We're big fans of smart SEO tactics, but the wrong ones can be a waste of time at best and a severe detriment at worst.
Such negative SEO techniques don't need to define your online presence, though. By identifying your harmful practices and setting them straight, you can achieve higher rankings and start working smarter, not harder.
Overusing One or Two Keywords
Once you discover which keyword best describes your brand, it can be tempting to use it as much as possible. But to help search engines understand your organization's broader context (and avoid getting penalized for keyword stuffing), it's crucial to diversify your keyword portfolio.
Next, consider expanding your keyword strategy to include long-tail keywords. While they may not have as high of a search volume as their shorter counterparts, they can do wonders in terms of helping you attract visitors who are looking for exactly what you're offering.
"Don't buy links" is one of the cardinal rules of SEO, and you've probably heard it before. But even if that's the case, this rule is so critical it's worth repeating.
After all, backlinks are the bread and butter of modern search engines, so black hat SEO practitioners discovered many years ago that artificial backlinks purchased from unscrupulous webmasters could quickly boost their rankings.
But search engines were just as quick to penalize such behavior, and unethically obtained backlinks are now nothing more than a quick means of tanking your site's credibility.
So instead of turning to inauthentic backlinks, boost your brand's rankings the right way by implementing the best link building practices.
Using AI to Produce Lots of Low-Quality Content
While the previous tactic has long been one to avoid, this one is relatively new.
As AI has become increasingly advanced and more easily accessible, some website owners have attempted to artificially inflate their site's rankings by publishing large amounts of AI-generated content — some even churn out tens of thousands of words per day, all without the help of a single human writer.
The problem is that such content isn't designed to help human users but to trick search engines. As a result, it's often low-quality, not fact-checked, and even nonsensical.
To combat this practice, search engines like Google have made it clear that they won't reward sites for pumping out large quantities of low-quality, AI-generated content (or low-quality human-generated content, for that matter).
The solution? Prioritize high-quality content above all else, no matter who's responsible for writing it. And if you do choose to use AI to create some of your brand's content, be sure to have human experts fact-check and edit it before hitting "publish."
Ignoring Structured Data
The best way you can tell search engines what your site is about is to develop a strong content growth strategy. But that's not to say you should stop there: If you neglect to use the technical SEO tactic of implementing structured data, you'll be missing out on a fantastic opportunity to communicate with search engines and increase your odds of ranking at the top.
According to Google, structured data is a "standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content." So on a page about a movie, for example, you could use structured data to specify the movie's title, director, release date, and rating.
With that information, search engines can then more effectively help users find precisely what they're looking for. That means more high-quality traffic for you and more satisfied users for search engines.
To start using structured data, ensure your technical SEO team is well-versed in the major types of structured data, Schema and JSON-LD. Next, develop a process to ensure each newly published piece of content includes structured data, and then start adding it to existing content as well.
Clean Up Your SEO Strategy to Make Your Rankings Shine
We won't lie, SEO isn't easy — if it was, professional SEO consultants wouldn't have jobs. But by eliminating ineffective tactics from your SEO strategy, you can build your brand's authority, save time and energy, and ultimately enjoy higher rankings.