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How Outdated SEO Techniques Can Get Your Website Penalized

Published: October 17, 2014

The SEO industry has reached the point where the number of discredited and outdated “black hat” techniques for improving organic search engine rankings far outweighs the acceptable “white hat” tactics that can be implemented without fear of a Google penalty.

Webmasters who continue to engage in unacceptable SEO practices, whether out of plain ignorance or pure stubbornness, are putting their traffic and revenue at grave risk. While some “black hat” techniques may continue to work in the short term, sooner or later Google is going to track these offending websites down.

Depending on the severity and nature of the guideline or update infraction, a website may be penalized by losing a portion of its ranking for a period of time or until certain remedial measures have been taken to bring it into compliance with current accepted practice. In some cases, an offending website may be de-indexed, or removed from the Google rankings altogether.

It’s not enough to know only the accepted practices; you need to know what techniques to avoid so that you don’t inadvertently violate the constantly changing guidelines or apply an otherwise acceptable technique incorrectly.

spammy link buildingOn-page SEO Techniques to Avoid
Thin Content. In past years, you could easily rank a site with simple 200-word articles but those days are long gone. Google wants to see relevant quality content that informs and engages the reader, and that’s very hard to do in a few hundred words. The bottom line: longer content equals better ranking and more satisfied readers. In a recent study conducted by Moz, each of the pages ranked on the first page of the search results contained over 2,000 words of content.

Keyword Stuffing Your Title Tag. Once an accepted method, keyword stuffing your titles is now strictly taboo.

Lack of a Logical Internal Linking Strategy. While internal links remain a strong SEO signal, they should be logically placed to provide additional information for the reader and not arbitrarily placed throughout the text in a haphazard manner.

Un-optimized Images. All of the images on your website need to be properly tagged with alt text and image file names.

Off-page SEO Techniques to Avoid
Keyword-rich Anchor Text. Keep your keyword-rich anchor text to about 1 percent of your total inbound links. Make sure you mix up your anchor text with a combination of branded terms and random generic terms such as “click here” and “for more information.”

Low Quality or Irrelevant Directories. Directory links are still perfectly acceptable but only if they are high quality and relevant to your niche or geographic market area. In general, the best directory sites will have editorial controls and guidelines in place; avoid any directory that accepts listings automatically.

Inbound Links not Relevant to Your Industry or Niche. Only pursue link opportunities that come from authority sites that are relevant to your business.

Guest Posting on Low Quality Spammy Sites. Avoid guest posting on sites with poor quality content with little to no reader engagement in the form of comments and sharing. While many of the links will be nofollow, you can still drive traffic to your site and build your authority by guest posting to high authority sites.