12 February 2014 by Becky Reid,

Let’s just get one thing clear… search engine optimisation (SEO) is NOT a dark art. Complicated, broad ranging and time consuming it might be. But mysterious it is not.

Dark Art of Magic
Dark Art of Magic

Ever since Google went live last year with their ‘Penguin’ search engine algorithm update I’ve heard people flapping about how it’s bad news for their website. If you’re a good website manager then it shouldn’t be.

Why? Because both Penguin and the recent Hummingbird update focus on penalising websites that use dirty tricks to get themselves higher the rankings. And you wouldn’t employ dirty tactics would you?

So what’s good practice and what’s bad practice in SEO?

Good Practice

  • Write for your audience – if you do that you’ll naturally be getting your vital keywords in your web copy without the need to stuff them in willy nilly
  • Make sure your site is structured logically – can your audience navigate it easily? If so, the Google bots will be able too and will reward you for it
  • Are your URLs cleanly structured? Do you have an 404 errors (can’t find this web page)? They need changing!

Bad Practice

  • Keyword Stuffing – don’t see how many times you can use the same word on a page or repeat it numerous times in your CMS’s metadata section (if it has one)
  • Using Link Farms – buying loads of backlinks from one company (known as a link farm) is naughty and Google will penalise your site for this

And don’t think it’s just small companies that fall foul of cheap tactics. Read about how Interflora famously got caught>>

Put simply – concentrate on what works for your audience and the SEO will happen.

Want to know more? Read Google’s own user-friendly SEO guide>> This article in PR Week is also good even if you’re not a PR person.