SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can be a lot more risky that you might think. The success of your website rests largely on whether Google, or other search engines, wants to rank you on its results pages.
However they have some very specific rules about what you should and shouldn’t do, so here are some of the things that you definitely want to avoid if your website is to stay on top of the search engine results pile.
Never ask for backlinks from other websites
Although Google used to take an indifferent approach to asking for backlinks, recent updates have made it clear that any website that asks other websites for backlinks will be penalized. If you have a section of your webpage that encourages people to link to you – especially if you are then going to link to them – Google’s spider will read this and report you accordingly.
I know what you’re thinking: search engine spiders can’t read the content of images or the elements of my page, and so I can put them in there. No! Google employees routinely browse the most successful websites to make sure that they aren’t breaking the rules by hiding things from the spiders. If you are found to have used these sorts of tricks to get people to backlink to you, your ranking will plummet and you won’t even get an email telling you why. It’s honestly not worth the risk.
Don’t hide slow pages
Google wants to be able to see every page that users on your website will come across, and while it can be tempting to hide the graphics-intense page that you know will take a few seconds to load, it’s not a good idea.
Although Google’s ranking of your website will depend on how long it takes your page to load, it’s not a good idea to shut these pages off from the spiders. Google don’t look favorably on websites that hide pages which reflect badly on the website, so make sure that you keep them visible.
Avoid sudden backlink SPAMs
Google only wants to consider backlinks which are organic – that is, have appeared naturally and are not designed to help with SEO. The biggest sign that you are trying to cheat the system is when you have hundreds of backlinks appear overnight; everyone knows that’s not an organic and Google will catch on as well.
Although your ranking will probably take some time to degrade once Google has spotted you, once it starts it won’t stop. The world of SEO is much more cut-throat than you might think, and if Google recognizes the signs that you are spamming backlinks you’re likely to drop quite a few pages on the results list.
It’s a much better idea for everyone if you have organic backlinks that came about naturally – remember the previous point about not asking for backlinks from other websites!
Never put too many keywords in page elements
Keywords are one of the most valuable SEO tools that we as webmasters have available, so make sure that you don’t abuse them. While adding some keywords to elements is absolutely fine (ALT tags, for example, are encouraged because it allows the spider to index images based on what you describe it to be), you don’t want to go overboard.
Some people think that it’s ok to put a huge list of keywords into page elements so that the spiders recognize them and boost their ranking. This isn’t the case – Google can recognize when keywords are organic and appear in the natural flow of text, and when they have been engineered to meet SEO requirements.
You want to write content for your website without thinking too much about keywords if you really want Google to rank you well; they can spot false keyword SPAMs from a mile away.
Never, ever purchase backlinks
There are lots of websites out there (ironically some of which are ranked on Google) which offer to sell you backlinks to boost your SEO ranking. While the web pages will undoubtedly offer you are good deal on the number of backlinks, and will tell you that you won’t get caught, remember this: Google always wins.
Purchasing backlinks is one of the most damaging things you can do because it sends a clear sign to Google that you are cheating the system and don’t care. There might be a few months where you aren’t caught (as Google indexes so many websites that it takes months to evaluate them) but when you are caught you will be crushed by the search engine.
Use your money to re-code aspects of your website that aren’t SEO-friendly or invest in some better web hosting to help your pages to render faster. Under no circumstances should you purchase backlinks!