If you’re not sure if you’re a spammer or not, I highly recommend you keep on reading. While the concept of negative SEO, Google’s punishment for blatantly trying to game their algorithm, has been around for years, it became one of the hottest buzzwords last year. As search grows smarter and the algorithm becomes better at identifying quality, your chances of getting caught are quickly approaching 100%. Trust us, it’s much more worthwhile to put in the right work at the back end than enjoy a first-page ranking for a few weeks until you’re caught. Here are some top signs you’re deliberately or accidentally employing some pretty sketchy marketing practices:
1. You’re a Hashtag Thief
If your social media strategy is mostly comprised of tagging blatant promotion for your product or service with trending hashtags, you’re probably a spammer. So what if you sell pesticides or tax preparation services and the trending hashtag is about Lady Gaga? You’ll surely convert all of the hashtag conversation participants into loyal customers–that is, if you aren’t reported for spam first. Don’t jump into conversations unless you fully grasp what’s driving the dialogue.
2. You Use 25 Tags on Each Blog Post
If you’re still under the impression that content tags have real SEO weight, we recommend doing a little research on best practices. Fact is, tags are more of a function of user experience than communicating with search crawlers and no one wants to sort through 8,000 content categories.
3. You Purchase Email Lists
If your idea of boosting your email metrics is purchasing an email list from a company that requires PayPal payment and proceeding to spend the next 3 hours deleting bounced emails, it’s a pretty good sign you’re not directing your energy towards acquiring contact information the right way.
4. You Abuse Hashtags Shamelessly
If your idea of a great Tweet has a shortened link and 8 hashtags, you might be trying a little too hard to be noticed on Twitter. Hashtag etiquette dictates using no more than 2 Tweets at most.
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5. Your Content Marketing is Copy-and-Paste Marketing
If you’re posting on your blog 8 times daily but haven’t written anything original since 8th grade English class, it’s a pretty poor sign. Besides, Google hates plagiarism and is bound to notice eventually.
6. You’re Compensating for Poor Keyword Research Habits
Stop keyword stuffing and start writing naturally. Prior to my career at IMA, I encountered freelance clients who honestly thought they could rank No. 1 for really difficult terms like “social media” simply by using it an extra dozen times per blog content. Trust me–while I don’t have direct access to Google’s algorithm, I’m very confident it doesn’t work that way.
7. You Build Links Through Copy/Pasting Comments
If your approach to generating links involves leaving senseless comments on other blogs, you might be perceived as just a little sketchy, especially if those comments read something like “great content! visit my blog!” Trust us, engaging in genuine dialogue with a handful of bloggers each day is much more beneficial than thin comments on 10 times more blogs.
8. You Send Blind Emails to Bloggers
If you’re offering the cheapest SEO services on the block but no details on your methods, and your main marketing method is sending blind emails, you’re probably on the up-and-up. Writing an authoritative blog, engaging on social media, and guest posting are much more effective ways to draw attention to your SEO company.
9. You Ignore Can-SPAM
If you’re not even a bit worried about breaking Can-SPAM regulations, it’s a pretty good sign your company could be headed for some seriously deep hot water. While neglecting to include a link to an “Unsubscribe” option may seem like a way to prevent list attrition, your recipients will just mark your content as spam. The resulting hit to your sender score is much more devastating than losing a few subscribers.
10. You’re Using White Text
If your latest blog content didn’t quite hit the 15% keyword density you were hoping for, the solution isn’t adding a few more keywords or close variations in text the same color as your website background. Actually, that’s really sketchy and one of Google’s pet peeves.
11. You Immediately Invite Site Visitors to Subscribe
If your pop-up invites website visitors to subscribe to your blog by email as soon as they arrive on your website, that’s a turn-off. Obscuring the path to remove the pop-up box is just a recipe for an astronomical bounce rate. They’re not a bad idea, but let website visitors spend a few minutes getting acquainted with your writing first.
12. You Have No Idea What’s In Your Backlinks Profile
If you’re under the mistaken impression that any inbound link to your website will send your site shooting to the top of Google search results, you could be up for a pretty rude awakening by way of negative SEO. Not every inbound link is positive and links from sites that have nothing to do with your niche can appear to have been bought.
13. You’re a Stranger to Website Maintenance
If you never make the time to clean up factors like broken links and error messages, it’s not going to send the best sign to major search engines. While a high number of website pages can theoretically improve your site’s ranking, websites that are clearly not maintained aren’t ranked well because they give the impression you just abandoned ship.
What do you think are the surest signs of a spammer?
image credit: insanity technology