We do a lot of talking about ways to improve search engine rankings by optimizing our site with keywords, links and other tools of the trade.
It’s easy to get carried away, though, and every once in a while we need to do a self check to be sure we aren’t crossing any lines in our zeal to get noticed.
If Google in particular decides that we are stepping outside their guidelines, all of our hard work could be discounted in the blink of an eye and we could be penalized – or worse, removed from the index entirely.
1) Don’t cloak. Cloaking ( showing the search engine something different than regular consumers see when they visit your site) is a big no-no. If Google is checking out your site, they want to see what your customers will be seeing.
2) Don’t keyword stuff. Turning your page into a list of keywords doesn’t help anyone. You want balanced, informative content with strategically placed keywords and phrases, not a mish mash of nonsense.
3) Don’t hide text. Having text below the fold and disabling the scroll, or using white on white text is considered another form of trying to fool the search engine into giving your site more relevance than it has, or making them think your site is about one thing when it is actually targeting something else.
4) Don’t duplicate content. This includes copying your own content, or scraping from some-one else. If you can’t come up with new content yourself, outsource this part of the job.
5) Don’t confine yourself to Flash. The search engine can’t see your content! Create an HTML version for the search engines to crawl, and for web users who prefer it.
6) Don’t exclusively use Frames either. Use a side server, or copy your content into a no-frames tag so the search engine can crawl your content. Same goes for an iFrame.
7) Don’t spam with your doorway pages. If you have nearly identical doorway pages optimized for slightly different search queries, simply remember to block them from the search engine to avoid a penalty. Using them to maximize your PPC is perfectly all right, however.
If you keep your head, you will be able to maximize your site’s potential without falling into any of these potential hazards.
It’s simple really; just run every SEO action against a little checklist:
Does this strengthen my site without breaking any rules?
Is this helpful for the consumer visiting my site?
Could this be construed improperly?
Does this violate any search engine guidelines?
Is this spam?
Does this look valuable to the search engine?
Would I want to visit this site?
If you were searching for your keyword phrases and would be disappointed in the informative quality of your site, then you have gone astray somewhere. If you suddenly plummet in the rankings, something is amiss.
However, if you can honestly say that you would find your own site helpful for the keywords you have optimized for, you have done a good job.