Thankfully, not all relationships in life are as fickle but as we near the end of the first full week since Google Authorship disappeared (see previous post ‘Storm in a tea cup?’) what the announcement will have done is create speculation and double-guessing of what Google could have in store for the future of search engine optimisation.
Which got us thinking here at Locally about SEO, websites and when things go sour between your website and Google.
It’s an odd relationship
One sided, in many aspects – you spend money, time and nervous energy creating a website that customers will love and buy your services and products – it feels like you do all the hard work. You constantly covet the favour of Google as, after all, if they like you, your website could be catapulted to the stars…
But, some people, in their desperate attempts to climb their way up this ladder, take a wrong turn; Google punishes them and down they fall. Even worse, once you have fallen out of favour with Google, it is incredibly hard to get back in (…although, for those of us with a slightly skewed vision of the online world, it seemed that some huge corporations have managed to buy favour back…)
And so, here is Locally’s guide to avoiding being told off/punished/scolded/call it what you will by one of the most powerful search engines in the world today…
Just like you were flung outside of the head’s office at school for copying someone else’s work, the same is true for the content on your website. Using duplicate information from somewhere else on the web completely goes against the underlying principles of the Internet, as far as Google is concerned – users don’t like it, it’s useless and it is a hindrance to originality.
Locally’s Top Tip: Don’t do it!
A web address that doesn’t fit
This means that a company, business or person needs to select a Uniform Resource Locator (URL or web address) that best suits their business. Google will give you credit for this when it searches for results zillions-of-times-per-second across the globe. The more apt your URL, the healthier Google will rank it.
Locally’s Top Tip: do you research not just about your name, but all the component parts of a URL
Things that don’t work
Included under this title are links that do not work; we’ve all clicked on what looks like a great resource only to be met with the ‘error 404’ code. These dead links, and other broken bits, do create a disadvantage for your website but on a scale of 1 to 10 – 10 being the worst thing ever – it is fairly low down the scale.
Locally’s Top Tip: keep your website fresh and maintained.
Absence of Key Technical ‘bits’
Sitemaps and Robot.txt files are just two of the ‘technical bits’ that many people do not understand but they are essential for when Google crawls your website looking for it needs in order to know what you are and who would be interested in your site. Having a greater knowledge of SEO can help…
Locally’s Top Tip: ask us how we do all the background techy bits…
Keyword phrases – using them TOO much!
We all know the importance of key words, phrases and the like but it is possible to over use them! This sends a rather wonky signal to Google who sees it as you stuffing your text with keywords, which means it probably makes very little sense. Your content (and your writing) needs to be genuine and disciplined.
Locally’s Top Tip: in a 500 word blog, post or article, your keyword should appear no more than 5 times (and even that is pushing it in such a small space! 4 times works better…)
Bizarre H1 header tags!
This is usually the title of a post but what can happen is that they are used across the website/post/article and it all becomes a little bizarre, with whopping titles leaping off the page. Try to keep your desperation under wraps and use them sparingly, with the biggest profit.
Locally’s Top Tip – identify when a H1 tag really needs to be used…
S-L-O-W response times
Just like we moan about waiting for the shop assistant to get off the phone etc. the same is true when it comes to surfing the web. Naturally impatient, any website that takes longer than a nano-second to load is an instant turn-off. Google feels the same; it shares the pain of the user and so dumps you down the rankings. Sorry.
Locally’s Top Tip – get expert help on why your website is taking so long to load…
Trying to hide things
When text is hyperlinked, it appears a different colour from the surrounding text. The user can choose to click on it or not (we do it in our blog posts – it means we’ve come across something that offers more info on what we are blogging about, and think you may be interested in it too). Quality and appropriate links are great BUT, what some have done is change these links to match the colour of the surrounding text (the user doesn’t know they are there) but Google does and it sees this as over-stuffing and not playing fair.
Locally’s Top Tip – don’t do it! Keep you link visible, useful and relevant.
This is a really poor exercise that upsets users and that is when they are deceived by keywords that when clicked, takes them to a website that has nothing to do with the content of the original website, business etc. It is frustrating, can be embarrassing depending on what the link is to and Google hates it.
Locally’s Top Tip – nope, don’t do it.
This again is a source of huge frustration to users hence, Google comes down on it like a ton of bricks and this is using links on your web pages that have absolutely nothing to do with your website. Google take this very seriously and, in all honesty, is very hard to come back from.
Locally’s Top Tip – this is a definite no-no.
And so, we see that if our websites follow certain rules, feel and look ‘genuine’ then its climb up the rankings may be slow, but it will be a quality step each time, rather than precariously teetering on every rung.