and I cringed. Some days I wonder how some of these self-proclaimed “experts” stay in business with the bad advice I see.
Quite often, it’s a prospective client, or an entrepreneur in one of the places I hang out and share advice or answer questions from time to time, who wants to know about advice they’ve been given by someone else. And I tell them it’s bad, and why.
But today … SMH … y’all today I saw a post about SEO from one of these “experts” come across my timeline on social media. They shared this bad tip right on their own page, which is going out at least to their 1500 followers or so (and this is just to point out, the number of followers someone has doesn’t mean their information is always solid.)
I follow various topics and hashtags so that I can keep up with industry news, so it’s not uncommon that in additional to the highly reputable sources I follow, someone else will come across my feed that I’ve not yet connected to.
This advice made me want to add a comment and explain exactly why it was bad advice.
I don’t like to be negative online, I really don’t like to call people out, I don’t like to do things that feel like perhaps personally attacking someone. I think too many people do that, it can be super negative, and it’s not the person I want to be. I did, however, send her a private message letting her know that it’s bad advice that can actually get a website penalized. (Even when done privately, people tend to react badly, so I hope she is wise enough to stop and listen).
The bad advice goes something like this:
“How to organically improve your SEO: Create hidden pages. Google loves fresh content and will favor websites with more content. Make hidden pages just for SEO purposes and load them with keywords. The key is to research.”
What Not To Do
DO. NOT. DO. THIS.
I even hesitated from adding those words to this blog post and putting them on my website (I was debating adding it as an image instead, which search engines can’t easily read), but then I considered that some people may have seen similar advice and be searching for further information on the topic, and I realized I could help educate my current and future audience with correct information.
So let me break down for you some of the ways this advice is wrong.
Bad SEO Advice: Keyword Stuffing
Back in 2011, Google released their “Panda” update, which caused a LOT of turmoil in the world of businesses that had been using questionable SEO, some strategies that up until that point could make a positive impact on your search result placement just by gaming the algorithm.
The Panda update penalized websites that relied on low-quality content that was stuffed with keywords. I remember some businesses that I was tracking, ones that I considered were doing questionable strategies, and saw the negative impact they felt due to this update. A couple of them dropped so far in search results that I could barely find them.
So for 10 years now, it’s been terrible advice to load a page with a lot of keywords for no purpose other than to try to rank for those keywords.
Keep in mind though, if you have a page that happens to have quite a bit of copy around one topic, and it ends up loaded with keywords in the course of naturally writing for your audience, Google won’t otherwise penalize our website if the content is exceptional. Keywords themselves aren’t bad. Stuffing unnecessary keywords is.
But adding keywords simply for the sake of having keywords … that won’t help your SEO and over the long term could even resulting in your page, or your entire site, not being shown as frequently as websites that have quality information.
Google’s Latest Updates Focus on Your Audience
BAD SEO Advice: Hiding the Content
There’s a few reasons why this is just not solid information.
First of all, why in the world would you want to write content that your audience doesn’t see?
Granted, if they do a search and somehow your hidden page were to show up in Google results, they can still click on the link shown and read the information.
Which means that it needs to be good information that is valuable to your audience. In which case, why in the world would you want that information to be hidden on your website?
There’s no point in writing crap copy.
If you write an article that’s stuffed with keywords and somehow Google doesn’t block it, and someone actually clicks on it and reads it … they’re going to leave your website because what you’ve given them is CRAP. Then, in the future, they see your name again and they probably won’t even bother to click, because they’ll remember you and relate you to crap.
Copywriting, even crap copywriting, takes time, resources, perhaps even money if you hire a copywriter. You’re going to expend the resources whether you’re writing crap copy or copy that is valuable to your audience. So use those resources to write something good, in which case, why would you want to use those resources, produce something GOOD, and then not actually make the information available to your *existing* audience?
BAD SEO Advice: No On-Site Linking
One of the most effective strategies you can use on your own website content is interlinking related content.
We offer varying levels of SEO services, and with a few clients we oversee blog writing, posting and reposting those blogs on social media, integrating that with a little PPC advertising (and in many cases even more). For these clients where we are either doing, or overseeing, several related aspects of their marketing, we can closely track how all of their content works together, which means we can optimize the entire workflow for integration and all of the pieces working together for better results..
For those clients, we can tightly track a social media post that is published, how many clicks to the article on the website that results in, and from there where they go next. Perhaps that’s another related article on the same topic … which keeps the reader on the website longer … and that signal is seen by Google. If your audience stays on the website longer, it’s likely because you have good information that is keeping them around. Right?
Or, we can track when the content takes them further, into a conversion into a paying customer. (We have methods and systems for all of this for our SEO and content clients).
But … if you have a page of content that is not connected to anything else, no incoming links from other pages pointing to it, and it not having any links on it to other pages, that flow and conversion doesn’t happen as easily. This is what makes a page “hidden” … and also what makes it ineffective.
Strategic interlinking can help you overall in search results. We have data that proves it. And interlinking is one of the content audits we undertake regularly, to make sure that we can update existing content with some more appropriate or newer links periodically.
BAD SEO Advice: Not using/reusing content
Just like there is little point (and almost non-existant ROI) to using your precious resources to write copy that is only for Google, and is stuffed with keywords which just feels awkward to your audience, if you’re only creating this content for it to never be used, then you’re also missing out on the opportunity to share it, and to reshare it.
One signal that boosts a page up in the search results is how much traffic the page is receiving from third-party platforms, such as social media. The only way you can get traffic to the page from there is to either share it yourself, or for someone else to share it. Otherwise, the platforms like Facebook or Twitter don’t know, and don’t care, that the content exists. No one visiting the page from these other sources and you’re missing out on this signal.
Again, we have data that proves that sharing your content, and then curating it strategically and sharing it again, helps boost traffic and SEO signals not just for that piece of content, page or post, but for your entire website.
BAD SEO Advice: Listening to the wrong 'expert'
In the case of the example above, the entrepreneur who shared the post happens to be a copywriter. She’s actually decent at writing copy from what I have seen of her work.
However, based upon this tip she shared (the first SEO-related tip I’ve seen on her share anywhere), which said it was #1 in a series of more, she’s not an SEO expert. But would you know this by simply seeing this one post? Probably not.
If I need surgery, I’m probably not taking advice from my lawyer. Or from my hairstylist. Or my housekeeper. Or my accountant. All of these people are experts in their fields, but they are not experts in all fields.
Sometimes copywriters do need a basic understanding of SEO as it relates to writing (if they write copy for a website), although an SEO expert can work with a separate copywriting expert pretty seamlessly (we’ve polished that coordination for a few of our clients who have someone already performing copywriting but need the SEO piece performed by us). However, just because they are an expert copywriter and understand some of how that needs to incorporate pieces of SEO, it doesn’t mean they know SEO.
This is one of the reasons why we always offer a holistic approach to your marketing, even when we are only performing one small piece in-house. Not only do our clients benefit from my decades of experience at high levels including as a Chief Marketing Officer, working with Fortune 500 companies and global organizations, multi-million and multi-billion-dollar organizations, plus my work with thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs … I bring the holistic approach and work with a team of specialists that understand their area of expertise. It provides that important balanced approach to marketing.
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This isn’t the only bad SEO advice we’ve ever seen, so you may want to review some of our related articles: