SEO is a strange beast in 2016 and will continue to be in 2017. Google have moved the goal posts so many times that it’s difficult to actually pinpoint what is good tactic and what isn’t. Guest posting was the saviour of link building and over used by everyone and their dog. It was just a matter of time that this effective method of obtaining links back to a site was diluted by stupid SEOs and spammers.
So what the hell do we do now, when the tactics we have always used will now get you penalized?
We as business owners need to know what not to do. You can read all manner of articles online that will speculate on what is good and what isn’t, so I decided to construct a list of 6 SEO tactics that we should just stop doing, gathered from my own experiences of dealing with vast link removals at massive e-commerce sites that I have been involved with.
As of today, you as a small business owner should stop doing the following SEO activities:
In 2014 we were told to forget about guest posting. Matt Cutts (Head of WebSpam at Google) said this..
“If you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”
What happened next was a big old panic from SEOs and internet marketers all over the world. For years, what they thought was a legit tactic, was now classed as low life dirty spam.
Actually Matt Cutts isn’t “putting fork in guest blogging” completely.
What he and Google are trying to do is to stop the practice of SEOs and spammers sending out thousands of link requests to get optimized anchored links placed within content on other websites, whether they are relevant or not to the site trying to obtain the link. Once again, stupid SEOs and spammers have taken a legitimate tactic and turned it into an activity that is now against Google’s guidelines.
So if you or your business are sending out guest post request emails to webmasters asking to blog on their site, STOP IT!
Google will eventually make a change to their algorithm to delvalue guest posts, and you will no doubt see the following changes:
1. Devaluation of guest blogging that has no relevance
Google will take action on guest post that aren’t relevant to your site. So if you are a dentist and you have a guest post link on a site about horses, then this is the link that will be devalued and possibly penalized.
Solution: Look for relevant blogs to contribute on, and do it for business and common sense reasons and not just for links. Sometimes just getting a mention of a high traffic and relevant blog is worth 1000 times more than a link. Guest posting should be to get your brand out there, to build authority for yourself and your business.
2. Devaluation of guest blog links with over optimised anchors
All those links that you have obtained with keyword rich anchors in the bio or in the body of the post will become toxic, that’s if they haven’t already. If you’ve been using guest posting services such as MyBlogGuest or GuestPostLabs then they probably have already been hit. Google will become more cut-throat with these links, once they have built into their algos.
Solution: Don’t use over optimised anchors. Simple really. Look to link out to your site using branded anchors, or even just a social profile link like Linkedin, Twitter or G+. Use guest posting as a brand building exercise rather than a link building exercise.
The dos and don’t of guest blogging in 2017
DON’T do the following
– Optimized links in a guest post
Having links within the bio or body copy of the guest post that are optimized. Note, that even branded + keyword are being targeted. (Example: “Acme Payday Loans”)
– Don’t ever pay for a guest post, or any link
Don’t ever submit a blog post on a site that openly states that they accept guest posts. Always look through a site for optimised anchors in their guest posts before submitting a post.
– Optimising the article to rank for head terms.
– Creating irrelevant content within your guest posts
(Example: Your site is a car dealership, yet you are writing about ladies underwear and linking out to your car dealership site)
– Creating spun / low quality bullshit content within your guest posts
DO the following
– Find a group of blogs that fit in with what your website / business is about and pitch some ideas to them. Don’t mention placing links, just concentrate on exposure of your brand on another established website with a readership.
– Develop a relationship with these webmasters through social channels. Make yourself known to them.
– Only work with sites that have authors with Google profiles.
– Think about brand exposure and not links. Nofollow links are fine. It shouldn’t stop you from blogging on their site. I’d be happy with the thousands of eyes reading my content, than a link. Just having a mention of you site will help, as I think Google will throw more emphasis on co-citations in 2014 and 2015.
– Ask webmasters if you can create a series of blog posts on their site as a contributor to the site.
– Always create content on sites that will publish you under a contributor / author account and that allows you to link out to your G+ account.
2. Keyword rich anchors
Getting a keyword rich anchor text link back to your site is going to be like a red rag to a bull in the eyes of Google. Get enough of them in your link profile and you will get burnt.
Back in the day, using optimised anchors worked like a treat. The more you had of a certain keyword like “Payday Loans” the higher you would rank for that term, depending on the Pagerank of the sites they were hosted on.
Now, if you have a load of these, then get removing and disavowing now!
What’s a Keyword Rich Anchor Link
Its a link that has a keyword of the term that you want to rank for. So as an example, you run a payday loan site in Texas and you want to rank for the term “Payday Loans Texas”
To do that you would get a link on a site with the anchor text set to Payday Loans Texas and point it towards your payday loan site.
This practice was very popular back in 2011/12 where well known people within the SEO community were selling such links on their private networks. Now, surprise surprise, they have all jumped on the content marketing bandwagon and only do white hat seo now. That’s handy!
