A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

Summary: In this post, I show you a site implementing some truly horrific SEO -- everything from spammy title tags to spammy meta descriptions to pure keyword-stuffing. This is SEO at its worst!

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TOPICS: Browser
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In a new segment I'm appropriately referring to as "Bad SEO," I'd like to essentially take you -- the reader -- on short journeys across Web sites I find with some really bad SEO (Search Engine Optimization) going on. Now, to be clear, I'm not talking about Web sites that could use an SEO tip or 10; I'm talking about Web sites with blatantly obvious SEO implementations -- and bad ones at that. Any and all outbound links to the Web sites I focus on in any of these segments are met with a "nofollow" for good measure. We wouldn't want to pass on any link juice to these folks, now, would we? ;)

Today, our first lucky contestant is an SEO company whose home page serves as a prime example for what not to do with SEO. Though there are numerous glaring errors, I'm only going to cover 3 or 4 of them. I'll consider it my offering to them for giving me something to write about and you -- my readers -- something to benefit from.

1 - Title Tag: A title tag that says "seo canada, seo europe, seo usa, ecommerce seo, local seo, joomla seo, drupal seo, seo price, seo pricing, bangalore seo" is one that reaches straight back to the 90's when people were attempting to game search engines like Infoseek, Excite, Lycos, and even Google in its early days. While it's completely fine -- even highly recommended -- to have a keyword term or two in your title tag, what you want to do is have a title tag that focuses solely on the content of any given page. Don't try to rank for 15 different keyword terms using just your home page like these guys are trying to do.

To show just how ridiculous it is that a supposed SEO agency is doing this, take a look at Google's Starter Guide to SEO to get a clear and concise breakdown of how you should actually formulate a title tag. Now, notice that's a "starter guide." It's perfect for... who? Starters! Not would-be professionals of SEO (i.e. the people I'm focusing on in this post).

2 - Meta Description: If you thought the title tag was spammy, check out their meta description: "search engine optimization chennai, search engine optimization bangalore, seo price, seo pricing, bangalore seo, search engine optimization results, joomla seo, drupal seo, ecommerce search engine optimization, ecommerce seo, local seo, search engine optimization results"

Here again, waaaaaay too many keyword terms. As it just so happens, Google's Starter Guide to SEO does a pretty darn good job of explaining how to formulate a decent meta description as well! Actually, the title tag and meta description are the first two items covered in the guide in a section titled "SEO Basics." Here again, if you're a beginner to SEO, then you have nothing if not everything to gain from Google's SEO starter guide... but if you're calling yourself an SEO agency, you should know better.

3 - To www or not to www: One of the most important factors to realize is that "www.yoursite.com" is completely different than "yoursite.com." Google views them as two different pages -- even if they both point to the exact same page data. What you want to do is a 301 redirect and make sure you're always pointing to one or the other. For instance, "www.yoursite.com/directory/date/my-latest-post.html" is different than "yoursite.com/directory/date/my-latest-post.html." People link to posts and pages in different ways, so if you're not redirecting your www traffic to non-www (or vice versa), your site could be splitting its overall authority! To read more about 301 redirects, check out the following page on Google's Webmaster Central.

While the 301 redirect thing can be a bit complex to understand initially, it's easily one of the very first things an SEO checks for their clients. It's also one of the quickest ways to boost page authority (how strong a particular page on a site is) on multiple pages across a domain (the entirety of a person's Web site), depending on how any given page is linked to. So, as you may have guessed by now, our friend's site is accessible either via www or non-www. Tsk, tsk! Here's a little graphic that represents how their page authority on the home page is being split (I obtained this data using SEOmoz's Open Site Explorer). What this tells us is they should redirect all non-www traffic to www since their www strength is greater than their non-www (the higher the number, the better):

