By @TheMarkDalton

We often talk about how to improve your SEO, what can you do that helps your website rank higher in search results and what can you do to improve your ranking on your website.

However, what about the other angle, what are you doing that could be hurting your SEO? Some previously popular SEO practices now carry significant penalties which can affect your website ranking and if you are running a business website then that is a big deal.

Here are some things which you may be doing right now that could be damaging your SEO.

Duplicate Content.

You need to make sure you are producing SEO friendly content and the best way of doing this is to ensure content is unique and original. Duplicate content is not good for SEO and needs to be avoided.

If search engines have already indexed that same content then there is no reason for them to index your web page because there is nothing new on offer. It is the same content just posted in a different place.

There are occasions where you may need to post duplicate content to web pages. For example, my pieces go live on the Mark Dalton Media blog first and then get posted on Irish Tech News approximately four hours later. This is posting duplicate content but is necessary for me to reach a wide audience because some people prefer to visit one of these sites over the other. I need to cast the net wide.

If you need to do this then you should “index and no follow” those pages, this means that they won’t be indexed by a search engine and your SEO won’t be penalised for posting duplicate content.

Keyword Stuffing.

An old SEO practice was to stuff content will keywords and use them over and over again in order to optimise your copy and enable search engines to pick it up quicker. However, keyword stuffing is not a good practice for your SEO.

Stuffing content with keywords will stick out to readers and will discourage them from visiting your web page but even more concerning is that search engines will know you are trying to manipulate their algorithms and use it to your own advantage.

Mentioning keywords is of course critical and placing them in the title, opening paragraph and naturally through the content is enough.

Posting Low Quality Content.

Accepting guest posts is a great way to get new content for your website and can provide benefits to the contributor both financially and exposure to a new audience. However, if done incorrectly it can also have a negative impact on SEO.

It is important to set guest contributors the same standard that you set yourself. It is content that is going up on your website and will go under your brand name. That standard you set yourself is the same standard you should apply to guest contributors.

Don’t feel that you need to accept guest contributions to keep content flowing and don’t feel that you can’t make recommendations for changes to the piece they send you. Publishing great content with value is key, if you are sent a piece of content which does not meet the standards then it is best not to post it at all.

Fake Profiles.

70% of consumers check product reviews online now before they buy something. As well as that, consumers show more faith in reviews from fellow consumers than they would from publications or companies. So while it is important for us to continue to review products for you, the power of a review from a fellow consumer can’t be matched right now.

So it is no surprise that some businesses think a good idea is to create fake profile and post false positive reviews to drum up support for their companies and products via social media. This is a black hat SEO technique, you are trying to game the system and websites such as Yelp and Amazon are getting better at catching people out.

Don’t create a fake profile to review yourself, reach out to people who you know enjoy your product and kindly ask them to leave a review for you. If they genuinely love your product they will be more than happy to help you by doing so.

Slow Websites Which Are Not Mobile Optimised

Your website should be available 24/7 and should load in less than 5 seconds. Make sure you select a good, reliable hosting provider. You can get great hosting and great value. Don’t just go and find the cheapest you can get because they may not be able to provide the level of service you desire.

Personally, I use Blacknight as my webhost and the site is built on WordPress. You also need to ensure you site is mobile optimised, Google ranks mobile optimised sites higher in the search engines than those which are not mobile optimised.

SEO is something you continually have to work on and build. There are no miracles to help you overnight. Taking shortcuts, cheating or trying to game the system is the fastest way to destroy your SEO and online reputation so make sure you do it right.

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