Google has cracked down on this practice BIG TIME!!! So don’t do it! You may be tempted by gigs on Fiverr that offer such links, and say that its 100% safe. Well here’s the thing…it’s not, so don’t even go there!
I’ve seen big sites lose so much business from the slow death implemented by each and every Google update. Years and years of buying and obtaining keyword rich anchors have effectively rendered the url toxic, and a major clean-up operation undertaken. Google may not get you with 1.0 or 1.1 but they will get you with every advancement of their algorithm.
So what should I use instead?
What I advise my clients and small businesses to do is use the following anchors:
Use your brand in all links, if you can. SEO nowadays is not about the keyword in the anchor, but about the existence of the link, and the quality of the site it is on.
This is what I mean by a branded link>
If you want to find out more about SEO for small business, go to RigsbyHawkes for more tips and useful articles.
Naked URLs are safe as houses. Example of a naked url anchor: www.rigsbyhawkes.com ,
http://rigsbyhawkes.com , rigsbyhawkes.com
Partial match and long-tail
You can use entire blog post titles as links. For example: “10 of the best forex trading indicators to trade like a pro”
Random non-descriptive anchors
Nothing wrong with using these anchors. They are natural links that are used to direct people to your site in the most non-descript way possible. Check this site out, click here, this site, watch this video, click here to download, view website, view contributor’s site, check out Bob’s blog etc.etc.
A natural link profile will contain many of these types of anchors. Make sure you follow these tactics for linking, and you will avoid trouble knocking at your website’s front door.
Image links with optimized alt text. These are also apart of search engine ranking factors, but don’t fill them out with optimised “money keywords”. Only, use such alt texts as [sidebar], “example.com” or a short description of the image.
Long phrase anchors
I use these a lot for internal linking, but they work well off site as well. Use this method with caution, and always think of the user. Insert anchors to help the user navigate to other pages that you want them to see, and that is relevant to what you are writing about.
3. Getting load of links and not thinking about quality of links
The more links you can get, the higher you will rank, the better you will perform on search engines?
WRONG, YOU RETARD!!!!
I can’t believe there are still SEO agencies out there that are offering the absolute shitest of the shit link building packages, that will do no good whatsoever.
Sure, buying backlinks is nice and easy and will make you feel good at looking at the long list of links, pushing you to over 120 links more than your competitor. And there will be no shortage of SEO agencies who will build a bunch of links for you. They won’t give a shit about if they are directory listings from Poland or even some badly written guest posts from some fucktard in Mumbai.
Link building should be approached in the same way as sex.
You wouldn’t have unprotected sex with a Russian prostitute, would you?
No is the answer I’m hoping for.
You’d be leaving yourself open to an STD and also an empty wallet.
That link on a Russian directory is your penis, and the directory is a disease ridden Russian whore.
Stop having link sex with Russian cyber directory whores!!!
In all seriousness, these links can ruin your site, your business and make your Wife leave you, especially if the following is true:
– The site that links to you is penalized / sandboxed by Google.
– The site that links to you has a low domain authority of lower than 20/100
– You have acquired a large number of such links in a short time frame. Too many, too soon, without any content to attract the links, will raise alarms with Google.
If this is the way you’re doing SEO in 2014, then you are literally hanging your business’ ass out to dry. You are bending over, with your pants down, begging Google to rip you a new asshole!
Stop this right away. Stop building links through profile links and placing optimised anchors in the “about us” page. Stop spamming forums, stop guest posting all together if you don’t know what you are doing….just stop!
Link building is a risky business and you should really focus on only attracting quality links from quality websites, through content on your own site. Try this tactic for 6 months rather than just grabbing every opportunity for a link like a thief in Tesco..
Google has over 200 ranking signals and links are one of them. But they are becoming less prominent as a signal in 2014. Think about that for a few minutes and then change your way of getting links.
4. Writing for SEO and not for the user – Keyword stuffing
If you’re a business owner and love all things retro, then why not use a retro SEO tactic!
Keyword stuffing, and making content legible to people with extra chromosomes, was popular back in 2006, where adding an extra 6000 keywords in a post around the chosen term you wanted to target, would get you ranking.
Unfortunately in 2014, search engines are a lot smarter. Creating content for SEO or search engines, is a no in terms of attracting actual people to your site and converting those people into sales.
This is how Google defines what keyword stuffing is:
“Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.
Can you believe that this tactic is still being used by small businesses that run their online businesses on hearsay and recommendations from family members!!
“SEO is easy, just fiddle with the meta tags and put loads of keywords in the web page” said cousin Steve, a 36 year old mechanic from Hemel Hempstead.
What does Matt say
Check this video out
So basically he says that keyword stuffing is like a curve.
Adding keywords to content, and you will see a gain in rankings, because your web page is deemed relevant enough to be ranked from that term.
Keep adding keywords and it makes no difference to the rankings.
Here are some further tips to help you create healthy content that won’t get you stung by Google.
