No one likes a cheater. It is as true on the school playground as it is in college or professional sports, political offices, and boardrooms everywhere. Using an easy, if slightly less than ethical, shortcut or advantage might seem like a good idea at the time; youll gain an edge over your peers or competitors. But how long that edge lasts is entirely dependent on when you get caught, and getting caught will usually cost you far more than any potential benefit you might enjoy by bending or breaking the rules.
Youll lose credibility, authority, and the trust of the people around you. This has become especially true in the realm of the internet and search engine optimisation.
Since the World Wide Web began, there has been a steady flow of cheaters who use questionable search engine optimisation (SEO) methods to increase site traffic. As these cheaters become craftier, search engines like Google have developed more and more complex systems for foiling their dubious (black hat) SEO techniques and erasing their sites from search engine results pages.
Googles latest content compliance system, Penguin, has really raised the standards for high quality (white hat) SEO techniques, and the consequences for employing black hat SEO methods have become more severe. As is so often the case, a few cheaters have forced tighter restrictions for everyone, even those who have no intention of exploiting search engines with black hat SEO methods.
Unfortunately, the resulting advancements in content compliance systems from search engines like Google can lead to your site being removed from their results pages ? even if you havent knowingly broken the rules of SEO etiquette.
It is even more unfortunate that so many website owners continue to unknowingly cheat, violating the rules set out by search engines and risking online invisibility. While there are countless SEO mistakes that can threaten your websites standing with the most popular search engines, some seem to be more prevalent than others. One such mistake is giving your website multiple URLs.
You may not even realize you have done it, but if your website can be reached by more than one URL (with the www. and also without it, for example), a search engines content compliance system like Penguin will recognize that as two web addresses with identical content; this mistake is a regular offender for which Penguin will penalize. An easy solution is to set up a 301 Redirect and tag your preferred URL so the search engine can identify the one you want to use, and ignore any other variations. Another accidental offense is including multiple H1 tags in your site pages; make sure that each page has only one H1 tag. All other content must be tagged using H2, H3, etc.
Some SEO mistakes that Penguin will undoubtedly catch are a bit less obvious, but just as important to fix. One of the most common problems is faulty or outdated site maps. The search engines crawlers will use your site map to gather information and evaluate the relevance of your site. If your website has no site map, or the site map is outdated (which happens when you add new content without updating the site map), the website will be determined useless and relegated to the bottom of the search engine results page.
The same fate will befall the website with overly lengthy meta description tags; make sure your meta tags are descriptive and use keywords, but keep in mind that Penguin will scan the first 150 or so characters, and then move on. Also, make sure you use image alt tags to optimize your sites photos. Images are a great opportunity to use keywords and make sure all your content is considered for search engine results.
Hopefully, any SEO mistakes that exist on your website are the result of oversight and not deliberate attempts to cheat. However, many sites do actively break the rules with black hat SEO strategies that are downright dishonest. Non-relevant back-links are a huge problem for visitors and also for Penguin; make sure that any links from other pages to your website are content relevant.
The number of back-links you have is no longer anywhere near as important as the quality and relevance. Quality and relevance are also more important than quantity when it comes to your keywords.
Keyword stuffing and keyword cannibalization are two surefire ways to get your website flagged and ranked lower. Focus on a limited number of keywords on each page, and avoid filling your site with keywords that are irrelevant or misleading just to bolster search engine results. While you should not litter your website with them, keywords can be of significant value in a place they are frequently overlooked: page titles. Thousands of sites have pages titled About Us and Products. Set your site apart by using your company name or another relevant keyword in those page titles.
No matter what goods or services you promote or sell through your website, sound SEO methods are essential in keeping your site visible and accessible for visitors. If you do not have the knowledge to identify and make these fixes on your own, a free tool like Google Webmaster can help you get started. For the best results, you can hire a white hat SEO Company to ensure that your website meets content compliance standards and ranks high in search engine results pages.
The right search engine optimisation expert can protect your site website and its integrity; it is a small investment compared to the business you will lose if content compliance systems like Penguin erase your website from their search engine results lists.