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6 SEO Sins That’ll Put You on Google’s Naughty List

6 SEO Sins That’ll Put You on Google’s Naughty List

Did you know Google can make your blog disappear from its search results?

One day, you’re getting a nice little trickle of traffic to a few of your posts. No, it’s nothing major, but it grows with every new post you publish, and you can see Google becoming a major source of traffic for you in the future.

But then it stops.

Poof, every single post and page of your blog disappears from Google. No warning, no alarm bells, nothing. You’re just gone, like you never even existed.

And the worst part?

You don’t even know why. It just feels like the biggest, baddest bully on the Internet decided to knock the crap out of you, leaving you whimpering and bleeding, wondering what on earth you did wrong.

It happens all the time. I know, because it happened to me.

How I Got Blacklisted by Google

About seven years ago, my first blog, Real Estate Answered, was blacklisted by Google.

One day, I was on the first page for the term “real estate investment,” raking in a few hundred visitors per day, and the next, my site was just gone. I could still access it by typing in the URL, but the steady stream of search traffic stopped. Completely.

Knowing what I know now, I totally deserved it, but at the time, I felt like a mugging victim. I’d just spent three months and hundreds of hours writing sixtysomething articles on real estate investing, but Google erased all that effort in a heartbeat.


Well, I can’t know for sure, but it was probably because I was paying guys in the Philippines to submit my site to a bunch of shoddy link directories. I had also started selling text links on my site – another big no-no.

At the time, I didn’t know any better. I thought everything I was doing was totally legitimate.

With Google though, ignorance is no excuse. You break the rules, you pay the consequences. End of story.

That’s why it’s so important to learn what the rules are.

The Truth about How Google Works

It’s evolving. All the time.

Every day, they tweak their algorithms to filter out spammers. Every year or two, they also roll out major updates that cause huge shifts in search engine rankings for nearly everyone on the web.

The result?

What works today may not work tomorrow. In fact, it might even hurt you.

Once upon a time, Google didn’t penalize people for making mistakes. They would withhold benefits, yes, but they wouldn’t actually reduce your ranking or make you disappear.

Now, they’re much more punitive. Even if you don’t make a big enough mistake to get yourself blacklisted, you can still see your search engine results drop overnight if you do something wrong, potentially by dozens of pages.

What, exactly, do they punish you for?

Well, the list is ever-changing, but here are the six sins most likely to land you on their naughty list:

Sin #1: Buying Links

Ever noticed ads from so called SEO firms promising you hundreds of links and a first page ranking for some paltry fee?

Well, ignore them. Here’s why:

Almost without fail, the links are from spammy, disreputable sites and social networking accounts. Getting a link from them is kind of like going to a job interview with a letter of recommendation from a well-known crack dealer. It hurts you, not helps you.

And it doesn’t matter how smart they are. Some of these companies claim they’ll never be found out by Google, because all of the spammy links are pointing to an intermediary page, creating a “link wheel” or “link pyramid.” Supposedly, that’s supposed to protect you.

It might even work… for a while. The problem is, remember how I said Google is always evolving? Even if they don’t catch you today, they are guaranteed to catch you at some point in the future. They always have.

The best policy?

Don’t buy (or sell) links. Period.

Sin #2: Joining the Wrong Link Directories

When considering submitting to a directory, I’d ask questions like:

– Does the directory reject urls? If every url passes a review, the directory gets closer to just a list of links or a free-for-all link site.

– What is the quality of urls in the directory? Suppose a site rejects 25% of submissions, but the urls that are accepted/listed are still quite low-quality or spammy. That doesn’t speak well to the quality of the directory.

– If there is a fee, what’s the purpose of the fee? For a high-quality directory, the fee is primarily for the time/effort for someone to do a genuine evaluation of a url.

Matt Cutts, on behalf of Google

Link directories are, by far, one of the most misunderstood parts of SEO

Once upon a time, they were an essential piece of any campaign to launch a new site. You could submit your blog to and a few industry-specific link directories, and you get a quick boost in your search rankings.

And it makes sense, right? If your blog is about surfing, then it makes sense to be included in all the link directories about surfing.

Well… here’s the problem:

Google looks at the web as consisting of “neighborhoods.” If your blog is frequently mentioned next to trusted, authority sites, you’re part of a “good neighborhood.” If all your links come from pages linking to thousands of junky sites, on the other hand, you’re part of a “bad neighborhood.”

Which one do you think link directories are?

A bad one, right? Because anyone can submit their site, most link directories become nothing more than a repository for junk. Even if your blog is totally legitimate, you’re guilty by association.

Now, that’s not to imply all link directories are bad. If you’re submitting your blog to a highly targeted directory that’s reviewed by an actual human being to make sure all of the sites listed are top-notch, you might still get some benefit from it, because you’re surrounded by other valuable sites.

Like in life, you are who you hang out with.

Sin #3: Article Marketing

Ever heard of article marketing?

It was all the rage back around 2008. The idea is you could write an article, “spin” multiple versions of it, making small adjustments to the wording, and then submit those versions to different websites that collect free articles in exchange for a link back to your site.

And it used to work. Back then, quite a few search results were dominated by sites like E-Zine Articles and Article Base.

Not so much anymore. Yes, lots of people still do article marketing, but it’s a dying technique. Here’s why:

Remember how I said Google is always getting smarter?

Well, the reason article marketing was so popular is you could take one of your blog posts, spin it into five different variations, and get a few dozen links back to the post. Google would see the different variations as totally unique articles, meaning no duplicate content penalty.

Over the years though, their algorithm has gotten better and better at sniffing out articles with small variations. Articles that used to rank for years are now plummeting, because Google recognizes them for what they are: spam.

That’s not to imply writing for other sites is a bad idea. Guest blogging, in particular, is one of the most effective ways of building a popular blog. That’s because you’re writing unique content for trusted site, surrounded by dozens of other authorities.

Article marketing, on the other hand, is all about trying to fool Google by duplicating content for suspicious sites filled with articles written by nobodies. Once again, you’re guilty by association.

Sin #4: Keyword Stuffing

“Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking.” –Google

Let’s get technical for a moment.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “keyword stuffing” means using a keyword over and over again in your content in the hopes that it’ll get you a better ranking. For example, let’s say you want to rank for “chocolate chip cookies.” This is what keyword stuffing would look like:

“Chocolate chip cookies are so delicious! I’m going to teach you my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe for making the best chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever tasted. The chocolate chip cookie recipe makes two dozen chocolate chip cookies.”

The whole article blog post would continue like that, using the keyword “chocolate chip cookies” dozens or even hundreds of times. Never mind the language is so unnatural it’s almost unreadable. It’s optimized, baby!

It’s also dumb. Here’s why:

Keyword density is only a tiny part of Google’s algorithm. Nobody knows for sure how much, but from what I’ve seen, I would guess it’s less than 5%. Next to the more important factors like domain authority and trusted links, it’s almost completely irrelevant.

And if you take it too far, it can hurt you.

Google’s top concern is the user experience. If all the articles people find are stuffed with keywords, no one will want to read them, and everyone will stop using Google to search the web. They’ll never allow it, and some SEO experts believe they actively penalize it.

But let’s say they don’t. Even if you escape totally unscathed, who do you think is going the link to content like that? Nobody with any authority. And since links are a much more important part of the algorithm, you’re dooming yourself to get ignored forever.

My advice?

Don’t think about keywords at all for the first year of your blog. Just focus on publishing jaw-dropping content and getting as many links as you can. Then, once your blog has some authority, go back and tweak the keywords in your most popular posts without making them sound even the slightest bit unnatural.

Yes, you might lose some opportunities, but your chances of building an authority site are much, much higher. Trust me.

Sin #5: Unnatural Anchor Text

This is another example of people taking a tiny piece of Google’s algorithm way too far.

If you’re not familiar with the term “anchor text,” it refers to the text inside of a link. So, the anchor text in this sentence is “anchor text.”

When Google is deciding what terms to rank your pages for, the anchor text is one of the places it looks for clues. If a bunch of people are linking to one of your posts with “funny fart jokes” as the anchor text, for example, there’s a good chance the post is about funny fart jokes.

So, surprise, surprise, people try to game the system. They build links using some of the disreputable techniques above, and they use the terms they want to rank for as the anchor text, hoping it’ll increase their chances of getting ranked.

But how natural does that look?

Not everyone is going to use the exact same anchor text when they link to you. Some of the links you get might have a shorter anchor text like “jokes,” related phrases like “made me laugh,” or even just a plain URL with no anchor text at all.

By using the same anchor text in all your links, you’re basically telling Google that you’re trying to game the system. And chances are, you’ll get penalized at some point.

Sin #6: Broken Links

“Check for broken links and correct HTML.” –Google

And last but not least, the sneakiest of them all: broken links.

Over time, pretty much all bloggers will accumulate some links that no longer work. Other sites die, move, and restructure all the time, making the page you originally linked to disappear.

The question is, if broken links are so natural, why does Google penalize you for them?

Well, think about it from their perspective:

Which page is likely more up-to-date: one with five broken links or one with zero? Also, which page provides a better user experience?

The current one, of course. So, all other factors being equal, a page with no broken links is likely to outrank a page with broken links.

But don’t freak out, because all other factors are almost never equal. Like a lot of the other algorithm variables we talk about here, broken links are a small one.

Still, it’s a sin that’s easy to atone for. Once or twice a year, pop into Google Webmaster Tools  and correct all of the broken links it gives you. You might notice a small bump in the rankings of some of your pages.

Feeling Worried Yet?

After reading all this, you might feel like you’re walking across a field of landmines, hoping you don’t step on an invisible deathtrap and get yourself blown up. You probably never knew SEO could be so dangerous.

The good news, though?

It doesn’t have to be. For the most part, the people who get in trouble with Google are either SEO geeks who are intentionally pressing their luck or unsuspecting innocents who get advice from the wrong person.

If you know nothing about SEO, and you’re doing nothing more than publishing awesome content and building relationships with your readers, you’re probably safe. In fact, that’s a good mindset for all bloggers, in my opinion. At least in the beginning.

Instead of trying to figure out how to manipulate the Google algorithm for better rankings, just create content that deserves to be on the first page, promote the hell out of it, and wait for Google to catch up. Their goal, after all, is to move the best stuff to the top of the pile.

In that respect, the real, supersecret, behind-the-scenes strategy for getting your blog ranked on the first page of Google doesn’t have anything to do with link pyramids or keyword density or any of the rest of that complicated nonsense. It’s just three simple steps:

  1. Create jaw-dropping content
  2. Get influencers talking about it
  3. Wait for Google to catch up


Maybe, but it’s exactly what Google wants you to do.

So why do anything else?

About the Author: Jon Morrow has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness,” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for CEO of Boost Blog Traffic, LLC. Poor man. :-)

6 SEO Sins That'll Put You on Google's Naughty List by


  1. Andrew Rondeau
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 02:17:55


    I agree with all 6.

    Three I’d like to add:

    1. Same as Article Marketing – but specifically ‘spinning articles’.

    2. Forums. Add profiles in forums just to get a backlink in the bio.

    3. Web 2 pages like Squidoo. Again, a few years back – the ‘in thing’. Some still think so. I’m not so sure.

    Have you listed the sins in any particular order?


    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 11:57:56

      Yep, all three of those are dangerous. Especially forum spamming.

      And no, they’re not really in any particular order.

