I want to share 5 of the worst SEO tactics and why they don’t work with Google, but want to share a little background first. I saw a very interesting video on Moz by Cyrus Shepard the other day the other day about all of the things that Google knows about you and if you’re a conspiracy theorist and suffer from paranoia when someone mentions “Big Brother”, then you probably do not want to read this. But if you’re doing SEO for multiple websites and struggling with gaining ground on your SEO results for your clients, you may want to read on.
Trust is a major factor with Google and to be fair, Yahoo and Bing as well. But Google is far more intrusive and to some extent bordering on the line of an invasion of privacy. They also carry grudges that can be forever attached to you as a person, your hosting provider, or even your entire server company.
The problem is that you simply can’t hide from Google. Google knows that you bought that domain name from GoDaddy and it knows the other website domains you purchased as well. If you use Google Chrome or Firefox, they also know what sites you visited and what purchases you’ve made. If you use Gmail, they can actually see your purchases and read the contents of them. Don’t believe that last one? Ever notice how the paid ads that sometimes populate Gmail are directly related to the senders and content threads of your emails?
This was an email I received today via Gmail from Bed, Bath and Beyond indicating that an order I placed had shipped. Before even opening the email, Google had read the contents of the email and placed a “Track Package” link on the outside of the email link. That’s put there by Google because they saw that it was a shipment notification from UPS, got the tracking number, and placed a shortcut link to their site with my tracking data attached. Does this count as helpful to the user or do you see it as intrusive because they went into your email to get that tracking number? Or is it simply innocuous because it’s “just a spider” looking for certain data elements and it’s not really documenting anything?
The truth is that they know almost everything about you and from an SEO perspective, the sites you visit, the domain names you buy, the web services you buy, where you host your websites, all of the websites you’ve bought, what products you own, and even what phone calls you’ve made (Hello, Android).
While this speaks to a severe case of personal privacy issues, it has an even greater impact on SEO specialists.
So without further ado, here are the top bad tactics that some SEO professionals use and why they won’t work.
Bad SEO Tactic #1 – Setting up website hubs:
What it is – You buy domain names at auction that are complimentary to your business with the sole purpose of setting it up as a hub of information and then linking to the website you’re trying to get good rankings for to pass pagerank and possibly traffc.
Why it won’t work – Google knows that you bought it because you paid for it and listed yourself as a contact. It then cross references that information with the other domains you own and will then monitor activity that occurs between them. Yes, even if you choose to hide your personal info. They know who you are. Look up ICANN.
Bad SEO Tactic #2 - Buying links from companies
What it is – You buy links from a company who will then set up links on a variety of other websites who will then link back to your site and supposedly add “trust”.
Why it won’t work – Google has been watching your website since the day you purchased your domain name. When you go from acquiring single digit external links each week to all of a sudden acquiring dozens (if not hundreds) within days, they know that the links aren’t legitimately attained. The other giveaway? They all have the same anchor text. When all of your links are just the keyword you’re chasing such as “Alabama Wedding Planner” and they all link back to your home page, that looks unnatural as well and literally brings no value to your site. You’ve wasted your money.
Bad SEO Tactic #3 - Buying aged domains
What it is – You buy that awesome domain name at auction that has a pagerank of 4, still has traffic going to it, and even comes with some links already established.
Why it won’t work – While it actually will work for a very short period of time, eventually Google‘s algorithm catches up and undoes all of your hard work. It knows what used to be on that website and what’s on there now. And unless you can re-enact the website structure that used to be in place with the old website, most of those pre-established links are probably pointing to pages that dont exist anymore. The result? A lot of 301 redirects to setup or 404 Page Not Found errors. And that sends up red flags to Google. Not a problem you say! Because all of those links are pointing to the home page and not sub-pages. That just means that the previous owner most likely bought those links (see previous issue) and they aren’t worth anything anyway.
Bad SEO Tactic #4 - Setting up websites on different servers
What it is – Just that. Setting up websites on different servers with the thought process of hiding common threads (who owns it, that the outgoing links to your other sites are legitimate, etc.)
Why it won’t work – Google can look at the WHOIS records and see who bought the domain and again, that means even if you purchased protection to hide your identity. Remember the Bed Bath and Beyond example above? Where is that domain purchase receipt going to? Google also knows if you’re spending a lot of time on that domain or attaching WordPress accounts to them that you own. Whoops. Forgot about that, huh?
Not only that, but they can also see the IP address of your computer and even if you did a tremendous job at covering your tracks, Google sees your activity via browser cookies, Google searches, cross referencing of records and even usernames. A simple action such as leaving a comment on a blog with your email or website linked to it can set off an amazingly revealing thread of evidence that could be the simplest little piece of the puzzle that Google needs to tie certain elements together.
Bad SEO Tactic #5 - Stripping text from other sites and re-purposing for your own
What is it – You’re too lazy to write your own content, so you pull bits and pieces from other people’s websites and slap it onto one of your pages hoping to rank for whatever it is that topic is about.
Why it won’t work – Google has an index of every single website and every single page that’s on the web. They not only see every single word posted, but also when it was posted, who posted it, and down to the font they used. You re-hashing that content is worthless. It will only be seen as duplicate content. Especially if you pulled your content from someone’s blog. From the second that author hits the Submit button, it gets pushed out via an RSS feed and once that happens, you’re nothing but a plagiarist.
So what’s the fix? In reality there is none. Build a website that people want to visit and legitimately link to. Whenever you create a page or do a post, think to yourself, “If I had nothing to do with this company, would I link to this or share it with friends? Is this interesting or informative on the topic?” If it’s not, rethink your approach. If you’re not passionate about the website, people will see that lack of passion from a mile away.
Google’s goal is to provide their visitors with the best websites that contain the best information for whatever it is that they’re searching for. Because SEO trickery is so rampant with “SEO Pros” using black and gray hat tactics that Google has no choice but to invade your privacy under the guise of being helpful.
The reality is that they’re learning about you, your habits, your passions and likes, and your purchases. But in the case of SEO professionals, it learns how you do business for your clients. Are you going to be a legitimate SEO professional? True and lasting SEO results take time and work. You guide the customer down the right path to making smart decisions and be sure to set proper expectations. Because the moment that you try to take a shortcut, you put your client at risk.