Penalties that are Hurting Your SEO

Search Engine Optimization has become one of the most powerful tools in digital marketing. It enables a website to be seen and potentially recognized as an authority, which will allow it to climb higher on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). SEO has been proven time and time again to be one of, if not the most effective way to obtain long-term marketing results. However, because of this, some people tend to want to get those results as fast as possible. This often leads to practices that end up harming SEO efforts rather than benefitting them. Google flags websites that try to cheat the system by using simple tricks rather than well-thought-out strategies. People tend to forget that SEO is made to improve user experience. Trying to improve a site’s crawlability will do nothing if the users do not find it functional, helpful, or worth their time. Google administers hundreds of thousands of penalties each month. In order to avoid being part of that statistic, it’s best to steer clear of these techniques:

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is when businesses use way too many keywords. They try to cram them in content where it doesn’t always fit. This becomes troublesome when you use the same keyword in every other sentence. Years ago, this tactic could have worked. However, now Google has grown wise to this trick. Having too many keywords on a particular page can lead to a penalty.

A good way to avoid or fix this mistake is to make sure that the content has a natural flow to it. Write the content with your keywords in mind, instead of writing it and adding them in after. Adding them later makes the content feel choppy. A helpful tip is to use keyword clusters, by finding similar keywords to the ones you are trying to rank for and incorporating them in your paragraphs as well. This will add some variety to your content while making you eligible to rank for other keywords.

Website Hosting

Website hosting can make or break your SEO efforts, even though not many people realize it. A slow website with long load times can dramatically decrease your ranking. Having a responsive website is vital. Quick load times are extremely important to Google. Google is constantly updating its core web vitals so be sure that your site is following those guidelines. Your website hosting should be top quality. A solid investment should be allocated because free website hosting tends to yield lesser results. You don’t want to invest in SEO just to have your website host ruin your efforts.

Content Amount

When deciding content for your website you must be strategic. It’s important to choose what you write carefully, as you want to ensure the reader’s engagement. Unfortunately, the phrase “less is more” does not apply when writing content for SEO. The more you write on a page, the better. When you have lots of content, Google will consider the page an authority. In fact, it does not even look at pages that contain less than 300 words of content. That is why every page should have at least 300 words. We suggest 500 words per page; however, a good goal is 1,000 words. You want to make sure that this content isn’t just gibberish or run-on sentences. Your reader needs to be engaged. Even if you have 2,000 words on the page it won’t matter if the bounce rate is high. Google will notice that the quality of the content is lacking which will not be beneficial for your SEO. It is a difficult balance to write content that is both lengthy and engaging, especially on product pages or pages where paragraphs of content do not fit naturally. We understand that this might not work on every page, but it is important to make sure that you have several hundred words of content on as many pages as possible.

Bad Backlinks

Gaining backlinks is helpful, but it takes time. When organizations promise lots of backlinks in a short period of time, they are most likely spam links. Like the content of your pages, your backlinks need to be of good quality, or it will be a penalty. They should be from reputable websites (i.e., articles from The New York Times, The Washington Post, etc.) and they should have some relation to the topic and paragraph in which they are embedded. For example, you might have linked a very successful article from The Huffington Post to your blog, but if the article is about hiking and you own a restaurant, that would most likely get flagged by Google.

Cloaking

Cloaking is when the website presents one version of the content on a page for the spider to crawl, yet the user sees a completely different version of the content. This can be done with invisible, or hidden, text as well as with pictures and other page content. Google will discover this and mark it as a penalty immediately. It is also good to avoid redirects that take users to pages that they were not intending to visit. When a user clicks on a link, they expect it to be of some sort of value, so when they are taken to a spam-like redirect rather than the content they desire it will dramatically affect the SEO of the website.

In Conclusion, Don’t Cheat!

Search Engine Optimization has been around for quite some time. Spiders have been crawling many websites over the years which means Google is wise to all the tricks. Don’t try to cheat the system and get fast results. Stuffing pages with keywords, worthless content, and spammy backlinks will not gain you any points. Google does not appreciate these scams and will mark them as a penalty.

The best way to improve your SEO is to do it the right way. With content that is extensive, yet interesting to readers, keywords that flow nicely, and good quality backlinks, you will be sure to see positive results. Lastly, investing in a strong website host and avoiding tricks like spammy redirects and cloaking will get you very far. Yes, it will take more time, but SEO is not supposed to happen quickly. It is a long-term marketing strategy. So, if you see a cheap option that can get you to be “successful” quickly, avoid it. It will make your SEO plummet. If your website currently had any of the issues listed above, give us a call and we can help you fix it. We can do a full audit of your website and get you where you need to be.