Nofollow Vs. Dofollow: What’s the Difference?

Nofollow and dofollow links - what's the difference?

Nofollow Vs. Dofollow: What’s the Difference?


If you’re new to blogging, you’re likely being bombarded by a lot of technical information and terms that are just kinda blowing your mind. That’s okay, take a deep breath – I promise it’s not as complex as it seems.


Today, class, we’re going to cover a term you hear about in SEO circles, but particularly among bloggers: nofollow and dofollow links. First though, it’s time for a crash course in how links relate to your site’s page rank and SEO strategy.


How Links Are Connected to SEO


Google uses algorithms to sort through web pages and determine how valuable they are to searchers. There are countless factors that go into play, and in the end, only Google know exactly how they all work.


A big part of the equation though is the links that Google finds on your site. Every web page, no matter how small, has a link profile attached to it (you can see yours with tools like Moz). The links going to your site and from your site tell Google a few things about how popular your content is, but also how spammy it is.

Inbound Links


Inbound links are links from other pages to yours, and these are a very good thing. When Google sees a lot of inbound links, it figures, ‘Hey, this must be some really good stuff if everyone’s linking to it!’, and it gives you some more of its sweet, Google-y love.


You can get inbound links by having fantastic content for starters, but you can also actively build your inbound link list by guest posting on other blogs (read more about how not to do this in this post).


Outbound Links


Outbound links are links that you yourself put on your own pages going to other pages. When you think of something relevant that would enrich the content for your readers that isn’t on your site, cue the outbound links.


Use links on your own site with caution though – linking to spammy content is a great way not only to piss off your readers, but Google as well.


‘Bad Neighborhood’ Linking


When you have a bunch of inbound or outbound links going to or coming from spammy sites, it’s known as bad neighborhood linking, and it can seriously tank your SEO.


Google’s smart, way smarter than me or you, and when it sees these kinds of links, it can only surmise two things:


  1. You didn’t vet the content for quality control.
  2. You’re in cahoots with those no-good, dirty spammers.


It’s essentially like hanging out with the wrong crowd, and when Google sees a lot of links like this, it can have a negative impact on your SEO.


Which brings me to the crux of the solution…the glorious nofollow link distinction.


The Difference Between Nofollow and Dofollow links


Once upon a time, black hat SEO strategists (those are the jerks that spam everyone) figured out that they could boost their own pages’ rank by leaving comments with links on high authority blogs.


They sought them out in droves, even going so far as to use automated software to do it, and Google noticed.


Enter the invention of the nofollow and dofollow link distinction. Matt Cutts, software engineer for Google, developed a solution that gave Google the information it needed to not count low-quality links against a page’s rank.


By adding a nofollow or dofollow tag to a link, admins could ensure that their sites didn’t get dragged into the gutter by link farmers, and create a dividing line between good and bad links on their site.


When a dofollow link is used, Google counts the link towards your page’s rank, and it will either help or hinder your ascension to the top of the result pages. When a nofollow link is used, it tells Google not to count it, and the link’s poor SEO has no effect on your own page, whether good or bad.


Do Nofollow/Dofollow Links Still Matter?


Since Google’s Panda update, the necessity of nofollow and dofollow links has been frequently debated, and the consensus will vary depending on who you talked to. Some experts claim that link profiles no longer play that heavy a role in a page’s ranking, but, well – tell that to the strategists still aggressively pursuing this tactic.


Our opinion? It can’t really hurt. All this little tag does is tell Google whether you want to be associated with that link or not, and ultimately, if Google chooses to ignore that information, it’s not going to hurt your rankings.


We say stick with those tags, people.


Knowing When to Use Nofollow and Dofollow Links


So now the big question – when do you use a nofollow link, and when do you use a dofollow link? The answer requires a little detective work on your part.


First of all, actually go to the link and check it out for yourself. If the site looks reputable, there aren’t a ton of popups or scripts, and particularly, it’s a secure page (https), then you should be fine.


