Day in and day out, we encounter small business owners who are completely misinformed about Google’s policies. In particular, there seems to be a lot of false information about the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of certain online advertising practices. We hate to see trusting business owners get in trouble with Google by making honest, albeit misinformed, mistakes. That’s we’re dedicating this post to highlighting popular online advertising behaviors that are sure to provoke Google’s retribution. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the most illegitimate SEO practices that are somehow still being used.
1. Using a fake address.
Google has street-view images of virtually every U.S. address in existence, so they’ll know immediately whether it’s really your business’s location. Moreover, you must be able to receive mail at the address you give, as Google will send you a postcard to verify your location. If there’s any question about your address, Google might even have someone drive by to check it out in person!
2. Creating multiple listings for the same company.
Some business owners try to market their company in every surrounding city to optimize their search traffic. Don’t ever do this. More than likely, Google will quickly recognize what you’re doing as spam, and your listings will be suspended. You may even be slapped with a longer-lasting penalty that will haunt you into the future.
3. Using shady back-links.
Sure, links from elsewhere to your own website are highly valuable as far as search engine optimization goes. But if those links aren’t authentic, or from relevant sites, then they won’t do anything to increase your website’s value. Plus, if Google catches you (which they likely will), your site will be suspended from search results. (J.C. Penney was caught with thousands of shady back-links in 2011. Click here to read the New York Times article with the full scoop.)
4. “Keyword stuffing.”
Have you ever seen a website jam-packed with what seems like every relevant keyword and nearby location imaginable? This is what’s known as keyword stuffing, and Google views it as spam. It’s obvious and easy for Google to spot, so don’t do it.
5. Using the same address for multiple, related companies.
Trying to double your traffic by creating two different company listings, both at the same address, will backfire. If you’re the owner of Bob’s Appliance at 123 Main Street, then you can’t also create a listing for Tom’s Appliance at 123 Main Street. This is grounds for suspension of both listings.
6. Publishing deceptive customer reviews.
That means you should never write reviews of your own company, nor should you pay others to write them. Google tracks the IP addresses of all incoming posts, and they’ll notice if there’s anything unnatural about the “who,” “where,” and “when” of customer reviews. If your reviews are questionable, your listing will probably be suspended.
You Can’t Outsmart Google
Unfortunately, many business owners hear rumors that they can find ways around Google’s guidelines, but the fact remains that Google will always be at least one step ahead. They have superior technology and an incredible amount of manpower, so it’s simply impossible to pull the wool over their eyes—at least, not for long. Your best bet is to study the rules and do your best SEO work without breaking them. If you need clarification about any of the above points, don’t hesitate to contact a Prospect Genius representative today! We’re here to help.