– Forget about keyword density
Back in the day, people really cared a lot about keyword density. Writers and SEOs would crunch numbers so that they would know the exact keyword density % of every piece of content that they publish. If you think about it, why would you want to make something that reads really badly to a human. After all it’s humans that will be reading your blog posts, clicking the buy it now button, giving you money for your services, so start writing content for them.
The quest for you is to write compelling content for people and not search engines.
– Avoid the worst kind of keyword stuffing
If you want to get penalised and look like a complete twat, then carry on with the long tail keyword stuffing. Can you imagine what a blog post would look like if it had 15 instances of “Cheap Luton hotel near the airport” not only would it be a turn off to your audience, but it will look spammy as hell, and a penalty will be on its way to you in the form of a notice in your GWTs.
Think smart, be creative and think about who is reading the post.
Instead of a blog post that goes on about nothing in particular, create an interactive map of the top 20 cheap hotels near Luton Airport, with detailed descriptions of each, along with any other information that would help the user. Much better than just littering the page with keywords that make no sense.
Create more content and not more keywords
For me, I like to create long pieces of really useful content, rather than worrying about keywords and how many are in the post. It’s more important that the piece you are writing about is more reader focused and about what they will get from reading it.
The more quality content you have on your site and the more frequent, the better. Attracting traffic through writing naturally and passionately about a given subject, is much more beneficial to you as a business.
Don’t stuff, just create more great blog posts around similar subjects.
– Don’t be so obvious with your keywords
With the use of latent semantic indexing (LSI) with Google. It’s important to keep in mind that related keywords are important for both avoiding keyword stuffing and improving your search results. For example, instead of using “Cheap Luton hotels near the Airport” 15 times, it would be better to include natural phrases like “places to stay near Luton Airport” or “putting your head down for the night in near Luton Airport.”
5. Directory links and low level profile links
Directory links are a thing of the past. You may see people selling these types of links, and sing the praises of them saying “They still work, in moderation”.
Well that is all bullshit. I see these types of links causing online businesses absolute hell. In one case that I’ve been working on, the client purchased 1000 directory links from a well known SEO agency back in 2013, and are now spending thousands of dollars trying to get them removed, so that they can get their 20K a month traffic streams from Google back.
What is a directory link?
Directory links are shit. They are no good to anyone in this modern work we live in. Yes, back in 1995, they were useful as there were no search engines, so people used them to find websites in different niches.
Now they are just link farms, providing listings with link juice to power their rankings. The majority of them are now useless, and its a tactic you should just forget about, unless it’s relevant to your business and its local.
A good directory link looks like this:
One with an active community, plenty of additional content that helps the user and no optimized anchor links to your site. Professional and trustworthy.
A bad directory link looks like this:
One without an active community (reviews of businesses), ability to add your own optimized anchors to your site, spammy company listings and a general unprofessional and dated feel to the site. Check DA as this will show you if the site is well respected or not in the eyes of Google.
What’s a profile link
If you go onto any forum, from any niche, you will be able to create a profile page about yourself. In most cases, they allow you to drop in a link back to your site. If you know how to hand code in your own link with optimised anchor, then you can do this within these profile pages.
Here’s what a real shit profile link looks like:
6. Network links
These types of links were first hit by Google last year, and with the introduction of the Google Disavow Tool, loads of websites, online marketers, businesses and SEOs have been helping Google gather a great long list of sites that are apart of a link network. Not through choice, but through the fact that these SEOs and businesses are begging Google for forgiveness and their rankings back, but in return they have to sing like a bird and tell them who the bad guys are. HAHA!!
What is a network link?
In simple terms, its a one stop shop for links. You can buy any number of blog posts on there and choose your anchors. Also known as a blog network, site network, or sometimes article network).
A very popular source of links for SEOs, who would then sell them on to their clients and point them towards their websites.
Even today, there are still a few cocky SEOs that still offer links on their private networks. Best thing to do is avoid.
Put it this way, if it’s easy to get a link, then it’s not worth having. Bit like dating really. If it’s easy to get them into bed, then they probably give out to everyone, and its not worth pursuing. LOL!
Example of link network advertising from a cocky SEO, despite Google’s stance on link networks.
Online business owners, I urge you to think before you build links to your site.
“Am I proud of that link I just got pointing to my site?”
“Would I show that link to my friends and family and be happy with its association with my business?”
If it’s a no, then think again and earn some links in a better way.
Online marketing, SEO, link building, whatever you want to call it, is nothing about crafty tricks or techniques, or quick fixes. It’s about looking after your online business, your presence on the web. It’s a long term strategy that needs to be looked after and not polluted with silly and reckless link building.
Adapt your strategy to the changes that have occurred and attack your space with passion and conviction.
Please feel free to comment in the section below and tell me what SEO tactics you have stopped using in 2014. What have you been penalised for? What’s working for you and what isn’t working so well.