There are many people who have just enough knowledge of the way the Internet and search engines work to know that search engine optimization is important, but not enough knowledge to know that it will not just solve all your problems. SEO is not something you can apply and then sit back and wait for people to visit your website. Yes, it is important and it is an extremely clever concept, but the incorrect application of SEO will no more increase your website traffic than handing out free balloons will make an ice cream shop’s profits go through the roof. Yes, it can help; no, it is not the whole deal.
It is no good setting up a website and paying lip service to the basics of SEO – throwing together some back links in other places, using keywords and submitting a sitemap – and then, when the doors are not battered down by enthralled readers, complaining “but it had SEO! Clearly SEO isn’t as good as I was told it was!”. Correctly applied, SEO will certainly boost your Google ranking. Whether it will get you to the first page of results, only time will tell – but it is useful.
The major mistake people make is in treating SEO as the silver bullet that will make all the difference – if that were the case, then Google ranking would be entirely meaningless because everyone would have SEO on their site. It needs to be remembered that good SEO and good content is the most potent combination for Google rankings.
It is obviously not easy to write good, SEO-compliant content for a website and still have a standard of content which will impress your readers, and this often shows in the more amateurish attempts at writing a website. One mistake a lot of people make is in thinking that the more they use a keyword, the better it will be for their website. This often results in the writer frequently using the keyword once every other sentence or a similar density. Their reasoning is understandable. If some SEO is good, then a lot of SEO will surely be excellent?
However, SEO is not just about use of keywords. It is more accurate to say that SEO is about the relevant, appropriate and substantial use of keywords within good content. It is true that Google sets rankings based on keyword density, but the search engines don’t just look for “a lot of keywords”. If they find a suspiciously high keyword volume they are actually likely to downrank you, and if your website is barely readable on account of the excess of keywords then you are unlikely to get the back links that will also be used for higher rankings.
It is this balance that you need to achieve, and it is not a matter of too much or too little SEO. SEO encompasses a number of different elements which should all be present if you want to make the right impact on the search engines – or at least, you should include as many elements as you can without negatively affecting the readability of your website.
Since the development of Search Engine Optimisation as a concept, there has been a fairly obvious temptation for some people to try to rig the system in their favor by using the principles of SEO in a less-than-honest way. Because the idea of SEO is they keywords create cash, the idea that has occurred to a lot of people can best be summed up in the following sentence: “If they want keyword volume, we’ll give them keyword volume”. This tends to occur in the shape of website text that contains nothing but keywords.
Of course, this means that the website will be scarcely readable, if it is readable at all, but the trick is usually applied by webmasters who don’t really care if you actually read what is on the site. Usually they will use it as a landing page that immediately redirects you to the site they want you to read. It will happen instantly and you will not see the landing page, but it will have done its job. For the reader it may be little more than an inconvenience, but for other people operating in the same niche, it is cheating.
The main reason that tricks like this are a bad idea has only a small amount to do with the fact that it is cheating. In actual fact, it is incredibly limited as an SEO tool because Google and other search engines check for such tricks and will relegate any such site in their rankings – so not only is it dishonest, it is also ineffective, which is what will really stick in the craw of the people doing it.