    • Derek
      Sep 02, 2013 @ 00:13:22

      Thanks Jon, for some really helpful information. I’m new at this game and copied one of my posts from my blog to Goarticles. Is that likey to get me penalised and should I remove one of them?

    • Tom
      Oct 12, 2013 @ 02:07:40

      It sounds like a lot of the Web 2.0 (squidoo, hubpages, etc) backlinks all got penalized with the latest Google update.

      • Anne
        Jan 07, 2014 @ 05:46:20

        Google frowns on duplicate content. You should remove one of them. If you do not want to do that post a snippet of your article in one site and link to the complete entry on the other site, then establish authorship markup so Google can identify you as the author of the post.

    • Sean
      Mar 21, 2014 @ 05:23:07

      Keeping my site on page one for my desired search terms is like fire fighting with a glass of water. Trying to work out what’s good & what’s bad takes much valuable time – time I could better used for working. As for Squidoo, it’s by far the worse of it’s type; who needs to write articles for a company that virtually requires a full-time admin assistant to just keep them live and published?

    • Jason Bourne
      Sep 13, 2014 @ 06:06:19

      Wake up people! Google is a racketeer! People put up websites mostly, to make money. Google penalizes anyone, anyway they can who is engaged in a for profit business for the sole purpose of forcing web-owners to buy Google’s crappy poor performing and expensive PPC. Google is not your friend nor, do they want you to rank for any period of time, thus the constant algorithm changes that shuffles the deck making listings disappear. When Google penalizes a website for buying or selling links this is no more than a mafia shake-down and a restriction of trade. Forget page rank because having backlinks on websites does have a measurable CTR. How many business has google destroyed through de-listings? How many people put their hard earned money into programming, web-design etc… just to have the rug pulled out from under their feet? Thanks Google! I say since, Google receives government money, our tax dollars (DARPA & others) they are a suto arm of the government with share holders. Think about it, Google actually does restrict trade and destroyes real businesses every day! If you or I engaged in restriction of trade/business we would be in court defending against a criminal RICO charge. I ask why is Google exempt from the laws?

  2. Fiona Ingram
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:09:13

    Thanks for a very useful article, Your Royal Awesomeness.

  3. John Yeoman
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:12:01

    Great advice, Jon – especially about the futility of article marketing. I tested it rigorously in 2011, placed 50 articles, optimised my keywords, spun each article a thousand ways to 80%+ uniqueness (yea, I even spun my URLs). And I splattered them across the web via submission engines.

    I got about 200 clickthroughs from the lot. Not much return on 8 months time invested!

    I then wrote an academic paper on article marketing to document my results. The black hat guys at WarriorForum didn’t like it at all :) Here’s the link if anyone’s interested:

    (Truly, Jon, I’m not comment spamming. The article doesn’t sell anything.)

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 11:59:43

      Ha, no worries. I’ve seen you around, so I know you’re not a spammer. :-)

      And yeah, even if all of the stuff did work, it’s really not very time efficient. The clickthroughs are almost always abysmal.

      • John Yeoman
        Mar 29, 2013 @ 15:53:20

        Thanks, Jon. I gave up spamming at age 14. It stunted my growth.

  4. jared
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:24:00

    Great post.

    I used to rank sites fairly easily with most of the tactics you mentioned above. And yes, it worked… until it didn’t. To be more specific, it stopped around April of 2012 for most of my sites.

    Today, clients still want to rank on the first page of google! And my answer and tactics are simple.

    Use keyword research to discover what your target audience is looking for. Give them the answer and engage them by providing quality unique (written for people) content.

    Concentrate on the things you can control such as onsite SEO best practices, information architecture, usability, etc.

    In simple terms: Become relevant to your audience and they’ll take care of making you relevant in the search engines.

    It’s a long process and requires commitment and investment.

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 12:33:19

      “Become relevant to your audience and they’ll take care of making you relevant in the search engines.” I like that.

  5. Johanna
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:24:08

    A very useful and reassuring post, thanks Jon. My domain ranking has gone down recently and after reading this I’m going to sort out my broken links right now and see if that’s got anything to do with it.

  6. Coach Comeback
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:26:09

    Very good stuff, His Royal Awesomeness!

    It’s even funny to think people are still trying this garbage. I mean, how many animal updates do you need to realize that relying on “loopholes” is not a very strong base in which to build a business.

    Why don’t you ever see “The Wall Street Loophole” products for stock brokers?

    Or “How to trick your way into the pentagon” lol

    Just saying.

  7. Chris and Susan Beesley
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:31:22

    Awesome article once again Jon – this is so valuable. We see so often people trying to do “black hat” stuff but with the way Google is right now it only works for such a short time then it’s all change to another penguin or panda. Just much better to do it the right way from the start. Thanks again and looking forward to having you do that webinar for us :-) Chris and Susan

  8. Andy
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:32:21

    Great tips here Jon. I’m sure I’m not the only one to be wondering “What if…?”

    In other words, how do we check if we’ve broken the rules and fix each if we have? Is there any way of checking?

    • jared
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:48:27

      I use Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), plus other tools like Open Site Explorer. The only way I know of is to manually inspect all your backlinks and reach out to those site administrators to either remove links or (if cleaning up anchor text variation) change the anchor text. GWT also has a disavow link tool now that allows you to disavow certain incoming links. But these tools need to be used with caution also.

      There’s no real easy way. In many cases we’re talking about thousand’s of backlinks.

      For broken links, you can use GWT crawl errors under “Health” section and it will show 404 errors for any broken links.

      I also use tools like Screaming Frog which crawls your site and makes it easier to spot duplicate meta descriptions and page titles and other basic onsite SEO best practices.

      As far as keyword stuffing, there’s also tools like SEOBook Keyword Density checker that checks your page for keyword density. It’s also a good practice just to review the content on your site and see if it sounds natural. This is something you have to watch out for now when outsourcing content creation from so called “SEO content writers.” In reality, keyword density isn’t something to be concerned with so much as having natural, written for people, content. When you’re concerned with keyword density, the content is unnatural.

  9. Kammie @ Sensual Appeal
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:43:25

    Thank you, your royal Awesomeness. This article is very helpful!

  10. Luana Spinetti | Writer's Mind
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:46:26

    Jon– I wouldn’t call Article Marketing and Link Selling/Building a ‘sin’ in Google’s eyes.

    It pretty much depends on how these techniques are handled.

    Google Guidelines tell webmasters not to sell links that pass PageRank (i.e. that manipulate search engines’ rankings), but link ads don’t end in a penalty when measures — such like the rel=nofollow attribute — are implemented to make sure all the links bring in is traffic, not PageRank.

    Even link directories should implement rel=nofollow as a measure of avoiding penalty and maintaining legitimacy.

    Here is Google’s instructions regarding rel=nofollow usage

    As for Article Marketing, it can be good when done with conscience and handled with the same care as we do with guest posting. That way, I can write an interesting, original and engaging article and publish it on SelfGrowth, Squidoo or EzineArticles and it won’t damage my business.

    I agree with the damage Keyword Stuffing (which I don’t do), Unnatural Link profiles and Broken Links can cause a successful blog. I have a lot of broken links on my blogs and I’m looking forward to a quiet day to fix them all. :-)

    ~ Luana

    • Johannes Starke
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 12:21:02

      Just to clarify: you’re saying that as long as I include a rel="nofollow" attribute in my links, it’s valid to publish a guest post on multiple sites?

      Thanks you.

      • Luana Spinetti | Writer's Mind
        Mar 21, 2013 @ 12:30:41

        No. Publishing a guest post on multiple sites will still get you in trouble with content duplication policies at Google and at the sites themselves. All content should be unique to be of value to both the reader, your client and the platform your publish to.

        But text link ads with a rel=nofollow attribute are completely fine with Google.

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 12:37:19

      Yep, nofollow does sidestep some of the problems, but it also eliminates any potential benefits. They are just better ways to use your time than trying to make it work, in my opinion.

  11. Darlene at BlogBoldly
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:47:17

    Well, obviously the moral of the story is: Don’t depend on ONE traffic source.

    Yes, it’s important not to do silly things like buy links or have a huge backlink blast to your site.. but I say just as importantly.. perhaps MORE importantly is not to be dependent on only one source.

    That means Google, Facebook, Pinterest, whatever your traffic of choice.

    I had to learn from the school of hard knocks, just like you Jon, and ouch!! It hurt.

    Nothing like going from thousands of dollars of month to zero literally overnight.

    But the beauty of the Internet is we can get back up, brush off our britches and make it happen again!


    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 12:38:30

      Yep, good point. Most of healthy sites have extremely diverse traffic sources.

    Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:52:38

    Great points, though I feel that saying “just create great content and wait for Google to catch up” is a little misleading. Ideally you should create great content and then optimize it. Even this article itself has the url /seo-mistakes/ undoubtedly for SEO reasons.

    You can create great content, but if you give zero focus to SEO you are throwing away organic traffic. Let’s say your’e writing a rant about Coke vs Pepsi. You could title it “Cola Wars: My take on Coke vs Pepsi” or you could title it “Why Everyone Needs to Drink My Favorite Cola”

    People search Coke vs Pepsi. People search Cola Wars. Nobody searches “my favorite cola” or “why everyone needs to…” So no, exploiting loopholes is not the answer, but ignoring SEO altogether is not a good strategy either.

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 21:53:14

      Hence this sentence in the keyword stuffing section:

      “Then, once your blog has some authority, go back and tweak the keywords in your most popular posts without making them sound even the slightest bit unnatural.”

      I don’t have any problem with conservative optimization. I just think it’s a mistake to optimize from the beginning.

  13. Tina
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:57:35

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us, Your Royal Awesomeness!

  14. Bill Nickerson
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 06:59:16

    Article directories (and places like Squidoo and HubPages as Andrew mentioned) were never intended for building backlinks. They were intended as ways to spread the message as wide as possible by providing good content to a wider audience. The backlinks were just a side benefit. The same is true of forums. And blog commenting.

    The problem is that spammers will always find the things that Google and other SE’s see as positive signals and abuse the crap out of them. Then they are no longer useful for SEO.

    But that doesn’t mean they are no longer useful. SEO is not the only consideration. As long as you use them as they were intended (to spread useful content, to build networks and/or gain recognition in your niche) then keep on using them. Just don’t be spammy about it.

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 21:53:50

      Right on.

  15. Mike
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 07:10:33

    Is there a specific written or video tutorial you guys recommend for learning the basics of Google’s Webmaster Tools?

    • jared
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 07:31:26

      Just Google it 😉

  16. Debbie
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 07:37:15

    Thanks Jon again. Guess i am doing OK! Sounds like honest is the best policy to me. And don’t try to out smart others, it can come back and bit you.

    • Darlene at BlogBoldly
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 07:42:08


      Your site it crazy, awesome!!

      you go girl ~ darlene :)

    • Darlene at BlogBoldly
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 07:45:12

      Have to say one more thing..

      Is there a reason you have the ‘launcheffect’ and ‘barrel’ links at bottom of your site? Personally (unless they’re your company) I’d take those puppies off!

      • Debbie
        Mar 21, 2013 @ 08:02:44

        Thanks Darlene. The ‘launcheffect’ and barrel’ is the way Jon had me set it up. Hey Jon why do I have those at the bottom?

        You actually are talking to the most untechnical person in the world. I just do what I am told. LOL
        (Most of the time.)

        Thanks again Darlene. I need that!

