Experts Blog

13 Ways to Kill Your Site’s Search Engine Rankings

By Kristi Hagen on Oct 22, 2012 - 11:35 AM

The 13 Fastest Ways to Kill Your Site's Search Engine Rankings - by Kristi Hagen

Kill RankingsGoogle has created a lot of rules and policies over the years to make sure sites play by their rules. Sites that ignore them are ritualistically slashed from the search results on an ever increasing basis. These almost monthly massacres are going after more and more sites that are all doing the same things wrong!

This article is a new twist on the top things you can do to become one of the many nameless victims left after the next algorithm update (1...2...Google is coming for you...3...4...lock the door.)

  1. Kill RankingsDon't be fresh and original. It's like a horror movie plot you've seen 100 times when the pretty young girl runs screaming up the stairs instead of out the front door when the man in the mask shows up. Instead of writing your own original articles just copy articles from various other sites or 'spin' your content into gibberish keyword rich phrases that no human can understand.

    If a Web site has a really good article, why try to compete with your own original content? You can just copy and paste it to your site and BAM content added. While you're at it, lots of Web sites sell PLR (private label rights) article packs that have been resold and 'spun' hundreds of times. You'll never have to write again if you post them onto your site and through the article directories without revising any of the content. Cutting corners like this means you're guaranteed to be publishing duplicate content.

    When this happens, your site will be flagged by the duplicate content filters on Google and ranked lower than the sites that you've copied from.

    ** We've outlined steps to avoid getting trapped in the duplicate content house of mirrors in The SEO's Guide to Preventing Duplicate Content.

    Another way to ensure those rankings will plummet into the pit of despair is by writing original content but never updating it. You're busy and have more important things to do. Leave the content up there, even if the events took place four years ago. Not only will your customers love reading about things that have already taken place but Google won't have any new content to crawl. Your rankings won't increase and the spiders will visit your site less and less.

    ** Don't let your site turn into a gnarly dried up corpse. Take some clues from a couple of the many articles we've written regarding updating regularly with quality content here and here.

  2. Kill RankingsKeyword stuffing. Again it's that moment when the killer in the latest installment of a movie series has been shot, stabbed and buried and the last scene is that hand coming up out of the ground as the audience does a collective eye roll (Friday the 13th Part 13 - seriously?!).

    There's nothing that readers love more than reading an article that has the same keyword in there 30 or 40 times. For example if your keyword is video marketing be sure your content reads something like this:

    "Video marketing is one of the best video marketing strategies to get hits on your Web site. When you find video marketing companies, make sure their video marketing strategies are..."

    If that doesn't do the trick you can develop a great looking site and add SEO copy at the bottom that provides absolutely no value to your readers. To try and lose a few extra spots in the ranking, make sure that you really cram those few paragraphs with as many keywords as possible. The search engine algorithms have been adjusted to look for these tactics, so you can certainly trash your rankings by following these steps.

    ** That's why keyword stuffing was our first spamming technique to avoid like the plague in this feature article The Top 10 'On-Page' SEO Spamming Tricks to Avoid Like the Plague.

  3. Continue to think that panda and penguin are two animals at the zoo. Here's a quick hint if you're confused - Panda and Penguin are two of the latest updates to Google's algorithm to make sure that Web sites are naturally integrating SEO. If you ignore all of the latest news on SEO and don't change anything about your site just wait, perhaps both Panda and Penguin will get their fangs into you.

    ** Or if you'd like a silver bullet in your arsenal check out this month's update to get links to all the most current topics regarding Panda and Penguin.

  4. Make your site all about the Ads. Ads make you money so the more ads the better...right? Wrong, sites with excessive ads being displayed above the site fold (Using more than 3 AdSense units per page? You may want to lower that) are being dropped from the rankings quicker than they can wonder what happened to their ad income.

    ** Hit the right balance of ads and content with hints from this byte How much content do you have on your home page? Is it enough?

  5. Use IP Delivery: aka, Cloaking. IP Delivery, most commonly referred to as cloaking, is one of the most controversial and complex SEO strategies. We've covered it often over the years. The root of the controversy stems from the fact that IP Kill Rankingsdelivery enables a site to serve one page to human site visitors and a different page to search engine spiders. When used in this fashion, the site is said to be "cloaking" (i.e., hiding) the real page - the one that human site visitors see - from the search engines.

    ** Search engines do not like being served a page that is different from the page that people are seeing. That being said, if you don't understand the technology - don't use it because when done incorrectly it's like taking a sledge hammer to your rankings. It's a slow recovery and the Googlebot is a fickle host who wants what it wants.

  6. Use Doorway pages. Aggressive SEOs have been known to create large numbers of low-quality pages with the intent to rank well for as many keywords as possible. Often these so-called doorway pages are automatically generated using software designed to optimize each page around a specific long-tail keyword. The goal is to funnel visitors from these doorway pages into a smaller number of highly converting sales pages.

