What Are the SEO Risks to Take and Avoid?

By Lisa


Category: SEO

As with any other aspect of business development and growth, it’s almost always necessary to engage in “risky” behavior that can help your firm or business generate more leads and land more clients. After all, without any risk-taking, you’re very unlikely to experience real, long-term growth either.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when using risky maneuvers to improve your firm’s SEO rankings is those risks, while they may be worth taking, should be taken carefully and slowly.

Before rolling out a new website-wide change, it’s crucial to alpha-beta test within a small group (whether it be links, webpages, website redesign, etc.). As you roll out these changes over time, be sure to use the powerful tools available through Google Analytics to measure overall success, which also may take time to manifest.

In the SEO world, rankings rarely increase exponentially overnight. So how can your firm aim for a more realistic, long-term-focused success plan that tests, measures, and implements SEO overhauls? That’s exactly what we’ll discuss below.

How to Spot SEO Risks

Spotting SEO risks for your business can be pretty straightforward, but determining whether these risks are worth taking or not can be much harder to figure out. Essentially, an SEO risk is anything that could lower your search engine rankings and other valuable analytical data, even if just temporarily.

While it’s possible to recover from ranking drops, we simply can’t always guarantee it. This is why we always recommend that our clients carry out risky SEO behaviors with excess caution. But, the good news is that it is possible to assess potentially risky SEO practices and determine which might be worth taking (that is, carrying relatively limited punishment and high potential payouts) and which should just be avoided altogether.

5 SEO Risks to Take

1. Website Redesign

Improving the user experience is, without a doubt, one of the best things you can do for your website and your clientele. There are many ways in which your website can improve this experience, since it’s often the first impression new clients get when seeking out your services.

Showcasing reviews, adding topic-specific content, and even implementing page structure redesigns with better layouts can help achieve this goal. In the short and medium-term, don’t be surprised if rankings depress slightly as Google evaluates your new site layout and clients acclimate themselves to your site.

Altogether, a strategic website redesign is definitely a risk worth taking.

2. Backlink to (Reputable) Sites

While placing links to other reliable websites within your content may seem oxymoronic for retaining traffic on your own site, backlinking is worth the “risk” of redirecting traffic simply because of the SEO benefits it can bring.

Adding backlinks to your content accomplishes two things:

  • First, you demonstrate the use of high-quality and reliable sources when referencing information. To Google, this is more preferable than not referencing anything. It’s also much better than citing unreliable and suspicious sites.
  • Second, you do your potential clients a favor by providing them with reliable information and additional resources. This can help build trust between your firm and the client.

3. Alter Existing URLs (with Care)

Though changing URLs in any way can impact rankings and cause a decrease in traffic in the short term, performing a careful overhaul of all site URLs over a designated period of time can help organize your website in ways that actually boost traffic and click conversion.

Webpage URLs should contain specific keywords relating to the page’s content. Of course, page URLs can be longer and more detailed that your firm’s website URL, but you’ll want to avoid making your URLs too long (so that important information isn’t cut off).

Carefully altering your URLs over time can be a helpful strategy for making your website more streamlined.

In addition to your website’s sitemap, webpages are structurally critical to your overall success, so consider changing URLs with caution since Google doesn’t recommend it unless it’s necessary.

Also remember that it can break lines of communication with clients who have bookmarked your links, particularly if you don’t have an adequate 301 redirecting plan in place.

4. Experiment with Small Changes

While the risk here is that making too many small changes on your site too frequently can flag your site as suspicious and catapult your site into the throws of Google punishments, making small, responsible changes to your site’s backend (think meta-titles and meta-descriptions) can help improve SEO rankings over the long term.

If this is a risk that your firm decides to take, it’s important to measure and record this data so you can determine which changes have the most impact on traffic, click conversion, bounce rates, and more.

5. Engage in a Multiple Domain Strategy

If your firm is willing to obtain other domains that are available (whether creating new ones or buying expired or existing ones) in the hopes of boosting SEO results, it’s a venture that can really pay off.

When opting to incorporate other relevant domains into your own branding plan, it’s possible to glean some of the traffic and most of the existing keyword ranking available from the former site. This can be accomplished by using 301 redirects to send traffic to your site.

In doing so, harnessing some of that existing domain’s ranking can help boost your own.

But, this strategy isn’t completely without risk. Whenever you’re contemplating buying an existing or expired domain, investigate the credibility of the domain to ensure there weren’t harmful penalties imposed on the site beforehand, since these can be transferred to your site, as well.

5 SEO Risks to Avoid

1. Avoid Deleting Webpages

When webpages are old or display products or services no longer offered, it’s easy to assume that deleting the webpage makes the most sense.

This is actually dangerously inaccurate.

Perhaps most importantly, deleting an entire webpage from your site also effectively deletes any keyword ranking it had, meaning that any effort put forth into the webpage was all for nothing.

If you find yourself in a situation where a webpage is no longer in use, it’s best to use a 301 redirect page to move any traffic toward other webpages that showcase similar services. This, in turn, will help you avoid losing any ranking that webpage accumulated while in use.

2. Avoid Wide-Sweeping Sites Changes Without Testing

Not only is this a bad idea for the user experience, but it can also negatively impact your SEO efforts – and who’s to say if your site can ever recover.

While it’s perfectly fine to make changes, we always caution against making major changes without first testing them on a smaller scale, evaluating the results, and altering those changes as needed.

Though new websites with limited resources may not have a choice, we recommend against making any sweeping changes, if it’s possible, until you have a better idea of how they will be received by viewers and search engines alike.

3. Avoid Exact Keyword Matches in Your Pages’ Anchor Text

Even though using the exact keywords you want for ranking in anchor text (or the text that carries hyperlinks) makes logical sense, it’s now a taboo practice due to overuse and abuse. 

You might think your website isn’t abusing this practice, but is in fact using it correctly; even still, Google may penalize your site for purported suspicious behavior.

When it comes to using exact keywords in anchor text within your content, try to avoid it altogether.

4. Avoid Doorway Pages

Google is pretty strict in its dislike of doorway pages. While doorway pages can be helpful for consolidating several keyword searches into a single destination, they run the risk of baiting users to the same webpage (which may or may not be helpful) through a variety of different channels – understandably, this is viewed as deceptive.

In general, Google doesn’t favor doorway pages, since they often compromise the user experience and lead to unhelpful results. For this reason, most professionals recommend steering clear of their usage altogether.

5. Avoid Making Too Many Small Changes Too Frequently

While it’s fine to make well-thought-out changes to your web design, add new content, and implement sitemap alterations, making too many changes too frequently can flag your site as suspicious, which isn’t a risk you want to take.

For example, disavowing neutral or spammy links – which you’d think would be a positive thing – can actually raise red flags for suspicious behavior when overdone. Bad or neutral backlinks, while they may not be aiding your SEO per-se, also aren’t hurting it. Here, Google won’t penalize your site for things outside your control (like backlinks). What it will punish you for is making too many unnecessary changes too often on your own site.

If you’ve decided that making website changes will ultimately help your site in the long-term, be sure to implement them strategically over time, so that both search engines and site viewers understand these changes and don’t just think you’re doing it for click bait.

Interested in Learning More about How SEO Risks Can Affect Your Success?

If you’d like to start taking more calculated risks to boost your SEO efforts, reach out to us today to learn more about our services and risk recommendations.

At Black Fin, we possess the skills and know-how to take your SEO game to the next level, including how to use “risky” behavior to your advantage.

But, we’re also sure to never let our clients take on too much risk when there’s too little reward to be expected.

To learn more about how our SEO, content marketing, social media, web design, and other services can advance your business, contact us today.

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