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Why you should never worry about Google updates again

photo of a corkboard with a message to 'stay ahead of the curve', meaning you should always implement best practices for your website to maintain good page rankings and avoid penalties for black hat SEO techniques 

When it comes to the web, one of the largest rule makers is Google. If your site is not listed in their popular search engine, it will have a tough time being found in the search engine results pages (SERPS) by anyone interested in your products or services.

Following Best Practices

To ensure that visitors make it to your site, you must create valuable web content and employ search engine optimization techniques (SEO) that are in alignment with the best practices set by Google.

To comply with Google's standards, your domain must include the following on-page and off-page characteristics:

  • Valuable content that is informative, educational and original
  • Internal links that help visitors find solutions to their problems
  • Fast loading
  • Easy to navigate
  • External links that lead to other high-quality sites

Failure to follow these guidelines will hurt the position that your website is placed in the SERPS, and even worse, if you use the wrong techniques, you may get your site penalized.

Fortunately, you can avoid any of those problems by sticking to white hat optimization techniques that are acceptable. When you follow these standards, you'll never have to worry about having your site penalized when minor or major updates to Google's algorithm take place.

Your site will continue to thrive and sit on top positions in the SERPS.

Creating Valuable Web Content

The content of your website now plays one of the most essential roles in your online presence.

It must deliver the right information and message that resonates with your customers. The content that is used on your website will dictate if it is a success or not.

This can be done by introducing videos, infographics, high-quality images and text that spells out solutions for visitors who are searching for services or products.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

When employing on-site search engine optimization, you should focus on specific keywords for each page. In the past, website owners could get away with keyword stuffing (using the same keyword multiple times) in the content, and it would help the pages of their site rank higher in the SERPS. Those days are over.

The search engine technology used today can indicate keyword stuffing and penalize sites that try and use this technique. Keyword stuffing must be avoided.

Use natural language when creating content for your website. When keywords are strategically placed and used sparingly (2 to 3 times) throughout your content, the search engines will understand what a page is about and put it in front of targeted visitors.

Be Aware of Duplicate Content

Another area that should be avoided when creating content for your site is having duplicate content. If you're using any facts or figures from other areas on the web, they must be rewritten. Only use original content on your site.

Of course, you can use the same ideas and elements that may be found in other areas of the web.

However, don't try to spin these articles with article spinner software as a search engine can also determine when this has been done. It is best to have text rewritten or don't put it up at all.

Plagiarism is a BIG "no-no"

illustration of the word plagiarism crossed out, a bad technique to implement in your website for copying content from other sources

One of the worst mistakes you can make as a website owner is to copy content from other sources and re-publish the same material as if it was your own.  This rather lazy approach to creating content is a continuation of our previous point of "duplicate content."  

You may not realize it, but Google will scan your website and know very quickly where that content came from. When this happens, you run the risk of receiving penalties by Google in the form of a lower page ranking or removed from the Google search results altogether.

In most cases, the source for where you copied the content is likely a competitor business.  By following the proper routes for creating excellent web content, they likely did their research, hired a website content writer and incurred the time and cost to create their content that is unique to their business and services.  

Simply put, copying content and images from other websites and adding them to yours is a bad practice that you should avoid at all costs.  It could cause severe damage to your Google rankings and put you in some legal trouble.  

Stay Away From Using Heavy Content

You should also avoid using "top heavy" content -- this is the practice of loading a bunch of ads at the beginning of a page.

This requires a visitor to scroll through multiple ads before they get to any valuable information. When a search engine provider directs people to your website, they want them to find the information that they are searching for quickly.

Top heavy content stops this interaction and requires a visitor to scroll further down a page.

Avoid Hidden Text

Another tactic frowned upon by top search engine providers is the use of hidden text. This black hat tactic could be employed on a website via CSS.

By representing text in the same colour that is used for background, you could hide text and try to trick the search engine algorithm into believing that your content is about something else.

It's best not to try and trick the Google algorithm and risk having your site completely penalized.

Internal Linking

Internal linking is an important aspect that should be utilized when content is created for your website. It should be used to highlight and emphasize important areas that you want to direct visitors to.

It's best to keep in mind that when a visitor lands on any page of your site that they should be able to find what they're looking for.

Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with internal links on your website:

  • Use an internal link when it is useful for a visitor
  • Keep internal links under 7 per page
  • Fix any broken internal links as this can be an SEO penalty
  • Only link related pages and topics together with internal linking
  • Use internal links to pages that you want to rank higher in your website
  • Utilize variations for links that are used when internal linking

Internal links should include a few variations for internal links that direct a user to the same URL. If you use the same words in an internal link that goes to a specific URL, it may be seen negatively by the search engines.

As an example, let's say you are linking to an area on your website that is labelled "interest rate calculator." You want to avoid using those specific keywords too many times as the internal link that directs a visitor to that internal URL. Mix it up with other words like "interest calculator" or "click this link."

By doing this technique it shows that you are not trying to trick the search engines by emphasizing those specific keywords too much.

External Links

External links are also crucial for your website. This area of off-page SEO has been used for years as an indicator that determines where your site should rank in the SERPS.

Key qualities to keep in mind when employing external links include the following:

  • Try to have only a couple of external links on each page
  • Only use external links when it is necessary to do so
  • Send external links out to websites that you trust
  • Only link to other websites that contain original content
  • Utilize external linking to websites that are related to your niche
  • Provide extra links to a reader when it is necessary
  • Minimize the risk of obtaining a link penalty by using a 'nofollow' tag when appropriate

Checking backlinks

It is also important to periodically check backlinks and disavow any of them that are bad. Your site can get penalized if it is receiving link juice from a website that has used spamming methods in the past.

Unfortunately, you also may have competitors who decide to send bad backlinks to pages that are located on your site. They do this in an attempt to get your site delisted from SERPS.

If they succeed, it's one less competitor that they will have to fight against for rank.

Page Loading speed

The invention of the smartphone has helped push more people onto the internet. These small devices are easy to use and have helped individuals become proficient at finding information.

People expect to have your website load fast -- in 3 seconds or less. There's plenty of other competitors that they can go to if your site and optimize this aspect of your website.

Your ranking in the SERPS will fall if you have a site that does not load fast. You can help this aspect of your site by examining these three top factors:

  • Optimize images for size and format
  • Insufficient or overloaded hosting
  • Consider utilizing a Content Delivery Network

If your site has a loading speed of 4 seconds or more, statistics indicate that you may be losing a significant amount of traffic. Stop the risk of getting penalized or losing traffic by making sure that the load speed up your website up to par.

Responsive Design

Smartphones also let people access the internet by using very small browsers. In order to have your website show up on these type of screens as well as tablets and PCs, you must be using a responsive design for your site.

This is coded into your website. It allows the text, images and other elements of your site to show up on any type of browser correctly. Not having this type of code or ability to change between browsers can result in a penalty from the search engines.

To gain as much web traffic as possible and avoid any penalties, it is best to have a responsive design built into the code of your website.

White Hat Techniques Succeed

By using these white hat techniques throughout your site, it will help you maintain high rankings in the SERPS and avoid obtaining any penalties. Focus on the long-term but optimizing your site and you will see the benefits of long tail keywords for years to come.

For more information on how to build a website that avoids unwanted penalties by Google when updates occur, contact Selaris.  We'll work with you to create a beautiful website that has a modern design, excellent web content, and climbs the rankings on Google.  Call (780) 484-9944 today for an initial consultation and estimate for your project.

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