Search Engine Optimization Strategies to Avoid / Emphasize

Search engine optimization techniques have been around since the 1990s. The first apparent documented use of the word “search engine optimization” (SEO) in 1997 barely preceded the birth date of Google in 1998. From the very beginning, it was a high-tech version of the good guys against the bad guys with SEO strategies quickly falling into the white hat and black hat categories in order to produce more internet traffic from the search engines.

Where there is money at stake, it is perhaps inevitable that some individuals will attempt to obtain it ethically with hard work while others are always looking for unscrupulous methods to get it more quickly with less effort. Because the earliest search engines were primarily evaluating the presence of keywords on web pages, initial SEO efforts to manipulate search results involved simplified keyword stuffing through meta tags and high keyword density.

Did You Know That Google Started with a Backrub?

Before they founded Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin recognized the need for more sophistication in analyzing website content and developed a mathematical algorithm that they called “Backrub” which analyzed the inbound links that each site had. Little did we know at the time that Backrub would lead to Panda and Penguin, the most recent names for Google search algorithms. In the world of internet marketing strategies, the immediate result of Backrub was to inspire SEO wizards to inject their version of steroids into the mix by developing the concepts of link farms and spamming. While some of the SEO strategies were ethical, on balance the black hats began to outnumber the white hats when looking at many websites.

Today Google is still evolving along with the rest of the internet. The practical goal for all website owners is to create a content marketing approach that produces search results which send lots of internet visitors to their site. Search algorithm changes can produce opportunities for websites to excel, but even prominent sites with excellent internet reputations can be negatively impacted if they ignore the warning signs about what the search engines really do not want to see. Think of it as the SEO version of “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”

The most successful content marketing is now likely to be as much about avoiding problematic search engine optimization strategies as it is to emphasize a few selective SEO strategies that are ethical and cost-effective. The following list should be thought of as a work in progress that will need to be adjusted as the sons and daughters of Panda and Penguin are born.

SEO Strategies to Avoidrfere

1. Article spinning. This was one of the earliest attempts to fool Mother Nature on the internet. Producing hundreds of articles from one does not produce unique or high-quality content.

2. Blogs created strictly for the purpose of providing paid links to websites. BuildMyRank already went out of business overnight about 16 months ago and LinkVana should not be far behind.

3. Too much selling. Two Amazon links will usually be more effective than five to ten. Less is more for today’s search engines.

4. Affiliate marketing that is on steroids. This is another variation of excessive selling content and has been overdone in the extreme. ClickBank is already on a blacklist at Squidoo (and other sites) and should probably be avoided unless you want to ignore all of the warning signs.

5. Too many links regardless of where they are pointing. Even if all of the links are to Amazon (or worse yet, to ClickBank), there is link saturation just as there is excessive keyword density in the eyes of search engines. As noted above, Squidoo is clearly aggressively pushing these boundaries unnecessarily. HubPages does a much better job of keeping links under control, but they could probably improve in this area as well.

6. Article marketing. In article directories that are full of junk, it is unrealistic to think that any article will stand out. Even the biggest and best (EzineArticles) has suffered because articles are quickly stolen and reproduced without any credit to the original authors. This creates more duplicate content for search engines to sift through, and it looks like their solution is to ignore the original as well as the copies. (FYI: I am not even remotely talking about avoiding Seekyt by either this point or others above. Seekyt belongs in the right-hand column of strategies to be emphasized because this stellar writing website is not an article directory and meets all possible standards of excellence in their SEO practices.)

7. Too much self-promotion with excessive links to your own sites. One link should be enough to get the job done. If you have built your site with appropriate content marketing, search engines will do the promoting so you don’t have to add either a simplified or complicated linking strategy. If you have trouble getting comfortable with the limitations of fewer links, try to remember the wisdom from “Field of Dreams” — Build it and they will come.

SEO Strategies to Emphasize


1. Lengthy and high-quality content. This is what content marketing is all about. Each page of a website should ideally include a bare minimum of 750 high-quality words. The search engines will give you extra points as you reach for 1000 to 1500 words and beyond. (I now think this is what Buzz Lightyear was talking about when he said, “To infinity and beyond.”)

2. Unique images. Have you noticed that Google is increasingly paying even more attention to image content? This is evident in several ways that I think is an indication of bigger things to come. Just as Google is doing their best to eliminate the value of duplicate written content, I think that in the near future we will see a similar penalizing for duplicate visual content. If and when this happens, stock images will be just as worthless as a duplicate article.

3. YouTube and other video content. This is also an area where originality is likely to pay dividends, so producing your own videos is recommended.

4. Slide Share presentations. These can be as effective as YouTube and possibly better, depending on the subject being covered.

5. Unique content. This is the opposite of duplicate content and article spinning.

6. High-quality advertising partners. The presence of AdSense availability should be a confidence-builder regarding the website in question. Google really does appear to be on a serious mission to clean up some of the messes on the internet. When they withdraw from a website, it is worth remembering what Peter Drucker once said (this also happens to be one of my favorite quotes of all time): “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”

7. Relevant content. Does it really make sense to include a selling link for an iPad or Kindle on multiple pages regardless of what else is being written about on that page?

8. Reasonable keyword density. Today’s search engines like it when you use your dictionary and thesaurus to teach everybody some new synonyms. Because keyword stuffing was perhaps the “patient zero” for black hat search engine optimization strategies, I think this is an especially important strategic solution to emphasize in everything that you write.

A Final Thought About the Future of Search Engine Optimization

Big SEO changes have already occurred, and if anything the speed of change might continue to accelerate. Please remember that the above lists of eight strategic solutions to avoid and eight strategies to emphasize are a search engine optimizing work in progress. These suggestions should be periodically reviewed for adjustments, updates, and revisions.

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