You can also dig a little deeper into the reputation of a page by taking a look at its own link profile. Again, just use your free Moz extension, hop into ‘Page Analysis’, and select the ‘Link Metrics’ tab at the top. Even with the free version of this tool, it’ll tell you the external followed links and total links.


The Benefits of a Nofollow Link


So is there any upside to landing a nofollow link on someone else’s page? Yes actually, because guess what people – it still brings in traffic.


If you have a link in an appropriate, relevant spot that’s placed in a way that’s helpful to the reader, then chances are it’s still going to bring you some traffic, whether it’s nofollow or not. While the link won’t do anything for your SEO, on a high-traffic site, it can still do a lot for your own numbers.

How to Specify a Link as Nofollow/Dofollow


Making a link nofollow or dofollow is actually relatively simple, but you’re going to need to glance at a tiny bit of HTML to do it manually. Don’t freak out, it’s not that bad – I promise.


When you have a hyperlink to a website, it looks like this:


21 Taco Recipes


Really though, on the back-end of a page, the HTML looks like this:


<a href=””>21 Taco Recipes</a>


Breaking that down, this is the HTML you use to create a plain-old, no distinction hyperlink:


<a href=”link goes here”>text goes here</a>


See? Easy peasy. To specify a link as nofollow or dofollow, you just add another piece to the puzzle, so that it looks like this:


<a href=”link goes here” rel=”dofollow”>text goes here</a>


There, that’s not so scary, is it? Now we bring it all together with our link information, and we have a shiny new, dofollow link (because what reader on this planet wouldn’t want to read 21 taco recipes):


<a href=”” rel=”dofollow”>21 Taco Recipes</a>


This method is easy enough if the links are going into the content you yourself are creating, but with blog comments, it can get a little trickier, and a LOT more time-consuming. Thankfully, there’s a plugin for that.


Using plugins like External Links, you can actually set up automatic settings that tell WordPress when to designate a link as nofollow, taking you out of your moderator hat so you can focus on content creation.


How to See if a Link on Someone’s Page is Nofollow/Dofollow


If you’re curious to see if a link to your page somewhere on the web is nofollow or dofollow, it’s as simple as checking out the source code.


In Google Chrome


At the top of your browser screen, go to ‘View’.


Select ‘Developer’


Select ‘View Source’


A window will pop up on the right side of your screen displaying all of the code for the page. Just use command + f to quickly find the link you want to check out, and look for that handy-dandy dofollow tag.


In Safari


At the top of your screen, click on ‘Safari’


Click on ‘Preferences’


Go to ‘Advanced’


Check ‘Show develop menu in menu bar’


Go to the web page and click ‘Develop Menu’


Click ‘Show page source


In Firefox


Easy peasy.


Go to anywhere on the page you’d like to see the source code for (except images or text, try the margins)


Right click


Select ‘View source code’


Do Nofollow/Dofollow Links Really Matter?


The jury’s still out on how effective these links really are at factoring in the reputability of links with Google, but the way we see it – it just can’t hurt.

TF-IDF: SEO and Content Marketing Rolled Into One

TF-IDF: SEO and Content Marketing Rolled Into One


TF-IDF for content marketing


Content marketing is a time-consuming process. Keeping a site consistently up to date with fresh articles and compelling copy takes time and skill. To add to your mountain of to-dos, you have to get that copy into the hands of people that want to read it with content marketing strategies.


Search engine optimization, outreach, backlinking, networking, cross-promotion, advertising, inbound marketing strategies – it’s a full-time job and a half. So what happens when those efforts fall flat, and you still don’t have the traffic coming in that you need?


You’ve wasted hours, days, weeks of your valuable time on a strategy that isn’t producing results. You’ve allocated your resources to getting this stuff out there, but people aren’t finding you. It’s a maddening situation to be in. You’ve put other things on the back burner for the long game with content marketing strategy implementation, things that could have made you immediate money, and now you’re coming up empty.


