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Why a little SEO knowledge can be dangerous


Why a little SEO knowledge can be dangerous

In every profession, we come across someone who says they know a bit about what you do, whether it’s the clued-up amateur or the enthusiastic client. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. It’s great when someone takes an interest in what you do and likes to know what you’re doing. At Engage Web, we’re very transparent about how we do SEO and we provide our clients with monthly reports on activity. We give as much detail as each client wishes to know.

However, there are sometimes those people who think they know all about it. They’ve read ‘this’ blog, or spoken with ‘that’ person and now they’re experts who know better than your two decades in the industry.

These are the people to be really wary of, as a little knowledge can be very, very dangerous.

This week. I have been making amends to a website that was, let’s say, ‘optimised’ by some who worked at the client’s company. They were not online marketing specialists, nor were they qualified in any web design discipline. No, they had read some blogs about web design and SEO and decided they knew exactly what needed to be done to the website to make it rank, and to do what they needed to with the pages.

It was a blooming mess.

The Content Management System (CMS) gave them full access to update page content, and they took advantage of that access by adding inline styles via span tags to virtually every line of text on the website, changing the font size and the colour of the text.

Of course, not knowing what they were really doing, they managed to add images and links to random websites, and pasted in code that had no place on the website. They forced much of the text to appear white (even though the website’s CSS already made the text white) which meant you couldn’t actually see the text in the text editor.

The pages were an eyesore, the code was all over the shop, and updating the site and removing all of the stuff they’d inserted took a long time.

This wasn’t the worst of it though. The style changes they’d made, although awful, weren’t directly affecting the performance of the website within search engines. What they did with their newly acquired SEO knowledge from some blogs took care of that.

They had read that H1 tags were used for making text more important for Google and, like most people who see this titbit of information for the first time, they’d had the bright idea of making ALL text a H1.

That’s got to work right? If all my text is in a H1 then it’s all more important for Google and my site will rank higher?

It reminds me of someone I used to work with who would mark all of their emails as ‘Urgent’. If every email from them is urgent, then how do I know when something is actually urgent? Therefore none of their emails were treated as urgent.

The H1 is for the main heading of your page. Every page on a website should have one, and the main subject of the page should be used within the H1 – not every bit of text on the page. If everything is ‘important’ then nothing is important.

So, we have lots of random colours and fonts added to the text, and H1 tags all over the place on every page. What else did this newly acquired SEO knowledge allow this chap to do?

Well, he also read that pages should be relevant to specific keywords. You know, landing pages? That makes sense, landing pages are important and pages should be targeted for specific keywords. Not like this though.

No, he created numerous posts on the website, filled with the worst kind of repetitive spam text, all saying the thing over and over again. If anyone were to read it then it would make no sense. If Google were to review it he’d get some Panda love for sure.

The site has now been cleaned up. His ‘work’ has been removed and the damage done by someone who had a little SEO knowledge has been corrected.

Please, before you go applying what you’ve learned on your website, or allowing someone you’ve designated as the company SEO to work on your website, be certain the knowledge you’ve gained is accurate and, where possible, use a professional. Doing this job isn’t something you can pick up after reading a few blogs. It takes years to master and, even then, you’re still learning.

Darren Jamieson

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