SEO, or search engine optimization, describes methods and practices used to raise a website’s ranking position in the SERP, or search engine results page. The best way to accomplish this is to follow Google’s webmaster guidelines, which regularly get updated according to the changes and tweaks made to Google’s algorithm. Outdated and unethical practices, as well as those that go against the webmaster guidelines, are considered to be “bad” SEO. Using them can lead to getting penalized by Google and other search engines, resulting in loss of search traffic and, more importantly, loss of revenue.

1. Slow loading times

There’s an interesting statistic floating around the internet these days, which states that around 40 percent of users will simply abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Not only that, but Google’s algorithm also looks down on websites that take too long to load and down-ranks accordingly. Not only is your business losing valuable traffic due to people abandoning your website, but you also lose search traffic at the same time due to the low ranking. This leaves you with two choices: you can either properly optimize your website or face the imminent loss of revenue.

2. Desktop-first

In the beginning of 2017, Google announced its mobile-first indexing practice, which states that all websites should be created with mobile users in mind and then be optimized for desktop versions. This comes as a no surprise as more than half of all internet traffic is now coming from mobile devices. Having a website that isn’t made or optimized for mobile means that mobile users won’t be able to enjoy their user experience the same way as those viewing the website using a computer. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile experience first, or you will certainly get downgraded fast.

3. Duplicate content

Back in 1996, Bill Gates has uttered the famous sentence “content is king.” Two decades later, this statement still has tremendous value, especially when it comes website ranking. Content needs to be engaging, original and unique, and having duplicate content is looked down upon by Google and other search engines. If a search engine already has a specific piece of content logged in its index, then there’s no reason for them to index a website that has the exact same content, as it provides no real value. And not getting indexed is far worse for business than getting downgraded.

4. Bad Links

Having a proper link strategy is often overlooked by small businesses. But they play a big role when it comes to ranking, and this goes for both the websites you link to and those you link out. Link building can be a tedious task, which requires time and resources. This is exactly the reason why small businesses get tempted to settle for low-quality links, which often have little connection with the actual business. Links not only have to be of excellent quality, but they need to be relevant to the type of business you’re doing. Using the wrong kind of links can only lead to getting penalized, so be extra careful when using them.

5. Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is a practice that was heavily used a couple of years ago. And it worked quite well, actually. That is until Google and other search engines readjusted their algorithms to downgrade any website that uses this practice to gain revenue. Keywords are an excellent way to display additional information about your business and attract potential customers who use those words in their search queries. Overstuffing them in a single copy of text essentially makes it unreadable and results in negative user experience, which, in turn, can seriously harm your website’s ranking position.

In the world where people search for literally everything, ranging from finding the best deal regarding a specific product, to finding a nearest restaurant or looking for an answer to a particular question, being ranked well in the search results is extremely important. And good ranking position can be obtained by following ethical SEO practices. On the other hand, using practices such as stuffing keywords, duplicating and stealing content and hosting it all on a slow, lousy website can only result in getting penalized by search engines and losing both normal and search traffic and potentially losing a lot of revenue. If you wish to have a successful business, avoid these practices at all costs if you wish to stay afloat and above the competition.

Steven Clarke is a digital marketing specialist at SEO Adelaide. In his spare time, he likes to write about his ideas and share them with the world. Steven is a regular contributor to several websites.