  17. Maria Killam
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 07:46:06

    Jon, this is such a generous post, thanks for writing it! I recently had someone contact me saying she was a ‘publicist’ and that I could pay (a few thousand dollars actually) to get my posts published on ‘reputable’ sites for traffic. I got a suspicious when she said that only a few of them need ‘original’ content and the rest could be an old article of mine re-tweaked a little.
    You’re awesome!

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 21:55:13

      Yeah, file that publicist under the “Do Not Ever Hire” category. :-)

      • Alexandra Bello
        Nov 19, 2013 @ 18:22:10

        So, your royal awesomeness, all the articles I have written in the past, that didn’t get the best exposure can’t be brought back to life. :( I wish to re-promote my writing in one of the blogs I control that is getting more traffic but I can’t duplicate my content, so I don’t know how to do it.

  18. Jane
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 07:52:01

    Wow! Not surprised that the #1 sin is buying links. Not only it is black hat (that it manipulates rankings in SERPs) but also it makes a blogger look cheap. Links should be either naturally occurring or you should work your butt of writing guest posts or commenting on relevant blogs to get yours!

    Thanks for the wonderful post Jon!

  19. Mark Young
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 07:59:02

    Jon: This article was very helpful. To a non-geek trying to understand the perils of Google’s SEO black list, this was a great learning experience. Thanks.

  20. Fred Showker
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 08:01:27

    A masked thug storms into the convenience store brandishing an assault weapon

    Bystanders and readers notice the big G on the thug’s jacket … maybe a gang … with eyes down they quickly move to the door and out onto the street . . .

    The thug pushes the poor woman against the wall and through clinched teeth says:

    “Look here, blog owner, we don’t care who you are … if you run that article from those publishers, or add alt tags, or title tags, we’re going to KILL your search engine rankings… do you understand that? Death on the web!”

    He turns and is gone as quickly as he appeared.

    What do you do? Nothing you can do. You don’t want your rankings killed … nobody wants to die out there on the internet. But nobody else will go up against these thugs — they’ve got the police and the government paid off.

    What’s a small blog owner to do? Fold.


    • Bill Nickerson
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 18:44:53

      Not an apropos analogy Fred. Big G isn’t a gang of thugs wielding assault weapons. They are a service bureau that helps people find useful shops amongst millions of tiny, out of the way, hard to find places.

      When they find a shop that has falsely advertised themselves, and they find that clients are dissatisfied with the way they’re treated by shops that do certain things, the stop telling their clients how to find those shops and shops that do the same things.

      Google has a responsibility to give searchers what they’re looking for. They need to provide a great experience. Spammy sites don’t cut it for a customer. Google is quite transparent about what they want to see. And they will change their algorithm every time spammers learn ways to abuse it. And they do it to protect their business.

      • Kip Ingram
        Oct 20, 2014 @ 07:26:06

        “Buying links.” Not that I’ve ever done it, but let’s consider what that is. You pay money to someone in order for them to create and distribute an “identifying pointer” to your services.

        Isn’t that what all businesses do when they advertise? When you get right down to it that’s no different from buying a newspaper ad or a TV commercial. I can certainly understand Google deciding to ignore such references in their own “calculations of relevance,” but going beyond that by taking overt punitive action seems wrong.


    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 21:58:05

      I can understand your sentiment here. Sometimes it does feel like Google is bullying us.

      All “law enforcement” feels that way sometimes, though. I grumble about the cops all the time. :-)

      But in the end, we need them. Just like Google.

      • Fred Showker
        Mar 22, 2013 @ 06:36:11

        @Bill Nicholson . . . LOL so I dressed it up a bit for theatrics — you wouldn’t have read it if I hadn’t !! LOL

        then I spent an hour explaining why the analogy is in fact very accurate without the theatrics — and why it is my belief that the web community as a whole is being “had” by Google’s relentless, unquenchable thirst for profits . . . and it’s like that “1984” commercial, except the big face on the screen is Google.

        But I deleted it.

        Simply put : if you threaten measurable physical or financial damages for not conforming to something you want done or not done … and you have sufficiently convinced the victim that you intend to carry out your threat — then you have engaged in racketeering, a class 1 Felony. No matter who you are, so long as you are not the government or police, the corner convenience store analogy is 100% accurate.

        You can read Title 18 of the Federal Code for yourselves, and understand that what’s technically happening here is text book, right out of the code.

        Look carefully. You’ll see that all of this is not about SEO, or blogs or rankings or content or any of the stuff discussed here — that’s Google’s smoke screen so the unknowing won’t see what’s going on.

        In reality it’s about Google Advertising Profits. In 2010 their tweaks took 15% of their AdSense sites out of the rankings to make room for the “bigger” ones. They saw an increase in their bottom line, and a decrease in the checks they had to send to AdSense sites.

        So how many of you were FORCED to switch to direct bank payment, as opposed to receiving that cherished Google check in the mail each month. Yup. You too, eh?

        In 11 and 12 along comes Penguin and other “new” policies like direct deposit, and another gulp of the population dropped off the radar, so Google could report an 27% increase in the bottom line. Did anyone else report an 27% increase in the bottom line? Did any of you?

        If you look carefully, you’ll find their top advertiser sites running perfectly well, rising to the TOP of the rankings and search results, while VIOLATING EACH AND EVERY RULE (Sin) Jon has outlined above. So, what’s with that?

        But you’ve got to look close, and GET OVER the belief that Google is benevolent and is doing us all a favor by allowing us to search the web. And, believing you’ll be a big success if you play by today’s Google rules . . . and tomorrow’s . . . and the next day’s.

        (And sorry, if you think Google is law enforcement, or the police, we’ll sell you this bridge in Brooklyn really cheap)

        So long as Google is a monopoly — it’s all down hill.

        I’d be better off retiring and taking my boat out to the islands somewhere and worry if the tide is gonna reach my chair.


        Good day

      • Bill Nickerson
        Mar 22, 2013 @ 10:28:36

        Hi Fred, I can see what you’re driving at, but at the end of the day Google is a business. And we do have choices, whether for selling ads on our sites or generating traffic. But Google is still the best option for many of us.

        It isn’t racketeering at all. By your logic it would be racketeering for me to mark comments on my blog as spam, or for WalMart to throw me out if I set up a booth in their entrance to sell my wares.

        I don’t believe that Google is benevolent. They are a corporation and they live for profit.

        They make money by selling advertising. Advertisers use them because they expect a return on their investment. Searchers use Google because they expect to find relevant and meaningful results for their searches. Without the searchers, the advertisers don’t see the ROI and Google doesn’t see it’s profits. So Google will do everything it can to provide what it thinks the searchers want so that the advertisers get their ROI and Google makes a profit.

        As for the threatening letters your friends and clients receive about links from your site, I can’t comment since I’ve not seen them. I took a look at your site and I can’t see why it would be considered a bad site. But I’m no expert there. They can handle those links without having to get you to do it. Google has the disavow tool just for that. But if I was in the design niche and had a link from your site I’d keep it and let Google do their worst.

        You talked in your other comment to Brian about your AdSense dropping rather substantially after Panda/Penguin. Did your traffic drop by that same ratio? How much of your traffic is from Google?

  21. Stacie @ Woman in Leadership
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 08:15:59

    Hello Jon,

    Thanks for writing another excellent post. It is plain dumb to try to fool the Google algorithm. It is something that the “try-to-get-quick-rich” are attracted to. Unfortunately they pay BIG time. If people focus on their passion and not quick results, everything else will fall into place. Yes, we are all in the business to make money. When that is all that matters to you, then it is time to re-evaluate goals.

    Many Blessings,

    Stacie Walker

  22. Jenny
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 08:29:25

    Thanks for the great article. Ironically the strategies you just layed out are the ones I’m using to build my site. Although I could speed up the link building.

  23. Harleena Singh
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 08:32:06

    Jon, I’d add to the awesome discussion on this incredibly awesome post is that one should always monitor and moderate the comments on your blog –

    1) Do not allow people to leave anchor texts, keywords, brand names in the NAME field.
    2) The commenters should be the owners of the site link they use, or at least on their roll and visible on the company website. Else these back links which you allow can backfire on you.
    3) Always use a plugin to make all external links as NoFollow.

    One more thing that I heard was not have posts shorter than 300 words if you want it counted for SEO. Always use semantic variations of the keyword to support the primary keyword, and never use too many money keywords together!

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 21:58:54

      Good points. I need to implement some of those. :-)

  24. Bree
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 08:38:31

    I was curious about adding my blog to directory sites and using article marketing to help grow traffic, but now I know!

    My time is better used to do guest blogging, interacting with my readers, and writing original content.

  25. Melissa Ng
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 08:53:46

    As always, wonderful post. Great things to keep in mind as I continue to grow my site. I can always count on you to offer the right guidance 😉

  26. Susan B. Bentley
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 09:14:53

    Great post, Jon. I think we should all have ‘write good content’ on preprinted labels that we can just hand to people whenever they start asking about seo. Your post was also a timely reminder to me to delve into Webmaster Tools, through which I’ve now discovered I’m on someone’s blogroll as a freelancing authority, fab!

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 21:59:47

      Webmaster tools is da bomb. :-)

  27. Linda
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 09:41:08

    Hey Jon

    Good article. Mostly I lurk but wanted to add my 2 cents. The biggest problem with SEO is that people try to “reverse engineer” what success looks like. For example, if top ranked blogs have lots of links, they think links are the key to top ranking.

    Problem is, that’s like trying to reverse engineer popularity by saying that hot girl has a striped shirt and a Gucci bag, so a striped shirt and Gucci bag makes you hot. Never really works that way.

    Google has always said they want authoritative & popular sites to rank best. Every major shake up at Google has been to close a loophole that’s being exploited.

    If people would spend more time focusing on those things, they wouldn’t need tricks and loopholes.


    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 22:00:30

      That’s a great insight, Linda.

  28. Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 09:59:05

    Important post Jon — we all need to watch how we write online to make sure we’re not mistaken for a spammer.

    And it’s not just Google — recently, my blog was branded a malware distributor by Facebook, which was a nightmare. They use outside security vendors and simply trust what they say. It was an interesting process to try to reclaim my reputation — if anyone wants to know the hidden website to visit to fix it, you can read all the details on my Forbes post about it:

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 22:02:32

      Oh my God! That’s scary.

  29. Amandah
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 10:10:08

    Hi Jon,

    Thanks for these great reminders! I had a client who purchased links. I advised against it.

    Like most people, I used EZine Articles in 2008. I haven’t added anything to my account in a few years. I thought it was a good strategy, but I guess it’s better to guest post for a specific blog/website, versus posting on an article directory. But…

    What if an article directory is targeted to your specific business, i.e., life coaching, doctor, lawyer, hairstylist, IT developer, etc.? It could work. Right?

    Take, a directory targeted to self-improvement. Many people have signed up to be listed in their directory. I was on the site at one time, but I deleted my account because I wanted to focus on my writing career and develop my website.

    Could it be helpful to be listed on an article directory that receives a high page rank and web traffic? And…If article directories don’t work, why hasn’t Google shut them down?

    Question for you…

    What if you have a vlog (video blog)?

    If media such as video, infographics, and images are all the rage right now, how would Google rank your vlog? Is it best to incorporate some text, let’s say at least 500 words?

    *YouTube is nothing but videos. I would think that the site as a whole has to have a have a high page rank.


    Thank you!

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 22:10:00

      A general rule of thumb is this:

      The harder it is to get a link from a place, the more valuable the link is.

      So, if anyone can get articles listed on a certain site, then people will eventually started using it, and the value will plummet. On the other hand, getting a guest post on a popular blog is rather difficult, and it always will be, so the value is much higher.

