My name’s Kirsty Clark…and I’m a hoarder.
Yes, it’s been a busy week so far starting with a Spring clean on Sunday afternoon that was still going strong into the early hours of Monday morning – alas, no one was allowed to talk to me that day.
Going through and de-cluttering your life’s belongings can be an emotional and very stressful task and as the hours ticked by and I opened yet another box full of letters, cards, notes, photos, tickets, wristbands, certificates, bank statements, t-shirts, magazines, merchandise and general crapola, I began to notice that I got more and more agitated. From crying at old letters and laughing at stupid sketches to feeling just plain annoyed.
Just who did this dust-covered pile of nostalgia think it was? Just lying there all day taking up space in my fabulous, single-girl-party-cocktail-room of wonder? It no longer represented me, it certainly didn’t represent who I want and intend to be in the future, but most importantly, it had stopped me from living in the NOW. It was stopping me from moving forward.
I was maxed-out, exhausted and ready to get ruthless.
If you have your own website, you too could be guilty of this hoarding behaviour without even realising. If you are, it could be stopping you, your website AND your business from moving forward. Scary prospect?
Are you an SEO hoarder?
If you’re fairly new to SEO, it’s the practice of gaining quality incoming links to your site (the more quality in-bound links over out-bound links the better) to act as a vote for the quality and relevance of your site content when being ranked for search engine relevance. However, SEO has shifted largely over the years and practices that were once relevant may actually be harming or even blacklisting your site here in the present.
So how can you check that your site isn’t involved in bad practices and holding on to old, tired or spammy links and making you an SEO hoarder? And if your site is completely ‘linked’ out, how can you go about spring cleaning, de-hoarding and moving it into the present?
Cleaning Tip #1 – Know the bad from the good
No longer can you get away with practices like keyword stuffing, cloaking or spammy link building. Particularly if you have handed your SEO over to a third party or have taken over a site from someone else, it’s worth checking for these elements as they could be blacklisting your SEO:
Keyword stuffing – make sure your site hasn’t been previously stuffed! Much like my poor cupboards, ramming too much stuff in is just going to make it look a mess and not allow it to function as it should. So! If the word you want to rank for is ‘home cleaning advice’, by all means, write about it in your content and include it in your titles and headers where relevant, but don’t throw it in where it doesn’t make sense in an attempt to manipulate search results. It looks bad and just won’t wash anymore.
Cloaking – I have to admit I’m guilty of this…when I’ve had enough of the cleaning (and maybe after a few glasses of wine) I will attempt to fool guests into thinking I’ve got it all together by shoving it all under the bed. It’s a quick fix! But it’s not good for longevity.
Cloaking is the practice of showing different content to the user than is shown to the search engine – so for example, with the use of cloaking or having a ‘doorway’ site, SEO cowboys would quickly stuff a site to shoot it to the top of the rankings and have it re-direct to a more user-friendly, readable site. Google is far too clever to be fooled by this now.
Link building and link manipulation – This is the practice of intentionally building back links with the purpose of manipulating search results.
There are a number of automated tools that will build backlinks to your site to manipulate search results. Getting good quality backlinks is great – but spamming your site with hundreds of low quality backlinks will look like manipulation and de-credit your site. This goes for your anchor text too, which is the text you put in front of your link (like this!). So if your anchor text is ALWAYS ‘home cleaning advice’, you’re over optimising it and it looks false.
Cleaning Tip #2 – Out with the old
So where do you begin your Spring clean?
Well, there are a number of checks you can perform using tools such as Majestic SEO. Running these kinds of tests will reveal some of the bad links and allow you to disavow them (that’s throwing them in the bin, to me and you).
You can show Google your good intentions by informing them that you want to disregard poor quality links – this can be done in Google Webmaster Tools. Alternatively, you can contact the site who is providing you with the poor quality link and (very kindly) request that they remove their cruddy old link from your beautiful site…
Cleaning Tip #3 – In with the new
So once you’ve cleared the path and been given a fresh start with your new site, how can you make sure you don’t end up in exactly the same place in 6months with more SEO hoarding?
The best way to avoid any more SEO clutter is to keep up to date on all of Google’s advised practices. The lean towards social content and mobile search is a big one at the moment – however, SEO is an ever changing art form so make sure you know the trends.
My advice is to keep you content interesting and relevant and push it across the social platforms that work best with your business practices. You will soon notice an increased interest in your site and of course the more people who click through or stay around to read your content, the more points from Google.
No one likes to admit their flaws – but I am guilty of hoarding…and I fully intend to change my ways! So If you’ve been involved in black-hat practices in the past, now’s the time to confess and make it right – I won’t judge! All you can do is start fresh and move your site towards a better future.