How to Stay Off Google's Naughty List

google-naughty-list-550x412People joke about being on Santa’s naughty list, which is good for laugh because it’s not real. Google has a naughty list too, and unfortunately it is real. Not only that, if your site winds up on this list, it can make your brand invisible in organic searches, no matter how good your content is. Did you know following old SEO advice can also get you in trouble with Google? The things that were once crucial for getting a site to show up in organic search, can now penalize the same site. The good news is you can keep far away from being on the naughty list by using the following SEO tips for your site.

  1. Diversity with links
    If you have the same links highlighted on the same pages over and over, change it. Today. Each page on your site should be unique, right down to the text links. For your CTAs, if you sell auto insurance, don’t just use the phrase “Search now” or “Click here” you need to expand that to read “Get auto insurance quotes” or “Click to get auto insurance.”
  2. Basic user engagement
    A search engine has no way to ascertain what users are doing once they hit your website. Instead Google interprets how your site behaves during its visit as a marker of what your visitors get and assigns your site a rating as a quality experience, or not-so-quality. Check your page load times, remove pop-up ads, and remove page clutter.
  3. Unique content
    For years marketers have said “Content is King!” and continued to use cheap spun content and private label rights content which is basically the same article set sold over and over. If you’re not unique on the web and have nothing quality to offer your visitors, search engines won’t think you’re all that great either. Be picky. Put only unique, relevant content on your site and strive for thought leadership in your topics. Be the expert in your field, and prove it with your content.
  4. Mobile responsive
    This is a pain point for many older websites. They were built before the need to look good on any size screen was even a thought. Now, it’s a reality. If your website isn’t mobile responsive, you’re getting left behind and chances are good your site has fallen in organic search results for that reason. Look at upgrading your web design to a responsive design as soon as possible.
  5. Too many keywords
    If you’re still creating content based on the old rules of keyword usage, you’re probably the owner of a site that is over-optimized or in plain language – keyword stuffed. Just create relevant content that gives your visitors value when they read it. Look at older content and either update or delete, they aren’t helping your SEO efforts as is.
  6. Your competition is never a keyword
    Speaking of keywords. This is a trick sites once used to pull traffic in from competitors, but that time is over. Search engines don’t like this practice one little bit and you can be penalized for it. Another bad outcome is your competitor can sue you for copyright infringement, which is worse than any naughty list.
  7. Inviting bad guests over
    Guest posts crafted by a guest blogger with quality in mind are a great way to build credibility and relevance for your site. However if you accept low-quality, poorly written content by someone who is just looking for a link – your site is the one that will get punished.

Take minute and look over your website. Make sure you are in line with the best practices Google (and other search engines) want to see. Doing so will keep you off that naughty list!

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