By Neil Patel
No one gets a site penalty on purpose. Sometimes it happens through carelessness, sometimes through black-hat techniques and, sometimes, through honest SEO mistakes.
I’ve watched four such mistakes happen recently. These sites were honestly attempting to follow SEO best practices, but they were penalized. Why? I’ll explain all.
It is worth noting that I wrote this article based on a real-life experience, so this isn’t pie-in-the-sky theory. Each point that I discuss below is tied to a real life ranking problem. Each example that I discuss is connected a to a real-life online business. (However, company details have been changed to protect their identities.)
A Disclaimer: If you find any points of connection between your site and the examples, don’t panic. Millions of sites have affiliate programs. Millions of companies engage in cozy relationships. Just because you share a commonality does not mean that you’re careening for a penalty.
1. Link-Leveraged Business Relationships
The problem explained: Many businesses create relationships with other businesses. As a way of cementing the relationship, the businesses offer to create links to one another in order to enhance SEO and click-through traffic.
Sometimes, however, these good intentions – trading links – end up hurting one or both of the sites.
Example: A major online retailer of greeting cards – we’ll call them “FaithCard” — entered into a relationship with a major brick-and-mortar retailer, “AM Stores.”
Every AM Store (and there are thousands of them) carried FaithCard’s products. FaithCard’s arrangement with AM Store provided a discounted product price, as long as AM Store’s website would include a link to FaithCard’s website.
So, AM Store placed a footer link to FaithCard.
Obviously, FaithCard got a ton of links as a result of this footer link – 16 million, to be exact. Every page of AM Store’s website included a direct link to the homepage of FaithCard.
This became …read more