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Angie Picardo

Bad SEO Practices: Identifying and Avoiding Them

Angie Picardo

Employing SEO to your website or blog is essential when trying to compete in an ocean of e-commerce sites doing anything they can to get as much attention and traffic as possible. While SEO practices have evolved over the years, there are still several bad practices that many websites do that work against them in the long run. While many SEO blogs exist that outline the best practices to employ search engine optimization, less exist that detail many aspects of SEO that should be avoided. Consider the following bad SEO practices if you are thinking about establishing a blog or website, or currently administer these.

Spinning. Web content spinning is the practice by which a successful SEO article is re-written (or “spun”) by replacing nouns and adjectives with synonyms. The theory is that by replacing some key elements of the content, unique content can be developed quickly that is still SEO-friendly. Fortunately, the search algorithms used by major engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo have become incredibly adept at sniffing out spun articles, and especially spun articles that reside on the same parent domain. As a result, websites that choose to spin content in their favor are ultimately banished to the back pages of search results.

Don’t Stuff Keywords. Keyword stuffing is an antiquated way to be picked up by search engines. This method occurs when web designers include many different forms of the same keyword on the page as the same color (or highlighted in the same color) as the webpage’s background. This shields the nonsensical repetition from the user, but still—in theory—is attractive of search engines. Unfortunately, many websites still try to overstuff their Meta tags and web pages with camouflaged keywords, but most major search engines have able to detect when this happens. Keyword stuffing was one of the earliest tricks in the book, and as a result, was one of the first tricks major engines put a stop to early on in the days of user-built websites on AOL, Geocities, and Angelfire. At this point, it’s simply an exercise in futility.

Spamming. It is always a good idea to comment on other blogs while simultaneously plugging your own website. This places a link on a page outside of your domain that will deliver traffic to your blog or website. Unfortunately, some individuals use “bots” or other spamming software that scans the net for blogs with commenting features, posts an irrelevant or generic comment about the site, and casually leaves a link at the end in order to poach traffic. Fortunately most blog platforms have installed the technology to mark these posts as spam, and many will inform blog owners that a spam-like post has been made, asking for authorization before publishing. No user likes spam, so websites that employ this software to mass market their URLs are generally punished by being labeled as spam or ignored by surfers who simply know better.

Stop Duplicating Content. Websites that duplicate large chunks of content on their own websites or across multiple domain names. This can occur when a large portion of content is “quoted” on other sites or lazily copied to other sites in an effort to attract increased traffic. Duplicate content should be avoided at all costs, as many major search engines will stop scanning the rest of your pages once duplicate copy is found. As a result, these websites will not rank well, and will ultimately fall down the results returned by major internet search engines. There is no quick fix to this aside from removing all duplicate content, and even people who try to modify their duplicated content will find that this does not work very well.

Just Say No to Cloaking. Cloaking is when bloggers or web owners create specific content for users and specific content for search engines. Cloaking is employed to get picked up by major search engines while simultaneously offering visitors to your site with a different experience. For example, a website that employs cloaking could be seen as relevant by a search engine for their content on viral marketing, but users are then met with content about home accessories. While search engines have become smarter at sniffing out sites that employ cloaking, it also irritates users, and while likely result in losing people who were both interested in viral marketing and housing accessories. To put it bluntly, cloaking just isn’t worth it.

Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet. Her mission is to help consumers stay financially savvy, and save some money.

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