      Again, the rule doesn’t always work, but it often does.

      Not sure about ranking videos. Something to look into later. :-)

  30. Rachelle Strauss
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 10:13:29

    Hey CEO of Boost Blog Traffic, LLC; thanks for sharing your awesomeness in this post.

    I’ve had clients almost BEG me to buy links, keyword stuff and somehow magically buy their way to the top of Google thanks to dodgy (and quite possibly well-meaning) advice they’ve received from others.

    My experience to date has been that getting Google love is a bit like any other love-based relationship; it takes time, commitment and you need to show up 😉

    So wine and dine your readers and eventually Google will come across with his violin to see what you’re up to. Give your readers great content (I find giving them something to ‘take away’; some added value tip they can implement in the next half hour works great for 80% of my content) and show up consistently.

    By treating your readers well Google gets curious.

    And now I’m curious! When you say “promote the hell out of it”, what tools would you use for this? Social media I’m guessing; but what else and how, specifically?

    P.S. High Five to the lovely Marsha for helping me get notifications to my new email address so I can keep up with your latest posts…

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 22:11:54

      Love the metaphor. :-)

      By “promote the hell out of it,” I mean get influencers talking about it. On their blog, twitter, wherever. Doesn’t really require any tools. Just relationships.

      I’ll pass on your thanks to Marsha. :-)

      • Rachelle Strauss
        Mar 22, 2013 @ 00:15:53

        Thanks for the clarification Jon. I’m getting a relationships theme with all of this. Neat 😉

  31. Kimberly Jones
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 10:38:32

    I love this blog and tweeted it! Thanks for breaking down a wonky and sometimes confusing topic (SEO). What it comes down to is this: If you operate with integrity and provide good content, you will succeed. The search engines are important to consider but they are not everything and it simply isn’t worth ruining your reputation to get to the top of them. Even if you are easily found through a search, nobody is going to do business with you if you are crap.

  32. Susanna Perkins
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 10:39:07

    Excellent points, Jon! Some day I’m sure we’ll look back at all these “techniques” and laugh. About 10 years ago I got a site to rank #1 in several search engines for most of my keywords. This was in the pre-Google days of Alta Vista. They were big in search once, remember them?? Anyway. . . my successful technique on this pre-blog HTML site was to list my keywords at the bottom of the page in white type on a white background. LOL!

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 22:12:40

      Ah, the good old days. :-)

  33. Frank Béraud
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 10:41:14

    Many thanks! I’m totally new to all this. Your article was enlightening…

  34. David Cunningham @ KadokaMedia
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 11:10:52

    Thanks Jon great, informative and immediately helpful post.

    As you well know, love it or hate it, Google is the 8000 pound gorilla (a very smart gorilla at that) in the room. Yes, Google can be seemingly unfair to individual bloggers. Yes, the great flame throwing Google dragon periodically comes out of its Silicon Valley lair, runs its latest algorithms and slays unsuspecting bloggers.

    Having said that, as you have so appropriately pointed out, the way to a first page ranking is really quite simple. It is to create exceptional content and speak directly to and in support of your blog’s audience. Then present your exceptional content to qualified influencers and induce them to discuss it. The process is not easy and requires a substantial amount of well thought out work. However, it very much worth it and highly productive.

    If you avoid making any combination of the 6 SEO sins Jon has pointed out and focus upon producing exceptional content you can achieve that coveted first page ranking. Don’t ever attempt to game the Google system. Many try but all will ultimately fail. Google has the resources to employ the very best talent available to make sure of that.

  35. Brian Schnabel
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 11:46:20

    Hey, “Your Royal Awesomeness,” this post is pretty dead on with what I’ve known for a long time. Yes! I’m a Geek but a Geek that has an understanding of something called balance. I’d like to add here that if you are smart you can use Keywords, not just with Google but Bing as well effectively in the title of your posts only, if you feel you must. I do this when possible simply because I know that people will read the bold face type of an index before they will look at the fine print (for lack of a better term) and like to see something in the index list of titles that reflects what they are searching for. However, I don’t attempt to use my chosen Long Tail Phrase any more than one time in my post’s body, if at all. However, I will make sure that I use other key words in the post to support the title and what the post is all about in the first place. If it works naturally and fits the formula I use for determining what constitutes a good Keyword then I use it. If nothing fits my formula than I don’t lose sleep over it. Anyhow, now that I’ve given you my two cents worth, “Great Post!” Rock On! Cheers!

  36. John March
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 12:04:01

    You wrote: “The Truth about How Google Works
    It’s evolving. All the time.” I am tiring of the gurus who insist that THEY no how google does work. It is almost a fulltime job keeping on top of their “changes” and I couldn’t have said it better than you: “For the most part, the people who get in trouble with Google are either SEO geeks who are intentionally pressing their luck or unsuspecting innocents who get advice from the wrong person.” Also, common sense goes a long way. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t the truth.

  37. The Complaining Cow
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 13:08:06

    Only been blogging for a few months get a few hundred hits a week so this is useful to keep me focussed on good quality content and not the other stuff so much yet. As always excellent stuff Jon (I use the cheat sheet for every post I write now!) Cheers.

  38. Val Sherill
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 13:45:10

    I had been toying with the idea of directories, but was feeling a bit hesitant about doing so. Now, I know why! Should I decide to go the route of a directory, I’ll know to carefully scrutinize the websites already listed. Thank you!

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 22:06:35

      Hooray! Disaster prevented. :-)

  39. tom paterson
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 15:46:49

    Jon: Excellent. As usual.

  40. Flora Morris Brown
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 16:21:15


    Thanks so much for alerting us to the dangerous tactics that can get us dinged, banged or even shut down. Those of us who are not tech savvy are easy targets for fast talking geeks who promise high rankings and big bucks by using unscrupulous SEO techniques.

    Now I’m worried about the articles I posted on Ezine Articles years ago when it was popular. I wonder if I’m hurting myself by having them there, and if I chose to remove them, could I reclaim them. Hmmm.

    I appreciate the commenters for adding to the conversation, especially Carol Tice for sharing her horrible experience and solution with Facebook.

  41. Teresa
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 16:29:19

    Everything on this list is what many affiliate/internet marketing guru’s teach. I now know it’s not a very good example to follow. It’s very difficult to know who you can trust sometimes when you are first learning. Your post tells me there a few honest souls out there willing to help you out by telling the truth.

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 22:06:08

      So true about the gurus. I wonder how many people have been blacklisted because of them. So sad.

  42. Joy Healey
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 17:00:18


    Very interesting post, thanks.

    I used ezineArticles quite successfully a few years ago – once of my best sources of traffic.

    Do you think I should remove my articles from it? The same ones may be elsewhere, but they’re not blasted all over the place/spun.

    Thanks, Joy

    • Jon
      Mar 21, 2013 @ 22:04:09

      I’m not sure if removing them would make sense or not. If it were me, I probably would.

  43. Jan Gregory
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 23:08:48

    Article Marketing

    Web 2.0 properties

    In my experience, it depends on how these are defined and used

    Article marketing can also mean… an original author creating original content one time and publishing that on Ezine Article or other directory that will allow a backlink to the authors website.

    This strategy is a perfectly acceptable( to Google too) of leveraging your special knowledge with an existing market of searchers.

    Direct Traffic.
    Which can be substantial over time. Create a compelling and engaging offer with the link opportunity and they will click and be happy with you and your website. And so will Google

    And I’m convinced Google will pick up that backlink to your correlated topic page and find the backlink delivers relevant and added knowledge for the searcher and give the website a boost either with so-called “link juice” or at the least… upping the authority factor for the domain itself

    + Truly useful original content with an existing market of searchers.

    + Publish the original at one place only.

    + Match your article back link to a related page on your website only. Topic is a related keyword target, not the same keyword. Essentialy I craft a landing page to match the article

    + Don’t overdo it

    These strategies have been used for years and still work if you follow the rules

  44. Nikki
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 23:53:59

    This isn’t my first time seeing someone say that the best way to get Google’s attention is to just create high-quality content.

    But it’s my first time actually taking the advice to not worry about SEO. The way you worded it all makes the difference. My site isn’t even three months old yet, but almost every post had a keyword focus. I do believe that the quality is there, but I know I could have much more content on my site if i stopped worrying about perfecting SEO in every post.

    I feel more confident about just writing about my experiences and sharing my advice. Like you said, if it’s good, Google will catch up. And since I’ve started compiling the blogs I’ll be guest posting for,I know my rankings will increase soon.

    Thanks for your expertise & insight. :)


  45. Amandah
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 03:54:58


    Thanks for your insight!

  46. Brian Schnabel
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 06:57:22

    Thanks for writing that Fred. I too have noticed how every time I’ve put a site together and Used Google AdSense on it the site would fall in their search engine’s rankings. No matter what I did it my AdSense site would drop like a stone. My former Mentor’s (who turned out to be a complete fraud anyway; Internet Guru they certainly never deserved the title of) once told me it was because my sites were junk in Google’s eyes but I never really believed that because as soon as I removed the AdSense coding from the sites the ranking would go back up and the traffic would return. Nice to know I’m not the only one that notices these things. Thanks again! Cheers!

    • Fred Showker
      Mar 22, 2013 @ 07:39:28

      Thank you Brian … and I think I am seriously too old for this craziness . . . it’s for the young folks.

      When we took a nose dive, I became obsessed with figuring out why. But there is not a single grain of support or help forthcoming from Google. It made me sick. It makes me want to give up.

      Since 1987, I’ve run a clean, web. We set up on Compuserve, Delphi and the services trying so badly to become “graphical” . . . we were the original DTP forums on those, then GEnie and Quantum. Apple invited me to help set up publishing “community” on eWorld… short-lived, then Quantum took that formula, launched and we set up forums there for User Groups and DTP, and in ’88 they changed the name to America Online. Then along came Netscape and AltaVista and the “graphical” web and we were off and running.

      What kills me — is last year, and now continuing, we’re getting calls and letters from companies we wrote articles for, and linked from our web site. Much of the content we wrote, and has been copied and replicated millions of times on the web, but we get penalized for “duplicate” content. I coined the phrase “Top Ten Deadly Sins of Desktop Publishing” … search for it. How many did you find. Later it became the “Top Ten Deadly Sins of Web Design” in my national seminars on Web Design in the early 1990s.

      … We followed all the rules. But our friends, some who have been on board for 25+ years have started getting “threat” emails from Google. YES I SAID THREAT emails.

      Yes, Google threatens to penalize my friends rankings if they do not get their links off my site. They say my site is “bad” and potentially harmful to their site. These are legitimate friends, and colleagues I’ve been with since LONG, LONG before Google even came along.

      Why does Google slander me?

      And the answer is what most ALL of the commenters above don’t understand. They are blindsided by Google. Because Google actually doesn’t know.

      Google says : If you BUY links, we’ll penalize you.

      (Besides being restriction of commerce) HOW DOES GOOGLE KNOW ???

      WE AND THEY WERE PENALIZED FOR BUYING LINKS but we didn’t buy them. Period. That’s how I know. Google wrongly accused me of that, and now slanders me to my colleagues.

      WHY? Listen up folks :

      Google actually doesn’t know. They’re only using that as an excuse to punish sites. They really do not know if you’ve been paid for links or not… obviously. There’s no proof … tangible, defendable proof, that their rules actually work beyond hearsay. The big lie.

