As a gigging SEO I see a lot of sites and get the chance to dig into their background, history and see just exactly what they have been doing for their ‘SEO’. And, in many cases, I hear from a lot of folks who have lost most of their traffic due to one of the recent Google Penalties.
So, when it comes to tactics people have employed (or purchased) to help rank their sites, well, little surprises me any longer and this week, we saw another big brand in Interlflora punished for taking their spammy SEO practices one step to far.
In my experience, a fairly common approach (excuse?) is seeing what your competitor has been doing and copying their spammy tactics in an effort to outrank or compete with them. This approach is crappy at best, and if you copy site A, then someone soon copies you, and so on and you just end up dropping more spam to win the spam war. Ultimately, this has led to a web that is littered with content, links and entire sites that exist solely for SEO purposes – not cool.
In an effort to put pay to this, Google dropped a couple of big algorithmic changes over the last few years known as Penguin and Panda that along with lots of small, incremental changes aim to reduce the manipulation of search results via these means.
What this ultimately means is that if you have been engaging in spammy SEO tactics then you may have shot yourself in the foot and may now have a whole bunch of negative SEO equity to overcome before you can even hope to move forward and gain more traffic from search.
SEO’ing yourself in the foot
If you have engaged (or paid someone else) to carry out the following practices you have likely dug yourself a bit of an SEO hole to climb out of – if you have paid someone money to SEO your site and you don’t know what they have done, well, you can pretty much assume they have done some of these but you really should consider an audit so you have a game plan to get out of the penalty box.
1. Blog Comment Spam
Links pointing to your site with the posters name (cheap widgets) as your keyword and that are about as in depth as ‘good article, I was certainly made cleverer for the reading of it’ or some other such gibberish.
2. Hundreds of Directory Listings
Listings on sites that exist purely for adding links and never see a real human outside of the adding of the link (which is likely automated anyway by some $99 piece of shit SEO software). If you used snippets of text from your main site for this as well you likely made this even worse.
3. Duplicate Content Articles
Your sites content posted onto other sites to get more exposure and a keyword link.
4. Spun Articles
Pointless, weak articles, usually gibberish to begin with, which is loosely spun, often by a machine to create several versions which are posted on hundreds of article marketing sites.
5. Your site on several other domains
Your exact same website but just running on a bunch of different domains – possibly on different IP’s / hosts / c blocks you crazy, Google outsmarting, black hat SEO Ninja.
6. Doorway pages
Many domains with snippets of your main content that exist solely to funnel traffic to your ‘money site’.
7. Sitewide Footer Links
Links that are tucked away somewhere in the footer or sidebar on every page of a site and that link to your homepage or a given service page.
8. Links from Irrelevant Sites
Links from sites that have nothing to do with your business and absolutely no right to be linking to you.
9. Links from Low-Quality Sites
Lots of links from sites that are so good, Google does not even index them as they don’t want other people to find the awesomeness.
10. Heavy Anchor Text Links
Having an anchor text ratio that favours your main keywords.
Your SEO in a nutshell
If this sounds like or looks like your SEO to date, well, you just SEO’d yourself in the foot. You may as well have sent a hand written letter to Google detailing all the keywords you would like to rank for and that you will do anything (low quality) to get your way.
Help me SEO Wan Kanobi – you’re my only hope
Well, it’s desperate times, and whilst Google is not quite the Empire and Matt Cutts is no Darth Vader this is the Spam Wars and you are suitably out gunned and if you want to do well in search you have to start playing by the rules.
First up you need to get a handle on what kind of a mess you are in so you can call it – can you clean this up or are you going to be better off starting again? It’s important to realise that this is often a multifactorial problem and you need a big picture overview of just what your problems are else you will just oscillate wildly and make no progress.
Then, if you can clean up this mess, we may cause a situation where you remove a large percentage of your link profile and site content so you have to start adding some equity back into the site in the form of content and earned links.
In most cases, you can fix this situation, but the sobering reality is that it may take a long while to do that and there may be many twists and turns on the road to recovery so ensure you get yourself some solid advice.
I am in the trenches every day with these problems so please feel free to drop comments below and shout me on the email if your issue is a sensitive one!