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The Don'ts of Search Engine Optimization SEO John Cal - January 10, 2006

Search Engine Optimization
The topic for discussion today is about what not to do when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). I was going to name this article The Do's & Don'ts of SEO, but I figure at this point you know what to do. I've dedicated many articles that are focused on what to 'DO'. Just check my articles "SEO Basic's for the Dummy" or "Dominate the Search Engines" or "The Art of Keywords" to understand what to do. Or just read this article and 'DO' the opposite of what 'not' to do.

The things that I will talk about in this article are about what is called inSearch Engine Optimization"black hat" SEO. What's been talked in previous articles are what we call "white hat" To learn more on "white hat" strategies, refer to any of the articles above. From this point on, it'll be about "black hat" strategies.

Black Hat What's this mysterious "black hat" SEO strategies? Is it the latest fashion trend? No it's not a fashion trend at all. Should I do it? Does it work with the SE's or is it just a waste of time? The answer to these questions depend upon who you are talking to. Many employ these strategies and continue to do so today.

My answer to these questions is yes they do work. However, in my opinion, Black Hat strategies are quick fixes with short term gains. I see it as continuing to work hard and not necessarily smart. I am lazy, so I want to do something once and let it go from there. Black Hat strategies do not allow this. Your site may get the rankings quick, but soon your site will be at the back of the line. (or out of the line completely). Black Hat involves spamming and the SE's do not like this. They will find your site, penalize or ban it completely from the index. Then your off again starting a whole new site employing the same strategies. White Hat strategies start off really slow. And I mean ssllllooooowwww.. But eventually get momentum and out last the rest. The reason it is so slow is your at the mercy of the search engines. Ever heard of the infamous Google Sandbox? Well experts say it could take any new site 6-12 months to get out of it! You kidding me? I have to wait a year to see results in Google? Who has that kind of time? You? Definitely not me. I'm lazy but not that lazy. I have bills to pay today, not next year. This is why many webmasters go with black hat instead of white hat.

Even with this flaw, white hat will pay off big in the long hall. It will flow continuous money into your mailbox while others are jumping around trying to get new sites started to keep their black hat strategies going.

What Not To Do? Ok, ok, you have me convinced. I do not want to go with the black hat strategies. But what would be considered black hat? How can I avoid it? Just hold on a second. I'm getting there. Didn't I tell you I was lazy. The rest of the article is focused on the things not to do. By the time I am done, you will know what not to do to your website to not get it banned. There are 2 ways of spamming. On-page and off-page. Sounds familiar? Same factors to help you rank well are the same that can get you penalized or banned. Let's start with our own backyard. Your thinking...Yea, yea I know "As momma always told you." Yep. See your getting it!

On-page

Keyword Stuffing First up to bat, keyword stuffing. What is that, you may ask. Almost sounds like some food. Making me hungry just thinking about it. I'll take some chicken with a side of chicken stuffing, mash potatoes and keyword stuffing please. Anyway, in my opinion, there are 2 forms of keyword stuffing. I call them keyword list stuffing and keyword body stuffing. They will not get your site banned, but it won't rank you well either. Let's get into the first one, keyword list stuffing.

Keyword List This involves adding every word known to your niche in the meta keywords. You see a website with meta keywords and it is stuffed full with 1000 or so keywords. Look like they got the dictionary and started writing. Seriously. As funny as it sounds, there are websites out there that do this. People, this not going to get you ranked. It will not get you banned, but definitely will not get your ranked on the first million pages!! Some SE's do not even read the list to begin with. Keep it short. No need to add the A-F section of the dictionary to your keyword list.

Keyword Body This is the process of taking your keyword list (Probably too big to begin with) and repeating it all over the page. It makes no sense to the user, just a bunch of words all over the place. I haven't seen this much, and I hope I do not. Will not help you in anyway.

Also, while we are on the subject, over using the keywords Search Engine Optimization is a no, no. Some websites will take their main keyword and repeat over and over and over. You'll see it in the Title, meta description, everywhere. This strategy will get you banned or penalized. Again, it's an attempt to appear more relevant than the website really is. I have seen the tactic work, but not for long. If your ranked well, and you put in your main keyword and you suddenly see a site up that has no business being there. Check back again in a few days and you'll see that site gone.

