing at your page. Do your part by avoiding keyword stuffing.
3. Meager User Experience
Search engines are increasingly depending on user experience when pulling sites up the ranking ladder. The scanning robots are not looking for sites with poor user experience and its becoming a significant SEO focus to improve onsite optimization where usability is concerned.
It’s important for you to put yourself in the user’s shoes. Can you learn something from your site? Are there multiple landing pages, all with great content? How navigable is your site from a user standpoint?
Key advice: Pretend that you’re going to your own site as a visitor. Look at it from a user standpoint. Does it have a nice flow and layout? Is the content in-depth and helpful? You’ll be the final judge as your evaluation will be tailored to your specific needs and desires, but the point is to make your website as user friendly as possible.
No one ever knows exactly what the search engines are looking for. However, it’s becoming pretty clear what they aren’t looking for. Paid or sketchy link schemes, stuffed articles and low quality experience for the end user are ideas to focus your strategy away from. From there, your judgment should take care of the rest.
Special thanks to Clay Christeson for this article's content. Clay is an Internet dude and when he’s not reading about network troubleshooting, he writes for Local Splash, a provider of SEO services.
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