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How to Not Break Bad with Your SEO
I was late to the Breaking Bad party. Last December I decided to catch up, and I blew through every aired episode in a month. I became hooked. It instantly became my favorite current TV show, and on the short list for my favorite show of all time. Disclaimer: I don’t recommend watching 53 episodes of Breaking Bad in a month. I don’t think I’ve ever had crazier dreams. It was a weird time in my life.
One of the main themes of Breaking Bad is how every decision has repercussions. Walter White, the show’s main character, decided, after being diagnosed with lung cancer, to break bad, put on a black pork pie hat, and become the murderous drug lord known as Heisenberg.
When trying to rank in Google search results, you can also decide if you want to wear the black hat. In the SEO industry, we actually call the practice of intentionally attempting to deceive Google’s algorithm black hat SEO. In SEO, the second you put on the black hat and go behind Google’s back, their form of the DEA, the Google Webspam team, will bust you, and knock your rankings.
Here are three ways to not break bad with your SEO:
Tip No. 1) Aim for Links with the Quality of Heisenberg’s “Sky Blue”
For as evil, sociopathic, and murderous as Walter White is, MAN is he awesome at cooking crystal meth. Wait, are we supposed to be celebrating that? Breaking Bad leaves me morally confused. Anyway, at 99.1 percent purity, Walt’s product is the best that’s ever been put out on the street. For your website, you should aim for content as high quality as Walt’s main export.
Google is very upfront about wanting you to put really good content on your website. But please, make sure it’s unique to each page. Just because Walter White uses the same recipe each time he cooks a batch, doesn’t mean you should use the same content for each page of your website. Search engines will punish websites with duplicate content! Creating Unique content is the only way you’re going to rank with search engines.
Tip No. 2) Be the One Who Knocks
Near the end of Season Four, Walt’s wife, Skylar, was rightfully concerned about the safety of her family. She confronted Walt about how he needed to leave the drug game ASAP. Walt, not being the type to take advice, insisted that nobody was going to hurt their family because danger doesn’t knock at the White’s door—Walt is the one who knocks.
With your backlink profile, Google is insisting that you be the one who knocks. After the Penguin 2.0 algorithm update, Google is even more viciously penalizing websites with sketchy backlinks from bad link sources. Bad link sources are your standard porn, pharmaceutical, or casino sites. You can find out how to check who links to you here.
To clean your links, Google wants you to contact that site, and tell them to knock it off. When that doesn’t work, Google can help you out. With Google’s disavow tool, you can kill the juice from bad links. As always, writing awesome content is the best way to gain natural, high quality links and improve your rankings.
Tip No. 3) Don’t Spin Your Content
Season 3 and 4 of Breaking Bad largely took place in a super meth lab hidden under a Laundromat in Albuquerque, NM. The exhaust smoke would go through the Laundromat’s ventilation system, and no one on the outside would be any wiser.
Some SEOs will do something similar with their content. No, not make meth out of it. I don’t think that’s possible. They’ll spin content to look like it’s something else, when really it’s just a modified version of the original copy.
This is considered to be spam by Google. While you’re creating something that looks like original content, you’ll still get found out. When trying to repurpose content, it’s much better to approach the same idea with a different angle, rather than just changing the wording on the page.
When All Else Fails, Better Call Saul Blue Corona!
Unlike Walter White’s amoral lawyer, Saul Goodman, Blue Corona will help you with your SEO in an ethical way. When Walt decided to go all in as a drug lord, he certainly made a lot of money, but it appears doubtful everything is going to work out for him in the end.
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