3 common SEO pitfalls to avoid (and how to deal with them)

15 Aug 2021 | Digital Marketing

Given the wide areas of SEO works — multiple platforms, different methods, numerous algorithm updates — sometimes companies can find themselves in gray areas that will harm their ranking instead of improving it.

We have found (too) many cases of companies that have invested in SEO for years had page ranking crumbles in mere weeks due to lack of experience and/or due diligence on their vendors. We came into the picture, picked up the pieces and fixed things from the ground up. While we do not mind the work, we hate to see good work being wasted, especially when it can be prevented with some common sense.

So here we are sharing the three most common pitfalls that may harm your SEO works, and how to handle them, so that you can avoid it altogether.

1. Black Hat SEO practices

The most serious mistake in SEO is the ‘black hat’ SEO practices, which are basically SEO practices that do not comply with search engine guidelines. In essence it is a smoke and mirror to make a false appearance that your web pages are more popular than they actually are.

A few examples of black hat practices:

  • Link farming: putting numerous links pointing to your web pages on different websites indiscriminately.
  • Social network spam: similar to link farming, but by creating the links in social media posts (e.g. having twenty Twitter posts with the same link and same content over two hours time).
  • Blog comment spam: similar to link farming, but putting the links in the comments  of various blogs that are irrelevant to your business (e.g. it is suspicious to put a link about a new car model in a blog post about healthy eating habits).
  • Malicious content: having an active content in your web pages that is categorized as malicious behavior by search engines (e.g. auto-install of malware that will set someone’s browser to your website).
  • Fake content: creating a content pretending to be someone else (e.g. writing fake reviews about your showroom on Google Maps).

These illicit practices are direct abuse of search engine guidelines because they intentionally try to manipulate the search engine in an unnatural, non-organic manner. Remember that search engines’ primary interest is giving most relevant and useful content for their users, so if they catch someone who tries to hinder that, you can be sure that they will be penalized with their page ranking demoted.

As a countermeasure to maintain the quality of search results, search engines are constantly updating its algorithm to catch such abuses. Google in particular has ‘Google Penguin’ algorithm which can detect unnatural links and spamming behaviours.

2) Low quality content

Another pitfall in SEO is the adopting the ‘quantity over quality’ mindset and succumbing to the temptation of taking shortcuts in your content creation. Needless to say, it always results in low quality content.

A few examples of practices that will lead to low quality content:

  • Keyword stuffing: incoherent content because it is loaded with unnecessarily high number of keywords used unnaturally (e.g. repeating the keyword ‘family SUV’ 300 times in a 1,000 words content).
  • Irrelevant keywords: using irrelevant keywords to your business (e.g. news about celebrities newborn are popular topics to attract readers, but it has nothing to do with you selling cars).
  • Duplicate content: without doubts, getting a similar content from other sources and modifying it slightly is legit plagiarism. Originality is one of the factors that determine a high quality content.
  • Content automation: it is possible to use artificial intelligence (AI) to to generate a large amount of content, but you can be sure that the quality (at least for now) is going far from original or satisfactory.
  • Clickbait: using highly catchy—but misleading—headlines to attract visitors to your web pages, but having the content irrelevant or misrepresented by the headlines (e.g. title that says ‘5 Superfoods to lose weight without exercise’, and the content is really about choosing the best car for groceries shopping).

Google has its ‘Google Panda’ algorithm that specifically scans website content and look for potential abuse like mentioned above. Some people think they can get away with low quality and other abuses because no one will check the millions of websites out there, but they forget that Google can give them 230 million search results in a second.

When it comes to content creation, your number one priority should be making an original content that answers to your readers’ questions or concerns. Having SEO in mind will help you to incorporate the right keywords in your content, but the centre of the attention is still on the content and not the other way around.

3) Subpar personnel or agency

Even if you have a solid SEO Strategy, you may only get partial impact if you do not have an equally solid SEO personnel or agency to execute it.

If you are looking to hire a new SEO  staff or agency, do check the following:

  • Long-term mindset: check if they are showing tendencies of taking shortcuts at their work. This is a reflection of their work habit, and if they do a half-hearted job on one thing, they are probably doing a half-hearted job on other things that they do too. SEO is a continuous work, it must be done with a long-term mindset that does not compromise on quality.
  • Background and past track record: getting someone who is familiar with the automotive industry is a big plus. You can also ask if they have done SEO for car dealers and check how their client (your competitor or industry partners) SEO is doing.
  • Reality check: someone who is desperate could give you a promise that they could not deliver, like getting your website listed first on the first page search engine results page (SERP). Take note, that is the biggest red flag in SEO work. No one can guarantee that except  the search engines themselves (unless it is a non-existing market like selling cars that can travel through time). If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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The pointers above should help you to steer away from unnecessary problems while doing SEO for your car dealership. If you are facing an uncommon situation or challenge for your SEO that are not listed above, we could discuss this further with our complimentary consultation (we like a good challenge).