6 Worst SEO Mistakes

6 Worst SEO Mistakes

SEO Should Be Done With Care

The reason why I am writing this post is because I still run into people that think they know what SEO is, but it turns out that they really don’t :) They find out that my job entails “Search Engine Optimization” and they start rattling off all these ways to “manipulate search engines”. Then I shake my head and sigh in disbelief.

1. The Manipulation Mindset

This mindset is usually prominent in more sales driven people. Their interest in SEO is purely from a profit stand point. They know if they rank high on a search engine results page, that will translate into some sort of dollar return. Naturally, these people are the Google Spam Team’s worst enemies.


Let me clarify SEO right now: Search Engine Optimization is not about manipulating search engine rankings. What it is, is the profession of ensuring that a website is search engine friendly. This means that all the content on the website is easily indexed by the search engines and that the website architecture is crafted in a logical format that search engines appreciate.

When people get it in their head that they are going to “trick” the search engines, that’s when websites get banned or penalized. Remember, the people who work at the search engines are probably a lot smarter than you and it will be tough to slip one past them.

Finally, this is the most important part: Think from a search engine’s perspective. They also run a business. And their job is to make sure they provide their users with the best experience possible. Therefore if your site doesn’t deserve to be at the top of the first page of the search engine results, then the search engines will probably not send their users to your site. And that is exactly what you should think when you design and build content for a website: “Am I providing the best experience I can with regards to the subject matter my site is based on?”.

2. Keyword Stuffing

This is a common newbie mistake. They think their a simple relationship between what the search engine returns when a keyword is queried. That relationship is: the more you have a specific keyword on your site, the more likely your website will be one of the top ranking selections in the search engine results pages.

Only if it was that easy, right? Well actually, no. Think about it. If the first site a search engine returned was just littered with the same words over and over again, wouldn’t that be a poor result?

Keyword stuffing includes repeating a keyword in any on-page content, in titles, in anchor text (hyperlinks), or on the source code. There is simply no need to repeat keywords ever! Just don’t do it. It’s actually really easy. All you have to do is write your content naturally. Just make sure the keyword you are aiming for is once in the title, once in the heading and at least once on the on-page content. Finally don’t make more than one page based on the same keyword.


3. Link Spamming

This is where the intermediate SEO person makes mistakes. This includes a lot of so called “SEO companies”. They learn that having many links pointing back to your website increases a website’s search engine rankings. This is partially true. However, it’s the quality of links, not necessarily the quantity of links that make a site climb the rankings. And even more important than that is the relevance of those links.

Anyone out there amassing thousands of links from all over the internet using the same keyword anchor text is doing their website a disservice. Any company doing this is liable for getting their client’s website removed from the search engines.

4. Buying Links

This is a touchy one. Once people realize how hard it is to get backlinks to their website, buying links becomes a tempting situation. But in the eyes of the search engines, this is one thing you can do to be banished to the depths of search engine hell. They absolutely hate it when you buy links. Now you may be clever and get away with it, but if you get caught, boy oh boy you are up that famous creek!

And if you don’t believe me read this article on Google’s thoughts on paid links.

5. Keyword Cannibalization

This one is really tricky. The idea is you only want one webpage on your site per topic or keyword. If you have two pages that are basically about the same topic or keyword, then the search engines have a hard time deciding which one to choose. A lot of keyword cannibalization issues can be solved with a good site architecture.

For instance if you write about the same topic all the time, you would want one main page that is optimized for the keyword or topic at hand and then multiple sub pages that support the main topic page. Think of it as building a mini pyramid for that keyword.

6. Hidden Text

This is an interesting mistake because you may think, “I would never do that, because that’s just stupid”. But sometimes your website design is creating hidden text without you knowing it. I think this is less of a problem these days because designers use CSS to do all sorts of image replacements. However, I tell our clients that if you can avoid it, you probably should. There really is no need to hide text because there are plenty of design solutions available.

About the author

Sean Work Sean Work is the President of O.C. Search Consulting, Inc. as well as the blog editor of blog.kissmetrics.com. You can follow him on Twitter @seanvwork, connect with him on Linkedin, or "encircle" him on .

7 Responses to “6 Worst SEO Mistakes”

  1. Anton says:

    Buying Links in Russia very effective.

  2. admin says:

    Are you talking about Yandex and Google? Or just one of these search engines?

  3. Maultaschen says:

    Actually I didn’t know about keyword cannibalization – thanks for pointing this out. Yet, as you mention it, it’s absolutely clear, as a machine cannot spot the fine differences that might occur on two similar pages.

  4. I like your point on how SEO has become synonymous with boosting traffic – and therefore sales performance – of a website rather than with making it more accessible to search engine spiders.

    The problem is many people in sales, especially those of the pre-web generation, simply don’t *get* internet marketing. Instead they view the web as just another unidirectional medium with which to apply the same “shout it from the rooftops” strategy.

    “Do some SEO!”, they quip, when what they really mean is, “forget about the content, just build up our page rank and get us lots of links!”

    The problem is that SEO, code, content, links and, of course, sales, are all pretty much intertwined. Appending proper SEO techniques to good code and good content will mean search engines can index your pages effortlessly. This will, of course, increasing its chance of a high search engine rank dramatically.

    Having simple and sensible navigation, as well as a sitemap, helps search engine spiders index your site’s pages much quicker. It also helps the user find their way around.
    Likewise with the site content; using text that’s broken up into paragraphs so that it can be easily skimmed by the reader, complete with relevant keywords in each header tag, also means the search engines can learn what your site is about much easier.
    The actual copy should be search engine optimised but not keyword stuffed. If the copy doesn’t ready naturally and is not compelling, not only will the user loose interest but you also run the risk of making the search engine algorithms smell a rat.

    When the website user is presented with good content, clear and uncluttered, that’s easy to navigate and find the products/answers they have come for, two things then happen. Firstly, the site is far more likely to get linked to from elsewhere, without the site owner even needing to ask, and secondly, of course, the user is more likely to stick around and make a purchase.

    A lot of site owners, however, still don’t understand this relationship and just think that flinging lots of money at a website to build pagerank will somehow magically convert all those links into sales. And that, I think, SEO or otherwise, is the biggest sin of all.

  5. I just read a post from a true seo genius, Jonathan where he points out that manipulation should not be the term when trying to dominate the search engines but it should be engineered. On one aspect I think what he is saying is true. Nowadays, you have to earn it in order to rank on the search engines

  6. admin says:

    If you make a good site with REAL value, the search engines will reward you. It might not happen over night, but it will come. If you want to buy traffic for instant results, then use Pay Per Click advertising.

  7. admin says:

    Great points “Business Directory”. I’m going to rant a bit – kind of leading off your last paragraph.

    I just had a long conversation with a friend of mine who happens to be in the online gaming space. The gist of our conversation was: If you are trying to run an online business – it’s still a business. Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean that you’ll hit it big. You need a good business model, you need a website that people find valuable, you need to be solving a problem (or problems), and finally you need to be the supply for a demand.

    The reason why I’m pointing this out is that it seems that a lot of people think that if they can just cheaply build traffic they’ll monetize. Not true….

    I have worked with a lot of “domainers” in the past. Domainers are companies that own many domain names that tend to get a good amount of type-in traffic. A lot of these companies think that just having a great domain name will seal the deal. But it never does. To make their domains successful it still takes lots of hard work. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing to explain to them…

    I’ve been fortunate enough to work with clients that do well on the internet and it’s very interesting to see what business models work for them. For most of them it took a lot of time and patience, and iteration of their business model to get their websites to be profitable. SEO is simply icing on the cake.

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