The Hulk is a vicious and unforgiving beast. Everyone knows that. Even though Doctor Banner seems like the sweetest guy in the world, once he goes green - you’d better start running. He won’t stop until he clobbers you right into the ground. The rage consumes his entire mind and body, and turns this polite and friendly little man into something that could only be described as an atom bomb with hands and feet.
Working for years in this business of building sites and brands online, I came to an understanding that the Hulk and SEO share more than just a couple of features. How? – Let’s first cover the basics:
Caught in a gamma bomb explosion while trying to save the life of a teenager, Dr. Bruce Banner experienced something that no other human did before. He was transformed into a mean, green creature called the Hulk. This 7′ – 8′ feet high muscle mountain is a beast that cannot be tamed or reasoned with. He possesses an incredible level of superhuman strength that increases proportionally to the levels of agitation he’s experiencing in a specific moment. If you piss off Hulk, you’re as good as dead. There’s no way of stopping him. He won’t eat, sleep or rest until you still have an unbroken bone in your body.
The Hulk can jump over entire buildings, run at super speed, lift trucks, brake chains and destroy entire armies with a couple of punches. By clapping his big hands together, the Hulk can even cause shock waves that send people flying. He can survive all types of injuries, diseases, and infections. Hell, he can even survive a nuclear explosion. How can you compete with that?
Once the Hulk sees you as a threat, there’s no stopping him. He’ll come at you with the fury of thousand Liam Neesons hunting for thugs that kidnapped his daughter, and he won’t stop until the last breath leaves your lifeless body.
Unfortunately, the same goes for Google and every other search engine. If you try to mess with it, it will go full Hulk all over your website and digital marketing strategy. It will pound on your brand and business so hard, you won’t be able to recover from it for years. If you make your bread and butter from what you do or sell online, you should do everything in your power to avoid angering this beast.
Unlike Hulk who can go berserk over every little thing, Google is a more sensible creature. It has its rules and limits. If you play by the book, you’ll live to enjoy the fruits of your labor. But if you try to choose to ignore their advice and invest in some shady black hat practices that are basically designed to trick the search engines into improving your rankings, than your SEO will release the Hulk in Google on everything you worked so hard to achieve online.
In order to save you from a lot of grief, I have made a list of 4 terrible practices that you should avoid, if you don’t want to see Google go full Hulk on your website and SEO efforts:
1. Keyword Overstuffing
Back in the day, Google used to determine relevancy by looking at how many times a specific keyword appears on a single website or page. For example, if you compare two pages, with 1000 words each, that both talk about Marvel heroes, the one mentioning Hulk 10 times would be considered far more relevant than the other that contains this exact keywords only 5 times.
The general quality of the content didn’t play such an important part then. It was all about the keywords. That’s why we’ve had a lot of awful web pages, full of nonsensical words, terribly tied together in an attempt to manipulate the site’s rankings in Google search results.
These one paragraph texts, followed by bunch of keywords placed at the bottom of the page only annoyed the users, so Google decided to put an end to it.
Keyword distribution and density on a specific web address used to mean a lot to the engine, but not anymore.
Although keywords still play an important part in every sensible SEO strategy, over-stuffing your pages with words and phrases that you think are important for your business won’t help boost your SEO rankings. In fact, this sort of practice will now only anger Google and force it to bury your content and pages waaaay down in the SERPs. If you don’t want to see the world’s most popular search engine crush your site like Hulk crushed Loki in the first Avengers movie, it’s better to avoid such practices.
2. Duplicated Content
Nothing drives Google crazy like duplicated content. Even though this issue tends to come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, in most cases, it’s pretty easy to solve. Duplicate content can usually be found on most big ecommerce sites because they tend to have multiple pages that list the same products. This sort of thing tends to confuse search engines and make them lose their cool.
Naturally, duplicate content can be found on any type of website whose admin doesn’t pay attention to solving such issues. Even though this might not seem like a big deal to you, Google will experience difficulties while figuring out which version of the content should be displayed in the query for your targeted keywords.
It’s highly advisable to avoid producing duplicated content. If you happen to have pages that contain the same content, make sure to either delete the unnecessary ones, set a canonical page, 301 redirect the lower quality pages, or even tell the engine which pages to index, and which to disregard.
3. Broken Links
This phrase is quite self-explanatory. A broken link refers to a link that no longer works or isn’t available, for any number of reasons. Whatever the issue may be, the problem is – it doesn’t lead anywhere, which means that you won’t receive any new traffic from it.
But that isn’t the worst part. Dead links are basically an army of Hulks that are determined to rip your online reputation apart.
In digital business, it’s quite important for us to provide our visitors with the best experience possible. Dead links won’t help us do so. When a person finds our page in SERPs, and sees that it isn’t working, they will immediately think of us as some losers or scammers who aren’t capable of creating normal links. That’s why it is of crucial importance for any respectable online business to often check the quality and functionality of their links.
Dead links build bad reputations. Everyone knows that. Especially Google. That’s why the engine isn’t really shy to downgrade rankings of those sites that don’t really do a good enough job of cleaning and fixing their broken links.
4. Stolen or Plagiarized Text
Stolen text isn’t really the same as duplicate content. As I already mentioned before, duplicate content can happen for any number of reasons, but plagiarism, on the other hand, only occurs when a certain person or company makes a conscious decision to steal someone else’s work and post it across one or more of their own domains.
Back in the day, a lot of so-called SEO experts used to do that. I still see this as one of the most vile and notorious Black Hat SEO tactics ever.
Unlike duplicate content, this cannot happen by accident. Someone truly intended to exploit someone else’s work for personal gain. Google isn’t really down with that. The engine goes absolutely bananas once it figures out that a certain website is stealing content. Next to pulverizing their rankings, Google tends to even go that extra mile and completely de-index the site. The horror, right?
5. Linking to Non-Credible Sources
Just like a high-school kid, Google judges you based on the crowd you hang out with. If you surround yourself with cool kids, Google will think of you as a nice guy, and it will reward you with nice rankings. But, if the engine notices you’re hanging out with all sorts of different scum, well: “Google, SMASH!”
That’s why it’s important to focus on quality, not quantity, when coming up with your link building strategy. Even though links from high-quality sources are a lot harder to get, they’re still worth the effort. As we have seen from our experiences first hand, a single guest post on a relevant site within your niche could do so much more for your SEO than a hundred backlinks from low quality sources.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you have anything to ask or add on this subject, feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section below.