I Fought the Law… And the Law Won – SEO Lessons for Content Writers

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Content writers have a lot to think about, but one of those should not be “fighting the law.” While you may never worry about getting a traffic ticket while you are at the keyboard, there are certain laws of the land that you have to follow. Those who do not could face certain penalties that might land them in the Google penalty box. Even the biggest names in business and marketing are not immune to problems with breaking the rules. Learn from these examples about what you should NOT do with your SEO and content marketing program and avoid a serious Google offense!

Rap Genius – One of the biggest lyrics sites on the internet was using what Google called shady practices to increase their backlinks. In December 2013, Rap Genius was hit with a 10-day penalty for encouraging bloggers to add links to their site and then tweeting these links. This made a big impact on the number of backlinks out there, but Google found the practice a bit too unsavory to allow it to continue.

Interflora – This international florist received an 11-day penalty in 2013 for the use of “follow” links in advertorial content. This is content designed to look like a tutorial or how-to, but is in reality an advertisement for a brand. This in itself is not against the rules, but the links need to be “no-follow” to fit the requirements put in place by Google.

Overstock.com – One of the most notable cases of a Google penalty was Overstock.com’s two-year action that went into place in 2011. The company was offering discounts on certain items if customers would link back to the website. This method of artificially boosting backlinks is one that Google does not agree with and the penalty was very steep in this case. Who knows how much business Overstock lost because their listings were not ranking as highly as they otherwise should?

These examples are only the beginning. Many companies, big and small, are penalized for other related actions on a daily basis. If you thought you were immune to being hit by Google penalties, these examples should make it clear that you are not. During the penalty phase that these corporations faced, they had trouble ranking well on Google even for terms that would seem to be a natural fit. Make sure you do not break the rules—read further into what you can and cannot do to influence your page’s rank so that you do not make these mistakes too!

Tracy S is a content writer and blogger who loves working with real estate and home improvement clients. In her spare time she enjoys playing pool, spending time with her husband and daughter, making improvements around her new home, and learning to speak “cat”.

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