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5 Dangers of SEO… and how to avoid them!

In a digital age where it seems every man and his dog claim to know how to execute SEO effectively it is perhaps unsurprising that everyone has a different viewpoint on SEO.

The constantly changing digital landscape and the almost daily evolution of the Google algorithm means that to stay ahead of the game you need to stay constantly updated on the latest SEO whispers.

The trouble is that it is often difficult to know who to believe!

Popular SEO blogs such as Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch and Moz are a good starting place but the problem with these is that the articles are often based on theory rather than practice.

This article sets out to highlight the 5 biggest dangers facing anyone looking to perform SEO on a website in 2017. This is based on what we have found over years and years of testing and places it firmly in the context of the first quarter of 2017.

Spammy Links

We have found that more than ever Google is really cracking down on links that appear spammy. Thousands of links from a single referring domain or IP address is a ticking time bomb and whilst you might see a short term improvement in rankings, this is almost certainly only temporary.

Now of course, these types of links are sometimes genuine. I had a website that had a footer link on another of my (genuine) sites and the website in question had around 2000 pages which meant 2000 links from a single referring domain.

As this was a brand name link there seemed to be little negative impact. Had this been a targeted keyword then this would almost certainly have caused us a loss in rankings! Use a tool like SEM RUSH to disavow any links that you don’t want and can’t remove yourself.

Bounce Rate that Lacks Punch

Bounce rate has always been an issue so this is nothing new.

But we have had to include this is our top 5 dangers as this is still a very real threat – possibly more so now than ever.

Your bounce rate is simply determined by how many visitors to your website only visit a single page. If all of your visitors visit a single page and never click through to another then your bounce rate would be 100%.

We want to achieve a sub 50% bounce rate or better.

This not only helps your SEO efforts but also shows you that your users are engaged and finding the user experience of your website to be positive – meaning that they are more likely to convert to customers.

Google rewards websites that provide a good user experience and that have a low bounce rate and a high dwell time (the time spent on site) as it shows Google that the user has found what they are looking for.

Spend some time working on your user experience and make sure that your content and landing pages suit what keywords you are ranking for – or vice versa.

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Being Impatient

We have heard a lot about the real time Google algorithm and I have to admit that I am seeing faster rises in the SERPS when developing off-page SEO. On-site developments are taking longer to have an impact but the overriding message here is that it still takes time.

Don’t fall in to the trap of waiting 2 weeks and seeing no changes to your rankings and then changing the work that you did in the first place – this is almost always going to be a negative sign to search engines and is an obvious way of highlighting to Google that you are trying to manipulate the search results.

Think of it this way…

Let’s say you created a link from another website and then two weeks later you either changed the anchor text or removed the link altogether. If this was a natural blog post or webpage – how many people would be going back to it 2 weeks later to change it? Sure, this might happen occasionally – but usually, once a page is up it stays there unchanged.

Typically, we are seeing an initial increase in rankings in the first 3 days, followed by a small dip and then 3-6 weeks later we are seeing a much bigger rise – depending on the competitiveness of the niche.

Mobile Pop-ups

This is one that is 100% ‘no testing required’. Sometimes Google are kind and they tell us what they will be penalizing and this is one of those lovely rare moments.

The search engine giants have revealed that they are well underway with penalizing mobile rankings for websites that have anything that ‘blocks content’. This includes pop-ups.

The simple message here is that if you have a pop-up on your mobile site then it is probably best to keep it to the pages that don’t rank but people tend to visit. This might be a pricing page as these often don’t rank and is often the exit page – so an exit intent pop up could be prudent here

This is still fairly early days in terms of testing for us but we have not noticed any impact when placing pop-ups on non ranking pages.

TIP: Instead of running those annoying pop ups to capture email addresses why not just add an in-content lead box like the one below. You can still offer a great selling point and your engaged users will likely sign up to get more amazing value from you…

Links with no Traffic (including PBN links) 

This looks like a huge one for SEO agencies that use PBN’s. A PBN (private blog network) is a network of websites that people procure with the intention of linking out from them to websites they are trying to rank.

Google have been cracking down on this practice for a long time and it seems they might finally have cracked it.

PBN’s are usually old sites that have little to no traffic. It looks like Google will now be giving less power to links from sites that have no traffic coming through them – so in other words links with no clicks through.

This also means we might see more ranking fluctuations as traffic changes from month to month – or even day to day!

Of course, you can’t control the traffic coming to you from organic sites either and this seems like another way that Google is trying to reward content that is current and in demand – essentially providing true value to the end user.

If you are not providing value and keeping your content up to date then perhaps you need to rethink your strategy.

If you would like us to take a look at your website a provide a free on-page and off-page analysis then get your instant free audit here. Alternatively, if you want to learn more about the techniques we use on a daily basis to help you rank your website then check out our SEO training on our sister site here.