Every website owner wants to be on the front page of Google. It’s no news that the second page of Google is where web pages go to die. The web pages on the front page of Google receive over 90% of web traffic and businesses must do whatever is necessary to rank high on Google for their chosen keywords.
However, there is the right way and the wrong way to optimize a website’s search engine rankings. The right way will lead to a higher ranking and consistent flow of traffic, while the wrong way will attract Google penalties and rank demotion.
This article will explain the types of blackhat actions that can lead to Google penalties, before highlighting the right strategies that will make a website rank high on Google without getting penalized.
What Can Lead To A Google Penalty?
Google penalties can occur for a variety of reasons, and it’s best to avoid them at all costs. A Google penalty will lead to your website’s demotion and your site will fall heavily in search rankings.
A Google penalty can be manual – in that case, Google will inform you of the penalty via Google Search Console. It can also be an algorithmic penalty. If your website is hit with such a penalty, there will be no warning, and all you will notice is a consistent drop in search rankings.
The best way to avoid Google’s wrath is to stay clear of activities that will attract penalties. Below are 7 reasons why Google may demote your website:
Google priorities providing high-quality, safe content for users. If a website is hacked, Google will consider such a website to be a risk to visitors. Google will demote and tag such a website with a “this site may be hacked” message.
To avoid this, rectify any security issues if you discover that your site has been infected with malware or hacked.
Blackhat Link-Building Techniques
Backlinks from authority sites in your niche will boost your rankings, and spammy, poor quality links obtained using blackhat techniques will have the opposite effect.
If the bulk of the links pointing to your website are from spammy directory sites or overwhelmingly from sites with a Domain Authority (DA) of less than 10, Google will demote your website.
Users that post spammy content on your website can compromise the integrity of your site. Much of these spammy user-generated content are links posted by users in the form of comments.
Keep a close eye on your comment section, and you can prevent a Google penalty by ensuring that all user-generated links are marked “no-follow”
Technical SEO Issues
Penalties that occur as a result of technical SEO issues are often algorithmic. The search engine will demote your website if your technical and on-page SEO is not up to scratch.
Issues like slow site speed, broken links, missing alt tags, duplicate title tags, and more can lead to a fall in rankings.
It’s best to avoid posting duplicate content on your site or spinning a great article from another website.
Google doesn’t like this and considers such content to be spammy content. Plagiarism will attract a Google penalty, and it’s best to focus on creating unique, high-quality content that will add value to your readers.
Keyword Stuffing and Irrelevant Content
Using relevant keywords will help your article rank higher, but overusing your keywords will definitely attract a penalty. Google demotes web pages that are stuffed with keywords.
Low-quality content will also lead to a demotion. A web page that has all the right keywords and manages to rank high on search results will come crashing down if visitors are bouncing from the page due to the poor quality of the content.
Cloaking is when you create multiple versions of your web page and the page your visitors see is different from the page indexed by Google.
Google frowns on this and will either penalize the web page or the entire website. To Google cloaking is deceptive, and it sees it as a red flag.
7 Tips To Help You Improve Your Google Rankings Organically
It’s clear that cutting corners will backfire, and the best approach is to follow SEO best practices and consistently post quality content.
Below are some tips that will help you improve your rankings without attracting the ire of Google.
Do A Site Audit
To improve your rankings, you need to start by figuring where you currently stand. A site audit will help you discover the SEO issues that are impacting your site negatively.
A site audit should focus on checking technical issues, site speed, mobile responsiveness, and other general site problems.
The first thing to do is to generate a site health report with a tool like the mxtoolbox. It will break your site issues into 5 categories including web server, DNS, mail server, site problems, and blacklist. Just paste your URL and it will get to work.
After you have generated your report, get the help of a web developer and an SEO expert to help you fix the issues.
It is also important to test page speed and load time. A slow website with a load time above 3 seconds has little chance of ever ranking high on Google. Use a speed test tool like Pingdom to test your website.
If your grade is below 50, your site is really slow and you need to work with an SEO expert to speed up your site.
Get Your Technical SEO In Order
Technical SEO involves the technical elements that influence how the Google search engine crawls and indexes your website. These are elements like site structure, mobile responsiveness, broken links, duplicate content, and more.
Your site audit report will identify many of these issues and most of them are easy to rectify.
You can test the mobile responsiveness of your website by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool, and duplicate content can be found by simply pasting your URL into the Copyscape plagiarism checker tool.
If your website is not mobile-friendly, a complete site redesign may be necessary. If you have duplicate content, it should be removed or rewritten.
Do Keyword research
Keywords are central to how search engines work, and if you want to rank high on Google, you need to optimize your website for the right keywords.
Google ranks individual web pages and not entire websites, so you need to identify and optimize each page on your website for the relevant keywords.
Your keyword research process should involve the following:
- Identify the seed keywords that will guide your research: these are the words and phrases that are commonly used in your industry, the words that describe your products and services.
- Understand and incorporate search intent: search intent is the objective of the searcher that is using Google to look for information. This objective can be to find a specific website, learn about something, or to buy something. Intent can be navigational, informational, or transactional.
- Input your seed keywords into keyword research tools to find relevant keywords: paste your seed keywords into tools like the Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest to generate a list of relevant keywords.
- Select the less competitive but high volume keywords: the keyword research tools will show you the search volume and competition for each keyword on your list. It’s best to focus on the low-competition keywords because it’s likely that the high authority sites in your niche are already ranking for the competitive keywords.
If you follow the process outlined above, you should now be equipped with a list of keywords that you will use to optimize your content and for on-page SEO.
Create Quality Content
The keywords you have generated will guide the topics of your blog posts. Those keywords represent the information your target audience are looking for, and they will help ensure the content you are creating is relevant to your audience.
That way, you will discover the articles that are trending in your niche for your keywords, and use them as inspiration for your content.
Pay Attention To On-Page SEO
On-page SEO involves optimizing your web pages and blog content for search engines. Google relies on certain elements in your site to understand your content and see if it’s relevant to what searchers are looking for.
These page elements are:
- The title tag
- Headings and subheadings
- Keywords and relevant LSI keywords in your body text
- Meta description
- URL structure
You must optimize each of these elements according to SEO best practices to boost your chances of ranking higher.
Invest In Off-Page SEO To Build Quality Backlinks
Off-page SEO is the other side of SEO and it involves getting quality websites in your niche to link back to your site. This shows Google that other authority sites value your content, and Google will rank you higher.
The most effective way to build backlinks is by guest posting on popular, high DA sites in your industry. Other legitimate link-building strategies you can adopt are:
- Writing testimonials for other websites: you can give a review to another company and include a link back to your website
- Provide valuable answers to questions on Quora: you can provide relevant, informative answers to pressing questions on Quora and include a link back to your site.
- Get cited in a news publication: reach out to local journalists and get them to interview you. It’s a great way to get exposure and to build links back to your site.
Track And Measure Your Progress With The Right Metrics
There are many SEO metrics you can track, but the most important is organic traffic. It is traffic from visitors that visited your site directly by clicking your link on Google.
You want to rank high on Google, and tracking organic traffic is the best way to know if your efforts are working.
Use Google Analytics to track your organic traffic. You can also use the tool to discover ranking keywords, top-performing pages, and more.
Source: tbk Creative
This article has shown you that improving your rankings without attracting penalties from Google is very possible. Good SEO tactics require patience, but if you follow them, you will reap sustainable rewards while staying in Google’s good graces.
Now it’s up to you to apply the information in this article to fix your website, create quality content, and build links the right way.
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