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Top 10 SEO Mistakes That'll Put You On Google's Naughty List

Did you know Google can make your blog disappear from its search results?

One day, you’re getting a nice little trickle of traffic to a few of your posts. No, it’s nothing major, but it grows with every new post you publish, and you can see Google becoming a major source of traffic for you in the future.

But then it stops.

Top 10 SEO Mistakes That'll Put You On Google's Naughty List

You Can Also Read - Is It Better For SEO To Publish Something Every Day?

Poof, every single post and page of your blog disappears from Google. No warning, no alarm bells, nothing. You’re just gone, like you never even existed.

And the worst part?

You don’t even know why. It just feels like the biggest, baddest bully on the Internet decided to knock the crap out of you, leaving you whimpering and bleeding, wondering what on earth you did wrong.

It happens all the time. I know, because it was happened to me.

What Is A Google Penalty?

Google has been changing its ranking algorithms since December 2000. That’s when it released its toolbar extension. At the time, the toolbar update represented a sea change that would create the SEO industry as we know it. In fact, it was the first time PageRank was published in a meaningful or usable form.

Over the next decade-and-a-bit, Google continued to refine the quality of its search results. Over time, it begins to eliminate poor quality content and elevate the good stuff to the top of the SERPs. That’s where penalties – come in.

The Penguin update was rolled out in 2014. It hit more than 1 in 10 search results overnight, wiped some sites out of search entirely, pushed poor quality content off the map and forced optimizers to think much more carefully about their content strategy. Since then, SEO professionals have been very tuned in to Google’s plans, fearing the next update in case it results in a penalty for a site they’re working on.

You Can Also Read - Top 15 Free SEO Tools Every Blogger Should Know

Recognizing A Penalty -

Penalties can be automatic or manual. With manual penalties, you’ll probably be told, but you may not always know you've been targeted if the cause is algorithmic. Those penalties may take even the most experienced SEO professionals by surprise.

For algorithmic penalties, here are some sure-fire clues -

  • Your website is not ranking well for your brand name any more. That’s a dead give-away. Even if your site doesn't rank for much else, it should at least do well on that one keyword.
  • Any page one positions you had are slipping back to page two or three without any action on your part.
  • Page-rank for your site has inexplicably dropped from a respectable two or three to a big fat zero (or a measly PR of one).
  • The entire website has been removed from Google’s cached search results overnight.
  • Running a site search – keyword – yields no results.
  • Your listing – when you eventually find it in Google – is for a page on your site other than the home page.
If you see one or more of these factors, you can be pretty sure that a penalty has affected your site.

You Can Also Read - Top 15 SEO Techniques I Forget To Do

The Truth about How Google Works -

It’s evolving. All the time.

Every day, they tweak their algorithms to filter out spammers. Every year or two, they also roll out major updates that cause huge shifts in search engine rankings for nearly everyone on the web.

The result?

What works today may not work tomorrow. In fact, it might even hurt you.

Once upon a time, Google didn't penalize people for making mistakes. They would withhold benefits, yes, but they wouldn't actually reduce your ranking or make you disappear.

Now, they’re much more punitive. Even if you don’t make a big enough mistake to get yourself blacklisted, you can still see your search engine results drop overnight if you do something wrong, potentially by dozens of pages.

What, exactly, do they punish you for?

Well, the list is ever-changing, but here are the top ten mistakes most likely to land you on their naughty list:

Top 10 SEO Mistakes Of Your Website Deserves To Be Penalized By Google -

Mistake #1: Buying Links -

Ever noticed ads from so called SEO firms promising you hundreds of links and a first page ranking for some paltry fee?

Well, ignore them. Here’s why:

Almost without fail, the links are from spammy, disreputable sites and social networking accounts. Getting a link from them is kind of like going to a job interview with a letter of recommendation from a well-known crack dealer. It hurts you, not helps you.

And it doesn’t matter how smart they are. Some of these companies claim they’ll never be found out by Google, because all of the spammy links are pointing to an intermediary page, creating a “link wheel” or “link pyramid.” Supposedly, that’s supposed to protect you.

It might even work… for a while. The problem is, remember how I said Google is always evolving? Even if they don’t catch you today, they are guaranteed to catch you at some point in the future. They always have.

The best policy?

Don’t buy (or sell) links. Period.

