The fluid yet fragile nature of Search Engine Optimisation can lead to entire campaigns built upon outdated concepts which could cause more damage than benefits. As Goggle and other search engines continue to update their search algorithms, old SEO techniques and tricks can become detrimental to a campaign and can land a website in hot water. Here we look at five common SEO mistakes which amazingly still happen.
1. Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is the practice of packing a website full of the search terms the owner wants to rank for. In simpler times, this caught the eye of search engines but painstaking work has been completed to penalise stuffers rather than reward them. Cunning SEO professionals sought to overcome this by implementing invisible keyword stuffing with hidden text, however this was completely eradicated as an effective method by 2005.
Search engines only reward relevant, quality content designed to be helpful for visitors.
2. Ignoring Canonical Tags
Canonical tags are the useful tool to help search engines understand the parts of the website it wants to be judged and ranked on. Signifying the current and up-to-date versions and pages of the website, canonical tags can help keep search engine bots away from development pages and historical pages.
Failure to implement canonical tags can lead to search engines searching through under-optimised pages of the website and ranking it accordingly.
3. Leaving Broken Links
Everybody finds broken links incredibly frustrating – even search engines. If your website is rife with broken links, this could have a hugely negative effect upon rankings. Even though broken links often occur naturally, search engines are still wont to punish their owners as they demonstrate a lack of care and attention. Be sure to comb through your website regularly to maintain all links.
Banc Media explains: “We perform regular checks and audits of our clients’ websites to ensure none of the links are broken. Discovering a broken link is like finding a dead light bulb: it has to be immediately removed, or it could trip everything.”
4. Duplicate Content
Search engines have a lot of respect for original authors, but not so much for copycats. Whilst copy-and-pasting content from a competitor can seem like an incredibly simple method to source a high quantity of relevant content – it could be heavily penalised by search engines. Using tools such as Copyscape can help you identify if your content is original, by measuring it against other content already available.
5. Heeding Unsourced Advice
The development and evolution of SEO is built largely on idea and knowledge sharing. As new technologies and algorithms are rolled out by search engines, the SEO specialists endeavour to crack the new codes and mysteries to lead to top rankings – and the nice ones share these secrets. However, this can lead to imposters or well-meaning newbies posting ‘information’ or misleading advice.
Implementing the advice from non-experts could lead to disastrous results. This is why it is important to only utilise information from respected sources such as Google’s head of Webspam – Matt Cutts, the ‘Wizard of Moz’ – Rand Fishkin and a non-Google-fangirl – Ann Smarty.