4 - Keyword-Stuffing: Put simply, this is when you intentionally stuff full of keyword terms any part of a page (whether it's visible text, hidden text, or in the page code; such as in meta tags). I didn't look at-length into all of the keywords those people are trying to target on their home page alone (never mind everything they're probably trying to focus on throughout their whole site), but based on their title tag, meta description, meta keywords, and keywords found at the bottom of their page, just look at this rather hefty spammy list (there may be duplicates here -- their fault, not mine):

 

seo canada, seo europe, seo usa, ecommerce seo, local seo, joomla seo, drupal seo, seo price, seo pricing, bangalore seo, search engine optimization canada, seo canada, seo europe, seo usa, search engine optimization europe, search engine optimization usa, search engine optimization results, search engine optimization quote, ecommerce search engine optimization, seo singapore, seo malaysia, web content writing, content writing services, seo content writing, seo content writer, article writing service, search engine optimization chennai, search engine optimization bangalore, seo price, seo pricing, bangalore seo, search engine optimization results, joomla seo, drupal seo, ecommerce search engine optimization, ecommerce seo, local seo, search engine optimization results, search engine optimization canada, seo canada, seo europe, seo usa, search engine optimization europe, search engine optimization usa, search engine optimization results, search engine optimization quote, ecommerce search engine optimization, seo singapore, seo malaysia, web content writing, content writing services, seo content writing, seo content writer, article writing service, search engine optimization chennai, search engine optimization bangalore, seo price, seo pricing, bangalore seo, search engine optimization results, joomla seo, drupal seo, ecommerce search engine optimization, ecommerce seo, local seo, search engine optimization results.

 

Just look at all of that! Keyword-stuffing at its finest. Pure spam. If it were dinner time, all that spam could feed a large family! *sound of crickets chirping*

So, just how did I come to find this site, anyway? Well, to start, they left a comment on a blog using a keyword term (SEO Canada) as their name. The irony of it all is what their comment actually said in conjunction with their spammy keyword and the subject of the blog post I noticed the comment under: "True. I never recommend Black hat techniques of SEO to any of my colleagues or students." Notice that they didn't say "clients" in that comment. Parapraxis? Maybe. Regardless, I just hope their "students" range somewhere in the number of 0, because if they're teaching anything close to what's being implemented on their site, there are some bad SEOs in the making as I write this.

To close, I'd like to reiterate that their site is a prime example of everything you should not do and what you should look out for if you're planning to hire someone to do your SEO. If a prospective SEO agency's site looks like that, run. Additionally, the handful of items I listed above are barely the tip of the iceberg as far as everything they're just flat-out doing wrong. Whether they're doing it all because they really think that's good SEO or because they're trying to game the search engines and pull rank over the folks who play by the rules, I'm not sure. Either way, they have given a near-textbook example of everything you could possibly do wrong with SEO. Perhaps they will see this post, take some of my advice and fix their site so that one day, someone might read this and say, "why is Stephen bagging on this site when it looks completely fine?"

One can only hope...

Topic: Browser

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45 comments
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  • You do know that...

    you just did some link-building for *them don't you? Oh the irony...
    cybr2th@...
    • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

      @cybr2th@...
      not really. the link is nofollow so it won't pass any PR on to them (you read the first paragraph, right?) But they will likely get a spike in traffic nonetheless. Thank God he didn't anchor text the link with "SEO company" though it's proximity to the link in the sentence may provide some value if the nofollow is ignored by any crawlers (it happens)
      A better link would have been "spammy SEO scammers" with a dofollow link.
      hawks5999
      • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

        @hawks5999 Thanks for detailing that!

        @cybr2th As hawks5999 noted, I made the links nofollow and used worthless anchor text. Even if being placed within the article itself helps them in some capacity, it would be minuscule at best (there are *plenty* of other people trying much harder to rank for any and every SEO term listed in this article). Likewise, if they receive a spike in traffic, the way people are getting there is with a preconceived notion that what they are to find is something not beneficial for them. Thus, the traffic is -- by all means -- purely entertainment.

        It's really a lose-lose for them -- just short of them coming here to take the advice I give them and apply it. Even then, everything above is really basic stuff in the realm of SEO. Things they should already know, essentially.