You Can Also Read -  Top 10 SEO Secrets To Get Blog Posts Indexed By Google Quickly

Mistake #2: Using Private Blog Network [PBN] -

Many websites set up private blog networks with WordPress or Tumblr, in order to build their external links

They do this by simply building microsite and links from their private blog network page to their main website. 

Google frowns upon this because you’re not earning links from reputable websites, you’re just linking to yourself.

This is fine in some cases. Obviously, if you have two blogs representing two different businesses that are owned by the same company but are related – for example, a car mechanic shop and a car wash – then linking from one site to another can make sense depending on the context of the link.

Google doesn't want you building hundreds or even thousands of external links by swapping links between your sites to artificially build your ranking.

I'm not the only one saying this.

A niche builder named Spencer Haws is a respected person, providing private blog network service [RankHero]. And it’s no surprise for him to post an article about the end of his service.

Just last year, he released a post stating “THE WINNER IS GOOGLE” and swore to never use private blog network ever again.

All PBN RankHero users also received this from Google webmaster tool.

Top 10 SEO Mistakes That'll Put You On Google's Naughty List
This is the message RankHero users received from Google web-master tool.

A lot of the sites are penalized by google for using the services.

Top 10 SEO Mistakes That'll Put You On Google's Naughty List
A screenshot from one of user’s GA for using PBN and all organic traffics are gone after Sep 17.

He believes that for most people hit over weekend, it was not a “thin content” but actually a Google Penalties, because he has 5 sites and only one site received message from Google Webmaster tool.

While other site did not receive message because non of these 4 sites used PBN services and continuous ranking in Google.

Private Blog Network has an excellent result in a short-run, but Google are getting more clever detecting PBNs. It is not wise to invest in PBN anymore.


Mistake #3: Article Marketing -

Ever heard of article marketing?

It was all the rage back around 2008. The idea is you could write an article, “spin” multiple versions of it, making small adjustments to the wording, and then submit those versions to different websites that collect free articles in exchange for a link back to your site.

And it used to work. Back then, quite a few search results were dominated by sites like E-Zine Articles and Article Base.

Not so much anymore. Yes, lots of people still do article marketing, but it’s a dying technique. Here’s why:

Remember how I said Google is always getting smarter?

Well, the reason article marketing was so popular is you could take one of your blog posts, spin it into five different variations, and get a few dozen links back to the post. Google would see the different variations as totally unique articles, meaning no duplicate content penalty.

Over the years though, their algorithm has gotten better and better at sniffing out articles with small variations. Articles that used to rank for years are now plummeting, because Google recognizes them for what they are: spam.

That’s not to imply writing for other sites is a bad idea. Guest blogging, in particular, is one of the most effective ways of building a popular blog. That’s because you’re writing unique content for trusted site, surrounded by dozens of other authorities.

Article marketing, on the other hand, is all about trying to fool Google by duplicating content for suspicious sites filled with articles written by nobodies. Once again, you’re guilty by association.

You Can Also Read - Top 15 Rules For Writing Crystal Clear Content

Mistake #4: Create Widgets And Distribute It -

With the popularity of widgets, many websites have begun secretly embedding their widgets with links.

Google has stated that website owners should no-follow any links on the widgets that they distribute as they consider this an artificial way to build links and the practice has led to an abundance of low-quality links in widgets all over the web.

There is another interesting Moz post from user named “Oatmeal”.

In that post, he mentioned how he created widgets and successfully built 500,000 links using widgets. He is able to rank in high competitive keywords like “Cash Advance”, “Payday Loans” and “Free Online Dating”.

As soon he is ranking for those competitive keywords, Google penalizes the site for conducting black hat SEO by banning them from Google.

He then sent a reconsideration letter. But, Google wants him to remove 500,000 links from those bloggers and website owners first before Google lift the penalties.

Just imagine the nightmare, contacting 500,000 website owners one by one and begging them to remove it. It is just a ton of works to do.

But how about the infographic? You might ask.

Embed link into infographic will also suffer the same fate as the widget.

Top 10 SEO Mistakes That'll Put You On Google's Naughty List

And Matt Cutts told Eric before:

“This is similar to what people do with widgets as you and I have talked about in the past. I would not be surprised if at some point in the future we did not start to discount these info-graphic-type links to a degree. The link is often embedded in the infographic in a way that people don’t realize, vs. a true endorsement of your site.”

Again JUST DON’T DO IT !!!

