How to SEO Yourself Into Oblivion

over-optimization of a website

Moderation is the key to success in just about everything. Eat a little ice cream here and there, it won’t do you much harm. Have a glass of wine once in a while, it’s fine. Eat bacon occasionally…well, ok, nevermind on that one.

Ahem.

Just as in life, moderation is a good thing in search engine optimization (SEO) too. Have you ever wondered why Google doesn’t just tell us what to do to get to the top? It’s because when they have in the past, everyone runs screaming to the hills to do that to their website, and they overdo it every single time.

  • Title tags are great! Excellent, stuff all your keywords in the Title tag!
  • Links are great! Cool, let’s build thousands of links back to our website and exchange them with all our friends!
  • Article marketing is great! Awesome. I’ll hire lots of people to spew worthless articles out to thousands of article “marketing” websites!

You get the idea. Every time Google farts, all the SEO folks react.

It’s interesting to me that some of this still persists with so-called “SEO experts”. Just today I was moderating the comments on our blog, and ran across this one waiting to be approved (I’ve redacted the person’s information and the website):

spam blog comment

Pending blog post comment

This person left a relevant comment to one of our blog posts. So what’s the dead giveaway? He put a link to his website in the comment, trying to “build links” back to his website (or his client’s) in the comments. If someone leaves a relevant comment with a pertinent link to a related article that makes sense, sure no problem. But this knucklehead isn’t even trying to be covert about it – just a stupid naked link to his website in the comment itself. (I’ll give you three guesses as to which button I clicked, and the first two don’t count.)

I was curious to see what the website looked like, and wow! I haven’t seen such blatant over-optimization in some time now. This guy is seriously trying hard to optimize his website into total oblivion, and he’s done a bang-up job of it.

Let’s review.

Mistake #1: Make Sure You Put Lots of Keyword Links in Your Footer

Google has said (in the distant past, not recently) that keyword-rich links are great for building “SEO” into your website. Back in the day, it meant an occasional link from another site that keyword linked to a specific page. Google’s Penguin update in 2012 pretty much wiped that out, and now links are very much de-emphasized in favor of “citations” or company name links.

So this company has a ton of keyword-rich links in the footer of their website:

Example of Spammy Footer Links

Example of Spammy Footer Links

Each one of those links goes to a separate page of “content” in the hopes that they’ll be found for those keywords.

Mistake #2: Create Optimized Pages of Content for Each Link

So if I want to be found for lots of locations, I can just create near-copies of each page, stuff my location-based keywords over and over into the “content”, making sure the Title, Description, Header tags, and so on have a super-high keyword density.

It used to be that keyword density was a “thing” in SEO. If you have 1000 words of copy, and you have your keyword in the copy 10 times, you have a 1% keyword density:

10 / 1000 * 100% = 1%

A target of 2-4% was “good”, but if that’s good, maybe 5% or even 10% (1 out of every 10 words!) is great. Yeesh, this guy has taken it to that level:

keyword stuffing example of spammy content

Very Spammy Page of Content with Blatant Keyword Stuffing

Guess what his “target” keyword is? Who can read this crap?

The funny thing is that Google uses artificial intelligence to “read” your copy. If it meets regular grammar, sentence structure and good content rules, it will perform FAR better than blatant keyword stuffing like this example. Furthermore, Google wants to see synonyms, antonyms, variations of words, and so on that sound “natural”.

If you read your copy to a friend and they have no idea what it says, you need to scrap it and re-write it so it makes sense.

Mistake #3: Create Lots of Links to Your Website from People’s Random Blogs

Links from other websites are good, so lots of links must be great. The only way you can do this is go comment on people’s blog posts. So go find lots of blogs to comment on and always leave a pithy comment with a link back to your website in it.

Again, this cracks me up that these folks waste their time doing this. 99.9% of all blogs have a “nofollow” tag on any comment links. That means that it completely blocks the value of the link from that website. Don’t believe me? Right click any comment link on my blog (or anyone else’s), and you should see the rel=”nofollow” tag in it:

no-follow tag example

A Blog Comment No-Follow Tag

Another giveaway for spammy links is that the person leaves a comment, but the website address in his name is a subpage on their site, like “www.widgets.com/my-great-products-page”. No one puts that in for the “website” field in a legitimate comment.

So they get relegated to the spam heap.

What You Should Do

Obviously, this article was written with some tongue planted firmly in cheek. The example above is a blatant example of what NOT to do to get ranked. And sure enough, search any of his terms, and he’s nowhere to be found in Google’s search results. Not a big surprise.

So what HAS Google been saying that you need to do?

  • Make sure your website is fast – get your website files (graphics especially) as tiny as possible so they work on mobile devices
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly – set up a mobile-responsive design that works on all devices
  • Make sure your website is secure using an SSL certificate – give your visitors a secure experience, even if they’re not buying on  your website

You can’t overdo these things. You either do it or you don’t. So get with the program and get these things done on your own website. Now.

Start creating useful content that your readers want to read, not a bunch of built-for-Google and “optimized” crap that is incomprehensible and is nothing more than bait to try to lure the search engines. Do this on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly), and I guarantee that you’ll get a lot farther along in your quest to be found online.

If you want to truly learn how to do SEO the correct, no-BS way, talk to me about one of my upcoming digital marketing classes. Yah, that’s a blatant keyword link. So sue me.

About Thomas Petty

Thomas Petty has been a Master SEO trainer with the Bay Area Search Engine Academy since 2008. He teaches SEO classes in the San Francisco, California Bay Area, and is President of an SEO consulting services company. He is an HFI Certified Usability Analyst™ from Human Factors International.

Comments

  1. Thank you Thomas I done these mistakes a lot in past.

  2. Ryan Stewart says:

    Hey Thomas,

    Awesome post. There are a lot of misconceptions about SEO especially in link building so it’s important that we stay educated. I admit that I was one of those people who did some of those mistakes in the past but I’ve already learned my lesson. I had a good read, keep sharing great stuffs!

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