It is not so much what you are doing right, but what you are doing wrong that can negatively affect your Google page rank and traffic. Follow these 30 steps to help improve your onsite rankings and to clean up the negative influences hurting your overall SEO efforts.
Whenever my brothers and I would complain to my dad, and say something like, “Well Mike doesn’t have to go to practice today, why do I?” His next immediate thing he would say and I quote, “You worry about you pal!”
Not ever wanting to hear that as a child, I now realized that he was absolutely right. He meant that I should be concerned with my situation and understand why I had to go to practice and my brother Mike did not. It wasn’t about choosing favorites, but was about the subtleties of surrounding factors that alter or “explain” the situation. The same should apply to businesses in trying to reach their onsite goals and objectives. Let me explain…
Most people I talk to are overly concerned with what they are doing RIGHT in Google’s eyes, but fail to address what they are doing WRONG. They are not worrying about their own situation, but so absorbed in what others are doing. But, if you are not worried about what you are doing wrong, it really won’t matter what you are doing right as this is a huge roadblock that will impede progress.
At VisionCourse, we want you to think differently about your SEO strategy. This will focus on what we potentially are doing wrong, to better steer us in the right direction.
Sudden and unexplained dips in Google ranks and search traffic are Not All Penalties!
The list below will help you identify SEO techniques that could be seen as “black hat” by Google.
Others are simply Google filters that you will not have control over. Both of which carry a high risk of altering your current SEO rank and overall traffic, which if addressed, will benefit your SEO efforts as whole.
Anchor Links (Back links):
Link building is still the key to a successful SEO campaign. Getting links to improve our organic placement and relevancy are techniques of offsite SEO that are very important. However, there is a right and a wrong way to approach this technique. Following Google Webmaster Guidelines will make this easy for you but it is better explained below.
- “10,000 links for $19.95 – But wait, there’s more, and if you buy NOW, you’ll get a brand new set of Steak knives!” Too good to be true… run away!
- Paying for links on high Page Rank sites – I am not suggesting that you don’t pay for links in certain situations, but what I am suggesting is that you do not try to get your site on all page rank 7,8, and 9 sites. This is unnatural and will harm your approach. In addition to ranks, timing is also a factor you want to consider as well…It won’t happen overnight!
- Reciprocal links – reciprocal links are important but are losing in overall relevancy in Google’s eyes. Massive link exchange schemes or networks can set off red flags in Google’s algorithms, so be careful.
- Hidden links in Blogs (WordPress) – Although WordPress is a wonderful link building approach; many free themes rely on hiding links in the themes to be spread around.
- Artificial Anchor Linking – If every link on your site is optimized with one long tail keyword phrase like “Doggy Clothes” this alarm Google that you are keyword stuffing.
- “No sprekense englis” – If your site in in English with links coming from Germany, stop. Google engineers are smarter than you and will know if there is an influx of links pointing from other countries.
- Slow down, you’re moving too fast – Quality vs. Quantity. Google will set algorithms and determine if the speed your acquiring links is too fast. Best practice, is stick to a schedule from day one.
Linking out is crucial for blogs and even static websites. Many webmasters stopped linking out in order to hoard PageRank. Google engineers have discouraged this and suggested linking out instead. Linking out can be risky though.
- Broken links – If there was a broken window outside of your favorite store, with police tape across it, would you shop there? No. Neither will your customers when they come across broken links. And, even worse, this makes Google take notice.
- Links to bad neighborhoods – Is there something worse than having broken links onsite? Yes. Imagine someone coming to your site, opening the door, and when inside, it’s a different store than what the sign out front suggested it was. It’s a no brainer that the relevancy must be there.
- Too many outbound links or none at all – Quality vs. Quantity.
Content is King – Unless You Screw It UP!
Content is still king, but it can lead to black hat approaches deemed by Google.
- No Duplicate content – Self explanatory
- Low quality content – Got PANDA? Read up on it.
- Unique content – Do not skin another site, just to copy them. You will get burned, not the person you skinned from.
- Unreadable content – It’s as easy as using spell checker on Word. Do not be lazy.
Sites developed solely with the “made for adsense” google ads mentality are now being negatively affected by PANDA.
- Quantity of Ads – Low content to ads ratio
- Affiliate sites with no value – Add value to your affiliate sites or you will be penalized.
It is a very competitive landscape in SEO, and as of recently, businesses are being called out. Whether or not this is a moral issue is not what this blog is about. But, if you are clean, you will rest easier.
- SEO Bragging to the wrong people – be careful who you talk about with your SEO strategies if they are black hat.
- Google Forums & Groups – They are always listening.
- You’re not better then Google – When it comes to black hat, do not temp the lion by showing off.
Google filters & Limitations
Some Google penalties are actually not penalties at all. Filters are used and applied automatically. This is where its more algorithms than your own doing.
- Brand New Domain – It takes time. Using a 301 redirect link can help it is an older domain name, however, a brand new entity will take time.
- H1 tags – A movie only has one title. So should your website. Use h2, h3 and other headline tags instead.
- Keyword stuffing – Monitor your onsite keyword density. Best practice is to simply use natural grammar. Make the text readable.
Websites are living breathing entities. And not every sudden drop in rankings and traffic is a penalty. If you don’t feed a plant it dies. If you don’t feed Google, your site dies.
- Robots.txt – The robots.txt is not overly important, but it can harm you if not done properly. Check your Google Webmasters tools regularly to address any issues.
- Nofollow – I’ve seen leading blogs barred from the Google index because they activated the WordPress privacy mode. It simply meant that all of the blog was set to noindex, nofollow which equals blocking it in the robots.txt.
- Duplicate Titles and Descriptions – Diversify your onsite page titles and tags. If your site uses the same page title and descriptions for every, Google will look at it as if it’s one page.
<a href=”">” in it. Or at least the whole URL must show up.
In some cases a loss of rankings or search traffic is out of your hands.
- Algorithm change – Everyday Google potentially changes and refines their algorithms. PANDA is one recent one. Be current, and stay on top of these announcements.
- Competition is getting better – A competitor is someone who is attempting to beat you at something. They are working hard each and every day. It is YOUR job to stay abreast of what the competition is doing.
- Breaking News – Sometimes, this could push your site lower in organic rankings. This is usually temprorary and short lived.
- SERP display change – Google experiments all the time with its search results’ display. Most notably, local results from Google Places take away large parts of the screen real estate. You might rank at #1 in organic results and still get displayed at the bottom of the search results page.
If you listen to my dad’s advice, you will be safe. “You worry about you” and take care of your business. It’s not always a penalty and sometimes it is as simple as doing the right thing.