Have you broken any of Google’s golden rules lately?
Did you even know that there is a right and wrong way of putting together your website content? If you have received a Google penalty or demotion then you have probably noticed your visibility and ranking on the Google results pages all but disappear.
It’s not as sinister as it might sound and we’re not talking about life or death – it’s just ranking. But if you’re a business owner and you’re not familiar with Google’s user guidelines or you’re simply not adhering to them, then you probably should be. Some 400,000 penalties are applied manually every month so it’s pretty relevant stuff.
So what are these guidelines for?
Essentially it’s all about Google implementing a bit of quality control to website content. Generally if you have a user-friendly website that contains unique information you’ll be ok. But if you fill your pages with copy designed to trick Google for SEO gain then you’ll quite likely run into a few issues.
The Quality Guidelines ‘outline some of the illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index or otherwise affected by an algorithmic or manual spam action. If a site has been affected by a spam action, it may no longer show up in results on Google.com or on any of Google’s partner sites.’
What are these ‘illicit practices’?
Well first of all there are two types of penalties; manual and algorithmic. A manual penalty is applied by a real life person that has investigated your website. An algorithmic penalty or demotion is applied automatically. Here are a list of reasons why Google might apply a penalty to your website
Content is one of the largest reasons for penalties. Google will look at the quality of your content and will evaluate whether you are really giving readers what they are looking for. So for example if you have keywords applied to your pages that aren’t relevant to the content then you’re going to receive high bounce rates. Google will notice this and will penalise you accordingly.
THE SOLUTION: Just publish valuable content for your readers.
2) Bad Links
Google will look at the authenticity of the links into your website. So if you’re out there just creating links for the sake of SEO, Google will realise this. Real authentic links are fine, great even, but they have to be there for a reason.
3) Mobile responsiveness
This is a big one for 2017!
Content viewed on mobile devices is growing all of the time (something like double every year) and Google knows this. In an attempt to ensure user-friendliness moving forward, Google will primarily assess a site based on it’s mobile responsiveness. Unresponsive sites will receive an automatic demotion. So what does this mean? Make sure your website is compatible with, and easy to use on mobile phones, i-pads etc.
4) Too much fluff
If you include advertisements, pop-ups or too many images ahead of the primary content on your page you may well be penalised.
Make sure that at least the first two paragraphs of your content are visible straight away.
5) Spammy sites
This one is pretty simple – keep your site clean
6) Illegal activities
Naturally Google adheres to the law so they won’t promote illegal content. This includes pirating sites, some porn sites etc.
How do you find out if you’re on the naughty list?
The likelihood is that you will notice a significant drop in your traffic on Google Analytics but it will also be mentioned on your search console page.
Sometimes you might receive a warning before a penalty is applied, but not always so don’t get complacent. If you have received a penalty then you have the option to submit a reconsideration request. A word of warning: only do this after you remove the source of your penalty. Requests are reviewed manually by a real human being so don’t waste their time or be rude. Make sure you have tried to fix the problem before you get in touch.
Remember, a penalty isn’t for life and there are definitely ways to get back into the Googley good books so don’t panic. If you’re struggling then a good SEO copywriter will be able to help you with your content and make sure you are doing all of the right things and non of the wrong things. Of course this is where I remind you all that I am not a good SEO Copywriter but a GREAT SEO copywriter and web designer so drop me a line, send me an email or flick me a text. I’d love to hear from you all.