Search Engine Optimization has become an important part of nearly all types of websites. SEO techniques have been changing constantly and the authors need to be aware of the Search Engine Guidelines to get the most out of their content. But engaging in any bad or outdated practice can bring a lot of harm and the website can lose considerable amount of audience for these mistakes. The following are 21 bad SEO practices you must avoid:
1) Lack of Quality Content
The content written on a website must bring a high level of value to its visitors. According to the Search Quality Guideline of Google, the content quality of a web page is a defined as how that page achieves its purpose. The websites that contain a low amount of main content and large amount of affiliate links and ads is considered really of lower quality and the search engines would assign low ranks to these pages. For a page to be considered as high quality, it must properly share personal and social information about the topic and provide suitable and relevant photos and videos (or other forms of media) to express the purpose of the content.
The length of the content also matters as Google considers pages with longer content to be more explanatory. Whereas short content is termed as thin and shallow. Articles on the internet having 1000 to 2000 words get nearly 80% more visitors than the articles with less than 1000 words.
2) Slow Website Speed
Page loading speed is one of the most major factors which can affect the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of a website. After the 2018 Page Speed Update of Google Search, it has been a vital component in the page ranking algorithm. Moreover, slow websites also increase the bounce back rate of a website. On estimate, about 50% of the users will abandon a website if it takes more than 5 seconds to load. To achieve ideal SEO results, it is recommended to have a page speed of 3 seconds or less.
3) Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of adding the keywords in multiple places of the content to manipulate the search engines to give a better rank. It was considered a successful strategy for SEO before, but now things have changed. Search engines like Google can now easily detect it and penalize websites as they consider it a black hat SEO tactic for focusing only to beat the search engine algorithm instead of working to improve the user experience.
4) Poor Mobile View
About 55-60% of the internet traffic come from mobiles and search engines always try to improve the UX (user experience). That is why having a poor mobile view can hurt SEO drastically. If a website is not responsive, most probably it will be ranked lower and less preferred by Search Engines like Google. Plus, having a non-responsive website also makes it really difficult for the users to read and engage with the website elements like buttons and forms.
5) Lack of Image Alt Text
Image alt Text is very important and one of the key factors contributing to search ranking. Alt tags provide important information about the images used and tell the search engines about their context as the search engines cannot just scan the images and determine their purpose. These Alt tags will be displayed if the images cannot be loaded and thus having no Alt Tag on an image can result in poor user experience as there would be no way to tell what the image there was meant for.
6) Using the Wrong Keyword
Using well researched and relevant keywords for your website posts is really important to get a higher ranking from the search engines. If the search keywords entered by the users match the ones on your website, your content would get an advantage in getting ranked higher in the search results. On the other hand, selecting the wrong keyword can cause the opposite and as a result, you might lose a large amount of audience.
7) Buying Links
The number of backlinks a website has plays an important part in improving its search rank. Some websites buy links online to improve their SEO stats. This is, in fact, against the Google Webmaster Guidelines and is considered a Black Hat SEO technique and can result in a penalty which can damage the website’s rank really hard. Moreover, after purchasing, you would have little to zero control of where these backlinks are coming from which can affect your off-page SEO.
8) Server Errors
The 5xx and 4xx server errors can occur on a website and can negatively affect its SEO. 5xx errors (like 500 error) occur when the server encounters a problem and is unable to solve it. 4xx servers errors (like 404 and 403 error) result when a webpage being searched is not present or it can’t be accessed. Search engines can’t crawl the web pages if server errors occur and thus can’t rank them. If the errors are not fixed on time, the search might even totally de-index the pages.
9) Duplicate Content
Duplicate content refers to multiple copies of the same (or similar) information at different pages of a single website. This can be harmful for the SEO as search engines do not prefer to rank pages containing duplicate content as it makes it hard for decide which page is original.
10) Links to Suspicious Websites
If your website has links connecting to websites which have been penalized multiple times by Google due to suspicious or wrong activities, then Google might also demote the search ranks of your site.
11) Blocking the Site using Robots.txt File
The Robots.txt (or Robot Exclusion) is a way to prevent search engine crawlers to access specified areas of a website. This would make the search engines to not index that webpage (or content) and thus, it would not appear in the search results. If not necessarily required, do not use the robots.txt on the website.
12) Too many Outbound Links
Having too many outbound links without the “NoFollow” tag can also negatively affect the SEO of a website as it results in loss of the link juice. Moreover, having spammy and irrelevant links on webpage is also against the Google Webmaster Guidelines. Furthermore, a website can also lose audience due to these outgoing links as the users would get shifted to some other website after clicking on the link.
13) Not Having Internal Links
As search engines crawl the website by following the links, having an internal link will helps them to understand the relevance, relationship and importance of the content. So not having a well-defined and connected internal link structure on a webpage will hurt the SEO. Furthermore, relevant internal links also help to keep the users on the website by taking them to other pages which would, indeed, result in an increased average engagement time of the users on the website.
14) Over Optimizing
Why is over optimizing bad? Well Search Engine Over-optimization can occur when too much SEO improvements are done that, they start to disturb the search rank of a website. This is because over-optimizing can lead to bad user experience like having too many internal links and keywords can make it hard and annoying to read. As said before, Google lays special emphasis on UX and so it can penalize your search ranks for over-optimizing.
15) Domain having bad reputation
If a website having a specific domain is detected for illegal activities, violence or copyright infringements, then it’s domain reputation decreases in front of the search engines. If you accidentally purchased a domain with bad reputation, your website could face problems in getting a higher rank and it is really hard to improve once the domain is grey-listed.
16) Missing Sitemap data
Google uses the sitemap data to analyze and inspect the websites. These XML sitemaps are submitted to related search engines from the webmaster tools and without them the web pages would not get crawled over. Moreover, sitemaps also ease the website navigation process.
17) Forgotten Noindex Tags
Using a “noindex” tag on a webpage stops the search engines to rank it. Sometimes it is needed for some web pages to not be ranked, but if you accidently apply a noindex tag on an important page or forgot to remove a previously applied one, the webpage will remain disappeared from the search results. Having a noindex tag can do the same effect as the Robots.exe file.
18) Use of iFrames for Content
iFrames are used to display html content from a different source or a third-party website. Google doesn’t recommend the use of iFrames as they are not indexed and read by Search Engines. So, using iFrames to display content from your website would not help you when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. Using iFrames to display content from other websites is also not recommended as you might have no control over that content and thus, these types of iFrames pose a security risk to your website. iFrames can also slow down the page loading speed and thus can further hurt the SEO.
19) Links from Bad Websites
Getting links from other websites is good but if majority of your links are coming from spammy and irrelevant content and websites, then your sites ranking might get a negative impact and those incoming links will be termed as low-quality links.
Showing different content to search engine crawlers and users to intentionally manipulate the search indexes is called cloaking. It was common practice once but using it now can be really harmful for SEO. Google Webmaster Guidelines terms cloaking as a severe violation and a website can get penalized or totally blacklisted for using it.
21) Malicious Behavior
Being a source of malicious behavior can get a website be penalized by the search engines. Some of these malicious behaviors include links which take users to other undesired locations, including unwanted files in download, being a source of viruses and malware and changing the user’s browser settings and preferences without consent.
Google focuses a lot on user experience and thus wants the websites to provide the best possible content to the people visiting their websites. If the content posted by the websites can’t comply with the standards set by Webmaster Guidelines, then it will not be preferred much by the Search Engines.