        -Stephen
        StephenChapman
      • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

        @hawks5999 There is no such thing as bad advertising. People will forget the context and just remember that they've seen that name before. And 100 people will steal this article for their site and repost it without bothering to mark the tags as nofollow.

        Now if someone would just post a story about how bad my website is.. I could use the business. And having good feedback is always helpful as it's hard to see your own flaws.
        MikeFM
      • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

        @MikeFM<br><br>1 - Chances are, the 100 or so sites that scrape my content aren't going to do a whole heck of a lot to help out the people I'm linking to -- especially given the anchor text I'm using. Something tells me I'm not going to see that site pull rank for "www."<br><br>2 - There's no such thing as bad advertising? Really? The only people I hear make those remarks are the people who have never had to experience the detriment of bad advertising to their bottom line. There absolutely *is* such a thing as bad advertising! If you need someone to do a review of your site that would come off as "bad advertising" solely as a means to drive what little business it would drive for you, then you may want to consult a marketing professional and have them show you why good advertising is almost always better than bad advertising. The only thing worse than bad advertising is no advertising... and even then, "bad advertising" can get you sitting up close 'n comfy with "no advertising" in a heartbeat. :)<br><br>-Stephen
        StephenChapman
      • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

        @StephenChapman:

        Actually the phrase is "No such thing as bad publicity". Rather different.
        fairportfan
      • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

        @fairportfan Oh yes, I'm completely aware of that saying! I was just responding point-for-point to MikeFM. For what it's worth, I also disagree with an all-encompassing "there is no such thing as bad publicity." I can elaborate at some point, if you'd like. ;)

        -Stephen
        StephenChapman
    • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

      @cybr2th@... does it really matter?? I mean really??
      angelarbeasley
  • "worthful services"?

    Visited the offending site and noted their promise of "worthful services"!

    They'll get none of my "valuous money."
    archetuthus
    • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

      @archetuthus I literally laughed out loud when I read this, hahaha. I didn't see that exact bit on their site, but that just makes it even more hilarious. Indeed, if there were ever a time to keep one's "valuous monies" to oneself, this would be it! :)

      -Stephen
      StephenChapman
  • Bravissimo!

    Excellent Article Stephen cant wait for the next one.
    Bravissimo!!!
    KineticArtist
    • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

      @KineticArtist Hey, thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
      StephenChapman
  • And I thought it meant Stupid Executive Officer

    Maybe I should do a search on it?! :)
    ron.cleaver@...
    • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

      @ron.cleaver@... I'm assuming you're referring to my spelling out "Search Engine Optimization" with a link. hahaha. I do that because there are plenty of people who will land on a post like this and think, "what the heck is "SEO?""

      A prime example is the following comment on an older post of mine: http://www.zdnet.com/tb/1-87932-1666811?tag=talkback-river;1_87932_1666811

      I'd rather get a chuckle from something like what you wrote instead of getting reprimanded for not spelling out the acronym. lol.

      -Stephen
      StephenChapman
      • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

        @StephenChapman Yeah, I was just trying to be funny. I knew why you did it and I applaud the effort.

        But the first time I ever saw that acronym, the first thing that popped into my mind was that.
        ron.cleaver@...
      • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

        @ron.cleaver@... Understood and well-played, sir! =)
        StephenChapman
  • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

    Check out their clients page:

    Page under process... Will be back soon...
    Gritztastic
    • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

      @Gritztastic That's awesome, haha. That's only slightly better than "our client list is confidential to protect their identity!"
      StephenChapman
  • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

    I'll bet they've tried to spam Wikipedia so many times that their URL is blacklisted and their company name "salted" to prevent further re-creations.
    orangemike
  • RE: A Case Study of Bad SEO: What Not to Do

    Although I still have to many questions to compose an effective SEO. Stephen Chapman, thank you for that explanation. I wish that Google help was as clear or as helpful as you seem to think. I have to use trial and error to solve problems in Google because I have found their help articles usless.
    jonymor@...