On April 24, 2012, Google released the Penguin Update, which improved their algorithm to penalize “web spam”.
And in the next few days, some websites lost 50%+ of their traffic overnight.
Companies saw revenues drop instantly by thousands of dollars per month — directly from this loss in search traffic. Some cash-strapped ones even went under.
And according to a poll on SEOroundtable, “94% of Google Penguin victims did not fully recover”.
But this is nothing new.
In fact, it happens every 6-12 months.
Yet companies still try to take the same shortcuts, and use the same quick fixes to get “free” SEO traffic into their website. Or they hire a cheap SEO firm that promises to “GET PAGE 1 RANKINGS IN A MONTH – GUARANTEED”.
These shortcuts might work for awhile. Until Google catches on.
Some reports say Google’s controls over 70% of the search market — a certifiable monopoly. And they get up to 3 billion searches per day.
They can make the rules, and if you break them, then you run the risk of being penalized and banned from the single largest source of traffic (and buyers) on the planet.
And ignorance is no excuse.
If your outsource SEO work to a shady company who takes shortcuts on your behalf, then you’re the one who ultimately suffers when Google updates their algorithm.
So even if you plan on finding someone to do SEO for you, then you still need to know and understand the essentials of what does, and doesn’t work.
You need to know which keyword strategy is proven and sound, and which will hurt you.
You need to know what types of links you need to rank well, and which ones can ultimately bring you down.
And you need to know what trends will give you the best results, and which will most likely be penalized in the future.
Here are 4 common SEO mistakes that will hurt your rankings in 2013.
Mistake #1: Relying on a “Head” Keyword Strategy
Here’s a common SEO practice that people used to use:
- Focus on one or two main, popular keyphrases
- Buy or swap backlinks with exact-matching anchor text
- And optimize only the homepage so your website ranks well for those two popular keyphrases
The biggest problem with this strategy? It doesn’t work. Not anymore.
SEO is more sophisticated today, so you can’t bank your whole strategy on one or two keyphrases.
You’re also competing for big, popular keyphrases against competitors with billions of dollars — so who do you think is going to spend more on SEO?
And people don’t land on your homepage and then buy immediately.
Instead you need targeted traffic and people who are going to buy — not just “good rankings”.
Mistake #2: Over-Optimizing Your Pages and Posts
Years ago, the fastest way to rank for a specific keyphrase was to use it repeatedly on your pages.
So keyword stuffing became popular, and people starting worrying about their “keyword density” per page.
But as more and more people began manipulating the system, Google wised up.
Now if you use too many keyphrases on a page, it signals that you’re spamming.
So at best, it’s not helping you at all. And at worst, it could lead to being penalized and dropping in the rankings.
Instead you need to be more strategic, and focus on optimizing the essential areas to provide the highest ROI.
Mistake #3: Acquiring Easy, Low Value & High Risk Links
Most people go after easy links.
They’re easy to get in mass, and can provide a quick win. You can get these links through article spinning, reciprocal linking, directories, and simply buying them.
The best links are always organic, which means people naturally link to you.
That’s really hard, but it’s also extremely rewarding.
That’s how you get high rankings, more traffic, and a sustainable SEO strategy that won’t change the next time Google updates their algorithm.
Mistake #4: Not Using a Combination of Tactics to Boost SEO
Finally, SEO tactics today can’t exist on their own.
Today you need interesting, engaging content that people will naturally link to. You need social media to make connections, and help spread or distribute your content.
You also need to create a brand, so people search for you by name.
And you need to align your SEO tactics (like the keyphrases you pick) to real business objectives (like increasing leads or sales).
Because that’s the only way to improve your business — and not just “vanity metrics” like rankings that sound nice in a meeting.