If you read our post about Google Panda and Penguin, then you’ll remember that one of the goals of these search engine updates was to punish black-hat SEO. In this post, Big Red SEO listed a few black-hat SEO practices you should avoid, but we didn’t do very much explaining past that.
So, today we’re going to enlighten you. As you continue reading, you’re going to learn about several link building no-no’s that worked pre-Penguin, but won’t work for your website ranking anymore.
1. Blog Comments
Let us distinguish between two different types of blog commenting. There’s organic blog commenting, which is when you personally go visit a website, read an interesting article, and then leave a comment. That’s fine, and while it won’t give you much link-juice, it’s still a decent way to get your name out there.
However, automated blog comments are a whole different story. Typically made using a software called Scrape Box, these automatically generated links are now a huge no-no. If Google sees you creating lots of identical or irrelevant blog comments in a short period of time, it will know that you’re just trying to build links to your website. It won’t work in your favor and you may actually lose rankings instead.
2. Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is the practice of fitting as many occurrences of a given keyword as possible into a single web page. For example, if you’re trying to rank for the term “blue widgets”, you would use “blue widgets” twenty, thirty, maybe even fifty times throughout a single page. Literally in every sentence. In extreme cases, some webmasters would plug in a whole paragraph with the phrase “blue widgets” repeated over and over again at the bottom of each page.
Obviously, keyword stuffed content is borderline unreadable. It’s made for machines, not for humans. It used to work, especially in the early 2000’s, but these days it just looks stupid to both Google and readers. A natural keyword density is 1% to 3%. Beyond that, you’re probably being over zealous.
3. Forum Profile Links
Forum profile links are created when you sign up at an online forum. Most online forums provide you with a profile page where you can put your contact information, including a link to your website. It used to be that you could automatically create thousands of forum profiles at a time all across the web and receive a nice boost to your rankings. Now, you’ll just be punished.
Again, this has a similar disclaimer to it as blog comments. Done naturally on only a few forums where you actually participate in discussions, these profile links are fine. Maybe even beneficial. But, when they are created for the explicit purpose of SEO you start running into trouble.
4. Paid Links in Any Form
At a time when the biggest ranking factor was the sheer number of links that you had pointing to your website, it’s no surprise that paid links were easy and cheap to find. In fact, paid links came in many forms. You could buy single links from high Page Rank websites or you could buy a thousand links from lower-quality websites. You could even sign up for a blog network like BuildMyRank.com or Linkvana.com to drip out a few links every day. But, none of these work anymore. Google wants all links to be organic, and if it looks like you’re paying for links – especially links on thin websites with little to no content – you’ll be punished.
5. Social Bookmarks
Social bookmarks date back to before social networks like Facebook and Twitter dominated the Internet. They were the prequel to social networks. You know, in the time of the dinosaurs. With social bookmarks you’re not actually sharing anything, you’re just aggregating it. Previously, you could use automated tools to generate hundreds, even thousands of social bookmarks to your website. And you’d do well for it, too.
But not anymore. Now, social signals are restricted to actual social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Social bookmarks no longer have an effect on ranking. In moderation, they can still be useful for notifying Google of new content, but beyond that they’re useless.
What SEO Practices Actually Work Post-Penguin?
You’ve just learned five link building no-no’s that could put your rankings in danger. The question is, how do you build links that actually improve your rankings? If you’d like to learn more, check out our recent article about SEO Trends in 2013 and Beyond.
If you have more questions, please feel free to contact us anytime at Big Red SEO, an Omaha SEO Company, and we’d be happy to talk about how to bring your business more customers through SEO and digital marketing. After all, that’s what we’re good at.