When I started Pure SEO in 2009 (shortly after I came here from the UK), I was looking at various industries / business ideas. The reason I landed on digital marketing / search was because I saw some of the unsustainable practices of some of the companies in the industry - ultimately leading to disastrous consequences to their clients. Here are six of the biggest issues I have seen over the years and my advice on how to avoid them:

1. Taking short cuts

The two companies I am referring to were taking shortcuts when it comes to getting inbound links (links are like votes for websites). One was adding an extra page on each client, linking them to each other, the other was getting links from adult and gambling websites.

Unfortunately for their clients, the initial results were excellent and they were ranking / getting lots of business. However, the Google algorithm caught up with them and all their clients lost their rankings and the majority got Google penalties (which can take years to recover from). This leads me to point 2.

2. Guaranteed Results / Rankings

Real SEO takes time to have an effect. Google themselves often point out how it's impossible to guarantee rankings. On the surface, the offer sounds great; we guarantee that you will rank for a certain number of keywords in a certain timeframe or you pay nothing!

The number of times I have seen this go wrong (much like example 1 above), and clients get great results for a year or two, but then spend the next few years trying to recover from the issues that have been created.

The other major issue with this is how it incentivises the agency - are they going to go for the best keywords? How far will they go to reach their guarantee?

3. Outsourcing

One business in Australia who utilised us as a channel partner decided to use our IP and try and outsource the SEO work to Manila. The outcome was a disaster for them and resulted in them trying to get us to help repair the damage that has been done (again which doesn't necessarily show itself quickly). The damage to the clients was too big for us to want to take it on again!

We have had an office in Manila since 2014, however we don't outsource (dip into talent), we have full time people that work exclusively for us and work on our robust proprietary systems and processes. It has taken us years and a huge investment to perfect.

4. No-index

There is a tag you can use on a page to stop Google indexing a website. Website developers often use it to stop the staging website get indexed in Google.

The problem comes (and we see it so often - even from SEO agencies!), is that when the website is launched they forget to remove the tag.... Resulting in their website being deindexed (removed) from Google search! This leads me on to the next issue.

5. Redirects

When a website is launched that has new url structure it is best practice to redirect (using a 301 redirect) the pages of the old website to the corresponding pages of the new website. Often the company that launches the website forget this step, or they lazily redirect every old page to the homepage. This results in searches receiving a ‘page not found’ when clicking on a link to the old website or someone looking for specific info being sent to the homepage. Not a good user experience.

6. Keyword stuffing / poor content

We see this less so nowadays, however building up pages just to rank for specific similar terms can cause big problems.  Like building up pages for ‘plumber Ponsonby’, ‘plumber Parnell, ‘Plumber Newmarket’ etc… with almost the same content.  It looks like spam and it is spam!

There are many more examples, however these six are the ones I see most often. Google is interested in serving a relevant search result to searchers, that’s why people come back and use it. If you are going to create content (which should only be done after proper keyword research) make sure the content you create is going to provide the searcher value.

Written by Richard Conway, CEO & Founder of Pure SEO