The content on your website is more than 50% of what determines whether you will rank high on search engines or not. Learning what to do and what to avoid is crucial to the success of your SEO.
Since 2010, Google has released various algorithms that monitor all the web pages on the internet and their content. The most significant ones are Panda and Penguin. Penguin, in particular, can bring heavy penalties to your website if your content is found to breach one or more of the official Google optimisation guidelines. What are heavy penalties? Well, there are no direct monetary fines, if that's what you are asking, but your website can be penalised by dropping 10 to 100 positions on the search engines. So, imagine one day you were on the first page of Google, then you got a penalty and you are now on page 86. Obviously, your organic traffic will drop significantly, because people won't find you, looking for specific keywords. In the worst case scenario, your website can be completely unlisted from the search results.
None of the above possibilities is good for business. If you want to be successful in online retailing and popularising your brand, you need to learn how to avoid Google ranking penalties.
#1. Do not over-optimise your content!
Overly optimised content is easily detected by Google Penguin. The algorithm update was released specifically to combat the misuse of keywords. In the past, SEO professionals used to stuff pages with as many keywords as possible. Before Penguin came into force, this tactic was really working. However, it's been a long time since it is no more the case.
Google's official guideline for keyword density (how many times you use keywords on your page text body) for 2018 is between 1% and 2.5%. So, if you have a 600-word article and your keyword appears 20 times in the text, you are asking for a penalty.
Overly-optimised anchor text leading to your website can also be a cause for your web page, or even the whole website to be penalised. A couple of weeks ago, we talked about backlinks, guest posting and anchor text. If you missed it or need to refresh your memory, here's the article about link building. Whenever, you agree with someone to exchange links, keep in mind that it's good to have optimised anchor text, but it must not exceed 20% of all of your backlinks.
#2. Be careful about outbound spam links
This has a lot to do with the comments people leave on your website or blog. Do not approve or ignore spam comments!!! Having many meaningless comments, whose only purpose is to link back to another website is a big enough reason for Google to believe your site is not regularly monitored and therefore be penalised. Same applies to platforms with forums. If your website has a forum feature, you need to make sure spam threads and comments are removed in due course.
#3. Don't stack your pages with ads
Having a couple of ads on your web pages is not bad. It is a legitimate way of making money on the internet. However, you need to make sure they are not too many and the user is free to skip them whenever they want. One of the most common causes for ranking penalties is having a page on which the user is forced to click on an ad before they can view content or do anything else. The same goes for pop-up forms. They are a great way to attract attention and an important part of your email list creation. In 2018, though, you are advised to lead users to a separate page, designed specifically for signing up, rather than using pop-ups.