Shortcuts are defined as the shortest path to a defined objective with the least amount of effort. Taking this approach is risky but it can also be incredibly lucrative. If you are getting results with half the effort it usually takes, why bother with other alternatives?
This is a dangerous mindset to have especially when it comes to online marketing.
The landscape is constantly shifting. Shortcuts may work in the beginning but the search engines will eventually make them obsolete. Implementing them could result in a ranking penalty or even have your site completely removed in the search results.
Both are probably the last thing you want. Not ranking at all means zero search engine traffic to your landing pages and no sales as a result.
Here we look at three of the most common SEO shortcuts that we continue to see. Implementing any of these with the hope of improving your rankings will have the opposite effect.
1. Spamming Links to Your Pages
Build as many links as possible.
It may have worked before where you could build thousands of links to your pages and have it rank the next day. But these tactics no longer work. Google even explicitly states in its Quality Guidelines that questionable link building practices can get your site penalised.
Purchasing links or spamming links using automated tools may increase your rankings. But as with any SEO shortcut, it will only cause more harm to your site in the long term.
A better approach is to focus on building quality links from sites that are in your industry. It takes longer but these are exactly the kind of links that result in higher rankings. They are also able to withstand future algorithm updates.
2. Stuffing Content With Keywords
Keyword usage was another major ranking factor.
It used to be that you could rank a page simply by including a keyword phrase a certain number of times. But marketers quickly abused this strategy until low quality sites were eventually filling the search results. So Google released the Panda update to combat this increase in spam.
Pages with scraped or low quality content were penalised with lower rankings while higher quality sites were rewarded with better rankings. This makes sense of course as Google strives to deliver the most relevant results for each search query.
Instead of stuffing your content with irrelevant keywords and hoping that it will increase rankings, focus your efforts instead on content that provides value to your visitors.
3. Following the Latest Fads
“Outrank your competitors overnight!”
SEO fads are nothing new of course. They all promise overnight rankings for all your target keywords and with little effort on your part. But we have already established there are no shortcuts especially when it comes to SEO.
It all comes down to writing engaging content for your audience and building quality links to those pages. Both take time but it can mean the difference between a steady stream of targeted traffic or no traffic at all.
The good news is that most webmasters would rather resort to questionable tactics than focus on the long term. So you can easily outrank your competitors by spending more time on your marketing strategy.
Shortcuts are tempting.
Everyone would take them if it means ranking immediately for competitive keywords in their industry. But shortcuts such as spamming your site with low quality links or stuffing your content with keywords are largely ineffective. And they are more than likely to result in a ranking penalty.
Google rewards high quality sites that actually provide value to their audience. So focus more of your marketing efforts on building a quality site.