A common SEO mistake made by business owners is they believe once their site is setup for SEO, they never have to worry about it again. This thinking is wrong for two reasons. First, as technology advances, there will be new and better ways to promote a site that a business should consider. Second, and more importantly, old SEO techniques often become the source of penalties once they become too popular and are deemed spammy. To make sure that a company’s site is always on the cutting edge of SEO and that the site isn’t working against itself by using old techniques, business owners should have a periodic SEO review of their websites.
Link networks and link exchanges are a good example of the benefits of a review. When the algorithms for search engines were simpler and only counted the number of links to a website, regardless of the source, many websites listed their domains on directories that which gave them backlinks in exchange for a link back to the directory. This “I link to you and you link to me” strategy benefits the websites, but its bad for searchers, so now Google penalizes sites that excessively use link exchanges.
As was discussed in a recent article on this blog, Google has also begun to target guest blog posts that they feel are spammy. In many ways, it’s similar to the link exchange crackdown. Now that so many people are guest blogging just to boost their SEO, the practice no longer has a value for search engine results. One SEO site received a penalty for just one guest blog on their site that Google thought was spammy. The implications for business owners who may have used guest blogs in the past is clear, they need to review their guest blogs to be sure they don’t have any out there that can damage their site’s SEO.
The issue also goes beyond websites, per se. Adding a large number of links back to a site in a press release is also no longer allowed. This means that even if a company’s website is SEO friendly, but the marketing department is still using outdated tricks in an attempt to boost clicks, it can have a negative effect on the website being linked to.
An SEO review by a company or tool will also show business owners what links could potentially cause trouble and need to be disavowed. There are a lot of ways backlinks can be created online and even if the website didn’t create them, the links could lead to penalties. In the past, Google said that websites should only use the disavow tool after they had been penalized, but comments from Matt Cutts late last year indicate the value of proactively disavowing poor links.
“So if you’ve done the work to keep an active look on your backlinks and you see something strange going on, you don’t have to wait around,” Cutts said. “Feel free to just go ahead and pre-emptively say, you know what this is a weird domain, I have nothing to do with it, and no idea what this particular bot is doing in terms of making links, so go ahead and do disavows even on a domain level.”
The fact that practices that were once accepted can become taboo shouldn’t be considered a mark against the web designer, marketer, or business owner who first used them. At one point, these were all legitimate ways to boost a site’s SEO. Remember, for a long time, search engine algorithms could only judge a site’s SEO value by keyword density, backlink counts, and other simple measures. There was no semantic search to find answers when no keywords were involved. There were no social networks to facilitate link sharing. But now that all these tools do exist to help boost a site’s SEO naturally, it’s time to abandon outdated practices.
A periodic SEO review of a business’ website is essential. As search technology grows and evolves, a website’s SEO strategy must grow with it. In the world of SEO, to use outdated tactics doesn’t just mean falling behind, it often means being penalized for using tactics that only spammers now use. However, since business owners can’t be expected to keep up with every change in best practices for SEO, a periodic review is something often best left to someone with continuous SEO experience.