By: Justin McGill
Do one SEO tactic incorrectly, or too frequently, and you could be facing Google punishments that remove your website from their search results. This is not a gamble that most businesses can afford, as most consumers initially find a business online.
In fact, Inc.com ran a survey and found that 7 out of 10 consumers said they are more likely to use a local business if they have a social media presence and another 78% said ratings and reviews are important when deciding what to buy.
Google has made some significant changes in the last couple of years when it comes to ranking your website in search results. Google Panda and Google Penguin are the two major updates you may have heard about, and many more are coming.
Here are some of the major abuse tactics that were employed by SEO’s and some workarounds that you should be implementing in their place.
1. Lots of Advertising
Websites that existed primarily to sell advertising were a prime target of this update. Google wants to return relevant results to its users and having ad-heavy websites populate at the top of their search results were not what users wanted.
Solution: Limit your advertising and focus on the content. Content is going to be the theme of this post and for good reason; it is the theme of Google’s recent updates.
2. Duplicate or Unoriginal Content
Shortly after the Panda update that targeted web spammers, site owners were complaining that their original content was being outranked by duplicate/spam websites. They asked webmasters to help them better identify websites that scraped the original content.
Solution: It is still of utmost importance to provide original content that users find useful. Not just original in wording by saying the same thing thousands of others have stated, but by truly being useful to the audience.
3. Link Building Networks
Google ranks websites largely based on how important and relevant they deem a website to be. This is based on how many links are pointing to a website. So, naturally, SEO’s went to whatever was easiest to build links. This typically included link networks, low quality directory sites, and a host of others. Google Penguin rolled out and crushed these methods of acquiring links.
Solution: Do something or offer something meaningful to your customers or users. Build real relationships with real people offline and online to help spread the word. This is where social media can really play an important role. You want links from a variety of sources.
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In the older days of SEO, you could find a high search volume keyword and then build all your links using that keyword and put the keyword all over your website and you would be found on page 1 of search results. This technique no longer works and has been punished. In fact, if the majority of your links use the same keywords over and over, and your website has the same keywords everywhere, you probably noticed that your website completely disappeared in Google’s search results.
Solution: Build links with your company name linked instead of keywords. Sometimes don’t even actually link, as a “co-citation” is valuable as well. Use things like “Click here” when linking also. Basically, your links should be completely natural.
SEO Isn’t Just SEO Anymore
Nowadays, Google is looking at much more than on-page copy and off page links to determine their rankings. You need to have a well-rounded content marketing strategy in place (start blogging!), you need to be active and get people engaged on social media, and you probably need an updated website. Your website should be easy to use, quick to load, be responsive so it loads nicely on mobile and tablet devices, and have original website content.