There are a few different approaches to content marketing that can help bring in more traffic, with less manual input from you, freeing you up to focus on other aspects of growing your business.


SEO and Inbound Marketing


SEO is a tricky beast. It starts off being simple – put this keyword here this number of times, get those stop words outta there, keep your pages spam-free… The truth is though, there is no single SEO strategy that is going to shoot your content to the top of the SERPs – Google’s made sure you have to try harder than that.


Though it might not always seem to be the case, we’ve officially entered the age of authenticity selling. Information-rich content that’s original and actionable is what is going to market your site for you, and draw traffic in with no marketing expertise required.


What is TF-IDF?


TF-IDF is just a fancy technical term for our keyword software here at Text Tools. Here’s what it stands for:





If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s okay, don’t panic – it’s not as technical as it sounds. Basically, this is a keyword program that looks at a single term within a document to determine its importance, based on the frequency of its use, compared to the frequency of words that are less relevant.


The more a term gets mentioned on a page, the higher TF-IDF judges its weight to be, and the more important the software determines it is.


How Does TF-IDF Help With Content Marketing and SEO?


TF-IDF doesn’t just provide you with information about term frequency. The Text Tools program has a feature called ‘Semantic Analysis’. Based on the term you enter in the software, once the program calculates the weight of the term, it quickly scans the web for other pages that have this term listed at a high weight.


When Text Tools does this, you’re given a detailed graph that essentially lines out the top competing pages for that term on the web on a graph. Digging deeper though, Text Tools also gives you a list of semantically related keywords. Here’s what that means:


Semantics: of, relating to, or arising from the different meanings of words


Basically, semantically related keywords fall into a category of words that have something to do with each other but aren’t necessarily a part of the same topic.


TF-IDF semantic keyword analysis results


When you do a semantic analysis with Text Tools, you get several words that are also showing up commonly on the pages with high weights for your target keyword. In this graph, you’ll see the URLs that are referenced, as well as the weight of those terms on each page.


How to Use TF-IDF for SEO and Content Marketing

So how does TF-IDF tie in with content marketing? Essentially what it comes down to is pretty simple: giving the people what they want. Using semantic keyword analysis, you can evaluate the target market and get a feel for what they’re reading, and what the sites they’re reading on are also writing about.


Take your findings from Text Tools and use them to create an entire content creation strategy, so that you can create a targeted approach to leading your readers on to other topics. It not only opens the door to fresh eyes, but it keeps your content from getting stale and repetitive.


As you continue to create organic content, your website becomes richer and richer, with naturally key term dense articles and pages that start showing up in the SERPs more and more. As you build that content, you link back and forth between related articles, and the Google crawler starts indexing even more of your site, making you easier to find.


Why SEO Isn’t the Answer to Everything

Ethical SEO practices


The problem with building content around an SEO-based strategy is that it sets you up to create content that is artificial and not free-flowing. You wind up with robotic text that is unpleasant to read, and obviously engineered, and Google picks up on that.


Google’s Panda algorithm is smarter than ever, and can smell engineered content a mile away. When too many sentences are starting with the same word, and a word appears in more than 2-3% of the text, Google senses that the content is being written for the search engine, not the reader.


The result is essentially a penalty, and Google punishes the page for bad behavior, not ranking it well, and generally treating the link like spam that it doesn’t want its searchers to see.


Cost/Benefit of Link Building


Building backlinks is a great way to boost a target page’s rank and drive traffic to your site. You get your name out there, network with other blogs, and there’s the SEO benefit of getting a link on a site with a substantial domain authority.


Link building is the long game for SEO and content marketing, but it’s a tremendous way to expand the reach of your audience, without spamming in the comments sections of other blogs (don’t be that guy).


