You know what not to wear and what not to share on social media, but do you know what not to write with SEO? There are many things that you have to stay away from when writing your content for Google and this blog will talk about those dirty tactics. You will learn more about Black Hat SEO, how those dirty tricks will hurt your site, and how to stay away from those dirty tricks. Sure, it means more study time but it will worth it in the end.
Black Hat SEO - Do I Have to Wear a Tie?
Black Hat SEO sounds like a fancy SEO event - in reality it is something only tricksy hobbits do. What is Black Hat, you ask? It is any practice that is in direct violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines. It is an attempt to trick the search engine results with things such as keyword stuffing, link spam, or any other ways that are strictly forbidden by Google. Google wants businesses to rank naturally and if someone is making their site come up through tricky means, Google will ban the page. Just think of Google as the Hulk and a site doing Black Hat SEO as Loki - the Hulk will smash the puny god into the ground.
Here are a few tricky Black Hat practices to stay away from:
1. Do Not Repost An Article! You should know by now that reposting a small portion or whole articles is highly unethical but if you do not know this, or are ignoring it, you need to stop. You would not want someone using your original writing without annotations pointing back to you so treat others with the same respect you want. Curata says that Google will possibly see you as a spam blog if you repost someone's content and will ban your site from ranking so while you may have gotten away with it in other facets of your life, you will not get away with it now. We hope that you are properly citing all of your sources but if you didn't - now you know: always make sure to cite!
2. Do not Have Too Many Large Photos. SEO rankings are not just judged on keyword usage, the quality of content, and your authority; your page load time is also a factor. You will not only lose customers and readers, but you'll stop ranking in a search engine. The best way to avoid this is by making sure any photos you have on your site are not too large. You can make them into clickable thumbnails so that people can choose to see the full sized image. This will help your rankings as well as getting readers to like your site. Make sure that anything that has to load, whether photo or video, will load quickly.
3. Spam Should Stay In The Container. Link spam is something that Google does not like at all. This is a Black Hat trick and one of the major don'ts of modern SEO, and Google is quickly making updates to stop ranking sites that do link spam. Google tends to make rash decisions when it comes to link spam. The link may not be spam filled but if it looks like spam, Google will treat it as spam. Moz gives a lot of great advice for avoiding the appearance of link spam and discusses the different types that are more prevalent. Another side of spam to stay away from is spamming your followers and readers on social media. If you get too annoying and take up half of their feeds, readers will quickly unfollow you and report you. Stay away from sending those messages on social media and when you send out your emails, only send them out on at scheduled times and do not do it too much. All sites have buttons to report spam and people do not hesitate to do this. These sites will keep a tally of the number of times you have been reported and will shut you down when they think you've been reported too much. Sometimes they may even shut you down right away. The lesson here is, just say no to spam. It does not work and you will suffer major consequences.
4. Do Not Be Snooty - Use Other Formats. We all like to do things that are comfortable and that have proven to work for us. Because of this, you might be ignoring some new formats and methods for content sharing. What you are doing now might actually hinder you from having a successful year. If you are stagnating and do not change, this will hurt your chances with Google and readers. You need to make sure you are going with the flow of trends and changing when you need to. If you are relying heavily on simple text-based content, you will find many readers getting bored with it. In fact, you should make sure your content isn't always TL;DR (too long; didn't read) material. Long text blogs are great, but give video summaries or infographics that outline what the post is about. Make sure that there is a format available for everyone.
5. Stuffing Only Belongs With Holiday Meals. Stop stuffing your content with keywords! This is uncool and Google will slap a ban on you pretty quick. If you do not know what keyword stuffing is, then that means that you are probably in the clear but should make sure your keywords are not overused. The best way to do this is to calculate your keyword density and make sure it isn't over 3 percent. Now if you are intentionally stuffing your site with keywords, you must stop it! All those tiny font keywords you are hiding around your site? Not cool. Google is sophisticated enough to realize what you are doing and will put a stop to it. Use the keywords sparingly throughout your post to help bring you up in the rankings and to keep your site from being marked as performing Black Hat SEO. Your rankings are not the only thing that will suffer from keyword stuffing; you will see that your readers and customers hate it too. Stuffing is simply for the bots and not for humans, meaning humans will leave your site quickly. Keep the stuffing as a food choice for holiday meals and out of your content.
