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Four SEO techniques that could do more harm than good

25th Sep 2014
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Getting to the top of Google is a great success for any business, but with a plethora of out-of-date and uninformed SEO advice published online, could you be doing your company more harm than good? 

Here's what you should avoid. 

Skinny content
In years gone by it was common practise to write multiple pages of content about a similar topic, particularly in industries where you might offer the same service in different areas of the country or city such as 'window cleaners in Nottingham' and 'window cleaners in Leicester'. While duplicate content has never been good practice, this kind of approach often delivered the desired result of being number one for local or specific searches. But no more.
Google has recently started to crack down on what the company calls 'thin content'; pages with little or no added value.
Google's examples of what thin content is include content taken verbatim from other websites (known as 'scraping') and automatically generated content, written by a computer to optimise for a certain term. However other reputable sources suggest avoiding having a large amount of pages on your site with less than 250 words, particularly on your blog.
Page titles which should come with a wide load warning
Google likes to keep us on our toes with this one! The title which appears in Google search results is usually the title you’ve given the page on your website, but did you know there is a character limit?
While previously the character limit was around 65, this has now been shortened and changed to a pixel limit of 482 as not all letters take up the same amount of space. As a result many websites are having their titles cut off in Google. This means searches don’t get the full picture on what your page is about and the number of people clicking through to your page may decrease as a result.
The page titles report in free SEO tool Screaming Frog can check the length of your site’s page titles. You can even filter titles over 482 pixels.
Web addresses that do what they say on the tin
There’s no denying URL structure is an important SEO factor. Including target keywords in your site’s URLs helps Google understand what the pages are about, but over the past few years Google claims to have de-prioritised exact match URLs as a ranking factor.
So while having the web address might have once have been a big help in getting to number one for 'London van hire' searches, this old school technique has lost its power in recent times. Google now focus on quality content and online reputation more than URL relevance.
Unnatural link building tactics
Any SEO worth their salt knows how important getting links to a website is, so whether you’ve been doing your own SEO or hired someone to do it for you, it’s likely the topic of building links has cropped up.
In the not-so-distant past, paying for links from relevant (and often irrelevant) websites was rife in the SEO world, despite Google saying this was against their guidelines. After warning webmasters for several years to avoid this practice, Google finally put their money where their mouth is in 2012 with a major algorithm update called 'Penguin'. It aimed to de-value poor quality, paid links and increase the value of links from authoritative sources.
Key indicators to Google that you have un-natural links pointing to your website include a high link:domain ratio (e.g. thousands of links from one site), over-optimised anchor text (e.g. many links using the exact same words to link to you such as 'hair salon in Croydon') or links from websites where you can submit content including a link for a fee.
Websites such as allow you to see who links to your site, how many times and what the link text is.
David Blackburn is founder of

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Matt Carlson
By MattCarlson
13th Mar 2017 04:14

This is why it's important to ensure that when you're looking to do something about how your company presents itself online, you are only engaging the best SEO agency around to do your work for you! Look for the ones that have the track records and the results in terms of increased traffic figures. Look for the reviews and the testaments and especially if you are a small or medium enterprise, see if you can get any feedback from other business partners if they have used such services before.

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