Over the last several years, Google has made some huge changes to their search algorithms. Their main objective was to make it difficult for people to manipulate the search results so searchers were able to find the right kind of results. This ultimately took enormous time, but Google was able to get the job done with some data collected over time. The end result was a search algorithm that did two things:
First, it took into account they (Google) had direct control over like how results were displayed, their philosophy, search updating, and others. Secondly, they tweaked their system to look at what people do when building a website. For example, they started to pay closer attention to link building, content, social signals, etc. In the end, Google was able to create a search engine that overpowered others to still be considered the best in the business. The only downside of all the upgrades that took place was many people started getting penalized, losing rankings, getting banned from search results, and even their advertising network. With that said,
Over the years, my research with other clients has been able to provide me with some valuable information. For example, it was able to give me better insight on how to avoid a Google penalty. Today, we will discuss some of the fundamental steps you can take to avoid getting penalized by Google. Let’s get started, and your feedback will be greatly appreciated as always.
Avoid Link Exchanges
This was a major practice used by bloggers several years back, and continues to be used by bloggers today. This used to be a strategic way to get links quickly from different types of websites, however, now, it can get you in some serious trouble with Google. Keep in mind these â€œ3â€ very important reasons why you should avoid link exchanges at all costs.
First, this is bulk link building, which is unnatural and is considered SPAM link building. A majority of the time, you’ll attract low quality links from sites that have faced a penalty in the past. This shows Google you have NOT screened your link building efforts, and will lead to your site getting penalized, too.
Secondly, Google pays more attention than ever to relevance, and link farms DO NOT give priority to this area. You have to always make sure you focus on relevance because this ultimately adds value to your website. However, bloggers still continue to pay less attention to this factor, and more to bulk link building.
Third, content quality is very important and there is NO substitution when it comes to this factor. Through link exchanges, you’ll be attracting links from low quality sites with even lower quality content. You will truly get quality links when you make a conscious effort to attract solid links from high value sites.
Going forward, to avoid a Google penalty, it’s important that you avoid link exchanges and farms. This way, you’ll be able to attract quality links from sites with valuable content and a high domain authority.
Links within Duplicate Content
One of the worst ways to get hit with a Google penalty is by building links within duplicate content. First, Google hates duplicate content because it decreases the user experience. They want to bring fresh content to people, which ultimately ensures that Google is truly the best search engine. Google tries very hard to NOT index duplicate content so any links built on the page will not be indexed. Next, if the content is somehow indexed, it will NOT last a long time before being flagged by the bots. This means every link built on the page will be flagged at the same time, hurting your reputation, etc.
Another thing to keep in mind is â€œGoogleâ€ has a system where people can report duplicate content. This can have more of an effect on your rankings than you think by flagging your site with Google. Going forward, every time a link is built on your site, it will take longer for it to be indexed. This can be very stressful especially when you are trying to promote time-sensitive content.
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and Google doesn’t like it because it was known as a form of manipulation. Before the search engines were sophisticated, â€œbloggersâ€ were able to increase their search rank by over using a specific keyword. This was also a practice used by those who didn’t want to create any value online. Because this is a practice that is frowned upon, Google wants to ensure it’s completely eliminated online. You’ve probably noticed that one approach search engines have taken is to ask people to diversify their link profile. What does this mean? Let’s exploreâ€¦
First, it means to incorporate target and LSI keywords within your content. They have also moved into a stricter percentage when it comes to keywords within your content, expecting anywhere from 2%-3%. This means you have to be even more careful when using keywords throughout your content. However, because it is calculated by percentage, it serves as a benefit for bloggers to write even longer content. The more you write, the more flexibility you have when using keywords.
Over the last several years, â€œlong tail keywordsâ€ have come into predominance so Google definitely wants to see them embedded within your content. Long Tail Keywords are phrases that are relevant to your â€œtargetâ€ keyword, but contain more than 2+ words. This has become very important to search engines because of the shift within user search patterns. If you notice, people are now using more direct and longer phrases when shopping online, etc. It’s important you keep all of these strategies in mind when writing content so you can improve the user experience while ensuring you have the right amount of keywords throughout your article.