      I was one of the FIRST in the AdSense program. I’ve got 17,000 pages with adsense ads on them. We were averaging $1,500 to $2,000 per month on our AdSense — so much so that we didn’t offer or have any other form of advertising. (You know your web page sucks if it has ads on it.)

      So, guess what. When Google burned us, we dropped to $80 to $150 per month and that’s where we are today. Made me sick.

      Now, if you have a 3rd grade education or higher, you should be able to figure out why would Google want us out of the search results.

      We’re clean, no ads (at the time), no paid links, no spam, all original content, and had been established the ‘expert’ in our field on the web. We were hitting the top two or three results in Google for words like “Photoshop” and “Retouching” and “Graphic Design” and so forth . . .

      So you believe Google did everyone a service taking us out but letting the stalkers, perdators and replicator sites float to the top?

      You think Google wanted us there instead of sites that were paying up to $5 per keyword click for “Photoshop” ????? Seriously?

      You think this all has something to do with anything besides money? Seriously?

      I taught Web Design in national seminars through the mid-1990s. . . meta tags, clear titles, all about “clean” web design was the mantra . . . You knew your web site sucked if anything moved or blinked. Look where we are today.

      If they think I’m going back to optimize 17,000 pages of text they’re crazy — so they can penalize me all they want.

      It’s over for me. You guys battle it out.

      But seriously, Brian . . . thanks for your post.

      (And Jon, if you read this, please just go back and remove all my posts . . . ain’t no use. It’s like herding cats. )

      • Jon
        Mar 22, 2013 @ 20:47:37

        Sounds terrible, Fred. Have you tried using the Google Disavow tool? That’s one way to get rid of the links. Supposedly, Google will review your site afterward and remove the penalty if the suspicious links no longer exist.

  47. Brian Schnabel
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 08:25:54

    Not a problem Fred. I am sorry to hear that you are giving up on things though. Personally though I can quite understand your frustration with it all. I think moving forward people are going to realize eventually that the internet is going to be an extension of a traditional business. For way to long folks have been attempting to make money with technology without actually dealing with people. A Loyal customer base will never last however without people to people communications. To me; back linking is a joke (if you aren’t able to get your site in the top thirty without them all the back links in the world won’t help), over coding themes or pages is foolish (light and speedy is my thinking when I build), using social book marking sites is great if you know how to pick up the phone to re-enforce the connections you’ve made online and making yourself available to your audience after a sale is made is key. Many folks do not do this; expect to just kick back and collect the money and it ain’t gonna work that way moving ahead. The writing is on the wall. Its high time people saw it for what it is. Awesome posts Fred. Your points are valid ones. Take care and stay well! Cheers!

  48. Johannes Starke
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 11:33:49

    Thanks for your help on my previous question!

    The other thing that sparked my curiosity is how to promote the hell out of it when I publish a blog post.


    • Jon
      Mar 22, 2013 @ 20:44:42

      I was speaking mainly about reaching out to authorities in your space and getting them to talk about it. The best way to do that is to build a relationship with them beforehand.

  49. Kathleen Lewis
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 12:46:38

    I love how you put so much thought into your explanations – you have made the frustrating feat of cleaning-up my own site a bit easier to conquer. At least attempt to conquer.

    I have recently begun the task of reviewing all the sites that link back to me, and have discovered a ton of little directories that list my site. For the most part, they appear to be spammy with no visible means to contact them. Do you suggest using Google’s Disavow Tool for such sites?

    • Jon
      Mar 22, 2013 @ 20:42:59

      Yes. Use it carefully, though.

  50. Heather Stone
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 19:02:45

    Hi Jon,
    A lot of these should be self-explanatory, I guess, but I think your conclusion here makes the most powerful point of all. If you publish great content, you won’t run into the majority of these problems. And most of these tricks won’t do much to improve the overall quality of your posts. Thanks for the great overview and thanks to rperfect for sharing this post with the BizSugar community.

  51. Margo Redfern
    Mar 23, 2013 @ 08:26:16

    I totally hear what you are saying on the methods, but whenever I find articles on how to improve your SEO they are most often focused on blogs. I have a retail site. I do have a blog on my retail site’s url that I contribute actively to, but only about 10 followers. 😉

    How does the creation of unique content work when my website is geared for selling products, not to have people read articles. We guest blog, get reviews by mom bloggers, write our own blog, actively manage/promote on the social media channels, have product descriptions with occasional and subtle keywords – but yet we are not on the 1st page for Google on anything but 2 of our key phrases. I’m new to this and not sure how it all applies to retail sites? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Bill Nickerson
      Mar 23, 2013 @ 09:36:06

      A couple ideas come to mind.

      Make your descriptions really pop. Be thorough, exciting and sell the value to the customer. Use bullet points to list benefits and features. The idea here is to keep the reader engaged since Google is looking at user reactions as part of the mix now.

      Add in video or pictures that show people how to use the product. A video can go a long way since you’ll post it on YouTube and link back to your site as well as embedding it on the site.

      Make sure you’re making use of h2 and h3 headings rather than just using bold text. Search engines look at these tags as having importance. So have things like <h2>Benefits of XYZ</h2> for your titles.

    • Paul
      Oct 04, 2013 @ 14:05:29

      If you are using a self-hosted wordpress platform(you pay for hosting) blog you can use SEO plugins. These plugins will do most of the work for you. Plugins such as all-in-one-seo and my favorite yoast seo work very well.

  52. Nicki Escudero
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 11:06:57

    Hi, Jon! I really loved your article–great tips in here! Thanks for sharing!

  53. Marcus Brotherton
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 12:54:01

    Jon, will genuine “syndication” of articles hurt a blog?

    I write posts for my main blog that are syndicate on


    • Jon
      Mar 25, 2013 @ 14:52:12

      The duplicate content penalty can still hurt you, unless you use the proper tags to credit your original post.

  54. Mary
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 13:04:47

    Hi Jon,
    Thanks for your article. I started my blog 18 months ago and following a marketing guru was able to establish first page ranking for all my keywords and a great Alexa ranking, which I noticed you don’t mention. In the last six months, my ranking and front page placements have tanked. I think I got off track with my keywords and diluted my efforts.

    I do also guest blog – original articles pretty much. I write for and they have a feature that allows me to repost articles but not have Google spider them so they don’t affect my ranking or yourtango’s either.

    Interesting read. If Google is god on the net, does that make you the holy spirit… teach us the tricks of the trade?… :-)

  55. Johanna
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 13:34:04

    Jon, this is beside the point, but I really like that you try out different headlines. Obviously you’re not afraid to do so. I admire that. That takes guts. And you know what? It makes me like your efforts more. I think, Hey, there’s a guy on the end of this, who is tinkering with how to improve his reach, and he’s okay if I notice, even as he sets himself up as an authority.

    • Jon
      Mar 25, 2013 @ 14:54:00

      Thanks Johanna. :-)

  56. GwenHill
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 13:45:13

    Hi Jon,
    Good post. HOWEVER, I almost did not read it because of the annoying rectangle (with social media favicons) on the left that obscures the text I am trying to read. I love the clever coding that allows those containers to scroll with the page. Looks like this one needs a little code tweaking.

    Content GREAT. User experience, not so much…

    • Jon
      Mar 25, 2013 @ 14:54:42

      Hmm, it seems to be working properly in all browsers from this end. What kind of a device were you using, if I might ask?

  57. Maciek
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 13:59:28

    Thanks for your article Jon.
    Best regards from Holland

  58. Suja Md
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 13:59:37

    With the recent panda update, I think I’m a victim, google pushed me from its search result. I did submit my site to various directories, I thought it was a regular practise. But now, I’m nowhere in the search result. How do I over come this?

    • Jon
      Mar 25, 2013 @ 14:55:11

      You can disavow the directory links.

      • Suja Md
        Mar 25, 2013 @ 15:46:31

        Thanks Jon! you are helpful as always!

  59. ConnorMeaks
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 14:32:05

    Thanks for this Jon. I continually see people / website repurposing lots of their content in different ways which kind of reminds me of V2.0 of the Article Marketing section you mentioned.

    Do you ever see google adjusting and trying to catch on people repurposing their content? For example, changing a blog post into video format, or into an info graphic / image?

    • Jon
      Mar 25, 2013 @ 14:55:51

      Not that I know of. As far as I know, that’s still fine, as long as you do it within reason.

    • Jonny Craft
      Jan 07, 2014 @ 10:37:00

      Good luck on Google listening to you when you submit a disavow file. I have submitted two over 3 months and it hasn’t done anything!

  60. Kelly Stilwell
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 15:09:17

    Thanks, Jon. I always learn from you. Every. single. time. Thank you.

  61. Taiwanda
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 16:49:31

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I really didn’t know about them but will be mindful of them.

  62. Julie
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 18:12:35

    Great advice, as usual, Jon. It’s enough to make you want to tear your hair out trying to figure out what makes Google tick. Thanks for saving us time and frustration on the things we don’t even know we’re being penalized for.

  63. Lalanthi
    Mar 25, 2013 @ 19:13:23

    Thanks heaps Jon, Very valuable advice.

  64. Graeme Benge
    Mar 26, 2013 @ 01:55:29

    It may not be a new sin but picking up on the theme of ignorance, I think it’s well worth investing a bit of time analysing your back link profile.
    The benefits:
    -Identify low quality links and request removal
    -Identify high quality links and strengthen them or your relationship with the site owner
    -Understand the nature of how links are built to your site, by that I mean; link source type, mix of domain authority and how frequent links get built.

    That last point I think is important for understanding your link building strategy moving forward.

  65. Mo
    Mar 26, 2013 @ 02:40:09

    Hi guys, my hits took a bit of a dive last month – surely that couldn´t coincide with accepting €25 from Adbeans??? Maybe I´m a cyber crim and I didn´t even know it! Great article Jon though I don´t think I´m making those mistakes simply ´cos my SEO skills are pretty low.

  66. Amanda
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 11:21:05

    Hi Your Royal Awesomeness,

    Thanks for writing this article and sharing it. I teach a basic html and CSS class for the Cisco Academy for the Vision Impaired, and will be passing this on to my students as further reading since we just covered search engine optimization and the symantic web last week.


  67. Mike
    Mar 27, 2013 @ 12:40:53

    So just to make sure I’m clear–whenever I’m in WordPress and notice I have a spammy comment (trackback/pingback), those are all bad links that look bad in Google?

    I have the Growmap Anti-Spam plugin and never publish a single one of these comments…but you guys are saying that these random, spammy comments are likely linking to my site, and hurting me in Google’s eyes?

    I ask because I get a couple of these a day, and have for a year. There just seems to be no way to prevent them.

    • Amanda
      Mar 28, 2013 @ 08:11:27

      Hi Mike,

      I think that’s what’s being said here. And you’re right, there’s just no easy way to prevent the spammy links/trackbacks. And I don’t think it matters which CMS/blogging platform you use. I’ve also found that if you don’t update your content enough, it’s like your site becomes wild and the spammers just start flocking over and leaving all kinds of comments and links. Probably because they assume no one’s paying attention and it’s an easy target.

  68. Joanne Munro
    Mar 31, 2013 @ 05:57:55

    I use a WordPress Broken Link Checker plugin that does the job nicely. I do a lot of interviews and it’s usually links on the interviewees site that are the broken ones rather than mine.

  69. Colette Morris aka workfmhomediva
    Apr 01, 2013 @ 06:46:35

    Great post and advice here Jon, I learn more from you each day :) thanks for sharing.

