On a daily basis, the volume of pixels expended on the right way to do SEO could fill a virtual Library of Alexandria. We’re so awash with great ideas on how to correctly promote and perfect quality content that we sometimes lose sight of what not to do. Poorly executed SEO is a major hindrance to your goals. Here’s a quick summary of the techniques to avoid when optimizing content for the search engines.
The typical web user is searching for relevance and meaning in a sea of generic content online. So many webmasters try to “phone it in” with mass produced web spam, and it’s no surprise that they often fail to achieve the desired results. Your SEO success starts with the basics, which is original and unique content that actually delivers value to the end user. Put some serious effort into your content first and foremost.
A major mistake made by bloggers and marketers every day is the practice of stuffing irrelevant keywords into articles in an attempt to dominate Long Tail queries. Google’s wise to this practice, and they have ways of figuring out if your keyword-stuffed content actually delivers the goods. Avoid keyword stuffing at all costs, and only include the major keywords that assist your pages in being indexed properly by the search engines.
Building Spammy Links
While a solid 25% to 30% of SEO revolves around content creation, the rest of the formula is largely inbound links that show Google and Bing how valuable a site is to readers. Link exchanges are dead, and they’ll do you more harm than good these days. The same goes for forum spam and mass referrals from sites with low PageRank. Build organic links the right way through viral social media promotion and guest blogging on reputable sites.
If you’re a decent human being, it’s likely that you don’t know what Content Cloaking even is. Still, it’s important to understand how it works. In a nutshell, it’s all about using server-side script to identify search engine spiders based on their user agent and IP address. When a potential Googlebot rather than a regular user is detected, a different version of a page is served up. If you’re running a website of any note, you’ll eventually get caught using this tactic and be consequently punished in the SERPs.
Taking Shortcuts in General
In spite of the best efforts of Google and Bing, it’s still possible to temporarily trick the search engine algorithms and slide some weak content through their filters. In all your SEO efforts, stop and think about what you’re doing before proceeding. If it’s fundamentally disingenuous, don’t do it. Trying to cheat won’t get you anywhere in the long run, and it’s also a huge waste of time. Last but not least, mind the fundamentals like canonical URLs, 301 redirects, sitemaps and basic meta tag implementation.
Running a Tight SEO Ship
When you foolishly choose to deploy the tricks described above, the consequences can be ultimately catastrophic. Each one is a surefire way to incur algorithmic penalties courtesy of Google’s Penguin and Panda, and can even lead to manual penalties if not kept in check. Put in the time to produce high-quality, well-optimized content and the search engine gods will reward you. Otherwise, don’t be shocked by the inevitably low SERPs rankings that result.
Innovative and creative design is a terrific way to increase user engagement and attract backlinks in the process. All too often, SEO practitioners get caught up in the more technical aspects of link building and forget about the aesthetic appeal of the pages they’re promoting. Though substance will always inevitably trump style, attractive web design can go a long way towards generating organic backlinks. Here a few of the more popular ways to leverage web design for greater link juice.
The famous Nike Better World website from a few years back was largely responsible for popularising the use of parallax design. For the uninitiated, parallax scrolling entails varying the speed at which web page elements fly by as a visitor browses a page. Belting out a solid parallax scrolling web layout is quite easy and such designs can be customised quickly to add your own personal flair. You can vary the scroll speed and implement multiple CSS backgrounds to stand out.
Stellar 1-Page Websites
Modern websites have become so complex that a CMS is usually a must nowadays to keep everything straight. However, 1-page sites for portfolios, announcements and AJAX-dependent interactive web apps still have their place. While crafting a standalone 1-page website that leaves a lasting impression is a challenge, it’s well worth the effort. Minimalist web design is always tricky to pull off, but it has the advantage of focusing the reader’s attention on one specific topic. You can only cram so much information onto one page, so a quality 1-page site will have to be judicious when it comes to selecting the right images and information to present.
As a longtime Web 2.0 favourite, the versatile infographic has been a powerful way to build backlinks. Everybody loves an infographic – I know this from personal experience – and it’s never been easier to slap together a quality composition. The best infographics tell a story with a few statistics and some subtle graphics that can be digested at a glance. Much like a collage, an infographic that’s successful relies heavily on choosing the right constituent elements. Best of all, there are tons of free tools available online such as Visual.ly and Piktochart for building infographics that’ll truly impress readers.
Static infographics are all well and good, but interactive infographics are an even better way to draw in viewers and get backlinks. More and more, interactive elements are being incorporated into infographics for greater user interaction and value. Web apps like Vizify and Infogr.am make crafting an interactive infographic a cakewalk. Interactive data visualisation is going to be the wave of the future, so you might as well hop on the bandwagon now and get a leg up on the competition.
Competition Breeds Excellence and Backlinks
Flexing your design muscles and showing off your skills in a non-commercial venue is a great way to raise your profile and get some link love from your peers. Publishing guest posts on design sites like Noupe, Smashing Magazine and Tuts+ is the smart way to boost web design “street cred” and gain backlinks to your work. CSS competitions are another fantastic avenue for establishing yourself as an expert and obtaining links naturally for SEO purposes.
Putting It In Perspective
It should be stressed that even the most amazing web design won’t disguise lame content that’s devoid of value. Make your infographics accurate, helpful and gorgeous at the same time. When entering competitions and writing blog posts, don’t be overly promotional and transparent about your ulterior backlink-building motives. Give your time, effort and expertise freely, and you’ll reap the rewards in the long run. More often than not, eye-catching web design can end up being one of the most effective link building techniques at your disposal.