How to Avoid Easy & Honest SEO mistakes that could penalize your site?


Let’s face it – no one wants their website to get penalized purposely. Often, it is the result of inexperience, often through black-hat SEO practices and at times, when honestly attempting to pursue the best optimization techniques.

The question is “why would a site get penalized for following SEO practices honestly?” Everything seemed right when optimizing the website for search…or you thought so.

Read on to know where you might have gone wrong trying to do everything in the best possible manner.

Simple & Honest SEO Mistakes to Avoid

It is no secret that Search Engine Optimisation is one of the most vital aspects of digital marketing today. Internet Live Stats suggests that Google receives an average of 68,000 searches in 1 second. A study by Conductor, which was later improved based on research by Groupon, indicated that 64% of website traffic comes from organic search, while direct visit accounts for 12% and paid search holds 6%.

SEO mistakes

With so much competition, you strive to implement the best SEO practices that will set you apart on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

However, often in pursuit of following the right techniques, you end up doing mistakes that can get your site penalized.

Here’s how to avoid the most common, yet honest, SEO mistakes.

1. Over-Optimising Your Keywords

“Keyword stuffing” is considered a malpractice in the field of Search Engine Optimisation. And you are well aware of the results. But that is done purposely, often overlooking the adverse ramifications.

However, there are millions of websites where over-optimization of keywords is a common phenomenon. Marketers, especially beginners, have the notion that using ‘several’ keywords are a good way to rank their pages on search engines. Many are not clear about how search engine algorithms work or how using the right keyword frequency can only help gain top rankings. They fail to realize that ‘several’ may be ‘too many’ for algorithms. Search engines, particularly Google, have become complex and are continuously tweaking their algorithms to rank high-quality content and penalize those who try to manipulate.

Google Panda or Google Penguin will consider your honest keyword optimization effort as keyword stuffing, and can subsequently get your site removed from search results.

Solution: While identifying the right set of keywords is crucial for effective Search Engine Optimisation, it is also vital to use them in the right frequency to ensure natural flow. There are many keyword research tools that provide keyword ideas as well as their usage frequency based on the content size. Write the content first and then sprinkle few keywords naturally to make it rank high. Remember, there is no specific keyword density percentage. Till the time it appears naturally spread throughout the content,
you can avoid getting penalized for keyword stuffing.

2. Trading Links

Sometimes, businesses build strong liaison with other businesses to expand their scope and flourish. However, when you unintentionally ‘exploit’ it as a means to get more links to your site, search engines may see it as unethical link building practice.

Trading links are most common and often done with the purest intentions to grow business relationships. But if you are unknowingly using it as a bait to get more links, a penalty may not be surprising.

Let’s explain with an example. Suppose ABC Company entered into a business partnership with XYZ Company, which is a popular retail store in the country. According to their agreement, the latter will carry ABC Company’s products across all their stores and have a discounted price as long as XYZ Company’s website includes a link to ABC Company’s site.

So, XYZ Company placed a footer link to ABC Company on their site.

This is a common link trading scenario and everything goes fine unless you keep a tap on a number of links coming to your site. In this case, XYZ Company had many web pages and they added a link to every page. As a result, ABC Company witnessed too many links coming from a single source. Google algorithm identified the scenario and penalized them for unethical link building, though they were trying to generate backlinks honestly.

Solution: When it comes to link building, footer links are a big no-no. Footer links, when placed irrelevantly, can attract penalty. Google considers this as paid links or a result of unethical practices. Swapping links as a part of the business relationship is okay until you do it as naturally and carefully as possible. Having a large number of links from a single site is easy to identify and can get your site penalized.

