As you no doubt already know, the major search engines, and particularly Google, can make or break virtually any website. Now, being in the business of helping website owners from all around the world, I can say from experience that many webmasters are tempted into using “Black Hat” SEO tactics, and when the search engines hammer them for it, they complain.
On the other hand however, there are millions of people out there who genuinely do try their best to stay on the right side of the search engines, and yet they too often wake up to discover that their websites have been penalized. Those favourable search engine rankings they worked so hard for are suddenly gone. Let’s take a look at a few honest SEO strategies that can easily backfire:
Link Leveraging Relationships
In SEO circles, it is a well known fact that you can dramatically increase traffic to a website by entering into a link sharing relationship with other websites. In other words, I contact you and I offer to post links to your site on my own website, on the condition that you do the same for me.
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, providing you choose your partners carefully. You also need to establish certain parameters with your partner sites. For example, you might enter into an agreement with a popular business that has websites containing hundreds or even thousands of pages.
On the surface, this seems like a fantastic idea. You’ve partnered with a website that already gets an infinite amount of traffic, and now all those visitors are going to see a link to your site. Because the link is being displayed on a “high authority” website, it is virtually inevitable that your traffic is going to go through the roof.
Unfortunately, this sudden high link velocity is going to attract the attention of the major search engines, and you will almost certainly be penalized for it. You haven’t really done anything wrong, but as far as the search engines are concerned, you are basically buying traffic, and I can assure you, they really don’t like it.
Cashing In With Affiliate Programs
Let’s face it, affiliate programs are great, and the amount of extra revenue they can generate is well and truly remarkable. With affiliate programs, everyone is a winner. You write an eBook, and rather than trying to sell that book yourself, you have 10,000 affiliate marketers helping you. You make tons of sales, and your affiliates all get a cut. Additionally, with all those affiliates out there posting links and so on, traffic to your blog is going to explode. Sadly, affiliate programs can head down the tube very quickly.
None of the major search engines are going to penalize you for launching an affiliate program, but you need to make sure it is done correctly. I’ve seen big businesses head south simply because they failed to give clear easy-to-follow instructions regarding the implementation of affiliate linking.
What happened was that many of their affiliates ended up posting site-wide links which took visitors directly to the parent company’s homepage. In other words, they were posting generic links rather than affiliate links. Not only did the affiliates lose out on commission, but the parent companies also got severe penalties because of the buildup of poor links. Remember, most affiliate marketers don’t own high-authority websites. If too many low-authority sites start posting generic links to your site, expect a heavy penalty from the search engines especially big brother “G”.
The Subtle Dangers of Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is one of the oldest SEO tactics in the book, and I can tell you from experience that it can certainly drive plenty of traffic to your own blog. However, there are certain dangers you need to be aware of.
A short while ago one of Google’s senior employees announced that the days of guest blogging are numbered. The reason given was because the search giant had determined that guest blogging had become increasingly spammy, with most guest bloggers only writing blog posts in order to drive traffic to their own sites.
However, Google did also assure everyone that high-authority sites won’t be affected, and that those who post high quality & highly informative articles on these sites will still be able to benefit. These days, if you guest blog on low-quality sites, you’re essentially playing with fire.
Exactly how Google determines the difference between good link juice and bad link juice remains a closely guarded secret, but through trial and error, I have made one very real discovery. The niche you are guest blogging in plays a vital role. For example, websites featuring adult content, as well as online gambling sites, are two neighbourhoods where you really don’t want to be seen guest blogging unless you really know what you’re doing.