The problem with link building that most sites – particularly those fresh out of the gate – run into is that it takes time, money, and plenty of outreach, most of which tiny budgets don’t allow for. The result is a lot of time spent for little gain for a site that’s still in its infantile stages.


The bottom line is, you need to build your rapport with your audience first. You can spend all of that time and money driving people to your domain, but ultimately that progress will be short-lived and unsustainable if the content you have on your own site isn’t engaging and continually growing.


Social Media Marketing Won’t Work by Itself


Social media marketing is another area where content creators and digital marketers place a ton of effort and strategy, and often get frustrated by the lack of results. The engagement doesn’t yield clicks, and all of that time and money invested only serves to build a social media presence that isn’t building sales or an email list.


The bottom line is, you can’t just count on social media marketing to build your audience and grow your business. In every scenario and with every strategy, it always starts with content. You have to give your readers a reason to do more than like your Facebook page.


Ask yourself, what is really drawing people to your email list from your social media accounts? What incentive is there for your audience to go further and commit to a relationship with you?


A Match Made in Heaven: TF-IDF and Inbound Marketing


The bottom line is as it always was – content is king, and there is no substitute. You have to be willing to give your readers something of value if you want to grow your base of readers, and it really is that simple.


TF-IDF is like the ultimate market analyzation tool, helping you create content that’s relevant to your audience, but will also help your site rank better. It’s not keyword stuffing – it’s not even just packing that list of Keyword Tool generated related keywords into a page.


TF-IDF is taking the natural interests of your readership and giving the information you need to dig deeper and diversify your content based on that data. With this information, you can create content that brings in organic traffic, and builds your subscriber list based on the diversity of your information.


Why TF-IDF is the First Thing You Should Try


Your ideas are grand, and your ambitions have the power to take your online business places, but ultimately you cannot forget about your readers. If you want to see your hard work pay off, you have to put in the time with your content – there are no sustainable shortcuts.


Use TF-IDF to break through your writer’s block and stimulate the flow of fresh ideas and new content that’s relevant to your readership.


Learn more about what your audience wants to read – get Text Tools now.

Why Isn’t My Page Ranking for Google Searches?

There’s nothing easy about getting your content noticed in a place where literally everyone is creating something new every week. Your competitors seldom take a day off, and every single day you have to get your content out there and get your page ranking higher in Google searches.


The internet is basically just a big claw machine, with a rotation of players with an attention span shorter than a goldfish’s. If what you’re offering doesn’t attract their attention right away – bounce – they’re gone, and on to the better-looking things in the pile.


What happens when you put the content out there, diligently and consistently, and your site still doesn’t rank? There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve been spinning your tires and never gaining any traction.


Why High Page Ranking on Google is So Critical


Google search engine result pages


While Google rankings aren’t everything, search engine users are a major driver of traffic. With over 3.5 billion searches per day, Google has become the driving force behind audience growth and revenue potential for everything from e-commerce sites to blogs.


If your page isn’t ranking well in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), then you’re missing out on a massive chunk of audience that could absolutely be a game-changer.


If people can’t find your website with a Google search, you’re going to be forever relegated to building your audience the hard way – through networking, advertising, and cross promotion. It’s labor-intensive, it’s often very expensive, and it’s not going to pay off nearly as much as just being on the first page of the search engine results.


Why Your Site Isn’t Ranking


So what’s the deal – why isn’t your site ranking?


The answer is never simple, but the culprit is usually a combination of SEO errors and poor content. Content is king,  but even high quality, organic content is a massive factor in good SEO practices.


If you’re not paying attention to the basics, keeping your content focused, or engaging in good linking practices, your site won’t just stay off the SERPs – it might even get penalized by Google’s algorithms.


Bringing Your Site’s SERP Rankings Up



It’s time to stop just mindlessly posting content, crossing your fingers, and hoping for the best. Your competition is going to try harder than that, so you can bet you’re going to have to as well. Don’t be a punk and rig the game, but don’t count on the raw awesomeness of your content landing you on the top SERPs either.


