1.Content Shortcuts and Shortfalls
Tip: Google considers itself a great judge of web content quality.
If your site is a thinly veiled keyword repository, copies liberally from other sites, or has become stale, it won’t be long before your Google rankings plummet.
Write content targeted to actual site visitors, not search bots. Google penalises sites with thin, keyword-stuffed pages, so focus on providing fresh, original content that educates and informs your target audiences.
Supplement any content copied from other sites (e.g., product descriptions for e-commerce) with unique commentary, user reviews, or other value-adds. Also be sure to reference any external content sources – it’s good copyright karma!
Feed your site with fresh content and links on a regular basis. When you keep your content current and relevant, you demonstrate to Google that you’re engaged and open for business.
If you’re running display ads on your site don’t give them too much real estate, especially in page headers. Google can analyze page layout and recognise ads, including those for your own company or site, so present as much quality content as you can above the fold.
Producing original, useful and up-to-date content takes time and effort, but your site visitors will love you for it – and they’ll keep coming back and converting into customers. A higher Google ranking is just icing on the cake!
2. Lame Links
Tip: Google is a highly engaged, yet super-critical, website visitor.
In addition to counting broken links and assessing your link text for over-optimisation, Google gauges the number and reputability of sites linked to your site. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of who is linking to you and ensure that you link out only to trusted sites.
Reach out to producers of quality online content (eg. blogs) relevant to your product or service to establish relationships that might earn future links, and engage in any active conversations on pages referring to your site.
Don’t buy links or participate in other link schemes offered by sites that have no relevance or legitimate ties to your business.
If you participate in an affiliate program, make sure it’s appropriate for your target audience. Also, your content should provide added value to give affiliate users a reason to visit your site.
Turn on comment moderation, use anti-spam tools, and implement other measures to prevent visitors from publishing links to sites unrelated to your business (aka “comment spam”).
Avoid repeatedly using the same keywords for the links on your site. Google sees this as link spam.
The number and quality of links to your site from other sites are major determinants of Google search rank. PageRank, the mother of all Google algorithms, sees these inbound links as editorial “votes” for your site. Links from authority sites, such as major news sites and industry blogs, carry significantly more weight than other inbound links.
3. Keyword Trickery
Tip: Google wants to encounter keywords on your site as actual human visitors would.
Be sure to use keywords throughout your site, but don’t try to game the system with deceptive techniques.
Avoid over-optimising keywords in your site’s navigation, header or footer links. This is a common “innocent” mistake that Google penalises.
Forget about populating the keywords meta tag. Google has ignored it for years, so it doesn’t figure into your site’s search rankings.
Don’t try to hide keywords on your site, such as by matching text and background colors or by setting the font size to 0. Google has been onto these black hat SEO techniques for years.
Use the alt attribute for images and include descriptive body text for animations and videos, since Google is unable to index text embedded in these formats. Don’t stuff your alt tags with keywords, though.
Don’t treat Googlebot differently from any other regular desktop browser, such as delivering special keyword optimised pages that normal site visitors wouldn’t otherwise see. This could be seen as cloaking, a black hat SEO technique that Google really hates.
Your web content should read smoothly, without blatant overuse of keywords. Go ahead and use keywords in your page titles, headings and other content, but make sure they appear in a natural, unforced way.
4. Slow Page Loads
Tip: Google has a short attention span and doesn’t like to wait for pages to load.
As more users access the Internet via mobile devices, expectations for fast page load times will only increase. Therefore, do what you can to address any current performance issues and follow-up with regular, scheduled check-ups.
Use Google PageSpeed Tools and other performance tools to analyse and improve your site’s performance. Try PageSpeed Insights for a quick, straightforward performance assessment and suggestions from Google.
PageSpeed Insights also scores your page load times versus other websites. If your score falls below 90, you should make further improvements.
As a rule of thumb, try to keep average page load times below two seconds. Refer to Google’s web performance best practices for guidance.
Check your site’s performance after major content or technical updates, such as a CMS upgrade. Otherwise, put a monthly “website performance health check” reminder in your calendar.
Your site’s relevance, reputation and value-add have a greater influence on its Google rankings than does its performance. However, analytics providers indicate that page load time impacts conversions and is an important determinant of whether users will return to your site or not.