Search Engine Optimization is evolving and changing all the time. Search engine optimizers, on the other hand, seem to evolve a whole lot… slower. The following are the top 10 dumb SEO mistakes that you should really consider letting go in 2014.
1. Cheesy SEO Copywriting & Keyword Stuffing
“Do you need a plumber in Orlando? Our Orlando plumbers are great at all kinds of plumbing in Orlando. Whether you need house plumbing in Orlando or…”
Barf. Please, write your content for human beings – the ones that you hope will buy things from you. Getting traffic to your website means nothing if the copy reads like a fax machine threw up.
2. Text Cloaking
Have you ever seen a ghost? Google does. That white content you hid on a white background or WAAAAAY off the page where users can’t find it? Yeah, you’re out of luck. Google is like the Where’s Waldo champion of hidden text – but when they find it, your site is what disappears
It’s amazing we still have to talk about this in 2013, but Flash websites are a terrible, terrible idea. To Google, your Flash website is one giant image with no content to speak of. Worse, Apple products (you know, what millions of people around the world use to access the internet?) can’t render Flash.
4. Link Buying
Buying links can be a fast-track to the top of search results – and a one-way ticket to Google’s ban-bin. While you might think you’re being really discreet about buying links, chances are good you’re leaving a sasquatch-sized footprint for Google to follow. Think twice.
5. Redesigning Your Website without an SEO Plan
Changing your CMS? Giving your website a redesign? Hopefully, you brought in a skilled SEO professional to help oversee the process and maintain the search visibility you had beforehand.
Redesigns without SEO input can lead to lost links if your URLs change. You can also accidentally kill important content or make your website uncrawlable(see our earlier point #4) among other serious mistakes. Bring in a white-hat SEO agency to prevent taking serious steps backwards.
6. Stuffing Alt-Text Attributes
How would you describe the image on the left to someone who is visually impaired? Probably not, “Best bagel house Philadelphia, buy bagels online, fresh bagels Philly”, right? Image alt-attributes exist to help the visually impaired browse your content – not as a dumping ground for your keywords.
7. Using the Meta-Keywords Tag
Ring ring! It’s 2008 calling, and we’ve got news for you! No major search engine uses the meta-keywords tag in a meaningful way. In fact, using meta-keywords is a wonderful way to let your competition know exactly what you’re targeting.
8. Improper Redirects
You wouldn’t believe it, but out there on the internet there are websites that redirect their home pages to other pages and use 302 redirects for permanently moved pages instead of the proper 301. It’s almost like they told Google, “Hey, we don’t really care about showing up for anything, thanks.”
9. Plagiarized Content
Too lazy to write your own content? Stealing from someone else will save you time – and the burden of getting any search traffic, too! Google does a pretty good job of identifying primary sources of content and will disregard copycats, especially copycats who steal content at scale.
10. Anchor Text Spam
You would think the world at large would have learned their lesson after the Penguin update ravaged websites abusing manipulative link schemes and unnatural anchor text – but they haven’t. Your link profile needs to be as natural as possible, so 500 links that say “buy cars in San Diego” will be anything but. It doesn’t matter if those links come from blog posts, directories, forum profiles or blog comments – anchor text abuse is a sure-fire way to get slapped with a flipper.