5 Bad SEO Practices That Are Killing Your Website Traffic (and How to Fix Them!)

You’ve poured your heart and soul into your website; packed it with fantastic content and beautiful design, but still not getting any results.

In this case, you are likely following some bad SEO practices.

That’s why we have compiled a list of SEO practices that harm your website rather than help it. 

01. Focusing on Quantity, Not Quality

Like many finer things in the world, search engines also prefer quality rather than quantity.

It’s also true that to succeed in SEO, you need quantity, too. This means you need a lot of content, links, citations, etc. Because of this, some SEOs fulfill this need by generating automated content and buying backlinks in bulk.

But if you only focus on the number of content or links without caring about quality and relevance, your SEO will fail. 

Just as you want to build your brand by providing value to your customers, Google wants to do the same by serving its users relevant content from trustworthy sources.

So, when you publish low-quality content and get backlinks from irrelevant websites, it will not matter how much content you publish or how many referring domains you have. 

Google made sure of this in the recent March 2024 Spam Update. As a consequence of following this practice, your website will be flagged as spam and slowly start to vanish from SERPs.

Following this practice, thousands of websites have recently been removed from search results.

Now, as for content, quality goes beyond just being informative. It should also be engaging for users. This means using visuals, breaking up text with subheadings, and writing in a clear and concise style that keeps readers interested.

It’s also crucial to optimize your content with relevant semantics and keywords to send the right signals to search engine crawlers that your content is fulfilling the search intent.

If being informative was the only factor in quality for search engines, only research papers would rank for most keywords. But in real life, this is not the case because such content is harder for crawl bots to process. 

So, to create quality content, you have to make it easier for search engines to process it, which will make it stand out in the SERPs.

On the other hand, quality for backlinks is a combination of the authority and relevancy of the referring domain. 

Think of domain authority as the reputation of the website and backlinks as a recommendation. A website that has high domain authority is considered by search engines a well-established expert in their field. 

So, when a “trustworthy” site “recommends” you, search engines take it seriously and boost your rankings.

Now, for example, that website is actually an expert in fixing cars but it recommends you as the best restaurant in New York. 

Even though the website has high authority, a backlink from this website will mean nothing because it’s not relevant and it has no authority to recommend a restaurant. 

So, when getting backlinks, it’s best to get one from a high-authority website within your niche. 

In summary, there’s no way around quality in SEO. Be it content, links, or anything else, you cannot succeed in SEO without providing quality.

02. Expired Domain Abuse

Aside from abusing low-quality, bulk content, the latest Google spam update also took up arms against expired domain abuse.  

Expired domain abuse means when someone purchases an expired domain with decent authority with the intention of repurposing its content to gain an advantage.  

For example, imagine a domain named “healthymeals.com”, which used to be a popular resource for healthy recipes and meal plans.  Over time, the website became inactive and the domain eventually expired.

Here’s what Google says about it:

Now, a group of people sees this as an opportunity. They purchase the expired domain “healthymeals.com” and relaunch the website. However, instead of healthy recipes, the website now sells counterfeit diet pills and weight loss supplements with fake claims.

Because of this bad practice, people who are looking for healthy meal recipes will be tricked into buying potentially harmful products. 

That’s why Google decided to stop this abuse, and it is now considered a black hat SEO technique. As a consequence, such domains will receive a manual penalty from Google.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy expired domains. Not all repurposing is bad; you just need to do it ethically.

For example, if you buy the domain “healthymeals.com” and publish quality content about healthy meals, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s actually a viable SEO strategy that many SEO veterans use.

03. Site Reputation Abuse

Site reputation abuse is when people use a popular website’s good name to post poor-quality or unrelated content to promote a product or a service. The reputation of the site is used to trick search engines into ranking these contents higher.

For example, imagine you own a news website that has a high domain authority and you publish a guest post that promotes a casino website. 

Because the news website has a high domain authority, search engines might give these articles higher rankings than they deserve, simply because they are hosted on a reputable site.

Since these articles are ranked higher, they get a lot of traffic, and as a result, a totally irrelevant product and/or service gets promoted.

This technique is also known as parasite SEO. Here’s what Google says about it in the recent update:

The content used in site reputation abuse or parasite SEO can take various forms other than a simple guest post. It could be affiliate pages for unrelated products, reviews for irrelevant services, etc.

Just like expired domain abuse, Google decided to take action against parasite SEO. Numerous high-authority websites like CNN, LA Times, and NY Times lost traffic because of hosting third-party coupon pages. 

Google has been taking manual actions to penalize websites that use parasite SEO. 

Now, don’t let this discourage you from publishing guest posts or getting backlinks from high-authority sites. The key here is relevancy and user experience.

Publishing guest posts or sponsored content to relevant high-authority websites that provide value to users can be an asset.

04. Programmatic SEO

Programmatic SEO is one of those SEO tactics that has the global SEO community divided. 

