Today, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is becoming a bit tougher to understand and implement, with Google releasing various new algorithm updates. Because of this, there are many websites losing their rank, as they still follow the wrong and outdated off-page SEO practices.
Don’t be like these websites! It’s crucial to identify what you should NOT follow so you can avoid being penalized and receive a lower ranking. With that in mind, here are off-page optimization practices Google hates and penalizes, based on experts like the SEM Agency.
What is Off-Page SEO and Google Penalty?
Off-page SEO is off-site SEO, the actions we perform outside our website to increase our rankings on Google search engine results pages.
As for Google penalties, this has been started about 20 years ago, when they released a toolbar extension back in December 2000. Since then, Google began refining their quality of search results, eliminating poor-quality content, and elevating the higher-quality ones to the top of search engine ranking pages.
And this is where penalties formally come in. In 2012, the Penguin update was released, hitting over 1 in 10 search results within hours, even wiping websites out of the search results pages completely. It pushed poor-quality content away, forcing SEO experts to strategize carefully about their content.
Such penalties can either be automatic or manual. With manual penalties, you’re most likely notified, but usually, you won’t know you were targeted since the cause of the penalty is algorithmic. It may take experienced SEO professionals by surprise!
There are various factors that show your website has been penalized, such as:
- Your website doesn’t rank well for your brand name anymore
- Page one positions your webpages have had are slipping back to further pages without you taking any action
- Tools like PageRank dropped from 2-3 to a 0-1
- Your website was removed from Google’s cached search results
- When you run a site search, your keyword yields no results
- Your listing is a page on your website instead of a homepage
Off-Page Optimization Practices Google Hates
Because Google changes their algorithms regularly, the SEO techniques that may have worked before may actually be a penalty today. Developers and SEO marketers do their best to stay updated and quickly change their strategies based on such changes. You should follow suit, starting off by knowing what techniques to avoid, which are the following:
1. Directory Submissions
Directory submissions used to be an effective off-page SEO technique back when Google’s algorithms weren’t “smart” enough. Today, Google algorithms are even smarter, making directory submissions a waste of time.
Web directory submissions are quite dangerous in terms of ranking. According to a Moz survey on 2,678 directories, around 20% were banned or penalized by Google! Furthermore, 50% of free web directories have been deindexed by the search engine already.
Directory submission websites have a higher spam score since many low-quality websites with high spam scores are submitted in the directories. Google quality raters have also recommended stopping doing directory submissions as an off-page SEO technique.
2. Article Submissions
This is another method Google doesn’t recommend you performing, as it’s an irrelevant off-page SEO technique. It used to be an excellent way to increase your blogs’ popularity, driving traffic to articles. However, it’s not a good source when obtaining backlinks to your site.
Article directories would sometimes publish spammy and poorly-written articles that come from random writers. When performing this practice, it reduces the directories’ page authorities. Because there is a chance of duplicate content from unknown writers, the Google algorithm would detect these directories as unfaithful sources, deindexing them.
3. Buying or Selling Backlinks
This is now referred to as a black hat SEO technique according to the guidelines of the Google webmaster. It’s also a risky technique, as Google WILL find out that you purchase or sell links in time, so never do this!
If ever, Google would penalize your website, causing you to lose all your rankings and domain rating. And getting out of such penalties is a complicated and time-consuming task.
Of all the techniques mentioned, avoid doing this at all costs.
4. Using a Private Blog Network (PBN)
This is another technique Google doesn’t appreciate. If you aren’t familiar with PBN, it is a group of blogs or websites under your control, with these blogs or sites linking back to your main website.
Let’s say that you have five websites you control, which are linked to your main website to rank in Google search engine results pages. While it may have been a good strategy before, Google is now smarter and will penalize all your websites, just as they would with those that buy or sell links
5. Link Exchanges
Google also doesn’t like websites promoting link exchange, such as “link to me and I’ll link you,” like a trade-off. While cross-linking or link exchange is a good strategy, doing it excessively isn’t recommended.
Instead, you can do minimal cross-linking, using a careful strategy, which can benefit your website and SEO rankings. But better yet, avoid cross-linking entirely, since you might go overboard and risk getting penalized by Google.
6. Comment Spamming
When using comments as referral sources for your websites, it might help you. Blog comments which drive referral traffic to blogs or websites are effective only if it’s relevant to the blog people are reading.
But if you’re only trying to gain SEO rankings through commenting your link on random blogs, then it’s a complete waste of time. 99% of links in commenting sections will be marked as “No-Follow.”
You won’t get link juice from any links you leave in the comments sections of articles or blogs, as Google won’t track those links. In fact, doing this just for link building is known as comment spam, hence the creation of the “no-follow” tag on Google.
You can link out your website on relevant blog posts, but don’t do it all the time, as it can irritate readers and won’t do you much good.
7. Keyword Stuffing
Adding relevant keywords is important when creating and publishing content. That way, Google can pick up on your website, with searchers seeing your webpage when searching for particular keywords or phrases.
However, today, content is king, even more so than using keywords. Google would actually penalize websites that continue to stuff keywords throughout their content to the point the post doesn’t make sense anymore.
The key is to add keywords strategically and make sure that it matches your content, adding backed-up research, double-checking for grammatical errors, and ensuring that it’s engaging to readers.
Wrapping It Up
Being aware of what you shouldn’t do for SEO is just as important as knowing what practices to follow. This can prevent you from being penalized and getting lower rankings from outdated SEO techniques, and will also have you avoid wasting time and money on practices that obviously don’t work.
I hope that you found insight from these off-page optimization practices Google looks down on. If you’re still doing any of these techniques, stop them right now and utilize your efforts to improve your search engine rankings now!
Do you have questions or want to share your opinions on off-page optimization practices, comment down below, I appreciate all your thoughts.