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.

Low-Quality Content

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.

Keyword Stuffing

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.

Doorway Pages

If you’re not familiar with the term, then suffice it to say that Doorway Pages are indeed a major faux paus. Otherwise known as gateway pages, jump pages or portal pages, they’re designed to trick search engines into thinking that they have value while delivering very little to an actual user. Many rely on Javascript redirection to get unsuspecting users to click through to a desired landing page. In short, avoid this chicanery.

Content Cloaking

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.