    ** Of course, it's fine to use content management systems and other software to manage your site as long as your actual content is being generated by humans. Obviously using software to automatically generate your content and send visitors from one site to another is another great way to get the Googlebot to send your site into oblivion. This will also make sure you violate Google's Terms of Service so that you even risk being removed from the search index entirely. Ouch.

  7. Use graphics and scripts. Instead of using actual text for your Web site, you can decrease your rankings easily by presenting everything on your site through the use of graphics. Hire the most expensive graphic designer you can find and focus only on the visual aspects of your Web site. You will have the most attractive Web site on the Internet that isn't getting any kind of traffic and probably runs more slowly than the zombies from Shaun of the Dead.

    ** If you'd like to give your site a fighting chance against the invasion check out these resources for ways to incorporate things that add visual interest like well-optimized images and infographics without bringing your load time to a screeching halt.

  8. Don't use keywords. Keywords are for people who actually want to be found on the Internet. When people enter keywords that have anything to do with what your site is about, make sure that you don't include these throughout any of your Web content or in any of the on page SEO spaces such as your title and header tags. You'll save a fortune in keyword research and since the entire Internet runs on keywords, you never have to worry about appearing in the top results of a search engine. Your site can be like Big Foot, always rumored about but never seen!

    ** Or you can bring your site to live amongst us and target your keywords with our three part Keyword Primer Series Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

  9. Build your site around a brand name that isn't yours. If you infringe upon the copyrights of another company, you may not only experience a lawsuit but you may be able to get your Web site completely wiped from the indexes. All you have to do is create an entire site about an already established brand - or your competitor's Web site and poof! Rankings gone.

    ** Use your own IP (intellectual property) and you should be in the clear. Check with your attorney if you are unsure on anything.

  10. Kill RankingsParticipate in link schemes. It's like that moment when you notice an overly large clown peering out at you from a storm drain. Logically you know clowns are creepy and that no matter what he's promising it's not worth climbing into the gutter for. Same goes for links - if it's too good to be true, chances are it is.

    The worst place to start your link building is using one of the various link schemes. That would include the good old fashion link farm, cross domain linking, obvious paid links, and of course linking to 'questionable' sites (online gambling, porn or certain foreign sites). Google polices link schemes heavily, so your site will drop down in rank considerably within a very short period of time. Even better, submit your site to dozens of link farms all at once to absolutely ruin your rankings and the scary clown wins!

    ** Punch that creepy clown in the face and review ways to mitigate your linking problems here or start right from the beginning with our advice in this byte.

  11. Hide your text. What your readers don't see won't hurt you. And the search engines love to read all of that hidden text. What you want to do is make sure you have all of your keywords in row after row and then make sure the text color matches the background color so it blends right in.

    For instance, if the background is white bgcolor="#FFFFFF", then the text font is also set to white as such: font color="#FFFFFF" (of course, this can also be done with CSS instead of font tags). The end result is text that blends invisibly into the background color of the Web page. It effectively appears invisible to people viewing the page, but not to the search engine spiders that index all of the text found within the HTML source code. Do this for every page and you'll be down in the rankings in no time at all. Because sometimes those things you can't see can still hurt you.

    ** Just avoid doing this, there is not really anything more to say other than that the search engines do not like being fooled.

  12. Kill RankingsKeep ignoring your site's load time. That's right - keep ignoring the countless times we've lectured you on your site's load speed. If you don't know your site's speed, then you're no better than the girl in ALL of those movies that can't out run the killer who never even breaks a sweat as he strolls along. Quit tripping over things that aren't even there and act like you want to live.

    ** Google has made it 100% clear that your site's load speed is a ranking factor. It should load between 0 and 5 seconds and if it doesn't you need to start working on what's going on under the hood. Pick yourself up off the ground and use tools.pingdom.com/ to be sure your site is fast enough to survive. Google's serious enough about it they've even added site speed tools to their Analytics. If your site isn't up to snuff check out this byte to troubleshoot so that your site loads before the lunatic catches up.

  13. Ignore errors on your site. You'll get around to fixing them...eventually. In the meantime, it will disrupt performance to your site, piss off visitors and cause you to index poorly.

    ** No big deal that both your Webmaster Tools accounts and our own Super Spider Tool will quickly lay out the issues on your sites in a matter of seconds.

As you can see it's easy enough to ignore our advice and make a mockery of the SEO system, waste millions of marketing dollars and thousands of hours of intense online SEO work. If you're doing even one of these 13 things we've outlined and you're still ranking well then consider yourself one of the lucky survivors ...for now. Planet Ocean article end

Don't be a cliche,

Kristi
Kristi Hagen - President & Senior Editor
Planet Ocean Communications