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updated 7/25/2013 2:17:36 AM ET 2013-07-25T06:17:36

There is so much information available regarding the practice of search engine optimization (SEO) that it can be difficult at times to sort out what to do and what not to do. There are so-called experts selling their tips and "advice" online and unfortunately many of the methods they are teaching can actually damage your website from ranking online.

When managing your own SEO efforts, and when trying to make heads from tails of these so-called SEO experts, business owners should not only know what tactics are effective but also those that can land your site in big trouble if used. The content on your site should be relevant to your business and to your customers, and you shouldn't try any sneaky maneuvers to try to game Google's algorithms.

Here, I've outline four bad, yet common SEO practices that could damage your website's search rankings.

Mistake No. 1: Buying links.
There are thousands of sites and services that will try to convince you to pay for getting droves of other sites link to yours. Fiverr, for example, is a common site that people buy links on because it can only cost $5 for hundreds of links pointing back to your website. But what are the sites that will be linking to yours? Will they be related to your industry? Will they be reputable?

While getting trusted and well-known sites to link back to yours is good for SEO, Google can de-index your site from its search results if it discovers that you are paying for backlinks. Translation: your company's site won't appear in any search results. Don't pay for links and don't participate in networks that sell links and help you distribute your articles to different sites. It's not good for business.

Related: Why Engaging Online Content Is a Must for SEO

Mistake No. 2: Publishing irrelevant content.
When creating content for your website you want only what is relevant to your business, industry and customers. For instance, if you're a plumber, you don't need to talk about hotels on your site. In Google's eyes, a plumbing site that has content about hotels can be confusing. You want your site seen by the search engines as credible in your market, not someone else's.

Google values the user experience and if you're proving that to your customers, Google will see that and should reward your site for it. So when writing content for your business site, keep the needs of your customers in mind as much as your business goals. For example, if you own a pet store you most likely want to sell puppies, and want your keywords around "I want to buy a puppy." But someone who is buying a puppy will likely want to know everything about that puppy -- what type of food it will need and what type of shots it will have to get, to name just a couple of topics.

Think of every aspect of the puppy's life as it relates to your customer and create useful content around that. This can help you get ranked for key terms while also showing Google that your site is an authority on puppies and that yours is the right business for people who want to buy a puppy.

Mistake No. 3: Spam comments.
Some business owners decide to pay services to spam sites around the internet with comments that include a link back to their website. While the idea is to spread links to your site across other sites that are relevant to your business, your brand can be damaged when customers or potential customers see those links associated with spammy, poorly written comments.

The same thing goes with bad comments on your own website. Don't approve all comments on your site but only ones that bring real value to your customers. This can help you keep the comment value and integrity of your website on your website.

Related: A Look at Google's 200 Search Ranking Factors (Infographic)

Mistake No. 4: Overloading on anchor text links.
An anchor text link is a specific keyword or phrase in the text on your site that is hyperlinking to a website URL. An example of this would be "awesome entrepreneur website" where it's linking to Entrepreneur.com.

While keyword links can be good for SEO, you have to be careful when using them. Webmasters used to be able to build up thousands of anchor text links with specific keywords in them and that would get their website to rank for those keywords. Those days are long gone.

In order to build the best ranking, the keyword ratio needs to appear normal. That means, if you have 10,000 keyword links for one phrase that you want to rank for and none for other ones on your site, it can look strange in Google's eyes. You should have many keyword links for a variety of keywords. If you want to rank for "I want to buy a puppy", you should build keyword anchor text links like:

  • I want to buy a puppy
  • Owning a puppy
  • What shots for puppies
  • Tips to purchase a puppy
  • Popular dogs
  • Cute breeds of dogs
  • Dog that are good with kids
  • Potty training new puppies
  • How much do pups cost
  • Smartest puppies to buy

The above keyword phrases all have to do with things customers may want to know when they are searching for "I want to buy a puppy." But they are all saying different things. Make sure not to build too many links to just one of them or it will not look normal to people. Build keyword links for people and user intent, not for search engines.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring an SEO Consultant
 

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