Here are some basic SEO practices that you can start incorporating into your strategy TODAY, and make that editorial calendar of yours actually work.


#1 – Make Your Content Relevant to Your Target Audience


All too often, we get so caught up in the brainstorming and content creation aspect of running our sites, that we forget who we’re talking to. If you’re not tailoring your tone and content for your target audience, they’re not going to stick around.


Spend some time getting to know your target audience and their interests. What kinds of problems do they have? How do they typically speak? What is their age range?


Just like you likely wouldn’t speak to a college professor the same way you’d speak to a friend in a bar, you need to customize your voice and subject matter for the people you’re trying to reach. It’ll keep them around, and keep them engaged with your site.


#2 – Create Actionable Content


Creating actionable content

All too often, blogs are publishing content that really doesn’t do anything for the reader. In the content creation community, we know what’s up – those people are just writing for the sake of their posting frequency, and not actually to add value for their readers.
Whenever you write something for your blog, ask yourself:


What problem is this article solving for my readers?


If it’s not providing content that readers can take and apply to their own lives to solve a problem, then it’s not going to do anything for your traffic.


Remember: subscribers = sustained traffic, and without the traffic, your page isn’t going to rank in the SERPs.


As you put together blog posts, structure them like this:


  1. Who is my target audience?
  2. What is a problem they have in common?
  3. How will this article help them solve that problem?
  4. Offer the solution, and include a firm call to action to keep them engaged.


People notice when a blog is providing more than just filler. If you build it, they will come.

#3 – Plan Time-Sensitive Content Ahead of Time


I’ve written for a lot of agencies over the years, and I can’t tell you how often I’ve gotten some last minute, urgent, top-of-the-stack article request because the editor just realized a big event was approaching that we had to cover.


The bottom line is, current events get a lot of search traffic, and it’s a great way to bring in fresh readers to your blog. Get a feel for the events that your niche audience is interested in, and then orchestrate plenty of content around that to stick in your editorial calendar.


Keep in mind too that most events have something to do with most niches, so even if the spin isn’t apparently obvious from the beginning, just put yourself in their shoes for a moment and consider what the event might mean to you.


Boom – you have your angle. Now put it in your calendar.

#4 – Only Post Well-Written Content


Check spelling with Grammarly

As a writer, it is insane to me what counts for passable writing on the interwebs these days (and hey, some of you may be thinking the same about me).


The bottom line is, poorly written content can and does affect your page rankings and SEO, so don’t allow guest posts on your site that are written in garbled, broken English, and always hold your own language skills to the highest standard.


The Yoast SEO tool has a readability function that you can either choose to take or leave, but it’s a good way to gauge how well your content is flowing.


Here are some common problems with content I see:


  • Wandering topics
  • Long, dense blocks of text
  • Improper punctuation
  • Sentence fragments


Keep it on topic, use some tools and extensions to check for basic grammar and punctuation, and be sure to keep your article easy to read. You’ll notice readers sticking around longer, and your rankings improve as your bounce rate goes down.


#5 – Keep the Number of Links Within Reason


Including links in your posts is helpful to readers because it provides them with in-text references. When you talk about something and feel like an explanation of the topic would be an article on its own, or like someone else would be a better authority on the subject, that’s when it’s time to use a link.


You can have links flow naturally within the text without devoting any attention to explaining it, like this:


The architecture in Sydney is world-renowned for its elegance and modernism.


, or you can try for something more direct, to encourage your readers to check out a resource that you value and trust. It’s a healthy link to have on your page, and definitely a great way to build a relationship with another site (link exchange anyone?):


To learn more about architecture in Sydney, check out the Sydney Architecture Walks.