  70. Mamad M
    Apr 01, 2013 @ 14:24:51

    I just paid for a link back deal. Fingers crossed they are very good at what they do??!!

  71. Adil
    Apr 03, 2013 @ 00:43:56

    Great Great Great post jon!

    You explained it very deeply that helped me to clarify SEO concept in my mind.

    The neighborhood idea is totally new for me. I got surprised that I invested so much time on submitting articles to low quality directories. I was amazed that why my previous blog was a failiure, but now I can conclude that it was probably because of bad neibors.

    Thanks once again Jon

  72. rob lear
    May 01, 2013 @ 04:04:26

    Hi Jon
    It is interesting you have written a blog on SEO sins and spamming when you have let someone spam the very same blog in your comments section. “computer security” has left a generic, repeated comment with spam anchor text. I wonder if Google will penalise you for this unwanted spam on your blog that discredits unwanted spam. :)

  73. Mike Fields
    May 07, 2013 @ 12:17:57

    What about commenting in blogs? Does that have seo value? Can you be penalized for it?

  74. LW
    May 07, 2013 @ 15:58:25

    Wow! thanks for posting this.
    I’m new to the world of SEO and websites.
    I just started a site last week and I did take someone up on their offer to create 50 back links.

  75. Ash Roy
    May 08, 2013 @ 05:00:38

    Hey John

    Great article. Thank you very much.

    I’m new to this business and recently applied to be listed on technorati’s blog directory. Are they a “good” directory? Are they a directory?

  76. Jonathan Guy
    May 16, 2013 @ 08:11:39

    Hi Jon,

    Just found my way to your site (OK so late to the party but here all the same!)and these are six good points. As others have pointed out there are others such as forum spam where the writers name is miraculously the same as the keyword they are pushing – who knew so many people were called ‘cheap car insurance’?

    I would take issue with your point though about guest bloggers as this has blossomed over the past six months and frankly become the new webspam. Not a day passes without someone wanting to guest blog on our site (not going to happen) and on other sites we run where we have let people in they are using it to spin some cheap links. I would suggest that this is going to be the new spam tactic that Google is going to have to tackle as in many cases it is just too easy to do, and as you point out if it’s easy it’s probably not worth it.

    I would love to see some more people doing as Google suggest and ‘adding to the sum of human knowledge’ not just cluttering the web with randomly spun content. Not because Google say it (I can see the monopoly argument has been played out already here) but because it would be good to see some value added once in a while.

    Great site – keep up the good work!


  77. Dimas Agil R.K.
    May 24, 2013 @ 00:59:02

    Good review, Mr. Jon Morrow.

    Maybe I’m the one in your categories “If you know nothing about SEO, and you’re doing nothing more than publishing awesome content and building relationships with your readers”. But I’m always trying to make my blog better everidayas, and a lot of people read my blog. Hope I make a right decision and not penalized by Google.


  78. Bill
    May 28, 2013 @ 23:32:44

    It’s too bad about article directories. I’ve spent many hours for the last few years approving only the best articles. 98% of articles submitted to directories are junk. Even though my site isn’t blacklisted and still shows up in a google search once in a while, it’s hardly worth running it. Every day I get requests to remove backlinks. After all this time and effort I may shut it down.

  79. Rafaqat
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 10:34:16

    valuable info,we should keep one thing in mind that Google is too smart and today or tomorrow they will penalize the spammers,cloakers.So just value your blog with quality content.

  80. zuan
    Jun 18, 2013 @ 22:10:21

    Great information..Google Webmaster Tools will particularly let you know if your site is blacklisted by Google. I wonder how many people have been blacklisted because of them.

  81. Christ-El
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 15:54:34

    My friend recommended this blog to me and let me tell you, I’ve been learning way more than how to boost blog traffic. Thank you for another great post :-)

  82. Craig Hadden
    Jul 07, 2013 @ 07:48:46

    Thanks Jon. Fascinating post, which has certainly got me thinking!

    I tend to post quite a lot of comments on other people’s blogs, usually with a link back to one of my related posts.

    Now I’m thinking that because my related post’s URL is nearly always what’s used as the anchor text, this habit of mine might be doing more harm than good.

    What recommendations do you have for promoting content by posting comments? Also, any thoughts about comment forms always using the poster’s name as the anchor text for the poster’s site? Thanks.

  83. Tara
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 07:48:16

    This is just the wake up call I needed! *quickly runs off to check all the links on blog…*

    I know what I will be doing this week! Thank you so much!

  84. Shanmugam Ganesh
    Aug 06, 2013 @ 05:47:13

    I agree. Good info.Thanks Jon :)

    Web Rifer Technologies

  85. Ash
    Aug 13, 2013 @ 12:17:26

    His Royal Awesomeness,
    I want to quote other sites (crediting them as sources, of course) and lyrics I like, poems I like, etc. Will doing this hurt me?

  86. Brandon Koch
    Aug 26, 2013 @ 18:02:36

    So what happens if I link my website to every forum on the internet? Will that help my rank or hurt it?

  87. Fusion
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 05:25:56

    Great post. I’m sure many bloggers and site owners have witnessed a similar thing. You see your traffic grow and it becomes thousands per day. One day, you look in your analytics and notice that it is all gone. From thousands to hundreds and maybe 10 or 20 visits a day. Scary stuff! And knowing how to avoid these mistakes is really very important for any serious site owner. No body want to put all that effort into a site and be excited that no one is looking at it tackless of reading it. Thank you for sharing your very own unique experience :)

  88. Jules the Product Photographer
    Sep 04, 2013 @ 18:42:39

    My Search engine rank just surged up. This is what I did.
    1. I removed the old product shot photographs, and I replaced it with new ones with shorter more descriptive Alt tags. I think Google likes fresh content.

    2. I embedded social media players vs. my own into my web site to reduce the load time (for example flicker slideshows). Google like faster load time

    3. I added outbound links to relevant Wikipedia pages in each blog and web page to improve the user experience… Google likes that . I added no follow tags… is that a good or bad thing???

    4. I started posting a bunch of good Blogs , about 20 original articles to various sites… 1 article per site. NO DUPLICATION

    5. Got Registered with Google Local- now my product photography page is a Google featured URL with a LARGE top banner

  89. Richard Suchorzewski
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 06:42:11

    Having just launched a new website in a very competitive area this article is pure gold. Many years ago I adopted a number of the techniques that used to work which now will probably hurt the site.

    The key message I get from this is develop organically and beware of SEO consultants (lol) – great work.

  90. Sean
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 22:42:46

    Great post, just shared it on twitter with my followers.

  91. Jefrey Landicho
    Sep 18, 2013 @ 12:51:01

    Hi Jon,
    what if you own a classified ads or directory or article sites, user tends to submit the same data, can you consider that a duplicate? how would it affect your site
    e.g. User post an apartment ads with the same content in Craiglist and padmapper

  92. Richard Suchorzewski
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 18:51:55

    I’ve come across a number of websites dominating the first page of Google on a frequently entered search term and these sites have gained 1,000 links in 3 months. Having used Alexa to look at these links, I have found very few of them relevant to the site and yet it appears Google hasn’t punished them. Is it just a matter of time? – Because this flies in the face of this Article, which frankly I have adopted as my modus operandi – but it is annoying to see the competition get away with this.

  93. Ray Goldberg
    Oct 08, 2013 @ 17:50:49

    What really annoys me is SEO’s who make promises and don’t keep them. I had a guy from promise me ( naive Ray naive)that he would get me to page 1 within 2 months. Of course that didn’t happen. When I applied to Paypal for a refund he kicked up a stink and said it wasn’t his fault.Of course not however he put in writing what he was going to do- and didn’t do it. he then threatened me as follows:

    I am going to post all over the internet that not to work with you because you use the services and than dispute the payment.

    When people search for any of your domain name, your name, phone number, email address they will see my complaints first because i will do seo on complaints.

    They will know about you and will not do business with you.

    You already know you are wrong and I will give you the chance to close the dispute. If it is not closed tomorrow morning I will flood the internet with my real complaints. I have team of 200 people and I can put all of them working and just pasting on different websites complaints against you and your business.

    • Brandon
      Oct 26, 2013 @ 00:43:00

      Dammit Ray that’s bad luck

      And that’s not a SEO, people like him/her are just called scammers, and maybe even SOBs… Not only he failed to deliver what he promised, he THEN threatened you to stop trying to retrieve what you lost!

      In the world of SEO no one, NO ONE, can promise you exact results after and exact period of time, it’s much more complex than that.

      Back to the article, Jon, you nailed it!!

      1. Create jaw-dropping content (or as corbett barr would say, Write Epic Sh*t)
      2. Get influencers talking about it
      3. Wait for Google to catch up

      There’s no need to spam the Search Engines, doing this only complicates the whole proccess to all of us. After all, google does not decides to update its algorithms arbitrarily, but rather as a response to all the tricks cheap “SEOs” try to do to game it.

  94. Mikey Beck
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 05:03:23

    Thanks for the tips, John. Unfortunately my site seems to have been recently and severely penalised by Google, but as far as I can tell, I didn’t commit any of the above ‘SEO sins’.
    However, I do need to keep an eye out for broken links, as the’re pretty much unavoidable.

  95. paul akpomukai
    Oct 22, 2013 @ 03:29:28

    Good to know what not to do, so that right now we all can be starting to do things right.

  96. Jonny
    Oct 29, 2013 @ 11:59:47

    Fantastic article Jon

    I’m constantly amazed on the number of SEO companies who still buy links for their clients even though this goes against their ‘ethical’ practices. I think its the fact they promise them ‘number one in google’ then panic when they are nowhere near!

  97. Randy
    Nov 01, 2013 @ 13:52:42

    Thanks for the tips, I really appreciate it!

  98. joshua
    Nov 06, 2013 @ 00:59:43

    I was very pleased to find this site. I definitely enjoyed reading post regarding SEO directory and I have it bookmarked to check out new stuff posted regularly.

  99. Mike Chamacs
    Nov 07, 2013 @ 13:09:57

    Most of these problems are caused by Google. I believe that if great content is what Google is looking for,then, the biggest metric for who gets to the top must be the average time spent on a site and average number of pages visited by unique and repeat visitors.

    Then again, even if that was done, Internet Marketers will find a way for robots to sit and ‘read’ pages lingering long enough to juice up the page to the front page.

    Which brings everything back to content, persistence and more natural content.

  100. travis klein
    Nov 13, 2013 @ 22:41:58

    I kind of had a feeling or sort of knew about all this but never saw it actually written about. It’s just more about being natural and actually writing for the readers and not for Google.

    Your content should be RO no SEO (reader optimized).

    Can I trademark that :)

  101. Rick Middleton
    Nov 19, 2013 @ 12:00:20

    This post is really well written and completely true, the simple truth is though that guest blogging and other completely 100% white hat techniques often takes a much Longer amount of time.

    As time is money, is this really the best step forward.

    The best SEO today is grey hat SEO, buying paid links but on carefully selected sites that don’t show signs they sell links, guest blogs through networks that offer great blogs with a high PA and DA.

    To put it bluntly, I could create three quality links through guest blogging or in the same amount of time I could create one quality link through guest blogging and about 20 links that Google sees as high quality even though they are paid.

    Diversity, it’s all about diversity

    • Pawas Gupta
      Nov 25, 2013 @ 00:06:21

      Could not agree more! At the end all that matters is how diversified your link profile is. I still use article directories like Ezine and GoArticles once a while for small SEO clients. Using branded & long anchor texts and using the nofollow link occasionally, works well for me every time.