Some SEOs think programmatic SEO is a magic wand for ranking high in search results, but others (including Google’s John Mueller) see it as just a fancy way of creating spam. 

But what is programmatic SEO?

Programmatic SEO is the process of automatically creating many web pages that target specific keywords using data from a database. This allows companies to quickly generate thousands of pages without manually designing, writing, or publishing each one.

Many top companies worldwide use programmatic SEO, such as Zapier, Webflow, Wise, etc. However, since they have thousands of pages on their websites, it makes sense to automate this process. 

For example, Zapier has 800,000+ pages on its site where they used programmatic SEO to generate landing pages to promote their service.

Now, when Zapier uses programmatic SEO, it can gain millions of traffic because it targets very specific user needs. 

They have created landing pages for every possible combination of apps their tool integrates with, along with relevant keywords and explanations. This highly targeted content attracts users who are actively searching for those specific solutions. 

But when a regular business uses programmatic SEO, it runs the risk of creating low-value, thin content. In that case, Google identifies it as spam and penalizes it.

That’s why, unless you have a specific need for it, you should avoid generating automated content like this. Even when you do need it, keep an eye on the quality and the value it provides to your users. 

05. Overoptimizing Content

Optimizing content with relevant keywords is crucial, but overoptimizing it backfires. It creates content that reads unnaturally and frustrates users. 

When users get frustrated with your content, they leave your website and go to your competitors’ sites instead, which hurts your rankings.

Now, there are several methods of over-optimizing content, the first of which is keyword stuffing. 

Keyword stuffing is the practice of forcing a large number of keywords or phrases into your website content. It’s basically trying to trick search engines into thinking your website is super relevant for a particular search term, even if it’s not very helpful for real people reading your content.

For example, if you are trying to rank for the keyword “best bakery in town”, content stuffed with keywords would look like this:

If you’re looking for the best bakery in town, you’ve found the best bakery in town. Our bakery in town offers the best bakery goods, from the best cakes in town to the best pastries in town
When you visit our bakery in town, you’ll experience the best bakery atmosphere in town. Our bakery is known as the best bakery for birthdays, the best bakery for weddings, and the best bakery for any occasion
Come visit the best bakery in town today to taste the best bakery items in town. Our bakery staff are the best bakery staff in town, and they will ensure you have the best bakery experience in town.

See how many keywords are placed in three paragraphs. Is it fun to read?

Alternatively, a better example would be:

Craving delicious treats? Our bakery has a selection of mouthwatering cakes, pastries, and more local delicacies that are perfect for any occasion.  
You deserve only the finest from the best bakery in town and we are always happy to make the perfect treat for you.

Easy to read and includes the keyword you want to rank for.

So, the key here is user experience and readability. You have to include your keywords in a way which easy and engaging to read.

Also, you don’t need to use keywords in every sentence. But how many keywords should you place in your content?

There is no rule of thumb about placing keywords in content. Some may say that it’s optimal to maintain a keyword density of 1%. However, that’s not entirely true. You can place as many keywords as you want without ruining the natural flow of the content.

However, it’s best to place the keyword once as early as possible in the content, preferably within the first 25 words. Also, there are some other key areas to place keywords, such as headings, subheadings, page titles, page URLs, etc.

Now, when it comes to the natural flow of content, some other keyword placement practices are just as bad as keyword stuffing. These are placing keywords with spelling and grammatical mistakes.  

Sometimes the keywords you pull from SEO tools aren’t grammatically correct or have spelling mistakes. Many SEOs prioritize placing the exact same keyword without correcting these silly errors, which is not good.

Keeping your content error-free is just as important as placing keywords if not more. 

The same thing happens when you place keywords in the anchor text of your internal links. It’s not mandatory to spoil the natural flow of the content because of this. 

For the anchor text, you just need to make sure it’s concise and relevant to the article you are sending your reader.  

For example, you want to link an article about “Southeast Asian Travel Deals.” Here’s a bad way to do it:

Traveling to Southeast Asia can be an enriching experience, filled with stunning beaches, delicious food, and vibrant cultures. To learn more about Southeast Asia travel deals, click here!

Here’s how to do it better:

Traveling to Southeast Asia can be an enriching experience, filled with stunning beaches, delicious food, and vibrant cultures.  If you’re considering a trip, be sure to research the best destinations and deals for Southeast Asian travel.

The summary is that user experience is an important ranking factor and it can make or break the outcome you generate from your content. 

Stay Away From Bad SEO Practices With VizibleSEO

All these bad SEO practices have one thing in common: they encourage the creation of low-quality content that doesn’t provide any value to the user.

So, providing your user with value and a pleasant search experience is fundamental to proper SEO, and VizibleSEO shares this mindset.

Our SEO experts in VizibleSEO only follow the best practices for ethical SEO, where you will get the best outcome possible. We do not believe in shortcuts!

So, if you are frustrated with unethical SEO practices and want better results for your business, book a free call with us now!

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