Google SEO is a cunning seductress. As any business with a website knows, she’s at the forefront of our minds every time we consider tweaking our online presence. We want her to pick us as her number one favorite and show us off to as many people as possible. We’re her handbag. We want to be seen strolling along under her arm. We’ll do anything to satisfy her. Some of us will even attempt to trick our little seductress into giving us a higher priority over others. But our Google is a smart little cookie and with any hint of mischievous, manipulation or game playing on our part, it’s off with our heads with shear ruthless indifference!
The practice of Search Engine Optimization (Google SEO) can be one of playing by the rules or one of trying to find loopholes to get an edge over our competitors. Google has been cracking down on these SEO loophole-seekers and it’s well worth saving your butt from a hurtful rogering by avoiding these Google SEO mistakes.
1. Keyword Over-Stuffing
Google is very good with figuring out your webpage topic by scanning the contents of your webpage finding keywords and phrases that will help rank your page within the search results. If you would like searchers to find you by typing “blue widgets california”, it’s recommended to have that specific keyword phrase within the contents of your website. Knowing this, a lot of SEOers will use their keyword phrase over and over on the page with the purpose of tricking Google into believing their page is more relevant compared to a competitor’s because the keyword is used multiple times.
Matt Cutts from Google has stated that their algorithm can detect “unnatural” use of keywords and may actually penalize your page in the search results because your keyword over-stuffing devalues the readability of the page. So while you can still use keywords multiple times in a page, the most important factor is ‘readability’ and the value your page gives to a reader.
Using targeted keywords on each page of your website is very important to ranking in the search engines so it is crucial to use them in the correct places and not over-do it.
2. Bad Title and Description Meta Tags
Your page title (the <title> tag) and the description meta tag (<meta name=”description” … ) are displayed in Google’s search engine results pages. It is good practice for your title to contain your target keyword. Your page title must be related to the page content and should not be stuffed with keywords. It should be clear for the visitor to read and understand what the page will be about before they click through to your website. Keep in mind the title display in search engines is limited to 70 characters.
Likewise, the description should be a clear sentence to describe the page content and limited to 156 characters. Again, it’s good to include your target keyword but don’t repeat it more than once.
3. Speedy Link Building
One core factor in determining your site’s authority is the number of inbound links it has. That is, the number of other websites that are pointing to your website.
Google wants to know how trustworthy your website is so it looks for signals such as inbound links. These links on other websites are like recommendations. If another website links to yours, they are telling their readers ‘i recommend you look at this website’.
Google knows the Internet better than any other company. They know how quickly the average website receives inbound links from other sites. Google knows what looks “natural”, in terms of how many links a website receives over a given period of time. Occasionally a website may get media coverage that spikes the number of inbound links over a few days or weeks and their algorithm will account for this. If however, a website starts receiving inbound links at a rate deemed to be outside of the “natural” range, Google may penalize your website for link spamming.
Some webmasters try to manipulate their PageRank (the score given by Google of a page’s trustworthiness) by increasing the number of inbound links. They may do this manually by commenting in forums and blogs, or use tools like Scrapebox or auto-submit software to add those comments to thousands of sites simultaneously.
This is a big no-no and Google will hit you hard for it. In some extreme cases, your entire domain could get knocked out of Google’s results for good.
4. Unnatural Anchor Link Text
Building links to your website is a very important factor towards your PageRank, but as warned, don’t over do it too quickly. Additionally, when gaining links to your website, make sure to vary the anchor text – that is the phrase used when linking to your website.
Let’s say your target keyword phrase is “blue widgets california” and your website domain is www.bluewidgetscalifornia.com, you don’t want every link to be blue widgets california. You’d want some variety so that inbound links look naturally acquired. If I was to link to you on my own volition, I’d probably link as www.bluewidgetscalifornia.com
In your link building exercise, use your domain as the anchor text 80% of the time and your keyword for the rest.
5. Duplicate Content
If your blog or website is filled with chunks of text that you have copied from another online source, that would be considered duplicate content. Google’s primary objective is to present the most relevant and most valuable results to the searcher. When Google talks about ‘value’, that includes originality and uniqueness of your website content. If there are hundreds of online articles with the same content, how does Google know which one is the most relevant for the search query? If there are many copies of the same article floating around the Internet, Matt Cutts has said that Google will return only the first article that it discovered when scouring the web. Watch Matt explain duplicated content.
You should also make sure that your own website pages are unique against each other. Do not use one single description meta tag across all of your website’s pages. Don’t have large swatches of text that is cut ‘n’ paste from another page on your website. All pages should be unique.
6. No Value Proposition
What value does your website provide to the visitor? Are they searching for a product, information or you specifically? Google reiterates again and again, webmasters should focus on providing value to their website visitors. When creating a new page or giving an existing page a refresh, start with a value proposition and then focus on providing visitors with a quality experience. Your website doesn’t need to be beautiful, but it does need to provide unique, valuable content.
Google knows how long a visitor stays on your website before clicking the ‘back’ button. If you have a high bounce rate and low time-on-page, you most likely did not provide enough value to that visitor and your rankings can suffer for it.
7. You Don’t Use Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is a great resource to measure your website’s search engine keyword ranks, inbound links and other metrics. If Google encounters problems with your website, you can be notified so that problems can be fixed as soon as possible. These problem might include missing files, your webhost is down or even if your website has been infected with a virus.
This tool is invaluable to get to know your own website and look at it from Google’s perspective, which will help you make adjustments for SEO purposes.
8. Poor URL Structure
If your website runs on the WordPress platform, your URL or directory structure is relatively easy to configure (Settings > Permalinks). Each directory should be considered as a separation of content, eg yourwebsite.com/category1/my-article-name/ and this makes it neater for your visitors to understand and for Google to index your website.
Regarding Google SEO, it’s good to have your target keyword in the URL, so you may have eg yourwebsite.com/category-keyword/my-article-name-including-the-keyword/
Don’t have directory structures like yourwebsite.com/website/html/myholiday/page1.html
In this example, this would be better: yourwebsite.com/rio-de-janeiro-holiday/
Google SEO Tips Straight From The Horse’s Mouth
You’ve take some time to read through this article and learn 8 Google SEO mistakes to avoid inflicting on your own website. If you’re still hungry for more information, go straight over to the GoogleWebmasterHelp’s YouTube channel where you can spend several hours learning exactly what Google suggests webmasters focus their efforts on.
Remember, when writing website content, focus on creating value for the reader – not on ranking in search engines.
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