  102. Eric Christopherson
    Dec 06, 2013 @ 13:40:38

    thanks for this article. am going to reread it a few times and save it. very valuable.

  103. Chris
    Dec 07, 2013 @ 04:02:24

    SEO should not be discussed with wordpress. Google has change the search parameters for Facebook to only index few search terms which the main are peoples names. If you think about this they have done the same for out of date wordpress sites and the SEO plugin. While it is fun to have wordpress site try looking at Googles own Blogging platform that dosn’t even rank. My two cents is the rise of the forum blog and not wordpress. If you have a database your in trouble, unless you know about security of your site, phpmyadmin and server side software.
    One of the best tricks in the business learnt from spam and is to ban proxie servers from your site. NO SPAM NO LINKS and NO Google penalties.

    Just saying

  104. Ebrahim shah
    Dec 13, 2013 @ 03:30:25

    I am following all the rules you said. But i am not getting more visitor in my site. I don’t know why. Only one thing i could not make that is broken links. I am using wordpress script in my site and using a broken link checker plugin although i could not fix the broken links. how can i fix it? the plugin only shows broken links but can not fix. if possible tell me.

  105. Sandy Duffman
    Jan 04, 2014 @ 12:08:18

    I d like to know if all these bots like Senuke Cr, Magic etc…, still works? where is the SEO going? is it time to leave SEO work and just buy traffic… ? please help! :(

  106. Marco Moeschter
    Jan 06, 2014 @ 16:26:50

    Quite a few helpful tips in this post! Some methods you described are still working but I wouldn’t gamble with google nowadays because they getting smarter and smarter! The best way is like you said to write just awesome content and the rest will come especially in times of social media1

  107. Antony Mark
    Jan 09, 2014 @ 10:50:38

    Thanks for the Article!

    Some good advice & there are still other practical things that can be done to get a site up in ranking.

    But I wonder where this leaves your mom & pop local business. Either they would have to employ someone to manage & produce content that ‘wins’ a position on the front page.

    Or they would have to stop their work (if they are not a start up) to work on their blog or website. To try and get that themselves.

    I think Google are about getting too far with this. As one thing that is worth mentioning is that another definition that keeps changing is that of ‘The Spammer’.

    Which today is including you and I Jon!
    Because whats the point of;

    1.) Create jaw-dropping content
    2.) Get influencers talking about it
    3.) Wait for Google to catch up

    If it’s not to get your website higher in the search positions, for whatever, to get more traffic & make more money?

    And as this article (as well as others) are pointing out, this is the safest way to improve search engine results positions..
    So why isn’t that trying to manipulate the rankings?
    And whats to stop that one day falling under the definition of spamming?
    As a spammer can still do all of these things… It makes no sense to me..

    The only thing that makes sense to me is that it looks like Google are trying to gain a greater degree of control over the natural listings. And I would not be surprised if one day we see them launch their own version of SEO..

    And that it looks a lot like adwords!

  108. Gary Victory
    Jan 13, 2014 @ 16:55:23

    Nice article Jon.

    I made the same mistake many many moons ago. Keeping all digital marketing efforts authentic with a periodic webmaster check will go a long way in boosting your rank potential.

    To those reading this – make sure you find a good copywriter. Exploring relevant key words, apply in-depth meaningful content which reads well, will lead to more love from Google.

    Sorry Jon, can’t say it :)


  109. Rajesh
    Jan 17, 2014 @ 00:06:03

    Great case study on what can happen when you don’t choose the right SEO company and don’t do your homework.

  110. Harol Nielson
    Jan 26, 2014 @ 22:16:10

    Great information. Looks like I have been trying to take too many SEO shortcuts. Content is king!

  111. Olayinka
    Jan 30, 2014 @ 13:52:32

    If i had this kind of information in the past, my lifestyle blog will not have being de-index by google.

  112. Tom
    Feb 03, 2014 @ 04:03:33

    This is a great article. I try to educate potential clients about the dangerous tactics used by “cheap” seo providers. I am still amused to hear people tell me they get SEO services for a hundred bucks. I will refer to your advise next time I educate a client

  113. Kevin J. Timothy
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 15:54:01


    You’re a very funny man. An excellent writer, might I add.
    Your “recommendation from a crack-head” analogy
    painted the most vivid picture. Way to hit that point

    I liked this piece so much that I’m now considering
    including you to my blog roll. See? It’s a testament
    to exactly what you’re trying to emphasize in this
    post – publish jaw dropping content.

    I’ve heard for the last 20 months or so that article
    marketing is a dying art, but no one ever really
    explained the reasons for why.

    And you’re right…I HAVE noticed a decline in the
    number of eZine and GoArticles search results.
    I recall a time when on the first page alone you’d
    see at least 5 URLs pointing to an article on there.

    Now you just don’t see the dominance.

    Maintaining your own hosted blog seems to be
    more beneficial anyway (than putting your
    content on those directories).

    It’s the same reason why Hubpages is so
    strict…they want a great user experience.
    And because of that, it’s one of the only
    “article directories” that is still respected
    by Google.

    Broken links have to be the most annoying
    “sin” for me on this list. It’s so easy to overlook
    a broken link….very embarrassing as visitors
    frequent the page.

    Sir, this really was a good job – no exaggeration.
    Thanks to your excellent work here, you can
    expect a share from me. Take care and keep it
    coming. I’ll shall return.

  114. Creative Artwork
    Feb 27, 2014 @ 01:40:30

    great post!
    thank you for sharing this experience with us…

  115. Nathan
    Mar 01, 2014 @ 01:45:22

    Outstanding article, one of the best I have read on the topic of SEO and Google in a very long time. I say that because I have tried to master this art of ensuring everything is right on my site internally and it still takes a great deal of work. There is not slowing down if you really want to be successful. I am still learning even after having worked on my site for the past 2 and half years. I just learned about Alexa ranking and my site wasn’t verified with them until about 4 days ago when I signed up. I have a PR3 site but a VERY high Alexa ranking. I know there are still sites out there that have high PR but also very bigh Alexa ranking to boot. Appreciate the article and have bookmarked your site. This is a definite resource for online success.

  116. Daniel
    Mar 07, 2014 @ 02:39:54

    wow, greatest blog post I read in a long time. You sure know how to keep people in tune.

  117. Candid Cuisine
    Mar 09, 2014 @ 03:54:56

    Thanks for your post. My website got recently thought of being spam especially after a slew of bloggers marked it as spam when it really isn’t. They’re cyber-bullying me and thinking they’re some alpha pack.

  118. Bishal Biswas
    Mar 09, 2014 @ 13:44:40

    Well done sir Jon Morrow, hats off to your writing skills and talent behind blogging. Yet, black hat techniques has led to the height and often it is seen that most new sites can be found loaded with spam contents, copied articles and many more illegal contents which ultimately led to Google Penalization, your post is a eye rising statement which is not only useful yet inspiring.

    Thanks a lot for the great contribution and have a great weekend,
    – Bishal Biswas

  119. mike
    Mar 10, 2014 @ 18:28:03

    “Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience…”
    What’s wrong with numbers? My site is full of tables with numbers. That’s what my users come for, and Google is going to penalize me for that?

  120. VBL Technologies
    Mar 20, 2014 @ 02:51:04

    Thanks Jon! I agree with you above all 6 points. I think your conclusion here makes the foremost powerful purpose of all. If you publish nice content, you will not run into the bulk of those issues. And most of those tricks will not do abundant to boost the quality of your posts. Thanks for the good summary and because of excellent for sharing this post!

  121. Visigraph
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 23:17:59

    Certainly, adjustments should be made every time google make an update. Me, I still do article marketing. I submit articles to few top ezine sites (2 to be exact). I no longer do the spinning. Also, I tried eliminating all poor backlinks. I collected my backlinks with the use of magic seo and webmaster tool. And then I went through each and every one of them. Those backlinks that came from poor and spam sites, I took them down by asking web owners to delete the links. Those that weren’t removed by the web owners were disavowed. You can submit all poor links to google’s disavow tool for that.

  122. Tia
    Apr 10, 2014 @ 20:47:13

    Very Informative post. I completely agree with every aspect. I went through the same situation with Google.

  123. hazel baby
    Apr 13, 2014 @ 12:53:45

    i think Google is trying to kill SEO. So that the Results are of high Quality on their SERPs. They want everything to appear naturally on the SERPs :(….

  124. Craig Devine
    Apr 20, 2014 @ 09:30:54

    Creating PR networks then hosting all from same host is also a bad for SEO.

  125. Robbo
    Apr 21, 2014 @ 11:50:36

    Hi, my friend had his 83 blog entries vanish a few months ago, gone entirely. He could not even access his dashboard, got no warnings, and just the usual google page saying this blog has been removed, nothing else. He did not commit any of the six google cardinal sins mentioned above. At the same time his youtube channel was also removed with no warning at all. Is this usual.

  126. Parth Patel
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 03:02:11

    Ohh nice post ,
    But commenting really helps??
    and how to find and remove bad and broken links??

  127. Anu
    May 03, 2014 @ 00:59:53

    The main problem I still can’t understand is, even though its 100% sure Google will kill you if you do some fancy stuff like spamming and buying back-links why people still do it again and again. When are they really gonna learn to stop this madness.

  128. Simon Ellinas
    May 06, 2014 @ 10:19:04

    Thank you for this. I have been struggling to back up to the positions I was in two or three years ago. After a time consuming project in ‘real life’ took over, I neglected the website and all my competitors overtook me. That, combined with Google’s ever-changing algorithms, has caused me to fluctuate somewhere between pages three and ten for most search terms, i.e: useless in Google terms. I have been concentrating on the ‘good content’ theory and practice for nearly a year now and notice occasional improvements in ranking but it slips and slides all the time. If it takes up to a year, as you suggest, I may have a few months left to see if i get back onto page one!

  129. Sia
    May 07, 2014 @ 03:44:49

    Hey that’s a nice article.
    But I have been ignoring all this and doing my best by updating my websites content and not spamming at all, still the ranking are dropping.
    What can I do to improve the ranking?

  130. Stu French
    May 07, 2014 @ 18:29:26

    Great, simple article – thanks!

  131. Brian
    May 08, 2014 @ 11:39:09

    What is troubling about the whole SEO and google minefield is that small one man business don’t have the time, resources or like myself knowledge to get it right all the time. This essentially necessitates the employment of SEO specalists which frankly most just can’t afford..
    I spend so much time “creating quality backlinks” that the core business sometimes is near forgotten..

  132. Cathy
    May 13, 2014 @ 23:26:42

    I enjoyed reading your blogs. It makes a lot of sense. The sins you’ve mentioned are legit ways of driving traffic to a website only that caution needs to be in place if you want to shun Google’s wrath. It helps to read blogs like this to be updated with it all.

  133. vineet
    May 17, 2014 @ 09:00:24

    great article Jon,
    I have been blogging for a few months now. Reading articles related to blogging has become really exciting and informative. This article is really great as it has given the clear dont’s for promoting my blog. I never new google was so choosy. I’ll keep checking out your posts..Thanks

  134. Grace
    May 22, 2014 @ 13:25:30

    Hello Jon,
    I love to write and do so for my blogs and print magazines. The readers of my blogs are not likely to see my magazine articles and vice-versa. The printed magazine articles will show up on the internet when the magazine publisher uploads the magazine to his site(s), so is it permissible for me to post my print articles to my blog site(s). I have two blogs. I write articles for about 4 magazines, but only two upload their print magazines to their websites, the others do not. I am afraid to be penalized by Google for duplicate content, but this industry-specific information is important to all my readers equally.