The Invisible KeyWord Sounds like a Super Hero. When there is trouble with ranking your website, call "The Invisible KeyWord" No, please do not! He is a enemy, not a hero. This is involves taking your keywords, put them on the body of your website and make the color of the font the same color as the background of the website. It's invisible to you or I, but visible to SE's. It's a process of spam to make the website appear more relevant because it has the keywords in the body. SE's have caught onto Search Engine Optimization this tactic and you will be penalized or banned for this. I have seen this tactic done. But I have the visible ink. One way to tell, is when you visit a website and you see a big blank space at the bottom or somewhere towards the bottom, take your mouse, point and try to highlight the space. When it highlights, it will reveal the words!!

Formatting Keywords This is when you bold, italicize, or underline every keyword on the website. There is no need to emphasize every word. Now you know those words are not that important in every sentence. Come on now! Just once is fine. Twice at the most. This tactic could end up backfiring. The SE's will give less importance to the words.

Excessive Link Pages This is having too many links on one page. Normally, it's 100 or more that's a problem. Experts have difference numbers that they believe will hurt. I believe 100 is most agreed upon that will hurt your SE rankings. A rule of thumb I try to do is stay with around 15-25 links on one page. Anything more than that can create clutter on your website. It will make it difficult for your surfers. Besides that, it does not help the websites you are linking to. If a surfer cannot find their site because it's buried on a page with over 100 links, do not expect any traffic.

Missing Title I just had to put this in there. This won't get you penalized or banned, but since this article is about what not to do, I had to talk about this. This is so common among websites. You would be surprised at how many websites do not have a Title at all. Makes you want to put a ad up on the back of a milk box. "Has anyone seen this Title"? or a Wanted sign in the Post office Wanted "Website Title" $1000 reward if found.

This is so big. This is one of the top reasons why websites do not rank period. Just this one change alone could move a website from the 100millionth page to the millionth page. What is your site about? Why should I click on it?

Off-page

I really shouldn't call this off-page. Technically it's really not, but I wanted to make a clear difference here. The difference between on-page and off-page is on-page is the way you set your site up. Off-page involves more of the linking side. You cannot really help who links to you and SE's know this. That's why I am not talking about that kind of off-page. You'll see more of what I mean as you read along.

Link Farms Link Farms? What is this? Is this where Search Engine Optimization links are raised before sent out to the internet? Not quite. Link farms are a bunch of webmasters getting together to setup 1000's of sites and pointing the links towards each other. There are a few ways of accomplishing this. When you do your link campaign, stick with hard reciprocal linking. Many are not aware, but there are link director sites like PowerLinks or Linkvault that brag about helping your build links fast. These are essentially link farms. Avoid them like the plague. How do you know? The red flag is usually when you have to add some kind of script to your website in order to do a link exchange. Don't do it. Again, short term success, but short term gains.

Banned / Penalized Sites Again, you cannot control who links to you, but you have full control over who you link to. Avoid linking to other penalized or banned sites. This can eventually affect you. Why? Remember, a link pointing to a site is a vote. So your voting for this banned or penalized site that the SE's have stated is bad news. If your voting for them, then that must mean your site is also bad news. Ever heard of the saying, "Birds of a feather, flock together?" I have. It's another one of the sayings that didn't make sense to me until later on in life.

How do I know if I am linking to someone that is banned? The easiest way to do this is by checking the pagerank of the site you are linking to. You can download the Google Toolbar to do this. If you see a grey bar for the pagerank. It's been banned. Now, do not confuse a 0 PR with a penalized site. Having a PR of 0 does not mean the site has been penalized. It'll be grey'd out if it is penalized.

That's all for now folks. I'm sure there will be other tactic's that will arise as SE's catch them. Malicious webmasters will continue to look for quick, easy ways to beat the SE's. The SE's will catch it, update their alogorithms and the cycle will continue. It's a endless cycle as to why I say "white hat" eventually will out last the "black hat" and flow continuous surfers to your site producing tons of money. White hat strategies will hold up through all the changes to the SE's. The choice is always yours. Whatever works for you. Good luck and happy optimizing.

John Cal