Google and other search engines are an excellent resource for attracting qualified traffic to your website. Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to ensure that they are delivering the most relevant and high-quality websites in response to users’ search queries. That means certain practices can actually damage your website’s ranking if Google considers them to be synonymous with low-quality websites, making you appear in lower positions in search results. Or even worse: in some cases, if Google considers you are trying to ‘trick’ search engines to improve your rankings (also known as ‘black hat’ SEO) rather than following best-practice and focusing on quality, you may be banned from Google all together. Being blacklisted from Google means your website will never show in search results, and this is implemented by Google without warning. It is therefore crucial to understand what mistakes could result into penalties from Google on your website.
Google’s Search Engine: An Overview
Google is evolving all the time and its Search algorithm is updated regularly to improve the quality of results. These updates cause shifts in search engine rankings for everyone online. The result of this is that what works today, might not work tomorrow. It may even harm your site.
A long time ago Google wouldn’t penalise people who made mistakes or attempted to use spammy techniques to improve their rankings. Instead, Google would simply withhold benefits and would not reduce your rankings or blacklist your website. Today, Google is much more serious about penalising those who make such mistakes and is becoming increasingly sophisticated at detecting ‘spammy’ or ‘black hat’ practices.
With that in mind, below is a list of mistakes that may cause your website to be penalised:
Mistake #1: Buying Links In Bulk
Ever come across an advertisement from an Internet Marketing company promising hundreds of backlinks to your website? They generally claim that this will turbocharge your site’s ranking for a very reasonable fee.
You will want to ignore anyone making this kind of claim. If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. The backlinks provided come from sites that engage in spam and are far from reputable, or they are social networking accounts. Google will detect your links come from poor quality sources and will suspect you’ve been engaging in ‘Black Hat’ practices, resulting in penalties.
In addition to the quality of backlinks, Google will be quick to detect an unusually large amount of links suddenly being created, which indicates your link-building efforts are not organic, as they should be.
Instead of seeking such shortcuts to build your backlinks, work with reputable websites, build a relationship with them and write a blog post for them. Link building should never happen overnight.
Mistake #2: Joining Random Link Directories
Link directories that accept every submission usually provide low-quality links. You will want to avoid them in your linking strategy. This is not to say that there aren’t any good-quality, legitimate directories that can be helpful for your SEO efforts, but it is important to properly vet them before you submit your listing.
Generally, directories that advertise themselves as useful for SEO are to be avoided. These normally accept any submission from anywhere in the world rather than providing a useful list of relevant business listings. And –surprise surprise – they often charge a fee for your listing.
It is far better to submit your link to a small number of high-quality directories than it is to belong to thousands of low-quality link directories.
Mistake #3: Using Duplicated Content
Just a few years ago, it was an acceptable strategy to re-cycle content found either on different pages of your website or taken from third party websites to create ‘new’ content. You could either paraphrase existing content, or copy directly bits and pieces of content from elsewhere.
Now Google is a lot smarter and will count this type of re-cycled text as duplicated content, which is a big no-no for Google. It can and will hurt your search engine rankings. The only acceptable approach now when you’re adding content t a page is simply to create unique, high quality text every time.
Mistake #4: Keyword Stuffing
Again, this is another once-popular trend that can harm your site. Keyword stuffing is using a keyword several times throughout a web page to the point that it looks unnatural. An example of a keyword-stuffed sentence would be: “Buying blue paint is a great way to buy blue paint so that you can paint your house in blue thanks to blue paint.” – You get the idea.
This is done in hopes of getting a better rating by the search engines for this keyword. However, sometimes less is more. Not to mention, this is only a fraction of what goes into determining your site ranking. You are going to be better off creating high-quality content and simply placing your targeted keyword in the right places in a more ‘natural’ way.
Overusing keywords can lead to Google penalising or blacklisting your site. In fact, a legendary SEO fail that occurred years ago involved keyword stuffing on the official BMW German website, leading to the banning of the site from Google. The website was removed from the blacklist later on, but be aware that if BMW’s website can be blacklisted, yours can too.
Mistake #5: Overusing The Same Anchor Text
Google uses anchor text to determine what type of keywords to rank your website for. This practice is a small part of the algorithm that some people take way too seriously. Having your site come up for the same exact anchor text, again and again, can damage your rankings because Google concludes that these links were not created organically. Instead, you want to have a variety of similar key phrases that link to your webpage.
Mistake #6: Incomplete Sites
Google wants to show sites that know what they are doing. Having a site with pages are under construction or have many broken links will get your site penalised. The way Google sees it, quality is key. A web page with many broken links is not user-friendly.
The Good News
These mistakes are still common in the SEO industry. The good news is that so long as you are creating quality content that follow best-practice, sharing on social media, creating strong relationships with other websites, and building a user-friendly website, you will not find yourself in any sort of serious trouble with Google.
If you have any questions, get in touch with the expert team at Hyphen now.