By: Katie Gatto
If you were to open your favorite search engine and type in the words “SEO advice,” you would get an insane number of results. It seems like just about everyone with access to an Internet connection is more than willing to give you their two cents about how you should conduct your SEO campaign. The question is, are those two pennies made of gold, or of brass?
All analogies aside, the SEO advice that you find can range from well-researched and professional, to the un-researched observations of a moderately successful site owner, to the nonsense ramblings of people who have nothing better to do than take random guesses. So, how do you weed out the good advice from the bad? Partially, this will be a matter of using your best judgment about any advice you receive, and partially this will be a matter of knowing what is a bad idea when you see it.
This piece aims to help you with that sound goal. Today we will look at some pieces of advice that may at first glance seem good, but can in fact be disastrous if you take them seriously. If one piece of bad advice is based on sound advice, which can happen, then we will try to dissect out the good from the bad, so you can at least make lemonade out of those lemons. Now, without any further ado, let’s get down to sorting out that epically bad advice.
Bad Advice #1- Any links to your site are good ones that will help your rankings.
Oh boy. This one has the sinister ring of truth. In a lot of ways, and in most situations, building links to your site is a good idea. It can even raise your rankings if you get links from solid, reputable sites.
This however, does not mean that all links are good links. Think back to your days of taking standardized tests in school. Always and never were usually tricks, right? Well, that remains true in the real world as well. Be wary of any advice that is dispensed in that format.
Back in the grey area, you may be wondering what types of links are worth pursuing and what type are not. Well, this basic guide should help you out.
- Links from sites in your niche or on a similar topic.
- Links from sites that are well-ranked or indexed on the first three pages of your keyword searches.
- Links that are organic and in text.
- Links that are do-follow.
- Links from established sites.
- Links from blacklisted sites, which are removed from indexing due to their spammy nature.
- Links you have to buy.
- Links from low-ranked or low-indexed sites.
- Links from sites that make all of their links no-follow. These are black holes.
- Links in a list of links or in a blog side bar.
Bad Advice #2: Your Titles Don’t Really Matter
If you have a blog platform this will be a much bigger issue for you than it will be for a static site owner, if for no other reason than that you will be going through a lot more titles. Yes, your content matters, but a good title can make or break the site’s success for one simple reason: it’s treated like keywords by the engines in a lot of cases. Choosing a relevant title that has your piece’s keyword in it and grabs attention is of the utmost importance. Choose wisely and set guidelines when you need to with your other bloggers.
Be aware that there is also a similar strain of advice going on with post URLs being labeled by dates and not titles. If you have manual control, it may be best to give adjusting them a shot to see how the results pan out for your site.
Bad Advice #3: You do not really need to have Google Analytics or a similar tool to help you with your SEO efforts.
Consider strongly that the person giving you this advice may not truly be your friend. You wouldn’t fly a plane without using the instruments or want your doctor to perform surgery without looking at your lab work first, would you? Then why would you run your business blind?
Having a tool like Google Analytics, which is both free and easy to access, is a great way to have up-to-the-second data (okay, daily updates) on how your site is doing. Use the tools; just don’t grow obsessed with them. Remember that analytics is one measure of success, not your only measure.
Bad Advice #4: You need to saturate your piece with keywords at least 10 times in order to make sure they are picked up by the engines.
This advice is not only bad, but it is completely arbitrary as well. It falls to take into account the length of your piece. Sure, 10 keyword uses may be appropriate in a piece that is 1,000 words long or more, but in a shorter, 300-word news piece, it will be stilted for your readers and seen as a form of spam by the search engine that ranks you.
This advice, called keyword stuffing, would have worked in the late 90s, but modern indexers are able to spot the process. This means that if you give this a try, you run the very real risk of being penalized by the very search engines that you thought you were courting. Leave this piece of bad advice in the past, where it belongs.
Bad Advice #5: You need to moderate your comments. All of them.
This can be true, in a few very limited situations. Go ahead and moderate if you fall into one of these categories:
- You have an active issue with getting spam comments on your site.
- Your site is about a high-spam area, like new age products.
- You are well-advertised as a do follow blog, and you believe this will create a surge in spam.
- You are a family- or child-friendly site that needs to weed out inappropriateness or run the risk of losing your audience.
Other than these, you may want to let them go. Relevant comments add to your ranking by expanding the site and showing a relevant community.
Bad Advice #6: Older content does not matter. Do not bother to waste your time updating it or being concerned with the impact that it is having on your SEO strategy or current rankings.
This one is just a load. Anything that is a part of your site is factored into your rankings. If you have older posts that you suspect may be doing a disservice to your rankings, then you can exercise either of these options.
1. Delete them.
2. Update them.
Just be wary of choosing the first option. Deleting content may lead to a number of negative consequences, including:
- Dead end links for humans who find your content on a search engine.
- A change in the perceived age of your site, which can affect your rankings.
A change in the perceived frequency of your posts, which can affect your rankings.
Of course, your last two will depend on how much you feel like you need to delete. These will become more and more serious concerns as your to-delete list grows larger and larger. It may be best to consider all of your pieces as re-writes before you consider them deletions.
Bad Advice #7: Good rankings are going to cost you cold hard cash. You need to pay a professional to analyze and improve your strategy or your results will be minimal and slapdash at best.
Do you know who gives out this advice? People trying to sell you their services. Yes, some projects can benefit from professional advice, but that’s far from it being mandatory for every site on the web. Most sites will do just fine if they create a solid plan that is based on good advice, realistic goals and sound strategies.
There are plenty of things that you need to hire a professional to do for you, such as dentistry, but SEO is not one of these. Go ahead and hire someone for a big launch or an extremely competitive market, but on the whole these will be the exceptions and not the rules in the world of sites. If you really want expert level guidance, then consider getting yourself a book on SEO best practices from your local bookstore or library. That way you don’t have to invest hundreds of dollars in a consultant.
Now that you can tell the good advice from the bad advice, nothing will be able to stop you from taking your site to the next level and becoming the next online hot spot.