    Many thanks for your anticipated ‘awesome’ response in advance :)

  135. Prateek Pandey
    May 22, 2014 @ 14:26:16

    One of the best articles on SEO i’ve ever read!

    Thanks 😉

  136. Scott Innes
    May 22, 2014 @ 18:55:24


    Thanks for the insight. Now, if there are bad link directories that my sites been posted to in the past whats the best way to clean it up?

  137. eGeek Universe
    May 24, 2014 @ 17:31:39

    Hi Jon, I am fairly new to website SEO and as a new site builder there is so much conflicting info on the web that it’s hard for a newbie to SEO like me to get some good tips, ideas and info. It seems like most SEO info found on blogs and other sites are just trying to sell their services so I really appreciate your article here. It’s nice to get some good SEO advice and tips like these to help a newbie like me so I don’t go down the wrong SEO path and cause negative SEO damage to my site before it really gets going. I very rarely post comments on sites but I did this time because I really like how you presented the information in a way that lets someone new to SEO like me understand it better as well as explain why certain things are bad. Anyway, thanks for the great article and I will keep an eye on your site. Take care.

  138. Traci Dillard
    May 25, 2014 @ 15:35:45

    Quality over quality should always be the goal. While SEO is important, the main focus should always be getting visitors to actual want to (depending on the niche’), visit the site, buy products, read the material, etc. Black Hat SEO is always a losing battle even if those who practice it don’t get caught, they still aren’t maintaining visitors if the content is crap.

  139. Prafull
    May 29, 2014 @ 06:46:05

    Many of us focus so much on good keywords and backlinking that we forget about the importance of good content. I agee with you that you can target certain keywords or gain backlinks day after day, but at the end of the day if your content is crap you won’t get very far.
    It is important I believe that as a blogger we incorporate the total package. You have outlined some of the most important aspects of SEO that we should be focused on.

  140. Vimax
    Jun 11, 2014 @ 04:30:39

    Hey John

    Great article. Thank you very much.

    I’m new to this business and recently applied to be listed on technorati’s blog directory. Are they a “good” directory? Are they a directory?

  141. doreelyn baybayan
    Jun 27, 2014 @ 21:10:05

    An insightful article that truly provided me the avenue to learn about young women like me. thanks.

  142. Daniel
    Jul 06, 2014 @ 23:24:09

    Fantastic post, Jon.

    Looking over the list of tactics that are often employed to improve rankings and / or bring in site visitors, I am quite certain that a very large number of sites are still very heavily involved with this..

    As I mentioned on a recent post, as far as succeeding on YouTube is concerned, buying mountains of traffic, subscribers, etc…..seems to be the way to both outrank and subsequently out-earn, your competitors…

    I have analysed a number of YouTube channels in certain niches, and they are buying millions of views(visits) and tens of thousands of subscribers in a short(very short) time frame…and basically ranking the pants off their competitors…..

    Within competitive Niches on YouTube and possibly for websites, this may now be the only way to achieve and maintain, top ranking….

  143. Priyank
    Jul 07, 2014 @ 03:08:00

    I must say that biggest mistake in SEO is forgetting about the social signals..

    • Jason Gillham
      Jul 08, 2014 @ 01:35:06

      Yes there are lots of problems. Now it is a common sense that google will never allow paid links or link farms. Better to build relationships, drive good traffic and intractive blogging is essential part.

  144. Caffeine
    Jul 13, 2014 @ 01:49:15

    Great article, it gets real tempting to hire SEO guys to backlink your site, I guess it’s not worth the risks.

  145. alison
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 01:12:18

    nice information Jon,

    I am new to seo; and have a query

    If i submit the link of my website in the forum profile, is that a sin too? i have been submitting my links in the forum profiles, and i have submitted the same link twice with different ID and IP, please let me know if this will affect my website, i know it doesn’t sound right, but would appreciate an expert advice, thanks :)

  146. Norman Risner
    Jul 26, 2014 @ 16:21:06

    I’ve found from past experience getting backlinks from directories, link farms, etc. will hurt your search engine ranking. The best way is to take advantage high PR social media sites such as Google+, Youtube, Facebook, Dailymotion, Frequency, Twitter,,, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Delicious, etc. Your Youtube videos, if correct keywords are in the title, description and tags, can rank very well in search engines even if your website doesn’t. The first thing in your Youtube video description should be – description of video with important keywords in first paragraph.

    The key to good search engine ranking is quality backlinks PR5 to PR9.

  147. Dhinesh Kumar
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 06:02:34

    Nice post..i agree all 6 Sins of SEO…Google algorithm is evolving so we have to adopt new tricks :) but not spam Google 😛

  148. Damian Martin
    Aug 04, 2014 @ 03:24:59

    Thanks for such a detailed article.

  149. Vince Blue
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 16:22:35

    Is there a safe alternative to link-buying?

  150. Andrew
    Aug 07, 2014 @ 21:17:37

    Great list Jon. It’s crazy how fast factors are added to the list. For example, now, spammy guest posting could certainly be added after Matt Cutts’ said that people shouldn’t be doing that simply for SEO purposes anymore.

  151. supreeth bharadwaj
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 09:42:25

    informative post! but stuffing keywords in a good way is not bad right? does this affect my seo or any ranking in google
    please help i am new to this world

  152. Harsha Chowdary
    Aug 15, 2014 @ 04:12:53

    Yeah i faced this problem when my domain got penalized by google because of using auto backlinks generators. so, i never tried to cheat it again. thanks for sharing this wonderful article,

  153. wong kito
    Aug 15, 2014 @ 05:05:43

    This is great post, thanks very much :)

  154. Joseph
    Aug 16, 2014 @ 22:28:12

    I believe google is punishing me because of sin #1 and sin #2.
    (regarding the link submissions) Can this be undone?
    Through time will this all go away if no more links are submitted?

  155. Den Bredman
    Aug 17, 2014 @ 13:18:11

    Nice thing that you just told above many of the newbie bloggers will perform those things in order to get success but they are not aware of the end results.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  156. Matt Mortensen
    Aug 18, 2014 @ 04:01:47

    I made some of these mistakes when I was starting out. The best advice someone gave me is to put in the work day by day building quality links and don’t expect results overnight, and don’t get discouraged because sometimes its a long road. But doing things the right way definitely pays off especially when you are competing in difficult keyword categories.

    Thanks for the great advice and guidance! Loved reading!

  157. crowdfinch
    Aug 18, 2014 @ 05:50:46

    I would like to thank you for posting such an useful blog. It seems to be very useful for now and always in the future. The time spend usefully will never go wrong and will unveil new informations undoubtadely. Hence, this would be useful for all when things take us to reach our knowledge to one extent..

  158. Sandy
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 02:34:14

    I agree with your points but some the blogs are still ranking (keyword stuffing in title description) .

  159. Sanz
    Sep 12, 2014 @ 21:38:36

    But getting Google to pick up all your quality content and get them rank took quite a long time, most people do not have the patience to wait.
    I think the good old SEO methods of link building still work, just don’t overdo it like making 100 links per day, it just doesn’t seems natural.

    Do manual posting and control the numbers, should be fine and better than just keep blindly making content that you not even sure it will rank.

  160. Whiteboard Creations
    Sep 15, 2014 @ 14:17:16

    Great piece of content and well sectioned off. We see it over and over again when bringing on new clients… Keyword Stuffing! It was funny at first, but then it became frustrating that even after years of seeing it, SEO’s and SEO companies are still stuffing the hell out of blog posts, news articles, web page content and even social media posts. And they sell it like crazy to unknowing small business owners. This is a fun article with insightful references and zoning in on the big issues REAL SEO’s deal with when coming in to clean up a mess from a previous contractor or agency.

  161. Michael Milas
    Sep 18, 2014 @ 17:09:34

    These are very important things to keep in mind when doing your SEO. Thanks for the reminder. I remember the crazy days when you could throw the same word in your text 1,000 times and you where #1. Then it was the same thing with back-links. SEO has changed so much since then. With Google’s emphasis on quality content and user interaction it is more important than ever to stick to GOOGLES blueprint of good SEO. I have almost no sites de-indexed over the years and the main factor is always keeping one thing in mind “make it natural” One thing is for sure, as time goes on, SEO will continue to change and if the big G has taught us anything, this spam days are becoming less and less. Thanks again for the good refresher course on what not to do with my clients 😉

  162. James Wheeler
    Sep 18, 2014 @ 17:28:30

    Great article and very accurate from the 6 points. Strongly believe in the motto content is king, and excellent content should be held as key to any seo campaign.

  163. Alin
    Sep 20, 2014 @ 18:49:40

    I found someone in fb who is talking about Scrapbox bot (seo tool) which was he used to rank No.1 in only 2 month. His domain age was only 2 month also. Now he got 1 million visitor each day.After reading his post on FB I was going to do that type of tricks also but luckily I searched in google about it & found this article. You save me Jon. Thanks

  164. mba colleges in thane
    Sep 23, 2014 @ 02:58:05

    One day, you’re getting a nice little trickle of traffic to a few of your posts. No, it’s nothing major, but it grows with every new post you publish, and you can see Google becoming a major source of traffic for you in the future.

    But then it stops.

    Poof, every single post and page of your blog disappears from Google. No warning, no alarm bells, nothing. You’re just gone, like you never even existed.

  165. smithers
    Oct 07, 2014 @ 17:58:03

    Thanks great write up, what about leaving comments on blog posts that are about your business that your involved in? is this ok to do this as I’m interested in the subjects but also i get linked that way but i only go on sites that appeal to my brand. cheers

  166. Brand Building
    Oct 15, 2014 @ 05:40:53

    Everytime when google came up with a new update, it also bring some good and some bad news for us. Some sites went up in rankings and some goes down and even some sites got hit. We did everything and never went against google guidelines, so why does it happens. Can anyone clear me about this?

  167. Mona
    Oct 27, 2014 @ 06:32:15

    Hey John,

    Very well written post. I have just read it and going to share it on Twitter!

  168. London Web Design Company
    Nov 09, 2014 @ 20:36:20


    Many are still doing article marketing. But if you’ll do it right (e.g. creating unique and interesting article) probably can help improve rankings somehow.

  169. Akshay Sapkal
    Nov 10, 2014 @ 10:05:06

    Thanks for the wonderful list.
    Got to learn a new thing on Anchor text , so now time to implement ! :)

  170. David Brett
    Nov 21, 2014 @ 06:27:35

    Yes,It’s a sin for Google if we join the wrong link directories! However, it’s not true for only directories, but also every link type like bookmark, classified etc. if they are not relevant to the product or service you are offering. After releasing Penguin 3.0 update from Google, link building became even more stricter!!

  171. Paul Tommey
    Dec 27, 2014 @ 11:35:35

    Very good article! I’ve had more luck with SEO utilizing social media backlinks along with videos on Youtube. Verify your business with Google+ and Bing places. Good quality content and good quality backlinks are still KING!

  172. Dean Ethridge
    Jan 07, 2015 @ 21:01:19

    Excellent article and I agree with you on all the above. SEO is so content driven now it’s harder to “game” the system. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  173. Atul Chaudhary
    Feb 04, 2015 @ 02:02:58

    This is one of the best articles that I have seen that outlined all of the various SEO mistakes. Keep up the great work!

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