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7 Deadly Sins of SEO

Reading time: 4 minutes
Written by
Content and Marketing Strategist
Biggest SEO Mistakes

According to Chikita, the first page of Google results gets 95% of user attention. If you’ve ever wondered why some websites are lucky enough to receive that first-page placement, you were wondering about SEO. SEO, or “search engine optimization”, is a way to gain organic traffic through improving rankings in search engine results page (SERP).

Search engine webmasters are constantly evolving the SEO guidelines to enrich user experience. These governing rules work to keep searches safe, credible, and relevant. Penalties for breaking the rules can wreak havoc on a business. Alternatively, great SEO practices can help to improve conversions and KPIs. So, how can you be sure to appease the Google gods? To simplify the process, we have outlined seven deadly sins to avoid in SEO.

Thou shalt not...

1. Wait to Start Implementing SEO

Organic search, or a search resulting from matching relevant keywords, is generally the most important form of web traffic. From the very start a website’s creation, making it easy to find online can greatly improve your business. Websites without visitors don’t sell much! If the first page of Google results gets 95% of user attention, then SEO should be considered at every stage of a website’s life.

2. Hire Any Old SEO Company

It is extremely important to hire a reputable SEO company. Search engines like Google don’t accept excuses such as "I didn’t know" when doling out penalties. If your website is caught using high-risk tactics, you are the one who will be punished.

Check that the company in consideration will measure and collect data to design trend-based, tailored solutions. Only use companies that set a clear intention to improve the quality of the traffic. Companies that promise specific numbers of quality links are lying to you. No legitimate SEO agency can promise the first place ranking on Google for important keywords. If it sounds too good to be true, it may be.

Do your own background research, and ask for referrals.

3. Use Irrelevant Keywords and Links

A keyword is a word or phrase that describes the message of the content. Keywords and links to external sites that are unrelated to your product offerings can lower your ranking on the search engine results page.

In 2016, Google’s Webmaster Guidelines began penalizing websites demonstrating "patterns of unnatural, artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links." Search engines will penalize websites that wrongfully insert irrelevant keywords and links.

Search engines catch unrelated keywords and links because it hurts the user experience. Even if you get away with it, visitors who come to your page only to find that it doesn’t match their search criteria bounce off the site. High bounce rates also hurt your SERP rankings. Keep the keywords and links included on the page as specific as possible to your product or service.

4. Use Too Many Links

Google recommends a maximum of 100 links per webpage. This loose limit does not mean that they are going to punish anyone for having 102 links. Rather, Google is trying to set a standard that they believe to be the maximum amount of links present to still keep the content relevant and meaningful.

Something to consider, however, is that when a web page is chock-full of links, it can look sketchy to visitors or be hard to read. This could drive people to bounce from the site, dropping the site’s search ranking.

Keep in mind that every time a page includes an external link, that link is drawing a visitor away from the original site. Do not forget the power of internal links!

5. Commit Keyword "Stuffing"

So you’ve found the perfect keyword: it’s specific to your content, drives traffic, and follows consumer trends. You should put it everywhere you possibly can, right? Wrong!

While this black-hat tactic could work in the short term, eventually you most likely will be caught, resulting in a harsh penalty or, in the worst case, a total SERP removal. Google is particularly harsh on techniques such as keyword stuffing as they trade improving user experience for beating the algorithm.

A solution to this "sin" is to use synonyms and to only use keywords where they naturally fit.

6. Focus Too Heavily on “Text” Content

The world of the web has so much more to offer than plain text! Flex your creativity by including pictures and videos. Not only will this make visitors become more engaged with the website, but it also gives the opportunity to create titles and alt-texts.

By giving pictures and videos written descriptions, you can double-check that the content is relevant to your webpage. All content, including images and videos, should relate to the overall message of the page.

7. Copy External Content

Copying and pasting relevant external content may be convenient, but it hurts your SEO in the long run. Search engines avoid showing the same exact information on the results page, so they filter to only show the original content page.

Managing SEO

Your website is the door to your business. Managing SEO leads potential customers to access that door! Being thoughtful with content, keywords, and links not only gives searchers the best experience possible but also improves the site’s search engine ranking. Stay in Google’s good graces, and avoid the seven deadly sins.

About Hayden

Hayden is a content developer and strategist at O8. She enjoys meeting new people, which is why she has worked in 5 different states! Hayden comes to O8 with prior experience in content creation, social media, SEO, sales, public relations, and production. After graduating with a B.S.B.A. from the University of Richmond, she moved home to Naples, FL with her two dogs, Vandie and Blue. When not writing, you can find Hayden swimming, running or painting.


At O8, a global digital agency based in Minneapolis, MN, USA, we specialize in delivering measurable growth on demand for marketing and sales teams. We pride ourselves on our transparency, agility, and deep technical expertise. In a world that's often stressful and chaotic, we offer experienced, actionable guidance to help you achieve your goals. Our approach is professional, clear, and authentic, ensuring you receive customized, data-driven solutions that drive results.