You Can Also Read - Dangerous & Irresponsible Link Advice From Experts That You

                                                                Should Ignore

Mistake #5: Joining The Wrong Link Directories - 

When considering submitting to a directory, I’d ask questions like:

– Does the directory reject urls? If every url passes a review, the directory gets closer to just a list of links or a free-for-all link site.

– What is the quality of urls in the directory? Suppose a site rejects 25% of submissions, but the urls that are accepted/listed are still quite low-quality or spammy. That doesn't speak well to the quality of the directory.

– If there is a fee, what’s the purpose of the fee? For a high-quality directory, the fee is primarily for the time/effort for someone to do a genuine evaluation of a url.

-  Matt Cutts, on behalf of Google

Link directories are, by far, one of the most misunderstood parts of SEO.

Once upon a time, they were an essential piece of any campaign to launch a new site. You could submit your blog to and a few industry-specific link directories, and you get a quick boost in your search rankings.

And it makes sense, right? If your blog is about surfing, then it makes sense to be included in all the link directories about surfing.

Well… here’s the problem:

Google looks at the web as consisting of “neighbourhoods.” If your blog is frequently mentioned next to trusted, authority sites, you’re part of a “good neighbourhood.” If all your links come from pages linking to thousands of junky sites, on the other hand, you’re part of a “bad neighbourhood.”

Which one do you think link directories are?

A bad one, right? Because anyone can submit their site, most link directories become nothing more than a repository for junk. Even if your blog is totally legitimate, you’re guilty by association.

Now, that’s not to imply all link directories are bad. If you’re submitting your blog to a highly targeted directory that’s reviewed by an actual human being to make sure all of the sites listed are top-notch, you might still get some benefit from it, because you’re surrounded by other valuable sites.

Like in life, you are who you hang out with.

Mistake #6: Using Advertorial Links - 

The controversy around advertorial content was perhaps the most well-known of the pre-Penguin 2 debates. 

An advertorial is basically a page of content riddled with paid links, and often these pages were being used for aggressive manipulation of search results. The most famous example was Interflora: read about its penalty here.

Mistake #7: Keyword Stuffing - 

“Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking.” –Google

Let’s get technical for a moment.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “keyword stuffing” means using a keyword over and over again in your content in the hopes that it’ll get you a better ranking. For example, let’s say you want to rank for “chocolate chip cookies.” This is what keyword stuffing would look like:

“Chocolate chip cookies are so delicious! I'm going to teach you my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe for making the best chocolate chip cookies you've ever tasted. The chocolate chip cookie recipe makes two dozen chocolate chip cookies.”

The whole article blog post would continue like that, using the keyword “chocolate chip cookies” dozens or even hundreds of times. Never mind the language is so unnatural it’s almost unreadable. It’s optimized, baby!

It’s also dumb. Here’s why:

Keyword density is only a tiny part of Google’s algorithm. Nobody knows for sure how much, but from what I've seen, I would guess it’s less than 5%. Next to the more important factors like domain authority and trusted links, it’s almost completely irrelevant.

And if you take it too far, it can hurt you.

Google’s top concern is the user experience. If all the articles people find are stuffed with keywords, no one will want to read them, and everyone will stop using Google to search the web. They’ll never allow it, and some SEO experts believe they actively penalize it.

But let’s say they don’t. Even if you escape totally unscathed, who do you think is going the link to content like that? Nobody with any authority. And since links are a much more important part of the algorithm, you’re dooming yourself to get ignored forever.

My advice?

Don’t think about keywords at all for the first year of your blog. Just focus on publishing jaw-dropping content and getting as many links as you can. Then, once your blog has some authority, go back and tweak the keywords in your most popular posts without making them sound even the slightest bit unnatural.

Yes, you might lose some opportunities, but your chances of building an authority site are much, much higher. Trust me.

You Can Also Read -  How To Use Google Keyword Planner Tool For Keyword Research

Mistake #8: Link Exchanging With Other Web-master -

Link exchanging is the practice of agreeing to post links to a certain website in return for that website posting links to your website.

This often results in irrelevant links of poor quality that do not improve the user experience.

It is why Google’s algorithm now takes into account factors such as the Page Ranking of the page linking to your website to help determine your Page Ranking.

You Can Also Read - Top 10 Important SEO Tips & Tricks For Your Website

Mistake #9: Unnatural Anchor Text -

This is another example of people taking a tiny piece of Google’s algorithm way too far.

If you’re not familiar with the term “anchor text,” it refers to the text inside of a link. So, the anchor text in this sentence is “anchor text.”