What raises red flags for Google is when an article has several outbound links. Avoid these mistakes when adding links to your content:


  • Linking to spammy sites
  • Using links that aren’t relevant to your content
  • Using paid links
  • Using more than one or two per paragraph


Can you link internally to one of your own pages or posts? Absolutely, and it’s a great way to help the Google crawler index your site. If you’ve already written something that’s relevant to what you’re posting, or have a product that may help your readers solve a problem referenced in your article, link away!


#6 – Don’t Over-Optimize Your Anchor Text



In addition to sourcing quality, relevant links for your content, make sure you’re using anchor text that flows naturally. It’s fine to use anchor text optimization to improve your SEO to a certain extent, but doing so over and over again will set off alarms for Google that you’re trying to inorganically rank your pages.


Diversify your anchor text to keep the content flowing naturally.


#7 – Using Keywords in H1 Text


This one is pretty important. If you’re trying to boost your site’s rankings for a particular search term, then you need to make sure that you naturally work that term into as much of your H1 text as possible (headers).


While Google’s algorithms are generally pretty good at overlooking common stop words (at, the, a, etc.), it’s always best to avoid letting them break up your target keywords too much in your H1 text.


Again, make it flow naturally, but make sure it’s in there.


#8 – Include Target Keywords in Your Meta Descriptions


Meta descriptions in SERPs


Your meta descriptions are the text that shows up underneath your listing in the SERPs. While not necessarily a factor in rankings, meta descriptions play a huge role in your CTR on the SERPs.


These descriptions are typically 155 characters in length, and describe the content of your page in enough detail that a user can decide if it’s the result they’re searching for.


While including your target keywords definitely can’t hurt, it’s important to make sure that the meta description accurately depicts the content that the user is going to get. If it’s misleading for the sake of keyword stuffing, your bounce rate will go up, and this can negatively impact your page rankings.


#9 – Include Target Keywords in Alt Text for Image


Alt text, or alternative text, is basically a description for the images on your site. Besides the title you choose for your image, this detailed information tells Google what your image is about, and helps your pages rank higher for your target keywords in the SERPs.


Always make sure the alt text you write is accurate and relevant, and include crucial keywords. Keep in mind that in cases in which the image doesn’t render, or the user is visually impaired, the alt text will be all that the viewer sees, so make it relevant and well-written. Usually three to five words is sufficient.


#10 – Use Relevant Titles for Images



As you’ve probably guessed, the same goes for image title text. This is another piece of the information puzzle that Google will use to help searchers find your images, so make sure you optimize them for easy identification on your site and make them easy to find for searches.


Use your target keywords in the titles of your images (where relevant), and opt for hyphens (-) over spaces and underscores (_) to make it easier for Google to find your image.


#11 – Create a Natural Backlink Profile


High-quality backlinks are extremely sought after in the SEO world, and for good reason. Getting an unpaid link on a high authority site will not only help to send more traffic your way, but will tell Google that your site is associating well with other reputable sites. We call this ‘good neighborhood linking’, or ‘white hat link-building’, and it’s a fantastic way to ascend the ranks of the SERPs.


Here are a few ways you can ethically source backlinks:


  • Create fantastic content that people want to share
  • Use plugins to make it easy for other sites to share and link to your content
  • Provide useful information with backlinks in forums and Q & A sites
  • Guest post on other sites
  • Use social media (Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+,etc.)
  • Put together an expert roundup, and encourage participants to share the link


In every case of sourcing a backlink, to keep the practice ethical, the link must be relevant. Guest posting for backlinks is a bit of a grey area in the SEO community, but when done openly and honestly with relevant links to the audience, it can be a powerful aid to your rankings.


Don’t go into it rubbing your hands together like a greedy little link-farming creton, and generally the outcome will be a positive, natural backlink profile that creates an organic network of links all of the web to your content.

#12 – Include Semantically Related Keywords


In the content creation industry, there is definitely such a thing as niching down too much. All too often, there are websites that miss out on massive traffic potential because they refuse to operate even one iota outside of their niche, and it’s hurting their rankings.


