Avoid an SEO Penalty: Don’t Game Google

This is not so much a technical or how-to type post, as much as a quick statement about philosophy because I want to state where I stand on something.  I’ve been doing a series on SEO backlink building.  This is a legitimate practice when approached with the right mindset, because all you’re doing is making a point of interacting in appropriate places, while making sure good credit goes back to your own website.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  When done wrongly, though, you can think everything is just going beautifully, only to come in one morning, look at Page 1, and realize you’re not in there.  In a panic, you begin looking at Page 2 – nope, you aren’t there either.  And so on you go, page after page, and you aren’t on any of them.  What happened?  You may have been hit with a big SEO penalty from doing things you shouldn’t have.

Don’t Game Google

Where you run into trouble is when you start trying to game the system.  Yes, there are ways to go about automating various things, and that is not necessarily bad.  For example, if you look at the practice of news article syndication, you don’t think everything is transferred manually between all those news websites running the same stories everywhere, do you?  Of course not.  Automation can be your friend, when your intent is correct.  So when you approach things from the point of view of trying to deliver legitimate value with content creation and distribution, that’s generally a fine practice as long as you respect boundaries.  Authors and experts in their field are going to make statements that are going to be repeated across the Internet.  That’s completely normal, as long as it’s ‘normal’ – and in the nuances of that word lie the secret of staying above-board and getting good SEO value from your online activities, or crossing a line that gets you into trouble at some point.

Listen.  Google is smarter.  You can search the Internet and find all sorts of methods that promise to put you on Page 1 overnight.  Sometimes those things will work – for a year or so – until Google updates their algoritms, and then you go from Page 1 to Page 76.  Just do some reading about the Google Panda and Penguin updates, and you’ll read all sorts of stories about companies losing their ratings.  I am absolutely saying this 100% to scare you.  Unless eating, and living under a roof, are just things you do for amusement, rather than because you need them, don’t treat your business’ online presence like a game of roll-the-dice-and-see-what-happens.  Be careful – everything you do is going to have consequences of some form.  Deliver legitimate value in legitimate ways, and you should tend to receive positive results.

The Case Study

The reason to take a straight-up approach is that while there are places you can buy thousands of backlinks for a few bucks, most of the time they are not websites you would really want to be associated with.  I have done tests – trust me on this – don’t do it unless you really know what you are doing.  One of these supposed cheap miracles promised to create backlinks on high-authority sites like Facebook and others.  Instead, they created a bunch of spammy articles in robotic, artificial English that were unreadable by a human, on Russian websites.  And this particular seller/gig was very highly rated, i.e. 5 stars.  If you happen to be in Russia, that might be just fine.  I work almost exclusively with North Carolina small businesses, though.  Is it normal for 90% of a NC-based business backlinks to be coming from Russian websites?  This seller promised one thing and delivered another.  Maybe he gives you a refund for the $5 you spent with him/her – and leaves you with 25,000 Russian backlinks.  This person doesn’t even live in the US.  How are you going to get rid of those links?  (HINT: It won’t be cheap.)

What To Do Instead

1. Create and distribute real content that somebody might find helpful.

2. Give yourself credit (backlinks) in the process.

3. Focus on being in a handful of quality, relevant places, where others like yourself are found, rather than hundreds or thousands of places that really don’t have anything to do with your business or industry.

4. Leverage automation responsibly.

5. Use video.

6. Have a legitimate social presence.

7. Give something away for free.

8. When in doubt, get professional advice.

Thanks for reading!

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