Are you interested in learning SEO fundamentals?
Are there SEO practices that can actually hurt?
Soccer – or as it is called in many parts of the world, football, has been referred to as the international sport that transcends boundaries and language. In leagues across the globe, players are given a code of conduct and set of rules that must be followed in order to play and stay in the game.
So, what do soccer and SEO have in common?
SEO or search engine optimization is like the game of soccer because learning the fundamentals takes time and patience. In soccer, you practice and polish your skills in order to hit that perfect shot. When you finally smack the ball into the upper corner of the net, you know that all your hard work has paid off. The feeling of accomplishment is one of pure elation.
In the same way, when you have worked diligently to optimize your website and finally hit a top position in the search engine rankings, the realization of reaching your goal is priceless.
Laws of the Game
Another way that SEO and soccer are similar is in the fundamental laws of the game. When you first start to play soccer, you learn very quickly that you have to follow the rules or you can be given a yellow card as a warning or a red card that ejects you from the game. Likewise, SEO fundamentals must be followed, and if you break those rules, you can receive a warning or get kicked out of the search engines.
How to Avoid Getting SEO Yellow or Red Cards
It is no secret that Google is the most popular search engine in the world. When Google sets the rules or laws of the game, SEO players need to listen and abide by those rules.
What do you need to avoid so that you won’t get hit by a Google yellow or red card?
Google is very clear with its quality guidelines or “Laws of the Game”. The company has specifically outlined 12 guidelines for unfavorable techniques to avoid. Let’s take a brief look at these “Fouls and Misconduct” to be clear on what NOT to do to stay in the game. Note: the bold text is from Google’s actual guidelines, followed by my brief explanation.
SEO Fundamentals: 13 SEO Techniques to Avoid
- Automatically generated content
The practice of automatically generated content includes using a program to write text content on a website without human intervention.
- Link schemes
Link schemes are tactics that attempt to artificially manipulate Page Rank to increase search engine ranking placements. This approach includes links to and out of your website and excessive link exchanges.
- Creating pages with little or no original content
Your ultimate goal should be to provide unique and valuable content for your website. There is an approach by some that involves creating pages with thin or no original content in an attempt to rank higher in search engine results. Google will pull out the red card for those domains who try to manipulate results by providing scraped content (stolen content) or “cookie-cutter pages that don’t add substantial value to users.”
Cloaking is the strategy of creating a web page to show one thing to the search engines and another to the end user. This practice is in direct violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
- Sneaky redirects
A sneaky redirect is a deceptive approach to show one thing to the user, then, when the link is clicked, the user is taken to an entirely different topic on a web page.
- Hidden text or links
Hiding text or links is a scheme to conceal information from users, manipulating rankings by serving something different to the search engines. An example of this is white text on a white background.
- Doorway pages
Doorway pages, also referred to as Gateway pages are intentionally designed around a specific keyword topic or phrase and take users to one specific destination. They typically have low-quality content with the sole purpose of funneling traffic to one page.
- Scraped content
Scraped content is stolen content that is included on a website as a whole or slightly modified from the original, but does not provide added value. Simply put: plagiarism is wrong and will not be rewarded by the search engines.
- Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
This practice generally involves creating web pages or websites that include affiliate marketing information (photos, text, and links) without adding additional value for the end user.
- Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
This tactic utilizes keyword stuffing or using keywords over and over with the goal of increasing search engine rankings. Generally, keyword stuffing will look unnatural and is not a good experience for the reader.
- Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware.
Enough said. Not nice things to do!
- Abusing rich snippets markup
Rich snippets are the descriptive text under the linked title in the search engine results. An abuse of the rich snippets would include the unscrupulous strategy of providing information that is totally irrelevant to the page in the attempt to increase search engine rankings.
- Sending automated queries to Google
The search engine giant does not appreciate machines sending computer generated queries to check website rankings. This is a direct “foul” as it uses up web resources.
If your site violates one or more of these guidelines or “Rules of the Game”, then Google may take manual action against it. For Google’s explanation in detail, please see Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Soccer and SEO are similar as they both take time, patience, and skill to reach an ultimate goal. They are also alike because each has fundamental laws of the game, or rules, that players must follow to remain in the game. By avoiding these 13 SEO manipulation techniques, you will be able to stay in the game.
Do you have any other thoughts about how SEO and soccer, or any other sport, share similar fundamentals? I would love to hear them in the comments below.