No-No 1: Hiding Text
Placing relevant keywords on your web pages is important for on-page SEO optimization, however, hiding your text so only the search engines can read it is a major black hat* tactic.
- Put white text on a white background
- Shrink your text so it's barely legible
- Use CSS to hide the text on your page (unless done for usability purposes)
Content is an important part of an SEO strategy and without it, your site will not do as well in the search engines. However, this fact has encouraged some websites to duplicate relevant content found on other sites and post it on their own sites. This tactic is very easy to implement, but will almost always fail. If search engines find that your site or parts of your site contains the same words as another site that is already in their index, they will not index or show your site in the search engine results. After all, why would Google want to clutter their results with multiple copies of the same information? The lesson: writing unique content is the only way to go (and mad-libbing won't work either).
No-No 3: Buying Links
Building links to your website is one of the best ways to boost your search engine rankings. There are link brokers and SEO professionals who are hired to do this very job. Be very careful when hiring anyone to build links for you. Google makes it quite clear that they do not approve of buying links for the purpose of manipulating their algorithm and boosting search engine rankings. Obviously, search engines prefer that sites obtain links based on merit and relevancy. While it is hard for Google to tell if a link has been given or bought, it's not worth the risk of your site getting penalized. (We'll cover how to get links another time).
No-No 4: Keyword Stuffing
It's very tempting to stuff a ton of relevant keywords into your title tags, description tags and throughout your page. Don't go overboard. If you have a lot of keywords to target, build a lot of pages. In general, a page should only target 3 head keywords.
For example, if you have a site that sells shoes, your title tag should look like this:
- Good: Buy Men's and Women's Shoes Online - Find Cheap Shoes at our Online Store
- Bad: Men's Shoes, Women's Shoes, Cheap Shoes, Online Shoe Store, Shoes, Running Shoes, Kid's Shoes, Tennis Shoes
With so much focus spent on on-page SEO optimization for keywords and content - the actual URL structure of the page is often overlooked. Creating clean and clear URLs is also extremely important for a number of reasons. For one, search engines tend to have a hard time indexing and reading URLs that have long query strings. Secondly, keyword visibility in the URL helps to reinforce what your page is about. And lastly, visitors are more likely to click on and link to a clean URL - since it seems more legitimate.
Here's an example of why you should also focus on clean URLs:
- Bad: http://www.shoes.com/cgi-bin/gen.pl?id=4&view=runningshoes
- Good: http://www.shoes.com/4/running-shoes.html
- Best: http://www.shoes.com/running-shoes/
*If you're curious about White Hat versus Black Hat SEO tactics - read a little more.