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6 Toxins of SEO

10th June 2019 | | Search Engine Optimisation

Optimising websites to rank for number one is everyone’s goal, many factors go into this process and lots of time and effort. In the industry there’s many guidelines from Google themselves in what the best practice is, providing an insight into SEO methods for Online Marketers such as ourselves. These guidelines also highlight what NOT to do when optimising sites.

Many of the techniques listed in this blog used to be conducted frequently to optimise sites in the past. Google picked up on these and began to rank sites using these methods negatively. However, similar methods are still used by what’s called “Black Hat SEOs”, an industry term for online marketers who use methods outside the guidelines in an attempt to rank higher. It’s recommended to steer clear of these methods at all costs to avoid the risk of receiving a penalty.

Search Engine Optimisation Methods to Avoid

1) Cloaking

Google ranks pages on trust and relevancy to the searcher. “Cloaking” refers to the act of showing one version of a page or content to the search engine crawlers and another version to visitors. Examples of cloaking as featured in the Google Guidelines;

  • Serving a page of HTML text to search engines, while showing a page of images or Flash to users
  • Inserting text or keywords into a page only when the User-agent requesting the page is a search engine, not a human visitor

2) Keyword Stuffing

Also known as just “stuffing” this method was extremely popular back before the Google Penguin Update. This algorithm update put an end to sites adding random lists of keywords to a page and ranking successfully, instead, content now needs genuine well-structured keywords distributed within a page. This includes title tags, meta descriptions, alt-tags, etc.

3) Schemes

There are many businesses in the world who provide “paid links/clicks” to increase traffic for a website. These deals are appealing to some website owners and businesses due to traffic/click through rate being a ranking factor. However, Google’s algorithms are extremely sophisticated and can pick up on signals that indicate a genuine user.

4) Phantom Text

Similar to cloaking, this method involves tricking the search engine into crawling targeted keywords that may not fit naturally into the main content, or used to bulk up the keyword volume. Instead they’re set to a minuscule font or their font colour changed to the same as the page’s background.

However, once again Google’s algorithm will flag these pages down with a harsh penalty. Other examples include:

  • Using white text on a white background
  • Locating text behind an image
  • Using CSS to position text off-screen
  • Setting the font size to 0
  • Hiding a link by only linking one small character—for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph

5) Plagiarised Content

Search engines are looking for unique, high quality content that is accurate for the searcher’s intent. Last year Google released a revised 164 page guideline document highlighting best practice for website content. Their aim is to have the platform as accurate and genuine as possible, ranking down stolen content, false information, and upsetting content. I wrote another post on how to see if your content is performing well.

6) Intrusive UX

There’s nothing worse than landing on a page only to be met with a mess of ads, pop-ups, and notifications. A smooth user experience is important to visitors and a poor one can mean a high bounce. All three of these items are acceptable in moderation, many sites stay live with the revenue they make through ads. However, it’s important to keep in mind Google’s Mobile First Indexing and ensuring your site is responsive for mobile devices.

If your site has come into contact with any of these methods or received a penalty that you wish to remove, get in touch with us on 01202 677 277 to discuss your website.

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