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How to Avoid Google Slaps: The Off Site SEO Edition

In the first part of this short series, found here, we covered the important reasons as to why trying to pull the wool over Google’s eyes isn’t a plan for success. Just as a quick recap, it’s important to note that Google has been unleashing some outstanding updates to their search algorithm. Some marketers groan, moan, and complain about them, but the point of these updates is to enhance the user’s experience by allowing them to find the valuable information that they want out of the billions of pages scattered across the web.

Honestly, it is kind of silly that anyone would see this as a hindrance as it levels the playing field. In the past, ranking high in Google was dependent upon the size of your bank account. Now it is based solely on the quality and relevance of your site. These constant updates have left old SEO practices in the dust making many obsolete and some even punishable offenses.

We’re going to cover the new rules of off site SEO. These rules hold even more weight now that the Google Hummingbird update was activated a month ago.

Off Site SEO: What NOT to Do

Chasing Forum Links – Forum links are not necessarily bad per se as they can give you some exposure to your target audience, BUT you shouldn’t be the one putting it there. In the past, people have abused forum links so much that they would intentionally spam forums just for a bit of “backlink juice.” However, Google no longer gives sites any benefit for forum posts. So, if you are spamming up a forum, you are not only annoying people and building a bad reputation for yourself, you’re wasting your time as it doesn’t help your site.

Purchasing Backlinks – You can go to fiverr.com and purchase thousands of backlinks for $5. Of course, they are utterly useless and may get your site penalized. Google has gotten so advanced that it can detect when backlinks are not natural. For instance, any sudden influx of backlinks from low quality sites that have absolutely no relevance to your site is a HUGE red flag.

Purchasing SEO Services Online – This can be beneficial if you need some things to be touched up on site, but try to stay away from these services for off site SEO. Google wants a certain amount of randomness when it comes to SEO because it is a sign that your audience is creating links and talking about your site naturally. If links are thought to be manipulated or follow a certain pattern (as most SEO services do) then you may be doing your site a disservice.

Press Releases without Quality Content – This used to be a practice that many used until recently. Too many people were constantly putting out new press releases that offered little value to the audience. It is a blatant attempt to manipulate SERPS and Google no longer gives much value to such releases.

Article Submissions – The amount of useless and poorly written content that has been put out in past years is astounding. Marketers and businesses alike would create article after article and submit it to 20 different sites like Ezine. This did nothing but clutter up the internet with content that is clearly not written for the intent to give the reader any true value, so Google scrapped this practice.

Posting Links on Blog Posts – This is similar to posting links in forum posts. This is spammy, so just don’t do it.

 Off Site SEO: What TO Do 

Now, if you expect me to give you some fool-proof linking strategy that uses a network of web 2.0 pages, etc., then you are sadly mistaken. Off site SEO is NOT about you manually creating links. It is about getting your name out there, spreading your message, and increasing brand awareness so that others promote your site for you. Just so you understand, the techniques I am going to mention have virtually nothing to do with creating links.

Using Social Media – There is some conflicting information on whether or not Google factors in social media trends when creating rankings, but it would be safe to say that if Google is truly interested in creating the best user experience possible, and wants to give the people what they want, then they will pay attention to what people are talking about. By utilizing social media, you can spread your message like wildfire. I’ve mentioned this in past blog posts, but I will reiterate again; social media is an outstanding platform for engaging your target audience. When this happens, they will do all of the promoting that your site will ever need.

Youtube – Having a killer video can do wonders for your site. Not only will it be passed around and shared, but it will bring more traffic in as well. More traffic = higher rankings.

Guest Blogging – Not only does this allow you to reach an audience that may have otherwise never read your content, you can receive a boost in rankings from having a link to a relevant site.

Forum Posting – I know I mentioned this in the “what not to do” section, but if you are genuinely giving value and helping others, then they will be very likely to recommend your services to others. This is another way of having others do your promoting for you.

Building Relationships – Focus on building relationships not only with your target audience, but with the real movers and shakers within your niche. Most likely they will already have an established site with many followers. They’ve already done all of the hard work. If you can get in with them and offer them something of value, then they may promote your services as well.

Although the practice of generating certain links are not dead, such as having a Google places page, or other advert listings, the main point of this article is for you to look at the bigger picture. That bigger picture being that for long lasting results, the backlinks you create now won’t matter. What will matter is the brand that you’ve built for yourself that will not only drive traffic to your site, but will work as your very own personal army of promoters. A fleet of people doing the work for you is much easier than doing it by yourself. Not only will this help you avoid Google slaps, but you will improve your rankings as well.

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About Sean Donahoe

Sean is one of the most recognized industry leaders in business and marketing. As a popular speaker, author, consultant he has helped over 50,000 students world wide find success in their businesses and has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and businesses of every size grow and thrive...


  1. Thanks for great content and as a purchaser of Syndication Rock Star thank you so much for the value of what you offer as a software developer

  2. Even if Google would not consider the social media to rank sites, it is well worth it due to the amount of traffic and hours people are spending on these platforms

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