6. Do Not Write for Robots. The bots may bring in the high ranks, but they do not actually read your site. You want to make sure that you are writing and crafting your content in such a way that real people will be attracted to your site. If you do not write for real people, you will find that your high ranks will eventually start slipping because no one is staying with your site for very long. Google will also notice if you are writing specifically for the bots and ignoring human readers. Quality content is absolutely integral in SEO so do not slack off! You will not only lose Google's rankings, but you will lose readers if it is incredibly clear that all you are doing is writing for the bots to notice you. People do not appreciate being left in the cold.
7. To Prevent Disease, Always Wash Your Hands. We've all seen the signs in restaurant bathrooms that say, "Hand washing prevents the spread of disease." It seems pretty common sense, but restaurants still feel the need to remind people. This goes for your website, as well. It seems pretty common sense, but make sure that your site is not distributing a virus, malware, Trojan horse, or any other computer bug. This will really hurt your ranks with search engines and it will make a lot of people angry. You do not want either to happen! About.com says that one of the best ways to make sure your site or software is not distributing malware is by having a secure server and always researching any software you download. You really should do this whether it is for your own personal use or for your company; keep yourself safe!
8. Do Not Forget To Update. SEO is an ever-changing game and if you do not update your content strategy, you will be left in the dust. Always keep an eye open so you will know when Google's algorithms change and keep watch on what your competitors are up to. Things change all the time and you need to make sure you change with them. You also need to make sure that what your current content strategy is working. If it isn't then you need to change it and grow. This would be a great chance to learn from your competitors and implement some of their more successful strategies into your own content plan. Of course, do not steal from them - just get inspired.
9. Don't Believe You Already Know It All. No one can know everything, yet many think they do. If you are one of these people, your SEO content strategy is going to go stale, quick. You need to be willing to be a constant learner so that number 8 will be an easy feat to manage. Sign up for newsletters from leaders in the SEO world and follow them on Twitter (be sure to actually read their updates). Learning is something we all should be doing and if you stay on top of it, you may notice that you learn some cool new tricks before your competitors.
Don't Forget To Do A Few Simple Things
While you are learning about what not to do, let's take a look at a few things you can do to help your content with SEO:
1. Spice Up Your Content. This goes hand-in-hand with writing for people and using other formats. Life would be boring if we all stuck to the same tried and true methods and it tends to get stale when we go with what works instead of trying something new. Many companies who go viral experience this because they did something new and exciting. They took the plunge and spiced up their content. Do not be too scared to try something different because this may just be what gets you noticed.
2. Focus On Keeping Readers. This goes along with not writing for the bots. Write for the people who will read your material and focus on keeping them. If you are solely focused on whether or not you are making sales or if your content is ranking on Google, you will lose readers. Do simple things to build relationships with your already existing client and reader base to keep them longtime readers. A few ways to do this is by:
- Involving them on social media.
- Hosting Q&A sessions.
- Stay relevant with your postings (i.e. use memes or other items that relate to your reader base).
- Implement logical changes suggested by readers.
- Host a daily Twitter poll and retweet responses from your followers.
3. Google Loves All-Natural. All-natural foods and daily items are a huge trend right now. We all want to keep the earth safe and our bodies safe, so we eat as many all-natural foods as possible. All-natural just feels right and Google agrees. They prefer sites to be noticed by natural or organic means such as likes on Facebook, +1s on Google+, natural links, and natural follows. A great way to be noticed in a natural way is simple and can be done by making your content an enjoyable read, add little surprises, tell stories, and always be helpful. The more enjoyable and relatable you are, the more your site will be shared and reshared. This helps Google decide you are an authority and will help you rank high on the search engine results page.
Take these tips about what not to write when it comes to SEO and content strategy and start implementing them. You will be happy to see your ranks improving when you are no longer participating in Black Hat SEO and Google will be happy, too!