Understanding which risks are worth taking and which to avoid is crucial. Although black hat SEO tactics could damage the integrity of your website for some time, white hat SEO tactics abide by the rules and guidelines set out by search engines. There is undoubtedly a lot of grey area in between, so much so that the term ‘grey hat SEO’ has been coined. The risk involved in these so called grey hat techniques is dependent on a whole range of factors and is often a matter of opinion.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the SEO risks worth taking, as well as a few that you should avoid at all costs.
SEO Risks to Take
There are many different SEO techniques that will deliver significant value over both the short and the long term. Here are 4 of the most powerful.
– Building High Quality Backlinks
Backlinks are unfortunately still often associated with the spam tactics that were eventually hit with Google penalties in 2012-2013. Now, however, building a high-quality backlink profile will contribute significantly towards your ranking position and build your authority. So, whenever you have the opportunity to acquire a backlink, take it.
– Strengthening URL Structure
Optimising your URLs to make them simpler and keyword friendly will deliver a variety of benefits including securing more prominent ranking positions in search engine results pages (SERPs). Additionally, simple URLs will clearly communicate to searchers the type of content they can expect to find if they choose to click through to your website, which can encourage additional traffic that you can convert.
If you decide to pursue this strategy, you should begin by optimising a small batch of around 20 URLs before monitoring the results that these changes generate. If you see a positive impact, you can continue the process across your site.
– Enhance User Experience (UX)
If you want to maintain a competitive ranking position in search results, delivering a seamless UX is paramount. You will find it helpful to begin by looking at a variety of key metrics, including bounce rate and time spent on page. From here you can make small changes before pausing to monitor your results. As soon as you start to see positive changes, you can replicate the modifications you have made on a larger scale.
– A/B Test Meta Information
Google wants to deliver the most relevant listings when a user conducts a search, which is why many SEO experts believe that organic click-through rates have an impact on ranking positions. In real terms, this means that if people aren’t clicking on your website in search engine results pages (SERPs), Google might take this as a sign that you aren’t delivering the most relevant information for that search term.
If you see positive results from A/B testing a variety of meta titles and meta descriptions across various pages, you can continue this process to continue to boost your SERP visibility.
SEO Risks to Avoid
Just as there are some SEO techniques that are well worth implementing, there are some that simply aren’t worth the risk.
Disavowing Neutral Backlinks
Many SEO professionals disavow neutral backlinks that are neither benefiting nor harming their sites. As Google itself has said, disavowing links isn’t necessary and is actually discouraged, unless your site has been hit by a manual action, disavowing links is a risk. Why? Well, because Google fundamentally understands that you won’t always be in control of the sites that link to yours, there is simply no need.
Consolidating or Deleting Pages
Consolidating or outright deleting webpages means that you risk losing your hard-earned ranking positions for certain keywords and phrases. Rather than removing pages, you should instead consider providing your visitors with a message which redirects them to an alternative, relevant page.
Incorporating Exact Match Keywords in Anchor Text
Although integrating your targeted keywords in your anchor text might seem a logical thing to do, this practice has been abused a lot in the past in order to make quick short term gains. As a result, Google now actively penalises websites which rely too heavily on this approach, both manually and algorithmically. Investing in a good backlink strategy will serve you better over both the short and long term.
Doorway pages are simple to create in large batches to specifically target keywords and groups, which is why search engines don’t think very highly of them. Unless doorway pages also provide valuable, unique and high-quality information, Google will penalise sites utilising this SEO tactic.
A comprehensive SEO strategy is an essential component of success in the hyper-competitive marketplaces in today's digital space. The key is to only pursue tactics that will propel your business forwards and avoid those that could potentially harm your most valuable digital asset.
Guest post courtesy of Derek Iwasiuk