Ask 10 different SEO agencies what their strategy is and you’ll likely get 10 significantly different responses. That’s not necessarily to say that any given agency’s strategy is wrong, but that each one will put an emphasis on different areas of SEO.
Unfortunately, some SEO “experts” are flat out wrong, offering advice that goes against best practices or, worse, can get a site penalized by Google.
Here’s some of the worst advice we’ve ever heard about SEO.
Build as Many Links as Possible
On the surface, this advice has some truth to it. Link building can be an incredibly powerful way to move your site up in the rankings. However, there are two flaws with this strategy:
- Building too many links too quickly is a red flag to Google that the links may be unnatural
- Most link building strategies that focus on volume tend to also focus on low-quality or spammy backlinks like irrelevant directory listings and blogroll links
In either case, you might see some short-term benefits, but sooner or later Google is going to penalize your site. Whether you get hit with a manual penalty or the Penguin algorithm, you’ll take a massive hit in organic search traffic – and your site may never recover.
Instead, you should focus on building high-quality links from authoritative, relevant sites in your industry. Not only will this help your site rank better, but you’ll also likely bring in more qualified visitors from these high-quality sites.
Include Your Target Keyword X Number of Times in Your Copy
Yes, having your target keyword in your copy is important, but the idea that there’s some magical number that you need to hit is misguided – and there’s no perfect ratio, either. For one thing, content lengths vary, which means keyword density is a moving target. For another, some keywords will naturally appear more or less often in copy.
Trying to include your keyword a specific number of time will almost always lead to writing copy that doesn’t sound natural. This lowers the quality of your content in the eyes of both users and search engines. That means poor rankings.
Don’t have a target number in mind for using your primary keyword. Write the copy in a way that sounds natural and focus more on including a mix of semantically related terms rather than repeating the same word over and over. This provides more value to users and, ultimately, will rank better in search.
Worry About Technical SEO After You Launch (or Re-Launch) Your Site
Web developers rarely have SEO in mind when they design websites for their clients, and even those that do often don’t have the same depth of knowledge about search optimization as an agency will. The result is often sites that may look fantastic but are poorly configured for search engines. For new sites, this can make it difficult to rank for your desired keywords. For redesigned sites, this can end with catastrophic drops in rankings you’ve previously achieved.
In both cases, the thought process is that elements of technical SEO can be addressed after the redesign – and they can, but often after your site has already seen a dip in traffic. Keeping SEO top of mind during the design process can help ensure minimum hiccups during the launch of your new site, meaning you’ll be less likely to lose rankings, traffic, and most importantly, sales or leads.
If you’re about to launch a new site, make sure your SEO agency is involved – or at least that your developer has considered SEO implications. This can help identify potential issues that you’ll be able to address before launch, avoiding messy complications later.
If you’re ever on the receiving end of any of this bad advice, we strongly suggest you reconsider your relationship with that SEO agency or expert. These SEO tactics will more often than not leave you worse off than you started with, leading to expensive recovery efforts that may never pay off. It’s worth finding an agency or expert that has a solid understanding of SEO best practices – rather than the advice of someone who will tell you anything for a paycheck.