The internet is not a safe place. Hackers are hiding around every corner, scammers are sending out emails at a quick-fire pace, and so on. This is why VPNs are becoming so popular, and if you’re not yet using one, I recommend you read this ExpressVPN review before you continue. You absolutely need to keep yourself safe.

But search engines are also trying to keep you safe by only ranking trustworthy websites. They do this by determining whether a site has used good SEO practices.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a staple of all good content marketing strategies. SEO tactics make your website or article more likely to be ranked high on Google (and other) searches.

SEO is a constantly evolving field, and there are many websites and blogs dedicated to investigating best practices, as Google generally does not tell us what its algorithms look for.

3 SEO rules penalizing you

Unfortunately, most people don’t know this, and instead of using SEO experts, they rely on what they think are hard and fast rules. Many of these SEO rules are outdated and, instead of improving their SEO, will actually get them penalized.

Avoid 3 SEO Rules to Rank Better

These are 3 SEO rules that will cause you more harm than good.

1. Keyword stuffing

The oldest trick in the SEO handbook has long been defunct. If you haven’t done your research, you probably believe that the first rule of SEO is to get your target keyword in as many times as possible. So, if you’re a website trying to sell tire rims, you use the term “tire rims” over and over again, repeating it multiple times a paragraph, every paragraph.

Keyword stuffing, however, is harmful to your SEO. Search engines will look for keywords in the title, URL, and opening paragraph and that’s all. Too much repetition of the term will immediately point search engines to your poor practices and they will penalize you. So, rather include tire rims in the title and URL, and then mention them in the first paragraph. You can go on using the term – it may well be necessary for the content to make sense – but as soon as you start stuffing it in everywhere, you’ll get in trouble.

2. Outbound links

Outbound links are important to SEO rankings. They show search engines that you’re doing your research and that your content has a basis. They’re not a major factor in your SEO score, but they do make a difference. However, if you abuse them, they’ll do far more harm than good.

If Google sees that you’re linking to websites that have nothing to do with the anchor text, they’ll penalize you, recognizing your ulterior motives. So, if you use the term “expensive cars” and link to a website that sells expensive cars, you’ll be okay. But if you link to a website that promotes online gambling, Google will see right through it and your SEO score will plummet.

Inbound links are crucial to SEO score, and you can help others by linking to their sites. Just make sure that you’re transparent about what you’re linking to, rather than just throwing in links where they’re not appropriate.

3. Hidden text

In the same vein, hidden text is a surefire way to sabotage your SEO score. If you use white text on a white background, for example, and try to include text for only the search engine to see because it offers nothing to your readers, you won’t get far.

Search engines are far more intelligent than they used to be. Although they’re happy to rank you high on SEO that follows good practices, they’ll see through bad tactics immediately, and your best efforts will come to nothing.