Using a semantic keyword tool like Text Tools, you can pull together data from your competitors that shows you what other topics they’re incorporating into their content that are semantically related to yours.


For example, maybe your blog is focused on architecture. When you do a little bit of playing around with Text Tools, you can see that your competitor pages are also ranking high for keywords like ‘design’ and ‘art’, so maybe focusing all of your content on architecture is actually narrowing your audience too much.


The results of a TF-IDF semantic keyword analysis


Chances are, a great deal of your readers work with other related industry professionals, so keep the core of your content niche focused, and then let your editorial calendar branch into these related topics to diversify, build your traffic, and scale the Google page rankings.

#13 – No Keyword Stuffing


Optimizing your content for your target keywords is one thing, but replacing every pronoun with that keyword (and then some) is not only going to make the copy painful to read – it’s going to set off alarms with Google.


Keyword stuffing takes optimization to the extreme and produces content that is robotic and clearly written for SEO, not for readers. At the most, the usual recommendation for keyword density in a page is 2-3%. Focus on using keywords in title text and where it flows the most naturally. If you can’t quite hit that 2-3% range without your copy suffering, don’t sweat it.


Remember: people first, SEO second.

#14 – Use Accurate Headlines


Frustration at the computer

Misleading headlines and title text is some of the worst SEO around, so don’t let your drive to optimize turn people off from actually getting what they want from their searches. It’s wonderful if your site is turning up in the first page of the SERPs, but if people are expecting one thing from your headline and getting another when they actually click, your bounce rate is going to go sky-high, and your rankings will suffer.


If your target keywords don’t fit in with the actual content of your page, just leave it out, and focus on making your title text relevant for searchers. Don’t stew on it – the traffic will come.


Honest, Ethical SEO + Great Content is the Best Way to Raise Your Rankings


When it comes right down to it, great SEO isn’t really that complicated:


  • Create fantastic content that solves a problem for your target audience.
  • Plan your editorial calendar well.
  • Include links within reason.
  • Make sure that it’s searchable by including target keywords in the copy.
  • Give images sensible names and accurate alt text.
  • Don’t leave your meta descriptions blank.
  • Facilitate healthy relationships with other sites to naturally build your backlink profile.
  • Create content for people, not search engines.


If you take this advice to heart, your pages will climb the ranks of the search engine results, and people will start finding you more. More importantly though, they’ll stick around, because what you’ll have on your site will actually be of value to them.

Ethical SEO practices


The internet can be a sleazy place, but Google is certainly doing its part to reward creators of helpful, actionable content, and keeping spammers at bay with algorithms that shut down cheap SEO tactics.


Climbing the SERPs takes time, and any SEO ‘expert’ that promises you a result in a set time frame is likely blowing smoke with false claims. The simple truth of ranking higher comes down to hard work, great content, and being a good networker. Get your name out there, and build that name on the quality of the content you deliver, and your rankings will come.


Looking for fresh ideas for your editorial calendar? Get Text Tools here, and start reaching a broader audience today.

Too Much SEO? Where to Draw the Line


If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years in engineering content that goes beyond the written word, it’s that there is definitely such a thing as too much SEO. At first it was easy:


Do a little keyword research, stuff a mess of keywords into your content, and create a massive network of incoming and outgoing links to your pages – done. Your page showed up, and regardless of the quality of your content, you ranked – you ruled.


These days, Google is smarter than ever, and true to the nature of their quality control practices, they’re working hard to ensure that searchers are getting the results they want. That means content created for humans, and pages with actual value to lend to their readers.


The past several years has seen a massive shift in just how much SEO Google is willing to tolerate before it penalizes sites, so the question is now, how much is too much SEO?


Keyword Density


While it’s important to optimize your content for target keywords, it’s important to remember that density isn’t everything, and that over-enriching your content with keywords will send Google’s algorithms a red flag that you’re trying to rig the game.


