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Marketing & Sales
Nov 17, 2014

Stay Off Google’s Naughty List By Avoiding These SEO Offenses

Sponsored Content provided by Mike Duncan - CEO and Creative Director, Sage Island

As the holiday season commences, so does our desire to act nice and do good. It’s most likely a crucial revenue period for your business as well, so implementing a marketing strategy to reach and entice potential buyers is more important than ever. When stakes are high and time is short, quick and easy solutions may seem appealing, but you should think twice before taking any short cuts – especially when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO).

Did you know Google has the power to make your blog or entire website disappear from search results? This happens more often than people realize and business owners are left questioning what they did wrong. As of March 2014, Google carries 67.5 percent of the Internet’s search engine market share, with an average of 6 billion searches conducted each day. Ranking in Google search results will always be crucial for SEO success, but even more so over the holidays. By avoiding theses SEO tricks and tactics, you can keep your website off Google’s naughty list.

Keyword Stuffing

Although keyword stuffing has become a universal concept, many people don’t realize the repercussions it carries. At one time it was believed that using a keyword over and over in content would improve search ranking. With this strategy, content was considered optimized no matter how unnatural it read or sounded. Google has come a long way since then and now its top concern is user experience. Nobody wants to browse a website or read an article that is stuffed with keywords. Does Google formally penalize keyword stuffing? Many experts say yes. Even if a keyword-stuffed website slips under the radar, visitors are not going to waste their time looking for answers from convoluted content. Keep users on your site and engaged by updating content and providing answers first and foremost. Then you can plug in keywords while maintaining a natural and readable flow.  

Article Spinning

Article spinning is recreating another website’s blog article by making small modifications within the copy. The article is then submitted to outside websites to gain backlinks. There are several programs online that can spin articles in a matter of minutes. This was once a popular trend but is now considered an unethical strategy. As time goes on, Google’s algorithm is becoming exceptionally good at discovering this spammy content. Writing content for other websites is still an acceptable practice, as long as the intention is to promote unique content on trusted sites. Guest blogging is a great example of this approach.

Buying Backlinks

Buying backlinks may seem like a good idea, but your resources most likely will spam you. There’s no clear way of knowing where these purchased links originate, but they’re often from corrupted websites and social accounts. Promises of quality backlinks and claims that Google will “never find out” are signs that something sketchy is going on. Google’s list of blacklisted websites is always evolving, so if you don’t buy or sell links to others, you’re in the clear.

Broken Links

Depending on the size of your website and its number of outbound and inbound links, broken links can be hard to track. External links are the trickiest because you have to regularly check the websites you’re linking with and make sure your links remain intact. Google’s concern with broken links relates back to user experience. A website with zero broken links appears updated and trustworthy compared to one with several errors. This particular SEO no-no is a smaller factor for Google, but still important to consider. To avoid building up broken links, simply submit your website to Google Webmaster Tools and it will report any broken links to you.

Heavy Anchor Text

Anchor text is text that appears highlighted in a hyperlink. For SEO purposes, a hyperlink’s anchor text helps Google determine the topic, its relevance and establish a rank. You have to be careful though – if there are too many anchor texts linking to the same page, Google will penalize your site. Avoid heavy anchor text by linking to specific pages no more than two times. A page that links to multiple pages is fine, but many links to the same page should be averted.

Spamming Tags and Categories

This SEO blunder is particularly relevant to blogging. Providing related tags and categories for a blog post allows search engines to understand the article’s subject. Oftentimes, bloggers use excessive tags and categories in the hopes of tricking Google into indexing more pages than there are on the site. To avoid Google from penalizing you, use no more than two categories and never leave an article as “uncategorized.” Tagging should stay under seven or eight tags. Each tag creates a new page using the same post, but Google’s algorithm is able to understand what’s happening. Fewer tags overall helps prevent any confusion.

Avoid these SEO offenses and your website will remain on Google’s nice side this holiday season. If you are looking for new ways to improve your SEO, we’d love to brainstorm with you. Sage Island follows the best practices for all search engines and we’re ready to get your business the exposure you’ve been searching for.

Mike Duncan co-founded Sage Island in 1997, and since then has evolved the agency’s scope to include marketing strategy, creative design, technical development and a wide range of digital marketing services. With an integrated approach that leverages the power and measurability of the internet, the savvy Sage Island team develops strategies, builds brands, writes killer copy and delivers to clients all over the world. And they have an awesome time doing it. Sage’s collaborative working environment keeps creativity and innovation at the heart of the concept. With a 17-year history in Wilmington and beyond, Sage Island shows no signs of slowing down. To learn how Sage Island can grow your business, check us out at To stay updated on the latest in digital marketing, follow Sage Island on Facebook at, and on Twitter at

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