The perils of Search Engine Optimization

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Here’s a quick lesson for you.

If you’re in charge of your search engine optimization campaign, be careful when you’re doing your job. SEO tactics and mistakes (either malicious or innocent)  can affect your current rankings across the board – not just with the page you’re working on. I always tell my clients that contribute to, or handle all of their online marketing, that what you don’t know can definitely hurt you.

Here’s an example where you can learn from my mistakes.

I once had the bright idea to write up an informative article about keyword research for SEO. I tried to give examples and educate people on the basics – it was in my opinion, a well written and informative piece. Well, the Googlebot didn’t think so.

What I did in the article was provide specific examples of how keyphrases can be similar, yet very different, and provide very different results based on the exact words, the order of the words in the phrase and whether you used plural or singular words.

But, what I didn’t think about is that to Google, my page looked like I was trying to “keword stuff” the page. This is an old tactic that people used to use back in the old days (1996) where they would just list keywords all over the page in all their forms, in the hope that they could trick search engines into thinking their site was related to those keywords. These pages never had any real value and this “trick” really didn’t last long for obvious reasons. Google doesn’t want to give you search results with no value.

So, anyway, Google spidered this page and immediately flagged it as “spammy“. Normally this would not be a huge deal but I’m in the practice of linking from my blog posts to other sources in and outside of my own site. So, what ended up happening is that a lot of my rankings for important keywords and phrases ALL took a deep dive because they were associated with this page. In fact, in some cases I went from postion 1 -2 and was no longer on the radar! Just from this one post that – in the eyes of Google – wreaked of spammy content.

Well I obviously reworked this post and a few other things on my blog but the damage had been done.

So, I’ve learned my lesson that I can’t teach about using keywords and phrases for SEO. At least I can’t use a lot of examples when I’m doing it. So the thing to take away here is that if you’re going to actively pursue SEO, you really need to know what you’re doing. I’d like to think that I know what I’m doing and I still got dinged! Don’t follow all the hot trends and NEVER play around with supposed black hat tricks. (Not that I was doing this anyway!) Google is smart and it will never pay off. Just be careful.