Small business owners and merchants who are looking to boost their website’s search ranking see a lot of advice about how to build links and optimize their websites for search engines. We all know that search engine optimization (SEO) and link-building are important because they increase search engine rankings, but not if we do it the wrong way; they can actually be harmful to our rankings if done incorrectly. Here are three paths we should avoid:
1. Slacking Off. Whether out of frustration, laziness, or poor follow-through, the surest way to fail at link-building is to not do it. Think of link-building like gardening. A garden has to be tended and cared for on an ongoing basis in order for it to yield its crop. The same is true of link-building. We can’t just do a bunch of it and forget about it. Spend a set amount of time each week just link-building.
The trick, too, is not being spammy in our link-building. It does take some time to ID the websites and/or forums that are relevant to our business, to sign-up for them and to begin sharing meaningful information that also contains our linkback.
2. Writing For Search Engines. Search engines are getting smarter and smarter. Every day they are getting better at detecting when they are being played. That means if we clutter our web pages with repetitive terms designed to snag the attention of search engines, the likelihood that it will ring the bells of those search engines is decreasing rapidly. Sometimes it is referred to as “keyword stuffing.” So, easy on the stuffing (yes, Thanksgiving is fast approaching) and heavy on the meat.
For example, the keywords for this website might include web design, website development, SEO, WordPress, and because we are located in Hollister, California and want to also appeal to our local business owners, we will add Hollister, San Benito County and even Monterey and Bay Area into the mix. Using these keywords where they come naturally, as opposed to trying to stuff them into every sentence will go a long way toward the positive side of SEO.
Aside from what the robots see, also consider what happens when real live people visit our website. It’s easy to see when a page has been written for search engines and not people. The result is a page that turns people off and gives us a huge bounce rate; i.e. people take one look at our page and leave within seconds.
If we have Google Analytics installed, we can easily see bounce rates and other vital visitor and marketing statistics. Check the SafeHouse Web SEO page for the latest deals – often, Analytics installation and configuration is something that is discounted and is well worth the money.
Our website needs to appeal to the people who visit it. A high traffic rate does little good if our bounce rate is sky high. Writing our web copy with the goal of appealing to our customers is vital! Then, we go back and see where we can add in our chosen search terms without hurting the effectiveness of our copy. This is the simplest way we have found to generate good, valuable reader-friendly content and make it SEO-friendly, too.
3. Paying For Linkbacks. We see companies that offer to give us bunches – even oodles – of linkbacks for a fee. Stay away from these. Because search engines are getting “smarter”, they can tell when a site has sold out to the link fairy. It sees a ton of irrelevant linkbacks and the result is a lower search ranking. This is one of the ways where harm can come from doing it incorrectly.
Keep in mind, there are also companies who can provide relevant backlinks. These companies have real live people who do their link-building, not automated software “bots”. A live person can make sure the links he builds are relevant to the site they link to. Those are the kinds of links that boost search rank. That being said, small business owners can look to a firm or individual to build quality links for them, or can choose to do it themselves if they have a lot of extra time on their hands!