Google has the power to flatline your traffic, slapping you hard in the face with a penalty that you might have not been expecting.
To put it simple, no one fools Google, even if you could the risks are very high and the chances of pulling it off are so slim, you shouldn’t even try it. On the other hand you should focus your effort in befriending the search engine and avoid the penalties.
Bare in mind that penalties are not just for black hat or spammy practices, sometimes negligence or inattention can trigger one.
There are 2 different kinds of Google Penalties:
- Manual Penalties
These are applied by Google’s human observers. Whenever you are penalized you will receive an alert on your Webmasters Tools dashboard (Search Traffic > Manual Actions). You will receive an email as well.
- Algorithmic Penalties
Ohhhh, the algorithmic updates…These are not the most easy ones to spot or recognize. You will not receive an alert neither an email, your traffic will just drop.
These are some best practices to avoid as much as you can any penalty from future algorithmic updates. Just remember one thing, Google is the best and biggest search engine, and they really want to keep improving, the only way to do this is to encourage websites to have the best content they can, structured in the best way the can, with the best performance and experience for the user.
1. Link Strategy
You should be very vigilant with the sites you link on your site, as well as the links that point to your site. Never buy or sell links, ever. It’s very easy for Google bots to spot this blackhat practice and they will sure penalize you.
Proper link-building is one of the most critical off-page SEO task you can do, but it can take time and fresh content creation is involved. So plan your strategy, create remarkable content and distribute it. Consistency and strategy will kick-start your correct Google friendly link-building.
2. Protect Yourself From The Bad Guys
Yes, internet is no gentleman’s turf. Competitors can hurt your own SEO and can get you penalized by Google. This is known as Negative SEO and it happens. Some of Negative SEO practices can be:
- Copying content to distribute it all over the place.
- Fake social profiling to wreck your online reputation.
- Making lots of spammy links point to your site.
- Website hacking.
So how can you protect yourself from Negative SEO Attacks?
- Set up emails alerts on Webmaster Tools. You will be alerted on malware attacks, non indexed pages, server connectivity issues, manual penalties.
- Track your backlinks. There are tools like Ahrefs or Monitorbacklinks.com that allow you to check if anyone is building links to your site. The latter sends you email alerts when one it’s found.
- Take good care of your top backlinks. Monitorbacklinks.com comes handy for this as well.
- Protect your site from Malware and Hackers. Use the typical, common sense practices like use strong passwords, have backups, install antivirus.
- Track duplicate content. Hackers can copy your content and distribute it all over the web. This will impact you own site and you will be penalized. Use copyscape.com to detect any of this practices.
- Track Social Media mentions. If you find any social media profile that’s faking your company, report it immediately. You can use mention.net to find out if anyone is using your name.
If you do find any spammy links to your site you need to disavow those links Google Webmaster Tools.
3. Remarkable, Useful, Unique and Rich Content.
“Content is King” is not just a digital marketing buzz phrase. It’s very true. Thin content will negatively affect your SEO.
Don’t just think about rich content to please Google´s algorithm, think about your audience. If you write good quality content for your customers you are in the right path.
Just like thin content can negatively affect not just your SEO but your online reputation with your customers, rich, unique and useful content will play both ways to please Google but most importantly, your customers.
Be customer-centric when thinking and implementing your site, and don’t you ever try to outsmart your customers nor Google. Bare in mind that Google is the good guy, they want you to have the best site you can offer your visitors