Don’t focus too much on how many times your keyword is appearing in your content – usually between four and six times per 1,000 words is more than sufficient. Focus instead on ensuring those target keywords have relevance, and put them in the places that weigh heavily on your page’s ranking, including your H1 text and meta descriptions.


Keyword Stuffing


Let’s get this clear from the start – Google hates keyword stuffing, and it will absolutely penalize you for doing it to try to outrank your competitors. Sure, you want to reach a broad audience, and you want a lot of searches to pull up your page, but over-optimizing your content with blatant keyword stuffing not only dilutes the relevance of your copy, but sets off alarms to Google that your content is engineered for SEO, not people.


By all means, use handy tools like Text Tools to identify semantically related keywords for your topics, and make your content relevant and indexable, but don’t let the focus of your content be on keyword optimization – always make it about the reader.


Anchor Text Over-Optimization


While putting some thought into your anchor text certainly makes sense from the user-end of things, it can also hurt your rankings to over-optimize it. Branded link anchor text is generally safe to optimize like crazy, but it makes more sense to keep your anchor text more topically relevant than keyword-focused for better rankings.


Moz recommends a 7:3 ratio of non-targeted:targeted anchor text, with the majority of the anchor text you use being selected based on concepts rather than keywords. Google will love you for it, and your readers won’t feel bombarded by what is obviously SEO-focused, link-heavy content.


‘Bad Neighborhood’ Linking


black hat link building SEO practices

This is a rather interesting concept, but one that makes a lot of sense when you think of it like you would in real-life relationships. Just as you can be penalized in life for consorting with unsavory characters, such is the same for link-building.


If spammy sites are the source of many of your incoming and outgoing links, it can and will affect your rankings, and Google’s algorithms will punish you accordingly. Sites that are blatant link-farms, or are using unethical SEO practices are going to negatively affect you, so make sure that every link you build is on a site you’re happy to associate with.


Likewise, make sure you’re a good influence friend to have around. Keep your link-building strategies ethical and productive for the sake of your content – not just your link profile.


Stop Posting Fluff – Publish Real, Valuable Content


Content frequency is a big part of keeping your site relevant and ranked, but a lot of site owners take this one too far, publishing content as frequently as possible, regardless of its topical relevance or value.


The problem with this is, you wind up with a lot of really short, keyword dense articles that are low on information, and more often than not, your bounce rate goes up. Aside from it just being a negative experience for your user, Google also takes note of excessive, light content, and takes it as a red flag that you’re just trying to populate your site, and not deliver valuable content to your audience.


If you’re running out of ideas, don’t publish fluff that’s devoid of valuable information. Instead, focus on optimizing the content you already have in place, and use advanced keyword tools to create content that’s more relevant to your target audience. You’ll build traffic to those pages, and ultimately rank higher for your target keywords.


Don’t Create an Army of Sites Just to Link to Yourself


This is generally pretty common knowledge among some of the worst things you can do for your own SEO, and for good reason. Building links between sites is time-consuming enough, without having to own and manage them all yourself.


Aside from the time input from this kind of link-building, it’s also deeply frowned upon by Google, and you absolutely will be penalized for it.


Not only is it unethical, but it’s ineffectual as well. Since most of these sites are created around the same time, the sites themselves aren’t old enough to be valuable sources of backlinks anyway. The age of sites plays a huge role in the trust they’ve garnered with Google, and if you have a bunch of backlinks from several young sites, it’s not going to do much to boost your rankings or traffic anyway.


The golden rule of SEO? Craft sites and content for people, not SEO. Remember folks, it’s search engine OPTIMIZATION, not search engine manipulation. Google is smarter than you, I promise, and you will absolutely feel the sting if you decide to try to engineer your way to the top of the SERPs, instead of earning your spot there with organically ranking content.


Make it relevant, make it authentic, and don’t count on the SEO shortcuts to make your traffic increase on its own.