As you go about working on your websites, optimizing things and managing your social media programs, it’s easy to lose track of information, or overlook something. In this post we’ll take a look at some things you want to avoid doing. It may also be worth taking a look through your site and your programs to make sure you’re not doing any of these things moving forward.
Cloaking is the process where you determine who the visitor is coming to your website, then show content depending on who that visitor is. Typically, the system detects a search engine crawler, and swaps more search-friendly content in place for them. Human visitors would then see a different content page. Taken to the limit, the content is completely different. This is an obvious problem for the engines, as we expect to see the same content as anyone else would. Showing us one piece of content and other visitors a different piece of content is misleading. You want to avoid this.
It’s no secret that inbound links play a role in ranking. It’s also no secret that we don’t want you buying links. There are a lot of services out there pitching this service, and calling it anything but “link buying” these days. The bottom line is this: you are taking a big risk if you are buying links.
If we discover the link is purchased, at best we’ll simply ignore it and not pass any value, which is what happens in most cases. This is still pretty bad for you, though, as you paid money for something that now gives you no value. At worst, if it gets to be problematic for us, we’ll take action against the sites involved.
Links to your content should grow organically. Link farming essentially involves a network of sites which all link to your content. On paper this would seem to create the impression that a bunch of sites now link to your content. In reality, we see link farms and dismiss their value. Again, you’ve paid money and will receive no value for it. Given “link farms” are typically deemed to be more problematic than random buying of links across websites, you want to avoid associating your domain with these sorts of places. Read more about building links the right way in this article.
Site A links to Site B. Site B links to Site C. Site C links to Site A. This may seem to be preferable to reciprocal linking, but it’s not, really. Reciprocal linking can not only introduce us to your newest content or site, but can also deliver direct traffic to your website. True, it doesn’t carry the same value as a straight one-way link, but you’ve got to start somewhere.
Three-way linking is often an attempt to avoid being seen building reciprocal links. Don’t sweat reciprocal links and avoid three-way linking.
We recently wrote and in-depth post on article site sourced content. Duplicating content is a pretty simple concept. You’re posting content which already appears somewhere online. Using articles from third-party sources, copying and pasting from another source and using standardized product descriptions for items you’re selling all fall into this category. Your content should be unique and not appear anywhere else online. Building unique content takes work.
Another form of duplication can happen when you fail to manage permutations of your URLs. When you attach a tracking code to your URL, for example, you create two versions of a URL, both of which will return the same content. You can help guard against this by managing the issue through the use of the rel=canonical attribute.
Like farms are similar to link farms. In this instance, you’re essentially trying to manipulate the “likes” you receive by agreeing with others to like each other’s’ content. These types of approaches are very obvious to a search engine, and we simply ignore the data we see. It wastes your time and does nothing to help your rankings. Read more here about like farms (and link farms, too).
Using an auto-follow service to help grow the number of followers you have on Twitter is another dead end. You essentially end up following as many people as follow yourself. To Bing this looks non-authoritative. If, however, you have 4,000 followers and follow only 100 people yourself, this reflects a situation that many people want to hear what you have to say; a sign of authority. Learn more about what it takes to be an authority here, and how to grow your social following the correct way, here.
The thin content approach
Thin content can describe many approaches to producing content. To help you understand what it is, we’ll explain how to produce content which is not “thin” in nature. When producing content, your goal should be to provide deep details. Enough information that anyone who arrives on your website would need no further sources to feel they have everything they need to understand what they were searching for.
We covered how to build quality content in a previous article, so check that out for more information. Just remember to avoid trying to take short cuts when you produce content. The search engines need good quality content to return worthwhile results for searchers. If you fail the quality content test, you simply won’t rank and drive traffic.