When Google is deciding what terms to rank your pages for, the anchor text is one of the places it looks for clues. If a bunch of people are linking to one of your posts with “funny fart jokes” as the anchor text, for example, there’s a good chance the post is about funny fart jokes.

So, surprise, surprise, people try to game the system. They build links using some of the disreputable techniques above, and they use the terms they want to rank for as the anchor text, hoping it’ll increase their chances of getting ranked.

But how natural does that look?

Not everyone is going to use the exact same anchor text when they link to you. Some of the links you get might have a shorter anchor text like “jokes,” related phrases like “made me laugh,” or even just a plain URL with no anchor text at all.

By using the same anchor text in all your links, you’re basically telling Google that you’re trying to game the system. And chances are, you’ll get penalized at some point.

You Can Also Read - Why Is Website Appearance Important for SEO?

Mistake #10: Broken Links -

“Check for broken links and correct HTML.” –Google

And last but not least, the sneakiest of them all: broken links.

Over time, pretty much all bloggers will accumulate some links that no longer work. Other sites die, move, and restructure all the time, making the page you originally linked to disappear.

The question is, if broken links are so natural, why does Google penalize you for them?

Well, think about it from their perspective:

Which page is likely more up-to-date: one with five broken links or one with zero? Also, which page provides a better user experience?

The current one, of course. So, all other factors being equal, a page with no broken links is likely to outrank a page with broken links.

But don’t freak out, because all other factors are almost never equal. Like a lot of the other algorithm variables we talk about here, broken links are a small one.

Still, it’s a sin that’s easy to atone for. Once or twice a year, pop into Google Webmaster Tools and correct all of the broken links it gives you. You might notice a small bump in the rankings of some of your pages.

You Can Also Read - Tips And Tricks For Maintaining Your Blog’s Readership

Feeling Worried Yet?

After reading all this, you might feel like you’re walking across a field of landmines, hoping you don’t step on an invisible deathtrap and get yourself blown up. You probably never knew SEO could be so dangerous.

The good news, though?

It doesn’t have to be. For the most part, the people who get in trouble with Google are either SEO geeks who are intentionally pressing their luck or unsuspecting innocents who get advice from the wrong person.

If you know nothing about SEO, and you’re doing nothing more than publishing awesome content and building relationships with your readers, you’re probably safe. In fact, that’s a good mindset for all bloggers, in my opinion. At least in the beginning.

Instead of trying to figure out how to manipulate the Google algorithm for better rankings, just create content that deserves to be on the first page, promote the hell out of it, and wait for Google to catch up. Their goal, after all, is to move the best stuff to the top of the pile.

In that respect, the real, supersecret, behind-the-scenes strategy for getting your blog ranked on the first page of Google doesn’t have anything to do with link pyramids or keyword density or any of the rest of that complicated nonsense. It’s just three simple steps:

  1. Create jaw-dropping content.
  2. Get influencers talking about it.
  3. Wait for Google to catch up.


Maybe, but it’s exactly what Google wants you to do.

So why do anything else?

Top 10 SEO Mistakes That'll Put You On Google's Naughty List

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Top 10 SEO Mistakes That'll Put You On Google's Naughty List Reviewed by Soumadeep Patra on 02:27:00 Rating: 5


  1. Wonderful information :) @Soumadeep
    Few more things, a serious webmaster should never do-
    - Never estimate that tags, labels are act as keyword or help in ranking. It is just for navigation
    - Never ever include bunch of money keywords at one place. I have seen most newbies do this mistake, as they add lots of related search term at the end of article which is totally useless.
    - Never index duplicate content pages, such as categories, labels, tags, etc.

    I hope, it will helpful for you and readers.
    All the best!

    1. Hello Gulshan Kumar,

      You’re welcome! Thank YOU for the kind comment. :-)

      I really did try to cover every angle, but I'm sure I missed one or two or twenty. Haha. Thankfully, this comment section is a great place for fleshing out more ideas!

      Hope you enjoy (or enjoyed) yourself at Be A Better Blogger. Would love to see you commenting over there, too.

      Hope this comment of mine finds you doing well, Gulshan. Thanks again!


  2. Wow, some interesting stuff here in a well-written format. I'll remember this. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hello Justin Sullivan,

      You’re welcome my dear friend! Thank YOU for the kind comment :-)
      I'm glad my post was able to give you a few ideas! Have A Great Day :))



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