Instead use link baiting technique to create informative content that other websites would link to because they want to, not because you asked them to. The image below shows how link baiting works:

SEO mistakes(Source: TechWyse)

3. NOT Creating In-Depth Content

In the past few decades, the focus was to create content short and simple. However, recently, the trend among search engines is to reward in-depth, long-form, informative content. You may not be aware of the recent changes and still continue with creating 500 or 600 words content. Google may perceive the page as low-quality due to lack of information or that the content is “thin.” As a result, your site may not be penalized in the true sense, but it can affect ranking in search results (and that is nothing less than
getting a penalty).

Your website also stands a chance to fall into Google’s bad books if the content is not well-researched and 100% unique. Plagiarised or duplicate content can instantly get your website penalized for practicing unfair SEO techniques.

Solution: To prevent your site from penalization, make sure that you post only relevant, informative and plagiarism-free content. Create a 1500-2000 words beast and includes proper text formatting, images, infographics or video embeds to ensure higher reader engagement, better search engine ranking, and increased social media shares.

4. Doing Affiliate Marketing the ‘Wrong’ Way

Believe it or not, affiliate marketing can make or break your SEO efforts. It depends on how you implement it. However, it is undeniable that affiliate programmes can be great to generate effective results. Most of the times, these are spam-free and you do not have to worry about getting penalized. Unfortunately, many marketers are still not well-aware of how affiliate marketing works and they simply take the leap in pursuit of greater profits.

And this is where you stand the chance of getting hit by search engine algorithms.

Mostly this happens when companies roll out affiliate programs too quickly without rendering clear information to their affiliates. Take, for example, ABC Company rolled out an affiliate program to help others related to their business to have some income while also growing their sales. However, the affiliates were not properly explained how to use the affiliate links successfully.

As a result, the affiliate partners added backlinks to ABC Company’s homepage. These were not affiliated links at all, just basic homepage links. The company could have benefitted from the backlinks, even though they were not affiliated links. However, it badly hit them because their affiliate partners did not have authoritative websites. Therefore, all the links appeared to be “junk links.”

This sudden increase in backlinks, that too from low-quality sites, caused ABC Company to get hit by the Google algorithm.

This can be the scenario with anyone trying to leverage affiliate marketing without strategic planning.

Solution: Here are some tips for you to conduct affiliate marketing safely:

  • Before starting off, make sure you know how affiliate marketing is going to work best for you. Choose a provider who can conduct 100% of the rollout process. Do not haste.
  • Affiliates may not always be well-aware of how affiliate links work. They would create just any link, thinking that it would make them earn a commission. Explain them clearly how and where to put affiliate links, ensuring they do not appear spammy.
  • Try to connect with partners having high-authority websites or blogs. Links from them will help boost your site ranking.
  • Frequently test all affiliate links to maintain site integrity. Remove broken links, poor-quality links or ones that appear to be spam.

5. Influencer Outreach Not Implemented Properly

Influencer outreach is one of the most powerful SEO strategies to get audience exposure, quality links and first-page ranking on Google. However, often it is not executed and monitored properly. This can result in your site getting penalized when you least expect it.

If your influencer outreach program targets low-authority niche, even “influential” links from their site will not improve your website’s SEO; rather, it could ruin you completely. This primarily happens when you invite just anyone to join as an influencer to get an overwhelming response. The adverse effects are –

  • Too many links, including matching anchor text links, in the same article.
  • Links coming from ad-heavy websites.
  • Keyword stuffing the articles to attract more traffic.
  • Backlinks coming from low authority websites.

All these factors are good enough for search engines to penalize your site.

Solution: Here are some influencer outreach tricks that can save you from getting penalized:

  • Choose your target carefully, avoiding low-authority or spammy sites or blogs.
  • Make sure your influencers use ‘no-follow’ link. Give them the relevant code that they can paste into their article or blog.
  • Use services like Unbounce to have a specific landing page for this purpose. This will direct users to that specific page only

Final Words…

Keep a safe distance from these simple & honest SEO mistakes to avoid heavy penalties from search engines. Make sure you are well aware of the latest SEO trends and algorithm changes to have the right strategies in place.