5 SEO Tactics You Should Avoid
By Katrina Langer
A great SEO strategy takes time. Even the best content may not show up in search results for a few days or weeks. While you’re waiting patiently for your rankings and authority to improve, it might be tempting to take a few shortcuts in your SEO strategy.
But when it comes to SEO, cutting corners with “black hat” SEO techniques can do more harm than good. Here are the 5 most common black hat tactics you should avoid.
If you’re targeting a group of keywords on a page or blog post, you may feel like you need to load up every sentence or paragraph with those words and phrases. After all, more keywords is better, right?.
Not necessarily. Today’s search engines are very smart, so their algorithms understand synonyms and semantic relationships between words. In other words, search engines understand the difference between content that’s easy for humans to read, and content that isn’t.
With that in mind, there are some common keyword stuffing practices you should avoid, such as:
- Adding irrelevant keywords: You may know a lot about housing market trends in Alabama, but if you’re writing a blog post focused on staging properties, don’t try to shove the topic in where it doesn’t belong. Most likely, you’ll only succeed in confusing both readers and search engines.
- Too many keywords: You should include keyword phrases where it makes sense, but you don’t need to pack those phrases in multiple times. To see why this is a bad idea, try reading this sentence without getting lost: “Learn more about real estate trends in Massachusetts, eastern Massachusetts, and the Greater Boston area from the real estate trends experts in Boston, the North Shore, and Cape Cod.” Instead, focus on readability and keep your keywords simple and natural: “Learn more about Massachusetts real estate trends from the experts in the Greater Boston area.”
- Keyword cloaking or invisible text: Some black hat SEO practitioners fill a page with relevant keywords, then show users content that’s entirely different—either by adjusting their CSS, or by making the text the same color as the page background. Users may not be able to see these gimmicks, but search engines can, and it won’t work.
Instead of trying to game the system, all you need to do is include keywords within the appropriate context in a thoughtful way.
Link lists or directories
It may seem really like a good idea to just create a page with a long list of keywords you’re targeting, then link each item on that list to a page on your site. But, once again, that’s not how humans explore web content. Instead, it’s much better to incorporate natural links into your pages with succinct, thoughtful anchor text that points to a relevant blog post or page on your website.
You’ve probably experienced this before: you visit a website that has a bunch of links on it about restaurants in Minneapolis. You click on one about the best Italian restaurants in the city, then find yourself on another page that’s also a list of links. And so on. Frustrating, right?
If your content is meant to educate and inform people, any links on your site should take them directly to that thoughtful, well-written content. Don’t make people go on a wild goose chase to find information that’s important to them to earn SEO links.
We’ve covered this extensively in a previous post, so we can keep it short: never pay for links to your content, and never accept payments for links to other people’s content. Google can spot link buying behavior, and your site will be penalized accordingly.
“Black-hat SEO tricks that still work!”
A quick Google search for this phrase turns up just over 300,000 results, the authors of which are perfectly willing to tell you how you can still get away with some of these shortcuts.
No matter what some bloggers or so-called “experts” say, these shortcuts just aren’t worth the risk. Search engine algorithms know what they are, and penalize people who try to cheat the system.
If you’re wondering what you can do to improve your SEO without taking shortcuts, there is one tactic that won’t steer you wrong: create interesting, informative, helpful content on your site to help educate and entice potential customers. This will not only build a solid foundation for strategic link building, but also help make your brand a trustworthy source for real estate expertise.
Published on August 7, 2018
Written by Katrina Langer
Katrina is a Content Writer and Strategist. She's worked with both Fortune 100 companies and small startups to create awesome content on their websites. She holds a BA in English from Northeastern University and an MBA in International Business from SNHU.