You might have shelled out thousands of dollars (or pounds, euros, depending on where you live) on a brand new, company website, but if you are not careful, you could destroy your online investment in a matter of days using some fatal search engine optimization and marketing techniques.
You don’t need to be an SEO expert to know that Google and other search engines like Yahoo and Bing, rank websites according to factors such as the number of backlinks they receive from other websites, their content (specifically how many words on each page), whether or not they’re mobile-friendly, and more.
However, you likely didn’t know that there are some things you can do as a website owner that will actually hurt your ranking on these sites, which is why we’ve put together this list of ten ways you can wreck your rankings without even trying!
Neglect the Basics
If your website is going to have any chance of making an impact on the first page of the search engine results then you need to use at least a basic Heading Tag and Keyword structure.
This means putting your main keyword or phrase you are targeting in the Title tag as an H1 tag on the homepage and also working it in a couple of times into the homepage content, so it reads naturally, of course!
If your business is targeting a predominantly local market (e.g. Widgets in the US), structuring your pages correctly, along with a couple of good backlinks should be enough to see you rise quite high in the search engines.
This is because there is not much competition and it is likely your competitors aren’t doing things properly either.
You should adopt this process on every page of your website, optimizing each one for the different keywords and phrases you want to rank highly for.
Use Lots of Flash on the Homepage
Perhaps your website was built cheaply by Joe, the local Multimedia Studies graduate, who came up with a “really cool” Flash intro for your website.
Instead of praising his 2:2 certificate genius, you should smack him around the head with his Web Design by Numbers coloring book he had obviously been referring to when ruining your website.
Nobody likes Flash intros.
They are annoying and most visitors look for the nearest “Skip Intro” button as soon as possible.
Worse still, these intros cannot be read by Google and other search engines, rendering them useless in terms of optimization.
Your website’s homepage needs to be content-rich, not filled with some meaningless Flash graphics that irritate customers as soon as they clap their eyes on them.
If your competitors use Flash intros, make sure you don’t and watch how fast you rise above them in the search engine ranking!
Listen to Idiots Who Don’t Know What They are Talking About
The internet is full of idiots and worse still they all think you should listen to them and take their advice as gospel.
They probably bought an eBook on website promotion (published 1999) from eBay for one cent and after skimming through it, they know it all.
Soon they will be filling the pages of your website with articles copied verbatim from the likes of EzineArticles.com, requesting link exchanges from all manner of irrelevant websites and seeing how many “doorway” pages they can create using a piece of automated software they picked also picked up for pennies on eBay.
Never will your website be penalized so fast leaving with you no alternative but to register a new domain name and start all over again.
Worse Still, a Dubious Relative
It’s even worse when that “idiot” is a relative or in some way connected to your family.
Sure, your sister’s half-wit boyfriend may be “good on computers” but him ruining your website business will just give you another reason to detest him.
When your sister realizes he is a moron he can be out of your lives for good – you don’t want to give the parasite a reason to linger around botching up your web efforts for the next few years.
Worse still, if that idiot is directly related to you and ruins your web business, it is going to make Christmas and other family get-together events all the more unpleasant.
Hire Writers Who Can’t… Well… Write
If you want your website to thrive then it needs to be updated with fresh, well-written content regularly, at least a couple of times per week, or even more if it is more of a blog than a “brochure” website.
The main issue with content creation is it is time-consuming to get right and a lot of webmasters look for shortcuts.
One of the best ways to destroy not only your company website, but your entire professional reputation is to hire “cheap” writers whose first language is not English (or the language of your target audience).
These writers can fill your website with regular, illegible content which is frustrating, rather than a pleasure to read, making you the online equivalent of a Bangalore call center representative.
Needless to say, your readers and would-be customers will look elsewhere.
Hire a Cheap SEO Firm
Expensive does not always mean best, but you should be very wary of any SEO firms which claim they will work on your website for, in some cases, as little as $50 per month.
Quite what they are going to do to earn that $50 is a little worrying, but my guess at best it won’t be much, at worst it will be something black-hat and automated or a website-wrecking combination of the two.
Don’t balk at a company that charges even several thousand dollars per month for SEO and marketing work.
This stuff is labor-intensive and time-consuming to get good results and they need to make a living too!
Use the Services of a “Guaranteed” Google Listings Company
How can you tell when an SEO firm is lying?
When the representative guarantees or promises you a number one ranking in Google.
Of course, if you want to rank for a long-tail search phrase or your own company name, that is certainly not difficult to achieve and you could do this yourself with a little bit of link building, but nobody can guarantee you a number one slot for your main search term.
If they could, how many people would want the number one slot for “loans”, “insurance”, “casino” or other highly competitive and lucrative search phrases?
Ask Someone How Many Links You Need
If someone tells you specifically how many links you need to rank for a certain keyword or phrase then make sure they tell you the weekend lottery numbers as well.
Another sure-fire way to identify an SEO “expert” to avoid is when they start bandying about quotes like “you will need 150 links to rank top of Google for X”.
Not 149, not 151, but 150 on the button.
If that’s the case, how many do you need to rank at number two, or what if one of the websites linking to you in order to make up the 150 deletes your link, would you automatically drop down the rankings.
Don’t listen to such rubbish.
Link building is not an exact science.
It is something that should be done gradually over time and the rankings will come.
Buy Links on Other Websites
At one time webmasters fortunate enough to have a website with a high PageRank value, i.e. five and above, would make some extra money by selling links on their homepage.
The website purchasing the links would benefit from a high PageRank backlink which would boost their rankings in the search engines.
Unsurprisingly, Google took a dim view of this practice and now discounts or even penalizes any paid links between websites brought to its attention.
Indeed, Google makes it easy for webmasters to rat out rivals using paid links by providing a handy form for would-be snitches.
Of course, a discreet paid link between two websites will not raise any suspicion, but webmasters who actively hawk paid linking opportunities on websites and forums and then list your website in an obvious “Sponsors” column on the homepage makes you a prime reporting target for competitors and the anti-paid link brigade alike.
Be Lazy and Use Automated Link Exchange Schemes
Link building is a slow, time-consuming, and laborious process.
Emailing hundreds of webmasters with an offer of a link exchange, only to be rejected or even ignored is a particularly soul-destroying aspect of internet marketing and promotion.
It’s no wonder some webmasters are seduced by the various automated link exchange programs which litter the internet.
These schemes promise “thousands of backlinks to your website… instantly” and you can be sure Google will penalize your website just as instantly too.
Link building should be done naturally and gradually over time.
Obtaining no backlinks one day and then thousands then next are going to make your website stand out faster than a turd in a punchbowl.
Search engine optimization and website promotion can be a minefield to the uninitiated and it would be a catastrophe to destroy the company website you have invested heavily in by taking bad advice.
The key here is to avoid cutting corners and attempting to “game” the search engines.
Website promotion is a gradual process, the online equivalent to the tortoise and the hare.
If something sounds too good to be true, in terms of price, time and results then the chances are, it probably is.