We’ve all heard about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), but do you really know how to use it and how not to use it?
The term ‘SEO’ has been around since the mid-nineties, predating Google which was established in 1998. Back then, search engines like Yahoo ran like an online directory instead. Remember the Yellow Pages? Essentially, it was a huge, physical book which listed just about all the businesses in your area for free, and some companies paid for larger ads to be placed more visibly so that they could be found more easily by potential customers. Well, that’s not a million miles away from how Google works now!
If you’re not overly familiar with SEO, then it’s good to know it can go wrong; and when not used correctly, it can derail your entire digital marketing efforts.
Your technical SEO doesn’t need to be faultless, but here are some of the techniques you should think about avoiding…
Keyword stuffing and irrelevancy
Cramming your content with a high volume of keywords is no longer effective and can harm your website’s ranking by making your content appear irrelevant to the search engine. Search engines such as Google have algorithms that can detect just this, and websites can be penalised with lower search ranking or even banned from search results all together.
Not only that, but your content can appear unnatural and difficult to read. This can negatively impact the user experience, resulting in a high bounce rate, lower engagement, and a decrease in conversions.
It’s absolutely crucial to ensure your keywords accurately reflect your content. By using SEO intelligently in your content, visitors are more likely to find your website when they search for a question or problem they may have.
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This is generally considered as a ‘black hat’ SEO technique as Google can easily detect paid backlinks to your website, because they violate their guidelines on link schemes, and they will punish your website for it. The links you purchase also may come from low-quality or spammy websites which could harm your reputation and authority. There is also concern around purchasing links being expensive, leading to legal issues and ethical concerns.
In a nutshell, search engines prefer original content. It’s important to avoid copying content from other websites or duplicating your own content across multiple pages on your site, as it could confuse your users. When users search for information online, they expect to find unique and valuable content; but if your content is repeated, they may become frustrated, which may result in them not returning to your site.
Google Search also penalises you for duplicated content, keywords and meta descriptions. Make sure that you have a unique keyword, copy and meta description on every page of your site.
Hidden text and links
Hidden text refers to text that is placed on a webpage, but is not visible to users because it is the same colour as the background or is located off-screen. This method is used to add more keywords or phrases to a page to improve search rankings, but this is seen as extremely misleading. Creating links to other pages without the knowledge or consent of a user is also highly negative for your users’ experience as they may click on a link they didn’t intend to.
Also known as gateway or entry pages, these are low-quality pages designed to rank highly for a specific keyword and then redirect users to another page. You should steer away from using doorway pages as they can result in penalties and could even get you blacklisted. Google is way more sophisticated than it used to be, and using this technique will only be a disservice to yourself. If you really want to bring more visitors to your site, make sure you always add value to the user and improve your website’s SEO so it’s as easy as possible for Google to scan.
Neglecting mobile optimisation
With mobile searches on the rise, it’s essential to ensure your website is mobile-friendly. If your website is not optimised for mobile devices, users will have difficulty in navigating and using your site, leaving a bad perception of your brand. You may also be putting yourself at risk of decreased traffic and you might be more open to losing potential prospects, as they may become irritated and leave your website to find what they are looking for elsewhere. It’s important to make sure you don’t neglect this, as your opportunities to engage with your audience will drop!
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This latest thinking article was written by:
Senior Content Excecutive