Why You Can’t Shortcut SEO

by Think Beyond

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a key component of any long-term marketing strategy. The word “long-term” is important here: ideas that you can somehow “shortcut” your way to a coveted page one listing proliferate. The truth is that there are no SEO shortcuts. Good search engine optimisation takes time.

Just ask Google – incur the wrath of this search engine giant by committing a policy violation and your entire website could be banned from their advertising network. That’s your organic, paid search, and display advertising sources of traffic all potentially gone. Poof!

Continue reading as Think Beyond outline how to protect your online traffic and brand reputation against unethical “black hat” SEO practices designed to offer a “quick win”.

SEO shortcuts don’t exist

Think about it for a moment: search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo want to reward companies whose websites are relevant and deliver on quality content for the end user. Using a variety of signals, they can quickly detect webspam and other attempts to violate webmaster guidelines.

What’s more, with each algorithm update (think Panda or Penguin), that net further closes in. This means that even if a shortcut were to offer a fix, it would only be temporary. Advertisers will be penalised and end up paying the price of a drop in traffic, a website suspension or even a complete ban (sayonara SERPs).

According to reports, approximately 10,000 websites are added to Google’s blacklist every single day. If you end up here, you will need to first find, and then second, fix the violations on your site. Unfortunately, the review process for suspended websites can take months. All the while you are losing traffic and the revenue that goes with those visitors. Worst case scenario: you’ll need a new domain and new website. And we’re talking about a complete new build here; merely replicating your banned site won’t cut it as sooner or later, the suspension will catch up with you. Gulp.

Three search engine optimisation practices to avoid

If you don’t want to incur a search engine penalty, here’s three common “black hat” SEO practices that should be avoided:

Keyword stuffing

Deliberately filling content with irrelevant keywords or numbers in order to manipulate rankings is a big no-no. It will create a bad user experience and your copy will sound unnatural. Here’s an example of keyword stuffing direct from Google:

“We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at custom.cigar.humidors@example.com.”

Would you want this on your website?

Cloaking

Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting human website visitors with different content (or URLs) to that shown to search engines. Using redirects to send search engine crawlers to a different page than other users is a form of cloaking. Spam websites often engage in this practice to avoid detection by search engine bots but cloaking is one of the fastest ways to get your website banned.

Buying links in bulk

Firstly, let’s be clear: real, quality backlinks are vital to search engines. However, link schemes, or getting links in bulk, to manipulate PageRank are webmaster violations. Don’t buy thousands of links, don’t use automated programmes to create links, and don’t submit optimised links in volume to forums.

High risk, low reward. SEO shortcuts really don’t exist. There is no substitute for quality, original content and adherence to webmaster best practices backed by a solid search engine optimisation strategy that speaks to your competitive differentiation.