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What SEO Tricks Must I Avoid When Optimizing My Pages?

Oh, you bet there are. Indeed, sometimes I think that there are more things you should avoid then there are things you can do right, and since so many people in the online world (read "SEO consultants") believe that shortcuts are the golden path to success, it's no surprise.

But the general rule is that anything you do on your site or with your pages that isn't "natural", that you couldn't explain to a Google investigator with a straight face, that's something you should avoid. For example, the TITLE tag is important for categorizing a page's content, but Web pages should have one TITLE only. If you've been advised to slip a few dozen extra TITLE tags in so you can load up on keywords, well, that's wrong.

Another common mistake: if you aren't producing text that's intended for a person to read, why is it on your page? You know what I'm talking about, you've seen pages with paragraphs of keywords or key phrases in ever so tiny print on the bottom of the page. Worse, sometimes you don't see these because the Web site developer -- or their dubious SEO consultant -- has advised that having your text the same color as your background is a savvy way to trick the search engines without bothering your visitors. Oh, what a bad idea this is.

Finally, the third of my top three bad ideas is to use gateway or doorway pages. The idea is that if you want to rank highly for a dozen keywords or key phrases, why not produce lots of duplicate pages, each customized for that exact keyword? Not terrible, but when coupled with another common trick, of instantly redirecting the visitor to the standard home page, well, you can see where that's really pretty dirty pool and not at all something you'd do normally.

Why is it such a problem to do these wrong things? I could say that you'll be adversely affecting your karma and that your kids won't look up to you, but that's not a strong motivator for some people - rather inexplicably, if you ask me -- so instead I'll tell you that optimizing your pages with bad or disreputable SEO tricks can result in your getting BANNED from the search engines completely.

Gone, *poof*, with no recourse.

Makes being #317 of 4 million sound like maybe it's not such a bad place, doesn't it?

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