Don’t get Busted by Google!
Many of our clients receive 50% or more of their traffic from Google organic searches. In order to preserve this valuable source of traffic, businesses need to follow Google’s best practices to avoid a manual action penalty – like the plague. In fact, according to this recent article, Google has confirmed a recent algorithm update around content which resulted in a massive shake-up in rankings. In this post we will explore ways to avoid a Google penalty and keep your SEO intact.
Google’s webmaster guidelines include best practices for webmasters and marketers. Following these guidelines keep you penalty-free and allow Google to find, index and rank your website for relevant web searches.
The guidelines are broken into three sections:
- Design and Content Guidelines
- Technical Guidelines
- Quality Guidelines
Google’s Quality Guidelines are especially important because they include some of the “illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index or otherwise impacted by an algorithmic or manual spam action”. Google has stated publicly that if their webspam quality guidelines are violated, they are willing to take manual action, and according to Matt Cutts, head of Google webspam team, said action can result in either a demotion or a penalty.
The design and content guidelines include recommendations about hierarchy and internal linking. It is recommended that sites include useful and relevant information on clearly written pages. These guidelines also recommend keeping the number of links on any given page to a reasonable number.
The technical guidelines discuss elements like cross-browser testing, robots.txt files, site performance and site load time. It is recommended by Google, as well as their SEO partners, that sites keep close tabs on the technical performance of the website. There are many free tools to assist with website monitoring including Google or Bing’s Webmaster Tools and Pingdom.
According to Google’s list of manual actions, the following quality guideline violations can result in a manual action:
- Unnatural links to the site
- Unnatural links from your site
- Thin or no original content:
1. Auto-generated content
2. Doorway pages
3. Scraped content
4. Weak affiliate sites
- Cloaks or sneaky redirects: use of keywords or text which is only useful for a search engine, not a user
- Hidden text and/or keyword stuffing
Some other measures to avoid in order to preserve SEO rankings with Google include:
- Duplicate content: this is a long standing no-no with Google
- Fake social media accounts: always use real accounts
- Shady contact details: always include physical address on contact pages
- Use care with guest posting: too many links from one post can cause suspicion
As business continues to get more competitive, organic search becomes an even more valuable marketing channel. However, Google continues to tighten the rules concerning SEO. If marketers don’t pay attention to these rules, a penalty can be levied without warning.. Don’t get busted by Google. Stay informed and protect your website from a penalty.
Your comments are welcome!