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7 Unintentional SEO Mistakes That Can Penalize Your Site


If you are a business owner chances are you currently have a website. In today’s world, most businesses have websites that give information on their services and/or allow you to buy directly from their site. But no one will know about your site unless it is shared with current and potential customers. What you do to drive traffic to your site can potentially cause Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines to penalize it. They may perceive your on-site and off-site methods as a manipulation of site rankings. Here are 7 unintentional search engine optimization (SEO) mistakes that can result in penalties.



1.  Not Providing Quality Content

When a site has written content that lacks substance or sounds shallow, search engines will drop it in rankings. Pages that show “Coming Soon” or “Under Construction” can fall into this category. Search engines treat them as spam techniques. You should always aim to write quality information to post on your site instead of a quantity of information. By writing relevant content that readers can benefit from, you will avoid penalties. It is not necessary to create a page or tab for every facet of your business; combine and organize your writing on a few pages to communicate effectively with your consumers.



2.  Using too Many Ads

When your site is filled to the brim with ads, your readers cannot see your content. When search engines determine that a site measures higher in pixels for ads instead of content, they will penalize you. The term “top heavy” refers to a website where a large number of ads precede the posts. This also pertains to a user’s requirement to scroll down before your content appears. Ads generate revenue and search engines are not against this; however, the ads should not overpower the site. They prefer them to be below the fold and at a lower percentage than your content.



3.  Not Fixing Broken Links

If your site has 50 or more posts, it is difficult to determine if any of its links are broken. Your readers may be seeing a 404 error when they click on certain links. An image that brought great value to your content may no longer appear. Instead there is a broken image icon or negative space. There are some great tools and plug-ins for detecting broken links, redirects, and timeouts on your site. Don’t send customers away or be penalized because your links are faulty. Uncrawlable pages depict a bad user experience that search engines frown upon. If you cannot fix the broken link, remove it.



4.  Overusing Keywords

We all know that effective SEO occurs with the use of keywords, but if they are overused on your site or placed in an unnatural context, penalties can occur. Search engines may see this as excessive use to manipulate search engine result pages (SERPs.) You must balance how you include keywords in your posts. When you enter keywords repeatedly in succession at the bottom of a page to emphasize something, you are raising a red flag. The abuse of keyword tags has become so rampant that Google changed how they regard them.



5.  Not Making your Site Mobile Compatible

Did you know that Americans spend 60% of their online media time on mobile devices? Which means they bypass their desktops and laptops in favor of a more easily accessible mobile device. In fact, 1 in 5 millennials have ceased to use a PC to access the Internet because mobile devices are more accessible for busy people on the move causing them to rely more on their Smartphone’s and tablets. This is why search engines now favor sites with mobile optimization. Is your site optimized for mobile devices? There are tools that you can use to make sure. If your competitor has a mobile-ready site and you do not, their site will receive more clicks. To make your site is mobile-friendly, you will probably need to adjust your font and layout.



6.  Following Bad Links

Beware of links that you purchase for advertising purposes. Doing so to increase your page rank is grounds for a penalty. It may even result in your site not appearing on search engines at all. Search engines may view paid links as your way of paying people to visit your site. They see it as artificially influencing your page results. Label your paid links as sponsored links. Also attach the “no follow” attribute to them and associated images. Many site platforms such as WordPress have plug-in tools that help you do this easily.



7.  Not Using Anchor Text Properly

The text that creates the clickable part of a link on your site is anchor text. If you have too many of these that point to your site, you run the risk of being penalized. Change up the words and phrases for your anchor link text; do not repeat the same ones. Refrain from using “here” or “this site” to link to another page on your website as use of these words does not read as a natural phrase to search engines. The best practices for avoiding a penalty are:  use unique phrasing, your brand name, your domain, and your bare URL as your anchor text.



Remember that there are hundreds of free tools that you can use to check for SEO penalties and repair your issues. When in violation of search engine standards, your whole site can be subject to a penalty or only certain pages. Rarely is a site taken down completely from a search engine’s index, but it may happen. Typically, penalized sites are demoted anywhere from 10 to 100 positions in the pages of search results. A penalty can affect your site long after a violation is created on it but you can effectively avoid this by running diagnostic checks on your site frequently.


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Cameron Mackey

Cameron is the Content Manager for the Vorongo Blog. He has spent three years in various content marketing roles. When he is not working with Vorongo he enjoys photography and hiking.

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