Search engine optimization (SEO) can be complicated to say the least. There are so many things you can do that can hurt your SEO, and it can be frustrating to learn that you’ve been doing them all this time. There’s no official handbook that captures absolutely everything. The more you work on SEO, the more mistakes you find that have been hurting you that you didn’t even know about.
There are obvious things, like not having enough content or not having a target keyword for a page. Those are things you would see immediately that would crater a page from the start. What we want to help you look out for are things you may not realize you’re doing or that you need to fix.
1. Keyword Stuffing
It’s natural to think that as you’re writing content for your website, you should put your keyword wherever it makes sense. The problem with this is that you’ll likely put it in several places. You may have a 1,500-word blog post or page and find that you’ve used your keyword 15 times.
In reality, the best rate to add keywords to your page or blog posts is once for every 200 words. That means a 1,500-word page with 15 mentions of your keyword isn’t good, and actually hurts your SEO. Now, it’s okay to be within two to three mentions off from once for every 200 words, but double is too much.
This looks like keyword stuffing, where you use your keyword too many times on a page to be using it honestly. Because Google’s search engine is an algorithm and not a person, it’s not going to recognize that your keyword makes sense where you put it. It’s going to search your page, find a lot of mentions of a keyword, and think you’re keyword stuffing.
How to Avoid Keyword Stuffing
I know of two easy strategies to avoid or fix keyword stuffing. To avoid it, don’t use your keyword so much while you’re writing your first draft. This may sound strange, but when you’re writing it the first time through, you may not realize what you’re doing and leave a lot of work to fix in the editing and revising stage. In our experience, it’s easier in the editing and revising stages to add keywords to spots where they feel perfect than to remove them.
But if that process doesn’t work, there’s another strategy you can use to fix keyword stuffing. Use secondary keywords, which are synonyms for your primary keyword. For example, if you’ve stuffed your page or article with mentions of “divorce law,” or “divorce lawyer,” switch out some mentions for “divorce attorney” or “family law.” They mean similar things and should fit into your page, but aren’t flagged by Google Search. It helps your SEO further by helping your page rank for multiple keywords.
2. Bad Links Hurt Your SEO
This may seem vague, but there are multiple kinds of bad links, where instead of boosting your credibility, they tear it down. A bad link connects to a site that lacks credibility, even to the point it has significantly less credibility than yours. This works in three ways:
Poorly Chosen Links
This is the most common mistake we see clients make with external links. They find other sites that have the information they want to support their own, but the site isn’t credible. It’s not well designed, not secure, has no sources, or is viewed as far less than their site. The best sites are from ones that look nice, are already on the first page of a Google tab, and/or from a government site.
For example, the best external links tend to be government websites that list the laws you’re referencing. Even the ones that aren’t pretty to look at have high credibility by being official government websites, and they’re commonly primary sources in themselves.
When talking about bad links, we’re not only talking about external links to other websites but backlinks as well. When someone links to one of your pages, that’s called a backlink, and they do wonders for the credibility of your page and site. Of course, you can’t always control if someone gives you a backlink or if they’re trustworthy. While it’s common to get backlinks that aren’t that useful from less than trustworthy sites, Google Search recognizes this and doesn’t penalize pages unless they have a large number of untrustworthy backlinks.
How does one get a lot of untrustworthy backlinks? Well, by paying for them.
It is highly uncommon for anything other than new sites to naturally get lots of backlinks all at once, good or bad. To get a lot of backlinks at once, you can pay for sites to give them to you, and Google Search can tell when you do this. This doesn’t just hurt your SEO, this destroys it, possibly permanently in ways a site can never recover from. Paid backlinks are worthless today, don’t waste your hard-earned budget on them.
If you want to know how you can get backlinks, we’ve talked before about how you can get them the right way.
Now, after talking about external links and backlinks, there are also bad internal links. Bad internal links are when you link one of your pages to another about a competing topic. You can link to external links about the same topic and hurt your SEO that way, but we’ve noticed it far more often where people connect to competing internal links than external.
The thought process behind the decision makes sense. If someone is interested in this page on your website, then they would be interested in a similar page, but Google Search doesn’t see it that way. The search engine sees that you’re linking to another relevant site and thinks, “Why would I send people here when I can send them there?”
You might be thinking, “As long as the pageviews are coming to me, it doesn’t matter.” If you think that, know that the Google Search algorithm won’t necessarily send people to the competing link instead. In reality, it’s not uncommon for two pages to compete for the same keyword and either split their pageviews or receive less than if there were only two of them.
3. Comment Spam
Comments and replies are great for the algorithm if they’re genuine. They show that people are visiting your site, interacting with it, and spending extended periods on it. But unlike YouTube, if they’re not genuine, they have the opposite effect.
It’s hard to miss when someone has posted spam in the comments section. They post schemes about how someone can make money, links to their website, and other inappropriate messages. While your first thought might be that they help your SEO, understand that Google Search knows spam when it sees it. It will flag your page for having it and hurt your SEO because of it.
Google Search feels it has to do this because spam commonly comes with viruses as well. So, if you ever see spam in your comment sections, it’s always the best course of action to delete it.
Let Someone Else Do the SEO Work For You
SEO isn’t easy, we say it all the time, and that’s why you should come to us for your SEO needs. We can do the heavy lifting, catch and fix the mistakes, and avoid them on your behalf. SEO can be a full-time job, but you already have a job you need to do. So, contact ENX2 Marketing – our award-winning marketing team wants to help your business rise above the competition.