Search engine optimization, or SEO, is an often-discussed topic among website owners. Most owners engage in positive forms of SEO, such as improving their website’s content, making it load quicker, and having quality individuals link back to it. However, there are techniques that are known as “negative SEO”. These can work against an individual who uses them expecting them to bear fruit or can be used by unscrupulous individuals to tank a rival’s search engine rankings.
It’s rare that negative SEO attacks will be used against you by malicious actors, but it is important that you refrain from doing anything that will hurt your own rankings. Here are some common techniques that inexperienced website owners may try, only to harm themselves.
Don’t shove keywords into your content just to get search algorithms to pick them up. Doing this usually makes your content difficult to read or appear spammy and unprofessional. Using this article, for instance, constantly repeating “negative SEO” every other paragraph would do more harm than good. Instead, use your keywords primarily in the titles and perhaps an introductory section, then let the content flow naturally.
Above the Fold Ads
If your website relies on advertisements, make sure to place them so they aren’t the first thing your visitors see. Google wants visitors to instantly see the content they came for, so most of the screen space visitors view when the page loads should not be dedicated to ads. If they have to scroll to get to content, it’s not good.
It may seem like a good idea to include a link to your website in your signature every time you post a comment on a blog, a forum, or other place which is crawled by Google. But while this can get a few people to click through to your site, particularly if your comments are high quality and relevant, posting everywhere may make your site appear to be spamming links.
Too Much Guest Blogging
While writing the occasional content for a well-regarded website and including a link to your site in the article
is good, constantly guest blogging just for the links will likely not help. Instead, you’ll be churning out content or even reusing content, which is frowned upon by Google.
It may be tempting to pay someone to provide you with numerous links to your site. However, these link farms often use many of these “bad” tactics listed here to generate a brief boost in your SEO that will quickly cause it to crash once the algorithm catches on to what they’re doing. It may provide short term results, but will leave you with long term problems.
“Optimized” Anchor Text
When providing links to your site, don’t include the keywords you want to rank for as part of the text (for instance, linking your baseball card blog with the words “baseball card blog”). Instead, use only the URL, the actual name of your site, or longer phrases.
Outgoing Link Overload
Many people like to provide links to the numerous websites they enjoy, particularly if those sites offer reciprocal links back. However, if you have too many outbound links, it may appear your site is just a link farm for other sites. Plus, link exchanges (where several sites all link to each other) are frowned on by Google. Be reasonable with the numbers you use and you should be fine.
Image by elhombredelnegro.