Good SEO vs Bad SEO: How To Not Get Penalized
What Is Good SEO?
Good SEO practices are also called ‘white hat’, and these tactics comply with industry standards that follow the SEO rules. These practices are followed by those who care about the long-term ranking strategies, which you should keep in mind can take up to six months to materialize but will generate more solid results down the road. This is great for building your business’ online presence and sticking to it for the long term
What Is Bad SEO?
Let’s dive into some characteristics of Good SEO vs Bad SEO
Bad SEO Mistakes to Avoid
When talking about SEO, Google ultimately cares about one thing: that you are presenting quality content on topics in which you have demonstrated expertise in.
Poor Quality Citations
It is smart to site your sources in your content but be careful who you are citing. Google considers linking to other pages as a vote of confidence and credibility. When linking a source, you are indirectly telling Google that you believe this content is valid and credible.
When researching for content, be on the lookout for:
- Sites that have been flagged for misinformation or disinformation
- Citations for YMYL content where the author or their credentials are not clear on the page.
- Sites with Alexa Rank that is over 100k (indicates little to no traffic for that site).
Articles That Are Way Too Long
Quality is key here! It is great to create the most complete, comprehensive content that you can but do not make it long to just be longer than your competitors. You should not write a word more than you have to.
Overly long content can have an equally detrimental effect just as much as thin content dealing with the user experience. Make sure to strive to make effective content, not endless.
A Lack of Headings
If you are trying to land the spot for one of the featured snippet spots it is important to use headings, especially if you are writing a lit. The H2 and H3 headings help guide readers and keep them intrigued. By using them every 300 words or so gives your readers a break and keeps their eyes from wandering.
Your headings are taken in account with your SEO as well. This is a great avenue to use your keyword. Lastly, they provide structure for the page and gives Google and your users an indication of what your page is about.
When you go above and beyond to repeat your keywords over and over. Well, it is very noticeable to your readers and Google. There are other ways to go about keyword abuse other than keyword stuffing and those are:
Optimizing for too many keywords. You should solely focus on one keyword per page but a handful of secondary keywords. No more.
Using keywords incorrectly relative to the searcher’s intent. Google has been getting better at understanding what the users really mean when they type that string of words into the search bar.
Good SEO Practices
Do Keyword Research
Take time to understand what your audience is searching for when looking for your product or service. It is crucial to get this right and not use too many keywords or too few keywords- it needs to be just right. Some tips for this are:
- Use synonyms for your keywords in your content, answer questions, and group your content around topics rather than individual terms.
- Look for the diamond in the rough, long-tail keywords your competitors haven’t discovered yet.
- Do a quick search of your potential keywords in Google to see what comes up and whether your content is similar to other listed.
Optimize For Local Content
Create Content for Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are the helpful boxes that pop up at the very top of the search results page. It is very popular to have featured snippets for “how to” questions- which I’m sure you have seen a time or two.
It is a great way to get your content boosted to a much wider audience when creating content for featured snippets. Tips for this:
- Use headings to highlight steps or points
- Provide straight answers that are highlighted on your page
- Avoid creating content that falls into one of these prohibited categories
Use Topic Clusters
SEO is heading in the direction about becoming less about the individual keywords or articles and more about your topic expertise. You need to demonstrate to Google, in your content, that you are an expert in specific topics.
Topic clusters involve the creation of something called ‘pillar content’. These are long, authoritative, credible pieces to which smaller and more specific articles can link back to. These structures will help Google crawl through your site and get a sense of your expertise.
Update Your Old Content
Your old content is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. Older content has the ability to become outdated, irrelevant, or factually untrue. When you let this happen, Google refers to it as “stale”.
You can tell when a piece of content has gone stale when its organic traffic associated with it has slowed down. This is an indicator that the information is no longer valuable to readers, or the searchers intent of the keywords with which it was originally optimized for has changed.
It is a best practice to review your content at least once a year to check for stale pieces.
Put Your Users First
Last but certainly not least, when you are practicing good SEO, make sure that you are putting your users first. Good SEO tactics tend to create a better browsing experience for their readers. They also develop more useful content that will bring users to their site without any ‘tricks’.
If the strategy you are implementing does not help you do either of those two things from above, then side-eye it. Google’s guiding star is user experience, and that must be your priority too!
Wrapping Up Good SEO vs Bad SEO
SEO continues to evolve. What once was a good SEO practice can become a bad SEO mistake easily, as Google refines its expectations frequently for content creators. By producing great content with a consistently exceptional user experience, you will continue to help Google fulfill its mission to provide useful, relevant, and quality content while also ranking your website pages higher and higher!