This is guest posted by Jordan Metts who provides SEO services to his clients.
Capable SEO services exercise several tactics for rising in the search rankings, and avoid using techniques that fail to appease search engine spiders like Googlebot. Many tactics can get a site into trouble, and seven of the most egregious are described in this post. Using one or more of these tactics is a guaranteed way to lose rank.
1. Accidentally have meta tags or robots.txt set up so that spiders cannot index your files.
In meta tags, if “robots” is set to content=”noindex”, this disallows spider indexing. Remember that each subdomain requires its own robots.txt file. Having the file in the root directory, but not for its subdomains, means spiders will crawl the subdomains with different rules than those applied to the root directory.
2. Scrape web pages for content and repackage it as your own.
This underhanded practice is one way to get on Google’s bad side in very short order. There are ways to automate most of the process with web scraping software and robots that shoddily rewrite paragraphs, but search engines are coded to find repackaged copy. Googlebot in particular is effective at detecting such pages.
3. Use hidden text on a page or set of pages within a site.
Although human eyes cannot detect text that is the same color as a page background, search engine spiders have proven quite adept at finding hidden text. A more recent method of employing hidden text on a site is by using cascading style sheets to layer text beneath copy. Again, spiders have been coded to look for this method, and penalize pages that use this technique.
4. Generate backlinks too rapidly.
Search engine spiders look for “natural” link building patterns over time. Unnatural patterns like a high spike in low to medium quality backlinks raises red flags for those spiders. An effective SEO strategy seeks to build links naturally, avoiding the ire of Googlebot and other spiders.
5. Sign up with a Free-For-All link farm.
This is closely related to the topic number four. FFA link farms promise “guaranteed leads” and such, offering a few thousand links once a month to its non-paying members. Many offer membership packages for $50 a month or more, sharing thousands of links every single day. As stated earlier, natural link building is key. Even if one decides to pay for links, an idea that does not come highly recommended by most SEO professionals, it is very easy to form an unnatural pattern when generating backlinks.
6. Redirect users to a page without their permission via fast meta refresh.
This technique is part of using what are known as doorway pages. They are also called portal or gateway pages. Users do not care for sites that whisk them to another page abruptly and without warning. This is a guaranteed way to lose traffic from visitors who might have become paying customers or contributing forum members, and Google has frowned on the practice for several years.
7. Let complacency set in.
Search engine optimization is not a one-time fix, but a set of recurring, routine tasks. Thinking a site is optimized once and for all is a mistake that will cost you in the rankings. Like any competitive sport, some of the players in the SEO game may be less than ethical. It requires vigilance to root out unfair competition and to keep a site optimized as search algorithms change, and they change often.
Googlebot and other spiders are the equivalent of Internet law enforcement officers, scouring the Web, punishing offenders. Some malefactors receive stern warnings and continue to evade the law while other suspects are fired upon. The best way to dodge Googlebot’s bullets is by avoiding tactics that could induce its ire.