SEO: An SEO Red Flag?

by TheMadHat on February 12, 2008

Okay people. I don’t understand why all of the sudden we have multiple posts on “SEO red flags”…whatever that really means anyway. Can we please just say that all SEO could be interpreted by a search engine as a red flag? I agree with all of these posts, but I also disagree with all of these posts. It all depends on how it’s used so why are we writing about it?

Red FlagNofollow As A Red Flag: So they recommend we use nofollow then use it against us. Nofollow helps the search engines stay away from bad content and keeps them from indexing things that shouldn’t be indexed (in theory. Really it’s a cop-out b/c the Google spam team can’t keep up). The engines are trying to get more and more people to adopt the use of the stupid tag, so why would there be a flag/penalty/review of it. Obviously anything in excess is going to raise a flag. If I drink 117 red bulls in an hour someone will be raising a flag for me at my funeral.

Updating Links As A Red Flag: Updating links? Why is it unnatural to think you’d want to correct links that were wrong. When you change your site architecture all of your links are going to change; or they should anyway. Why would Google want links going to irrelevant pages or anchor text that is wrong. It just makes their jobs more difficult. If I were to eat 4 gallons of ice cream in one night, I’d be sick…or a woman during…nevermind.

Sitemaps As A Red Flag: Uh, telling Google where your pages are only helps them crawl and index your site. If my sitemap goes from 20 pages to 25 million pages…duh. It’s like if I used a 50 caliber machine gun to kill a mouse. There will be some collateral damage.

Links Page As A Red Flag: Everyone knows what I’m talking about. If I have 50 pages of content and 438 pages of links that would be like France getting attacked. They would be raising a flag. A white one but a flag nonetheless.

Do I really need to keep going with this? The point is everything can be a red flag if used inappropriately. Minimal use of blackhat techniques is a red flag. Overuse of whitehat techniques is a red flag. SEO itself is a red flag. Can’t we have some different colors or something? Having a website is a red flag dammit. Hey you…are you reading this? That’s a red flag, you’re out for the season.

PS: My comments are fixed if you had a problem recently :D

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theGypsy February 12, 2008 at 2:16 pm

he he… It’s all SEO FUD…. that’s why Matt and Co don’t need to… SEO BLoggers are doing it for them :0) I freakin love it bro… Pealties, Red Flags… beware, the sky id falling. These days Google can just sit backand watch us self-destruct. I think we need a ‘SEO Shrink’ to help us through our fear ad loathing.

See? You talked about SEO finally… such as it is.

L8TR Dood

WEBOSIS February 12, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Great points! I would add to that the overuse/misuse of the word “penalty”…

Marios Alexandrou February 12, 2008 at 2:33 pm

Alerted of a link to my site, had to come running to check it out :-)

The idea, at least for me, was to suggest that something that seems perfectly reasonable (i.e. tidying up links) may actually be bad. Redirects are the “natural” way to correct links because that is what a webmaster would “naturally” do. Sending notices to other sites isn’t something a webmaster (non-SEO) would bother with.

TheMadHat February 12, 2008 at 2:50 pm

@Marios Agree and disagree. Sending noticed to other sites is something a non-SEO PR department might do, or even a small business who doesn’t know how to properly do a redirect.

I think it’s more of a combination of things; aka: too many paid links, too much identical anchor text, then going and changing a link (also possibly devaluing the link age) could hurt but everyone seems to be speaking in absolutes.

Does this mean we shouldn’t do any link reclamation, even though that’s a standard practice? Or is it that we shouldn’t do any when there is also X, Y, and Z going on as well?

@Gypsy: lmao “SEO Shrink”. Untapped market. ( already registered though)

Andy Beard February 12, 2008 at 10:15 pm

If using Wordpress….

Unique descriptions are a red flag
Meta Keywords are a red flag
Archives that can’t be indexed are a red flag
Not having a blogroll on every page with at least 40 entries is a red flag

Any whiff of any all in one SEO plugin is fatal

Be careful of using any themes that don’t include the sidebar on every page, much safe to use Wordpress widgets.


Linking to Matt Cutts or any Google blog is a red flag
Subscribing to a Google blog in Google reader, with the same Google ID you use in Webmaster Central is a red flag

TheMadHat February 12, 2008 at 10:38 pm

@Andy – :) you got it. every thing’s a damn flag. I wish we could get on and just optimize shit and stop being UFO watchers. Thanks for commenting, I’ve been a fan of yours!

@everyone else: I know my comments are jacking up…working on it. Damn WP update screwed me all up.

PPCblogger February 13, 2008 at 11:51 am


Well said that man The Mad Hatter.

Green Abode February 13, 2008 at 12:43 pm

In a perfect world, what pleases or displeases the search engines would be clear to all. Then the winners would be those who are willing to work the hardest.

Hobo February 13, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Well said it’s getting ridiculous :)

Jon Henshaw February 14, 2008 at 1:22 am

I may be just like any other paranoid SEO sucker out there, but the idea that nofollow is a red flag is complete bullshit – taken straight out of someone’s ass…or in this case, a bull’s ass.

SEO Results February 14, 2008 at 7:28 am

HAHAHAHAHAH…people should be less paranoid about tools used to guide traffic through the web, and focus on the nitty gritty of SEO

Sepita February 14, 2008 at 11:01 am

That was probably the funniest SEO post I ever read! :D
(haven’t read many, tho)
Thnx and Greetingz from Munich!

Gary Pool February 14, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Let me see if I have this right.

Is a red flag a video review and a yellow a penalty?

Do I have it backwards a red flag is a penalty and a yellow is a video review?

Do we get a red flag after a video review?

Well I guess I will have to wear a RED hat.

TheMadHat February 14, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Uh…You only get a flag if you have the proper flag pole :D

purposeinc February 16, 2008 at 4:15 pm

Hey (link removed for violation of TOS)A, (link removed for violation of TOS)how about (link removed for violation of TOS)comment (link removed for violation of TOS) spam?

TheMadHat February 16, 2008 at 4:30 pm


lening February 18, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Well Andy, you are absolute right. A good addition to this post or even as separate posts… The WP Red Flags!

Some good plug ins are there to help you (automated) with this by the way.

Dr. Homer February 19, 2008 at 11:56 am

That’s great! I like it!

tv brackets February 23, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Personally I think Google controls too much of what everyone does on the web. It is kind of scary that one company has so much control over what is supposed to be a free and open thinking kind of place.

Sammy SEO Qc March 7, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Nice article for sure, did the HomePage of sphinn with it :)

Keep up the great work MadHat!

iyinet seo March 9, 2008 at 8:11 am


cep telefonlar? March 14, 2008 at 3:40 am

I think nofollow links help more fast indexing.

SEO UK July 29, 2008 at 7:09 am

Brilliant post.
SEO is a redflag now
Blackhat, whitehat, is there a line between them anymore.

Jumbo March 16, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Great Points and a fun way of looking at things.

Thanks for your outlook, good reading.

Me May 20, 2009 at 3:00 am

This particular post is surely climbing in the chart for being my SEO-post favorite that I’ve ever read.

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