When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, there is a right way to do it and completely opposite wrong way to do it. In the past decade, SEO has greatly evolved with numerous updates that businesses use to enhance their rankings.
Local SEO makes it easy for search engines to list locally relevant search results. There are two main strategies that you can use that will help search engines perceive the ranking and ranking of a web page: White hat and Black hat SEO.
Black hat and White hat SEO
White hat SEO basically refers to quality content that is both relevant and accurate. It entails well organized content that is up to date with relevant keywords in the titles. White hat SEO also includes anchor text of inbound and internal links. White hat SEO techniques are employed by users that want a long-term engagement on their website by growing their brand.
Black hat SEO includes the use of manipulative texts that focus on search engines as opposed to a human audience. Often tactics used include hidden texts, keyword stuffing, page swapping, addition of unrelated words as well as blog comment spam. Black hat SEO techniques are mostly used by people looking for a quick return. Most of these techniques are risky and often websites get banned.
Google strongly encourages White hat SEO techniques and discourages the deceptive black hat SEO tactics that reduce user experience and are considered unethical. Use of unethical practices that do not adhere to search engines guidelines usually result in penalties.
Google has a written set of guidelines known as Webmaster Guidelines. The guidelines entail basic principles, quality guidelines and specific guidelines that will help Google find, index, and rank your site. Failure to adhere to these rules may result in penalties from Google.
These penalties are a result of engaging in practices contrary to webmaster guidelines. Google penalties range in severity of offence and can range from drop in ranking to removal from Google search engine results. Some common penalties include:
- Significant drop in PageRank
- Your site slipping one or two pages suddenly without any explanation
- Removal from Google’s cached results.
How Google penalties work
Google uses both algorithm and human reviewers to identify links that are breach the Webmaster Guidelines Penalties are classified into manual and algorithmic (automatic) penalties for websites. Site owners are notified in case of manual penalties and can check for the specific penalty for visiting the Manual Action section on Google Search Console. Algorithmic penalties are more difficult to detect and Google do not inform site owners.
Google has a ranking algorithm that filters low quality content from appearing in top search results. It does mainly by two SEO algorithms Google Panda and Google Penguin
- Google Panda – Checks on mainly duplicate content as well as keyword stuffing in paragraphs. It also checks up on excessive advertisements on pages. Once it ascertains that your content is low quality it reduces your page rankings, which significantly reduces traffic to your site. The main function of this algorithm is keeping low quality pages and content from top ranking result giving quality content business
- Google Penguin – Mainly checks up unnatural backlinking including spam links, not using SEO friendly URLs. Penguin penalty can be removed by simply building good links.
Tips to help you avoid Google penalties
- Quality content – As a rule, always go for fresh, solid content that is both engaging Avoid keyword stuffing by getting the right keyword density on your page, Google encourages frequently posting fresh content with up to date content that will make visitors spend more time of the site. In addition to quality content, ensuring the site is visually appealing will go a long way in attracting traffic to your site,
- Not overusing anchor text – Anchor text helps give search engines and users contextual information about content of the website’s destination. Search engines highly rank websites with relevant anchor text. Due to the Google Penguin Update 2012, overusing anchor text results in penalties. To avoid penalties remove unnatural keyword links and use of generic, branded anchor text. A good practice is to diversify anchor keywords for your site.
- Cloaking– This is intentionally hiding texts from your search engine to gain higher ranking, Cloaking tricks site visitors with a different set of content from the search engine. Cloaking often takes the form of titles and keywords that are completely different to your actual content. Google’s algorithms detect cloaking pretty fast and proceed to impose penalties.
- Avoiding spinning of articles – This mostly comes in form of rewriting existing articles and slightly making alterations. Spinning of articles reduces the quality of the original content and attracts penalties. Duplicate content constitutes plagiarism, use of plagiarism checkers will help detect duplicate content.
- 5. Quality link building – A great way to avoid penalties is by creating natural and organic links. Content that is well written that adds value for visitors often generates more traffic and engagement. Keep your links updated and periodically check for any broken links.
Get rid of harmful links that may be considered as spammy or containing low quality content. Use of the disavow tool in the Search Console will remove the harmful links. When it comes to URL structure make sure you add title of the page, dates and
- Exchange of links– Google permits link exchanges to provide useful content as well as serving as backlinks. However buying links from another site with the aim of manipulating site ranking on Google will result in penalties.
Another form of prohibited link practices is using hyperlinks to connect with other group of websites solely for the reason of increasing search rankings. Avoid links from websites in different languages as Google assumes visitors are interested in the current language of your website.
- Avoid keyword stuffing – Care should be taken when placing keywords within the content. Normally the recommended keyword density is 2-3%. Content with very high keyword density whether intentional or not may attract a penalty. Google’s view on keyword stuffing is that results in poor user experience.