6 Bad SEO Practices You Should Avoid

SEO Practices

Have you ever noticed less traffic entering your website or your keyword rankings dropping overnight?

These are few common symptoms of a website being penalized by Google due to poor SEO practices. Without enough knowledge and experience on proper SEO strategies, you may risk having your website negatively affected by Google’s algorithm updates. If your website has been penalized before, chances are it’s extremely difficult to salvage the situation.

To prevent this, here are 6 bad SEO practices you should avoid at all costs.

1. Changing URL structure

One of the most popular mistakes that SEO rookies make is amending the URLs of your website. When Google’s bots crawl a certain page, it registers the URL in its records and analyzes the quality of the page. The process will determine where should the page appear in the search engine results pages (SERP) according to numerous ranking factors. Since the process is complicated and lengthy, changing the URL and its structure will “restart” the entire process as Google sees it as a new page. You should consider redirect it to a new page so that the backlink profile and SEO value will not be affected.

2. Thin or shallow content

If you’ve been tracking Google’s algorithm updates history, you might have noticed that a handful of them has something to do with content quality. In the first major update, Panda, Google aimed to fix the problem of websites having duplicated and shallow content. In the past, website owners sometimes hire many cheap writers to churn out countless content pages to rise in the SERP. Due to this, searchers are not able to access high-quality content as most of them are thin and irrelevant. Be sure to write highly relevant content and perform regular audits on your website’s content to avoid penalization.

3. Keyword stuffing

Are you inserting lots of the same keyword into your page and hoping Google picks up your intention to rank? Keyword stuffing has been practiced by many SEO professionals since the rising demand for search engines. By inserting the same keyword countless times, Google’s Panda and Hummingbird updates will spot this unnatural behavior and send you a manual action. As Google’s updates are getting smarter these days, they’re able to understand natural language processing (NLP) and read our “human” speaking manner. To avoid being penalized, always remember to include related keywords, synonyms, co-occurring terms, and semantic phrases so that your readers and Google have a better experience reading your content. Also, frequently keep track of the number of keywords you have been using and try to substitute with synonyms.

4. Cloaking

In SEO, cloaking is the act of showing different content or URLs to human users and search engines. For example, a website contains additional text that is meant for the search engines’ bot to see, which is not visible to the human visitor. This is a serious violation of search engine guidelines and your website will usually be penalized and may not even be indexed anymore. However, one thing to note is that if a website is mobile-responsive to fit content in different devices, it is not considered cloaking.

5. Poor mobile usability

Did you know that there are more than 70% of people spending time on their mobile devices? This is also why more people are likely to perform transactions from a mobile-friendly company since so much time is being spent on mobile devices. Since 2015, Google has been focusing on websites being mobile-friendly. Google aims to provide a better and pleasant browsing experience for mobile users due to the rising trend. To check your website, you can enter your website’s URL in this tool to test the mobile-friendliness. If the test shows that it’s not mobile-friendly, you should consider improving your page speed and site’s load time. WordPress offers a variety of plugins such as WP Rocket to achieve this. You should also ensure your design is “thumb-friendly” so that visitors will have an enjoyable experience browsing your web on their mobile devices. Be sure to talk to your web designer on this to implement a mobile-responsiveness design to your website.

6. Spammy links

In layman’s terms, a backlink is simply a vote of confidence from other websites by placing a link to your website in their pages. The more backlinks your website has, the better the quality and authority it will become. This eventually leads to your website having better search results rankings for most of your keywords. In the past, many SEO professionals tend to adopt black-hat methods by purchasing lots of backlinks from Private Blog Networks (PBNs). These PBNs are usually expired domains that are purchased by a single or group of people. However, if you were to do it now, you will likely be penalized by Google due to this unnatural and spammy link build practice. Therefore, it is essential to conduct regular backlink audits on your website to ensure there is no negative SEO attack. 


It is not easy to be well-versed in the SEO world. As Google’s algorithm has been constantly revamping throughout the years, sometimes it is hard to adapt to the trends. If you’re looking to improve and optimize your website, you should pass the work to an SEO agency and let the experts help you. 

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.