Here are a few things discussed:
- Use LSI keywords
- Use â€œtargetâ€ keywords
- Use long tail keywords
- Focus on the number 2%-3% of content length. There are many tools available which will help calculate keyword ratio within your article.
Avoid Using Automated Tools
With the popularly of online marketing came an abundance of bulk link building tools. Over the years, they continued to grow because Google had NO sure way of stopping them, especially those building links using them. However, changes in the algorithm now targets them with serious intensity, penalizing those who implement them in their link building strategy. How was Google able to put a stop to them?
Instead of targeting the software creators, they decided to target what the tools did by understanding the growing pattern. For example, the key strategies these tools use are the following:
- They spin content several times
- They duplicate content
- They bulk link build using the same anchor text
- They provide very little value within the content
- They use very few LSI keywords
- They use very few long tail keywords
- They fail to diversity anchor text
If you pay close attention to the changes made by Google over the years, you’ll notice they’ve target each of those things. First, they want a diversity of keywords to increase the user experience. Secondly, they expect high quality content to be published that is unique and in-depth. Third, they expect a mix of anchor text like URL, relevant, and exact. They refuse to accept duplicate content by only indexing the original content once.
From the above example, you can see how Google has tweaked their search algorithm to ensure they don’t accept sites in general that meet the above criteria. Instead of targeting the software creators, they have taken control of what they view as high quality, making it a norm for other search engines, too.
How to Avoid Getting Penalizedâ€¦
There are several things you can do to avoid getting penalized by Google. Many of these strategies have been learned by researched conducted by bloggers, and insight provided by Google themselves. Let’s explore 2-3 things you can do right now to set yourself up for a successful SEO campaign.
First, always write exceptional content because Google has put enormous emphasis on quality. They are looking for valuable content because it increases the user experience, which is very important to them. The better experience searchers have, the longer they will continue to use their engine, increasing profits. Whenever you write content, it’s important to focus on depth, value, and always solving a common problem within your niche. Next,
If you’re a blogger, you’ll always take part in link building campaigns and you have to remember the fundamentals when building links. For example, one of the best ways to get penalized by Google is to move away from their quality control policies. This is a guaranteed way to get banned or even get a solid penalty on your site. The funny thing is, many people think this will be difficult but it is very easy if you understand the basics. For example, never bulk build links because it’s a clear sign of them being unnatural. No one can build 10-20 links per day because this is unheard of in SEO and history has proven this numerous times. Next, keep anchor text targeted, but don’t be afraid to build some that are closely related. Over the years, the user search pattern has changed and Google is trying to keep up, which is why they encourage everyone to mix anchor text. As a rule of thumb, make sure you build links using:
- Long tail keywords
- LST keywords
- EXACT match
Build strong networks with others within your niche because this is a great way to get authority links. Many times, we waste effort building poor quality links, however, â€œ1â€ solid authority link is way better then 10 low quality links so stay focused during your link building. One of the best ways to conquer this is by building relationships with people who have been in the niche for years or even looking for guest posting opportunities. Guest blogging is a great way to build links on high authority blogs, especially those that can add enormous value later on down the line. Do a quick search in Google then skim through looking for authority blogs. You’ll know which ones have been around the longest by paying close attention to:
- Social followers
- Content written
- Search engine rank
It’s important to keep updating content because this shows your articles are fresh and NOT out of date. For Google to keep providing the best, it’s important that only the best is available. Make sure you continuously check your articles for freshness, and update those you feel are outdated. When you do this, you’ll ensure they all fall under the freshness update. What does this mean? You’ll essentially fall under the category of updated content so will jump in rankings. It also means you have more fresh and up-to-date content compared to your competitors, which will work in your favor going forward.