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The Blacklist: Popular SEO Tips and Tricks That Can Get You Banned

black-hat-1024x765Be skeptical. In the world of SEO, anyone can call themselves an expert. Many so-called SEO gurus are operating on guesswork ("It worked for me!"), outdated knowledge ("Stuff those keywords!") and outright lies ("I'll be gone by the time they know it!). In fact, quite a few popular SEO tips either do nothing at all or can be outright harmful to your business.

"Always Optimize Your Anchor Text!"

Example: Today Xyzzy Corp, a popular auto insurance company, announced they would be expanding into home insurance.

The use of keywords or key phrases in anchor texts, also known as optimized links, is now considered to be against Google's Webmaster Guidelines when used in press releases and off-site content. Remember, using anchor links can still be valuable for on-site SEO.

Instead: Today Xyzzy Corp, a popular auto insurance company, announced they would be expanding into home insurance.

"Use Guest Blogs to Drive Your Traffic!"

Example: In this post we talk about gardening and how it may relate to replacing your home HVAC system.

Matt Cutts hates guest blogging and it's easy to see why. Guest blogging has become the new advertising; there are unrelated articles going up in blogs everywhere that only serve as a carrier for links.

Instead: Use guest blogs sparingly and only with related sites. Google will penalize those who attempt to link to their content from unrelated sites.

"Insert Tons of Long Tail Keywords!"

Example: Looking for luxury real estate in Austin Texas? Luxury real estate in Austin Texas is on the rise...

Content is moving away from keywords--even long tail keywords. Depending on the context, using long tail keywords more than once is a clear signifier of keyword stuffing. Used in conjunction with other black hat techniques it could easily get you penalized or even banned. Vary your keywords and focus on writing relevant content.

Instead: Looking for luxury real estate in Austin Texas? Premium homes in Austin Texas are on the rise...

"Buy Some Links! They'll Never Know!"

Example: Paying anyone to link to your website, such as through a paid link exchange.

It's surprising how many legitimate SEO companies still practice this outdated technique. Google has a very good idea of who is selling links on the web. All they need to do is discover a person selling links--whether it be through their own algorithms or through a tip--and they will know that anyone that person linked to was a fraud.

Instead: Purchased links are worse than worthless in any case; the website that is linking to you will have no credibility. Focus instead on creating your own content.

Why should you avoid the above tips like the plague? Because being blacklisted by Google is not something that you can easily recover from. In fact, you may never fully recover at all. Be skeptical of anyone who tells you that they know everything there is to know about SEO and always do your own research. 

Currently working with an agency and not sure about the results? Read our blog post "How To Evaluate Your Current SEO Provider."

Guide to Internet Marketing

Matt Walde
Post by Matt Walde
July 29, 2014

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