When It Comes To Search Engine Optimization,
Shortcuts Won’t Just Hurt You, They’ll Bury You Alive.
Google Hates & Punishes Cheaters, Tricksters, & Rule Benders.
Written by Rich Harshaw.
Ever notice how there are about 17,000 different devices, diets, programs, pills, gurus, and scams to help people lose weight?
Actually, there are 209,719 ways to lose weight, at least according to a quick search for “weight loss” on Amazon.com. Here are some of the top choices:
I gotta admit, the McDavid 491 Waist Trimmer does look pretty sweet. The guy in the picture really needs it.
Here’s the funny thing. Everybody knows that the “secret” to weight loss is two-fold: quit double-fisting cheeseburgers, and get your lazy butt off the couch. That’s pretty much it. There is no secret. There is no device needed. You just have to do what you know you need to do.
When it comes to SEO, the situation isn’t much different. There are thousands of gurus promising to administer magic pills that will suddenly catapult your home improvement website to the top of the search rankings with no work, no effort… and most importantly—no waiting!
Meanwhile, these same SEO Prophets want to keep you in a perpetual state of fear; they want you to be deathly afraid of Google’s frightening “Algorithms” that can—without warning—unpredictably and capriciously penalize your website for no apparent reason. The only solution, they’d like you to believe, is to continue to feed them large sums of cash to manage all this unpredictability for you.
Here’s the deal. To achieve real SEO success, you have to consistently apply great content, great backlinks, the right keywords, and solid “nerd coding” to your website. Those four elements are to SEO what “diet and exercise” are to weight loss. Simple principles that always have worked, always will work, and won’t ever change.
The methods they employ to achieve their promised “rapid success” are every bit as dubious as the Easy E-Z Herbal Weight Loss Tea, Belly Blaster PM, and yes, the McDavid 491 Waist Trimmer. Like the cheesy weight loss devices, some of the methods employed by the SEO Charlatans might give you a quick burst of success… that quickly fades and leaves you worse off than when you started.
The purpose of this post is not to discuss how to achieve SEO success using natural principles—we’ll cover that elsewhere, later. This point of this post is to warn you from the SEO diet pills being convincingly sold on every corner.
So without further ado, I present to you the top five SEO Magic Pills you need to be aware of and watch out for:
Magic Pill #1: Keyword Stuffing
What It Is: Putting a bunch of keywords for either your products or the geographic locations that you service into your web copy. Like “vinyl siding” or “replacement windows”… except for something like sixteen times on a page. Or listing thirteen cities you service in the first paragraph of your text. Or both.
What You Think Will Happen: Google will index your page and surmise that your content is really super-duper relevant to those keywords and locations… and therefore Google will rank you high in the search results.
What Will Really Happen: Google might indeed rank you high—for a little while. But when Google sees that nobody is staying on your page for more than a few seconds because the content STINKS for humans to read, it will push your site lower and lower and lower. This is like a fad diet that helps you lose five or ten pounds in the first month, but then you gain it all back plus five pounds the next month. Don’t do this!!!
Magic Pill #2: Duplicate Content
What It Is: Content on your website (or a web page) that can be found elsewhere on the Internet. It doesn’t matter where the company is that has the same content… and it doesn’t matter who had the content first. Google absolutely positively HATES duplicate content, and will assign “duplicate content penalties” accordingly.
Examples: This company from Carrollton, TX has a nice looking website, but there are copycats out there! Check out this web page from a company in Kansas that replicates 41% of the exact same content; this one from New York (which has since been removed) had somehow ended up with 23% of the content; and this one from Long Island has 14% overlap. Google is not happy. We have had clients who have old websites who have discovered that their content has been pilfered by thirty to forty other companies all over the country!!
What You Think Will Happen: Well, it depends. If you are stealing somebody else’s content because it’s easier than thinking up original content, you’re just lazy and a thief. You might as well back a truck up to somebody’s house while they’re on vacation and take their furniture. Or maybe you hired a company to build your site and they are lazy so they just use the same content over and over for multiple clients. Not good. Or maybe your content has been stolen and you didn’t even know it. Wanna find out? Go to www.copyscape.com and type in your URL; you can find out in about one second if you’re being victimized.
What Will Really Happen: Google will slap you like the proverbial red-headed step child. You should check your site for duplicate content at least once a month, and force any thieves to stop using your stuff.
Magic Pill #3: Excessive Use of Engagement Tools
What It Is: Putting a bunch of “get a price” and “check prices” and “free brochure” offers at the top of your site. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these offers, but the timing is off. Realize that when a person is on your site, they want information RIGHT NOW; they barely know you, and they’re not ready to fork over their information to you until they are comfortable that they might want to do business with you. Think again.
Examples: How many offers can you count on this website? Also check out the awful keyword stuffing. Yech.
What You Think Will Happen: People will come to your site and fork over their precious contact information and sit eagerly by their phone for you to call them to set an appointment.
What Will Really Happen: Customers treat you like a girl at a bar rejecting the “hey baby, my apartment’s around the corner… want to come check it out?” line. People want to get to know you first—your website should facilitate that. When Google sees your enormous “bounce rate” (visitors who immediately navigate away from your site), you’ll get pushed down the rankings.
Magic Pill #4: Spammy Links
What It Is: It sounds like the worst breakfast meat ever, but what I’m talking about are links that originate outside your website TO your website… but that come from questionable, irrelevant, stupid websites.
Examples: Here’s an example of putting links in blog comments that aren’t actually blog comments (everyone HATES these)… and this is called “forum spam.” There are dozens of ways to create spammy links; none of them are good.
What You Think Will Happen: Google will see this huge quantity of links coming into your site and say, “Wow, look at all these links! This must be a really popular website!”
What Will Really Happen: Google says, “Wow, look at all these spammy links! What a freaking loser. Let’s push this jack wagon to the 39th page!” DO NOT PLAY WITH THIS FIRE!!! YOU WILL GET BURNED!!!
Magic Pill #5: Thin, Crummy Content
What It Is: Websites that have a large quantity of content, but none of it is particularly readable, interesting, relevant, or engaging.
Examples: Just Google whatever service in your town; you’ll see plenty of examples. If you spent less than four minutes per page writing content, I’m talking about you.
What You Think Will Happen: If you have a lot of pages with a lot of text, Google will like that.
What Will Really Happen: Google will look at your pages, see that they suck, and torture your website in the rankings.
There you have it… a roadmap of potholes and pitfalls for you to avoid… and a little advice for how to do things right. Check back next week for an article that shows sample posts for remodeling companies.
To learn more about MYM’s SEO Services, head over here.
© 2014 – 2016, Rich Harshaw. All rights reserved.