The DOs & DON'Ts of Google SEOThursday, July 26, 2012
To plan your summer vacation, you use a hotel search engine and find the perfect five-star accommodations. The hotel search site boasts great reviews for this particular hotel, and provides beautiful (albeit slightly dated) pictures of the rooms. You can't wait for your luxury beach vacation!
But when you finally arrive, you find a rundown building with ten-year-old carpets, a worn out mattress, and an unfriendly staff.
You’ve been duped. Not only are you disappointed in your accommodations, but you also resent the hotel search engine for providing such an awful result.
This is how all online searchers feel when they are clicking a link to high-quality content, only to arrive at an irrelevant sham of a website. Often, these inadequate search listings are the result of deceptive SEO practices (sneaky tactics that take advantage of the shortcomings of search robots). Too many SEO abusers are successfully outsmarting search engines.
But Google is fighting back.
THE GOOGLE PHILOSOPHY
Google’s ultimate goal is to provide the best user experience possible. To defend the integrity of online search, the Google team has made improvements to the search engine, including a near-human intelligence that enables it to inspect websites similarly to the way a real person might.
To make the search engine smarter, the Google team recently developed two updates to the Google algorithm.
The first momentous update, Panda, came in February 2011. The purpose of Panda was to blacklist websites offering a poor user-experience. This advanced algorithm was developed based on real people’s reactions to a large sampling of websites.
Google became even more intelligent with the April 2012 launch of Penguin, an upgrade that penalizes websites practicing black hat SEO. (The term “black hat” derives from old western movies where the bad guys wore black hats and the good guys wore white. In this context, “black hat” refers to unethical SEO practices.) Penguin allows Google to see right through sneaky black hat tactics to the content-dry core of a crummy website.
The outcome of these upgrades? Now, websites that are authentically relevant, user-friendly, and ripe with quality content are ranking significantly higher in SERPs.
So, how do you make sure your website is abiding by Google’s website guidelines? And how do you avoid accidentally stumbling into black hat SEO?
The DOs & DON’Ts of Google SEO should keep you on the right track.
THE DON’Ts OF GOOGLE SEO:
The days of tricking Google with sneaky black hat practices are over. Not only is this behavior a disservice to searchers and honest websites, but it’s also a fast way to get your website blacklisted by Google.
Don’t go overboard with keywords. Sometimes referred to as “over optimization,” keyword stuffing is the excessive, unnatural use of keywords on your website. It’s a desperate attempt to rank higher for those keywords, but all it really does is make your content sound weird.
Don’t steal content from other websites. Quoting another blog and linking back to them is fine. Reposting their blog and calling it your own is a big no-no.
Don’t provide content to search engines that is different than the content you show to people. Whether you do it in the form of cloaking, hidden text, or doorway pages, it’s a black hat SEO practice that will get you in trouble.
Don’t farm links. Link farming is when thousands of fake websites (with fake content) are created for the sole purpose of linking back to your website.
THE DOs OF GOOGLE SEO
I purposely listed the DON’Ts first so I could end on a positive note. Because SEO shouldn’t be a dangerous minefield to tiptoe through, and Google isn’t the enemy. The purpose of SEO is to help Google help you attract relevant traffic. The key is to be authentic – after that, everything else will fall into place.
DO create original, compelling content. And create often (this is when a blog comes in handy). One of Google’s heaviest-weighted ranking factors is the quality of a site’s content. Plus, your valuable content will encourage other websites to link back to you. So write honestly, be authentic, and post on a regular basis.
DO use targeted keywords in a way that sounds natural and describes your content accurately. Keywords are valuable tools for optimizing your website, particularly when placed in title and header tags. Choosing the right keywords will allow Google to help drive an already-interested audience to your website.
DO create a pleasant user experience. Google pays attention to how long a visitor stays on your website. If a large number of users click through to your site and become so frustrated that they leave after ten seconds, Google will conclude that your site isn’t very user-friendly. Longer visits will imply a pleasant user experience, and Google will deem your website worthy of high search ranking.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOUR CHAMBER
Your chamber website is in a prime position to be considered an authority site by Google. By developing your chamber website to be an authentic information hub that serves the local business community, you will establish your website as an industry leader and a valuable source of content. Google will recognize your authority and begin to rank your chamber website considerably higher in search results.
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