Once upon a time, there was a global network of computers with no means of organizing the global mass of data.
Data on this global network was so scattered that users spent eternity to find relevant information.
All of a sudden, a hero was born to help in organizing the global mass of data and delivering this data in a relevant and friendly way to internet search users. And that hero turned out to be Google.
Well, that’s not exactly how Google was born, but the real story isn’t much different from my story.
I just told you Google’s mission on planet earth is to deliver relevant search results to search queries. And Google has stayed true to this mission – by rewarding websites that comply with its objectives and penalizing those that go against its guidelines.
One other thing – Google makes frequent updates on its search algorithm because it seeks to continually improve user/search experience.
With each update come victors and victims of Google’s new algorithm.
My goal is to provide you tips that will keep you out of trouble with Google. And ensure that your website always comes out tops, no matter how many updates Google rolls out with its algorithm.
The 2 Main Types of Google Penalties to Avoid
The 2 main types of Google penalties that you should avoid is Manual penalty and Algorithmic penalty.
1. Manual Penalty – This type of penalty happens when a manual review is done by a member of Google’s team on your website and your website gets penalized for violating any of the search engine’s guidelines. This type of penalty is extremely rare compared to the other penalty type.
If, for any reason, Google finds your site to have defaulted, you will get a notification in your Google Webmaster Tools account.
2. Algorithmic Penalty – This type of penalty is more on a global scale and it affects millions of websites. This happens when changes are made to Google’s algorithm, and many websites get affected by these changes.
A single change could lead to millions of websites getting penalized, while millions of others get rewarded.
Take these tips very seriously as they help you avoid penalties while rewarding you when a Google update does occur.
1. Get Your Website Up Always
Your website may meet every other requirement stated in this post. You may have the freshest of relevant content, lots of high-quality backlinks, and optimized for mobile devices, yet all these will do you no good if your website is offline.
That means users cannot access your site, even if coming from your correct URL.
If Google finds that you are a regular defaulter, it de-indexes your web pages.
Google gets embarrassed when it sends people to your website, only for these people to discover that you’re not online. So, it completely removes your site from its indexed list if you keep doing this.
Most times, it may not be your fault, but may have been caused by your web hosting provider. If you do find that your web host isn’t reliable, get a new one.
Ensure that your web host guarantees at least 99% uptime, and do your research to find that out.
While at it, ensure that your website is properly secured from cyber hackers. This is another reason for sites going offline.
2. Make Use of Only Relevant Guest Blogging
Google has come out to say that guest blogging has some associated risks with it.
Guest blogging is a good strategy to promote your brand to a new audience – by creating and publishing content on other blogs or sites, and then placing links that direct readers to your original site.
Not all guest blogging activities provide you with benefits. In fact, if the sole aim for guest blogging is link building, you may be exposing yourself to Google’s penalty.
To escape this, you’ve got to create relevant blog posts that add value to your new audience before linking back from your guest post to your own site.
3. Remove Harmful Backlinks to Escape Google’s Penalty
When a harmful or spammy website links to yours, Google begins to look at your site with suspicion. These ‘harmful’ sites are those that contain porn, hacking forums, black hat SEO, etc.
Because these sites link to yours without your notice, you have to be on the lookout. Carry out regular checks to find out if any potentially harmful website links back to yours.
If you find any, Google gives you tools to disavow these links and prevent the harmful links from impacting the search rankings of your site.
4. Make That Switch to a Mobile-Friendly Site
More than half of online searches originate from mobile devices. And from this trend, we see that more people will access the mobile internet in the near future.
So how does Google deliver relevant information to mobile users?
When Google rolled out the Mobilegeddon update, websites that were not mobile-friendly lost out. They were kind of ‘demoted’ for non-compliance with Google’s mobile-friendly guidelines.
Getting a mobile-friendly website is much easier than you think.
If your site is designed on WordPress, simply change your theme to a responsive website, and the deed is done. You could also hire a web developer to help you create a mobile-friendly website.
5. Allow Only Relevant Backlinks
It’s not enough to get lots of backlinks, because what you need is relevant backlinks.
Google runs to and fro the internet, seeking for those sites that violate this rule.
Even if a backlink comes from a very high authority site, Google still checks for its relevance. The linking website must have some relevance to your content or to your niche. If not, you face the big hammer from Google.
Google Penguin update made sure that only relevant backlinks mattered. That meant that all sites that were involved in getting backlinks for the sake of backlinks got penalized.
Imagine paying so much to garner thousands of backlinks only to find that you had accumulated a bag of weight.
As important as link building is, you must ensure that only relevant backlinks are pointing to your site.
6. Optimize the Performance of Your Website
A slow website is a turn-off for any internet user, no matter how optimized the content is.
If visitors are turned off by a site that loads very slowly, so is Google.
Google, in fact, shows its distaste for slow sites by penalizing it. That way, any slow websites don’t get to appear at the top of Google’s search results.
Site speed and performance are significant factors for getting rewards from Google.
Online usage stats show that an average user only waits for 3 seconds.
Takes just 2-3 seconds for your site to finish loading, and if it takes longer? She moves on to the next site on Google’s search results.
Google has a way of finding out how long a visitor stays on your website. It’s called the bounce rate and it can tell if something is wrong with your website. Like having a very slow website or a website filled with irrelevant content.
So this bounce rate becomes the metric that Google uses to detect sites with problems, including slow sites.
You can find out the speed of your site by using Google’s Page Speed Test. It gives you a score and recommends ways to help improve your site’s speed for mobile and desktop versions of your website.
The use of high-quality CDN (Content Delivery Network) to optimize your site’s images can help speed things up. Also, using a secure and speedy web hosting provider can get your site blazing with speed.
If you’re using WordPress, ensure that unused plugins are completely removed. They can lead to excess baggage if left alone.
7. Maintain Fresh, Original, and High-Quality Content
Gone are the days when just about any kind of content got you Google ranked and webmasters got away with publishing thin, duplicate, or irrelevant content. But today, it’s a different ball game entirely as the rules have been changed.
What Google wants from you is fresh, original, high quality, and relevant pieces of content.
If you decide to go against this rule, be sure that Google bots will find you out.
I can’t emphasize this enough – Google wants online users to benefit from high-quality and relevant content. And if you must rank well, then create exactly these kinds of content.
Research shows that top-ranking web pages feature long-form content, as against content with 300-500 words in the past.
Long-form content could be anything from the 1,500-word length and above. This content should also link to high-quality research sources, studies, and posts.
Let your content be full of information and worth sharing.
If you do these things, you’re sure of having your content highly ranked for a long time to come.
Google set out on a noble cause to deliver relevant web content to internet users. To achieve this vision, it put some guidelines in place to encourage websites to deliver quality content at all times.
It becomes a case of the carrot or the stick – keep the rules and you get the carrot. Break the rules and you guessed that right – you get the stick.
The 7 tips provided in this guide are to help you avoid Google’s penalty while keeping you in a position to get rewarded with good search ranking.
So, use these tips to plan your SEO strategy, to ensure proper ranking despite Google algorithm updates.