New SEO tactics are coming into focus on the regular. However, what online marketers frequently fail to realise that as people get smarter, so does Google. The age of quality over quantity is upon us, and with a smarty-pants like Google hot on our tails, nobody wants to get on the wrong side of the algorithm gods.
As a digital agency, organic growth is not only our preferred means of expanding our business — it’s a necessity in the often shady world of SEO. Making use of expert SEO services helps you gain online authority without getting into trouble with search engines. And if you feel tempted to slip over to the dark side, listen up.
Here are our 12 Sure-Fire Ways to Become a Google Enemy
1. Not Concentrating on Conversions
It’s all good and well to have a site that functions effectively, does the job of having an online presence and receives tonnes of free traffic. But if you’re not monitoring said traffic to analyse and tally actual conversions, then you may as well not have a site at all.
Phrases with competitive value are definitely worth going after. However, they are not the only way to get conversions. Often, lower-traffic keyphrases produce higher conversions because they’re more specific. When you have a better understanding of, not only what is ranking, but also what is creating the most conversions, it’s easier to develop your SEO strategy.
Which analytics tool should I use to track keyphrase conversions?
There are plenty of analytics tools out there, and every SEO strategist will have a subjective opinion as to which you should use. Our advice? Test drive a few of the more popular ones and decide for yourself.
2. Using Keywords as Stuffing
The art of turning an entire paragraph into a few appropriate (and relevant) words is probably the most challenging task for SEO strategists. Be that as it may, the last online crime you want to commit is ‘keyword stuffing’.
Our beloved search engine now recognises when you’ve used high-volume keywords just for the sake of increasing visibility. Being too ‘keyword-orientated’ may deteriorate the quality of your content. And although keywords still play a critical role in the categorisation of content, search engines, and consumers, value quality. Instead of being forceful with your keywords, ensure that they appear naturally throughout your text. This will make for smooth consumption.
3. Writing for Writing’s Sake
We’ve touched on this already, but it deserves further attention. Neglecting the quality of your content for the sake of squeezing in keywords will put you on Google’s hit list. It’s important to remember that your website’s content is targeted towards people more than search engines. Meaning: actual current and potential consumers will be reading your content. Therefore, your targeted audience should be a pretty sound indication of what to prioritise when it comes to content.
If you are guilty of ‘keyword stuffing’, not only will search engines pick up on your trickery but so will your readers. It only takes reading the first paragraph for your audience to decide whether the article is worth their time. Poorly written content prevents people from actually reading your work despite having a high ranking.
4. Producing Shady Text
The epitome of SEO manipulation is hiding content within your content. Links still retain a relative amount of ranking power; however, Google has improved its ability to determine the presence of hidden content. Hidden links most often contain content that is not relative to what the user wants to see or to the site on which its posted. It is a deliberate action with the intent on curving search engine algorithms.
In the unlikely case that your spammy content gets past the ‘all-seeing eyes’ of Google, it’s manual reviewers will check your website and take action accordingly. So try not to be shady.
5. Being a Copy-Cat
Did you know, Google penalises you for ‘copying’ yourself? Duplicated content doesn’t merely refer to plain old plagiarism. And don’t be too eager to grab bits and pieces of material from different sites, Google is watching you. Make an effort to create original and unique meta-data descriptions and titles even if the products are similar.
Google and other search engines are aware that creating quality content takes time. Like any relationship, if you’re willing to put in the time, you will be rewarded.
6. Over-Optimising Anchor Text
Having a relevant anchor text assists in telling search engines what your site is about and enhances the user’s navigational experience. It is possible, however, to abuse anchor text. Doing this will result in a lower ranking.
It is essential to have a diverse selection of anchor texts for all links posted on your site. To gain Google’s trust, you need to focus on providing branded anchor text. If your links are linked (excuse the pun) to the company name the chance of your anchor texts being misused are significantly lower.
7. Being a WordPress Troll
Spamming other sites is not only an SEO no-no, but just plain rude. It is the equivalent of walking into a stranger’s home, uninvited and putting your feet on the table while asking what’s in the fridge.
Leaving valuable comments on other sites or blogs is an organic SEO approach. But once you’re copying and pasting unrelated comments and links, you look desperate. This action impacts the user’s experience, not to mention the blogger(s) you decide to leech on.
8. Being a Slow-Poke
You know when the wifi is acting up, and your digital world comes crashing down because everything feels like it’s in slow motion? That’s how your user feels when your website is slow. So check your site speed, please!
Users do not hesitate to find an alternative site if they perceive yours to be slow. When building or updating your website, creating an efficient browsing experience should be a priority.
With content being the driving force for sites today, we suggest finding ways to decrease ‘load-time’. Optimising your database and compressing large files like videos and images are a few simple solutions to consider.
9. Buying Links
The saying “you can’t buy love” is applicable here — you can’t buy links. Search engines are quality-oriented and will immediately tell if you’ve ‘paid’ a visit to the dark side of the web.
Google believes that you must earn links. It can identify low-quality sites sending out a suspiciously large amount of links. Even if you do achieve a high ranking this way, it will be temporary.
10. Not Having Customised Links
The visual representation and your site’s originality are what catches the user’s attention above all else. Do not base the core design of your site on a mainstream template that seems to be trending. Invest in creating a custom design and acquiring quality links.
Create an experience of convenience for your users by labelling links and stating where links will take them. Also, avoid using generic and vague labels as it tends to confuse the user. Practice consistency with how your links open, i.e. always opens in a new window.
Remember when we said that ‘Invisible Text’ (refer to point 4) is the epitome of SEO manipulation? Well, clickbait-ing takes the cake. Creating a ‘teaser’ headline sparks the curiosity of the reader, for sure. But we can all agree that there is nothing worse than being fooled into viewing content that is irrelevant to the search you performed. Do not entice your users this way — it’s evil!
Although there is no specific penalty for this action, you will lose the loyalty of your consumers. It is a form of false advertising that causes readers to no longer trust your site.
12. Not Keeping it Local
If your business targets a demographic within a particular region or city, you’ll want to focus on optimising ‘local search’. If you make use of global keywords within your meta descriptions, most search engines will be able to target your desired audience. Make sure to use keywords that are indigenous to your region of interest. Adding an address and local phone number to your site will also increase your chances of showing up in local search results.
The digital world has become a competitive playground with slightly conniving players. We can tell you that they all end up on the wrong side of Google, one way or another. Choosing the organic route to online growth may seem maddening at times, but it is the best way to attract loyal users and will benefit your website in the long-run.