Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the crux of a brand’s online ranking and its prominence in organic search results. A comprehensive and carefully strategized SEO plan can help build a digital value proposition to your audience. While it is one of the most vital components of building and sustaining online presence for your business, SEO guidelines keep changing – what worked yesterday to boost your rank juice may not work today.

Search engines are becoming smarter and more sensitive to bad SEO practices; they are also quite adept at identifying Black Hat SEO practices, spammy links, low quality content and disruptive SEO tactics. Google’s SEO algorithm changes and evolves at a rapid pace, penalizing your online brand if you follow any unauthorised SEO practices. Here are a few of such practices that you should stop immediately.

#1 Overstuffing keywords
Using one or a few seelcted keywords excessively across your content – page content, title, meta tags, and description – with an aim to improve your site’s rankings might leave your site penalized. While keyword density is important, it is unwise to stuff your content with keywords, lest you may end up losing your existing ranking. Opt for an acceptable keyword ratio in relation to the rest of the content – not more than 7% of your content should contain the targeted keywords.

#2 Over-optimizing anchor text
While optimizing your landing pages with value-added content is a good practice, over-optimizing is not appreciated by search engines. In fact, over-optimization will attract penalties for your business, especially post the Penguin update. Avoid keyword stuffing, internal linking using keyword-rich anchor text, cross-linking using rich anchor text, incorporating non-relevant keywords, and having multiple H1 tags.

#3 Poor quality content
Low quality content appeals to neither your audience, nor search engines; Google’s Panda update is the penal authority on poor content quality. Unique, engaging and high quality content attracts backlinks from sites that have gained credibility in their specific domains. Invest in content that is interesting, and makes it worth your audience’s time.

#4 Using invisible text
That white text against the white pages of your site is not going to fool the search engine crawlers! As mentioned earlier, search engines are updating their SEO algorithms as often as possible to ensure that only authentic, usable and sensible content reaches the online audience.

#5 Cloaking
Creating multiple versions of content, one for search engines and one for your audience, is a tactic that is an SEO no-no! Both search engine crawlers and the digital audience can distinguish between the different versions; not only do you lose your ranking, you also greatly risk losing your brand reputation in the eyes of your audience.

#6 Spam blogs
A tactic that yields no value to your audience, spam blogging involves using a piece of code or software to create garbled content that is infused with keywords and essential phrases. Such content is then published in an attempt to get users to click on the post or the ad. Remember, if you do not have unique content that is share-worthy, do not post at all. Focus on end users; create engaging content that the audience can connect to, and that attempts to solve specific problems that they have.

#7 Blog spam
The other side of spam blogging, blog spam refers to posting garbled content posed as comments on threads and posts. Again, this has zero value addition to your audience, and hence, will damage your credibility.

#8 Social media spamming
A practice that has become rampant today, social media spamming is irksome to your audience. Sending out spammy links (example – “You MUST check out this image!”) on social media sites and platforms must be avoided.

#9 Singular focus on Google
While a major segment of the online audience uses Google’s search engine, other search engines cannot be ignored. Your SEO strategy must take into consideration the major search engines that your audience uses on a regular basis. Create and implement SEO tactics that work favourably across various search engine platforms. It is unwise to miss out on a significant portion of your target audience by focusing on a single search engine.

While SEO practices require periodic refinement in order to keep up with the ever-changing algorithms, a good practice would be to keep yourself and your digital teams abreast with the algorithm changes. Such preparedness will keep you updated on any new happenings on the digital platform and will ensure that you can be responsive and agile with your SEO strategy.

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