Quality content is quintessential to all marketing strategies, and high-quality content is something countless people sweat and sacrifice countless hours, days, weeks, even months, to achieve.
Not all search engine optimization methods are created equal, however, and some SEO strategies don’t have an equal return. Some things, like bad SEO, can and do get people in trouble. One blog post or two can get you in trouble with the search engine rankings.
But how?! Many people rightfully do common-sense things, like avoid plagiarism, keep within ethical guidelines. and update relevant info on social media. A few more things, like a great article and the once-in-a-while interesting piece of content, are the usual ranking factors deciding you belong in the Top 10 Search Results. And yet a page ranking can raze down hours upon days of hard work if one isn’t careful.
How does this happen?
People have agendas, and not everyone is motivated to be fair, impartial, or ethical. How quickly misinformation can spread thanks to the ‘purity’ culture of the Internet that discourages gradual learning and growth in favor of knowing everything or finding it all at lightning speed. Combined with how Google’s algorithm latches on whatever garners the most attention, and it all cobbles together in a disastrous recipe that can make a canyon out of a pothole.
Google seems to have that bad habit, bolstering incorrect information and feeding into myths about good (and bad) SEO and confusing with so little effort. This is but a sad reflection of real life, where people’s words and actions become skewed by anyone with a reason to skew the facts and tarnish reputations.
Things change like lightning, and even the most seasoned of digital marketers can be thrown off by frequent changes like those caused by Google’s nebulous algorithms. What used to work may now put you in hot water, and what used to be considered worthless is now a must in any ‘belt’ of webmaster tools.
It takes little to check your online presence, but a lot to help it and keep it looking good and working well. So the question of the day: how do we avoid these missteps with SEO?
Check (and Face) the Facts
Any writer worth their salt needs to cite and link their sources, and this is incredibly important considering the current climate of this Age of Information. A reputable source gives authority and brings any written text from mere opinion to fact-based insight. Just because something is popular doesn’t make it correct.
Any statements, particularly Googler statements, need context in its entirety. Lying by omission is the most utilized form of lying, and it’s the easiest way to push an agenda. The intentions and official statements of many a politician, celebrity, or other public figure are smeared when writers choose to shirk their duties to present information without bias.
Fact-checking is the most important thing. Despite our access to twice the amount of data that was available to our grandparents, people with motivation to maintain any sort of agenda and mindset will not encourage fact-checking.
They’ll do the bare minimum, like post the links to video clips or articles, just enough to bypass the initial screening of the Google algorithm and, perhaps, the eye of an exhausted expert or two. Doing the little bit of extra work can mean a lot in ensuring nothing gets misconstrued to the point of harm.
Clean Out and Compile
Duplicate content is a big cause. Big, big cause. And the more duplicate content exists, the worse it can be for your marketing plans.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but no one is perfect. As we forget to dump out and clean the strainer for a sink until the water isn’t going down, we forget to delete duplicate content until we wonder why Google seems to lag in the presence of the marketing expert.
Duplicated content happens naturally, more so if you or your marketing team have many contacts and friends with spaces on the Internet. Duplication starts innocuously, with a link or post on someone’s social media, or a page on a review or information site (like Yelp, Manta, YellowPages, etc.).
A few simple clicks, an email or two, shutting down and deleting a few pages usually clears up whatever is ‘clogging’ up the SEO from working properly, and it is that much less for customers and other experts to need to wade through just to get to your site.
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
Link building acts sort of like a cheat code does for video games, and should be approached similarly: sparingly and carefully, and certainly not plugging in all the codes at once.
Correlations are not reliable anymore, just like the ‘higher bounce rate = lower page ranking” correlation isn’t reliable anymore.
Sometimes one has to buy links. It’s a worthwhile investment that can yield a hefty return and you are not obligated to buy an entire bundle like flowers for Mom; one or two works.
Title tags help distinguish a webpage’s title, and title tags matter, just like meta descriptions. Keep it short and sweet, maybe under 60-70 characters and make it different on each page. Always remember: bad SEO is unavoidable, but you don’t have to stay stuck in it.