SEO Tactics That Put Your Business at Risk

Have You Been Good This Year?

We all know that Santa has a naughty list. But did you know that Google has one as well? More importantly, does your SEO provider know? Because if they don’t know (or more importantly, if they know but don’t care) they are putting your online presence – and indeed, your entire business – in serious jeopardy. And the consequences are far worse than just getting a lump of coal in your stocking!

In the early, “wild-west” days of the Internet, enterprising marketers in the field of what would eventually become known as SEO employed all kinds of tactics (such as spamming keywords all over blogs) intended to improve search engine results rankings. Many of these worked! Unfortunately, they did not improve the relevance or usefulness of the search results for the user.

Google’s entire business model depends upon your search results being relevant and useful to your search. After all, if you typed a search term into Google and received a list of useless, irrelevant sites, you’d probably stop using them. It’s precisely for this reason that Google aggressively combats SEO tactics that improve SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings at the expense of the user experience. In the most egregious cases, Google will simply remove your site from its search index, removing your site from SERPs altogether.

3 Naughty SEO Tactics

Here are three SEO tactics that will earn you a place on Google’s naughty list:

  • Content Automation
    • Context, understanding, syntax, and a human voice are all important for the creation of content that will improve your site’s user experience, and hence, search results. Automate your reporting and your keyword searches, not your content creation. Using automation tools to crank out massive amounts of supposedly keyword-rich drivel is one sure way to attract Google’s scrutiny – and not in a good way.
  • Hidden Text or Links
    • Think you can trick Google by putting a lot of keyword-rich text in a font that’s the same color as the background so the search engines will see it, but your readers won’t? Think again. That ice you’re skating on? It’s very, very, thin, and I think I can see it cracking under you.
  • Link Schemes
    • Does your SEO provider think they’re smarter than JC Penney? It took them 90 days (and a TON of money) to regain their Google ranking after a link building scheme that had live links on over 2,000 pages, mostly unrelated to the content on those pages.

As Teddy the Arsonist said in the movie Body Heat (1:53 in this clip), “Any time you try a decent crime, you got 50 ways you can f- up. You think of 25 of them, you’re a genius. And you ain’t no genius… I sure hope you know what you’re doin’. You better be damn sure ‘cause if you ain’t sure then don’t do it. ‘Course that’s my recommendation anyway. Don’t do it.”

And there are LOTS more ways to earn your way to the top of Google’s Naughty List:

  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Sneaky Redirects 
  • Cloaking
  • Article Spinning
  • Guest Posting Networks
  • Link Manipulation (including buying links)
  • Reporting a Competitor (or Negative SEO)
  • Link Farms, Link Wheels or Link Networks
  • Automated Queries to Google
  • Creating pages, subdomains, or domains with duplicate content
  • and lots more…

The Naughty List Can Lead to the De-List!

It’s often been observed that committing crimes can be a lot of work, and if criminals would simply apply that same amount of effort to doing things legit, they’d be much better off. But some folks – apparently including black-hat SEO providers — can’t help themselves.

Once de-listed from Google’s search index, the opportunity costs of having your (perhaps primary) lead source cut off for months alone are significant. And there is no guarantee you will ever get re-listed. That’s a HUGE lump of coal. Many businesses have found it is less expensive to find a new URL and build a new website again from scratch.

How to Stay on Google’s “Nice” List

Good SEO providers employ ethical, Google approved “white hat” techniques that

  • Offer quality content and services
  • Load quickly and are mobile-friendly
  • Use descriptive – not misleading — keyword-rich meta tags
  • Make your site easier to navigate

Not sure if your site is on the Naughty or Nice list? Reach out to us for a free consultation.