These days you hear the word ‘visibility’ thrown about quite often:
‘Need more visibility.’
‘Visibility is crucial.’
‘No, that does not give you enough visibility.’
‘Try this, it will provide you much needed visibility.’
You may reach a point where you are trying to lay down after a tiring day, but the word visibility keeps floating in and out of your consciousness.
So, why does a business need more visibility? You need it to ensure the growth of your business, to expand your customer base, to get more leads and to convert them into sales.
In this ‘era of Google’, SEO is perhaps the greatest tool you can use to maximise the visibility of your brand. Think of SEO like your own light saber or maybe the ‘Elder Wand’ from Harry Potter or the ‘one ring’ from the Lord of the Rings (yes it is that precious) in your efforts to gain an advantage over your competition.
But, here is the thing about SEO, it definitely gets you more visibility and can deliver long term results for your business BUT it has to be done correctly. You need to be smarter with the SEO techniques you employ in 2017 or poof, all your hard earned rankings will be lost in the blink of an eye through a Google penalty.
What Happens If You Get Blacklisted?
Let’s just consider hypothetically that you have a blog that is driving a steady amount of traffic to your website. Nothing big but its enough and the traffic increases with every new blog post you publish. So far so good, you start to think of Google as a great source of business going forward.
But then it all goes pear shaped.
Just like that, every single post you have written just disappears from Google. No more traffic from Google for your business. The many days spent in developing a content strategy, the many hours of painstaking research done to write each post, all gone. It feels like walking in to an Anthony Joshua left hook, the kind that knocks the stuffing out of you and worst of all you don’t even know why it has happened (at least not at that moment). This is how it feels when your website has been blacklisted.
Ignorance is no excuse when it comes to Google. You ignore the rules and you pay for it accordingly.
How Does Google Work?
Google algorithms are constantly evolving. They try to alter their algorithms on an almost daily basis to weed out spammers. Every couple of years Google releases an update which causes major shifts in SERP (Search Engine Result Page) rankings for nearly every website on the web.
SEO techniques that might provide value today could become redundant tomorrow after a major update is released, in fact it could even lead to your website being penalised.
Before, Google did not punish webmasters for making mistakes. You might not get the same benefits anymore but at least your rankings won’t be drastically altered or your page won’t disappear from Google SERPs.
However, these days Google is much more severe and sometimes, even a small mistake might get your site blacklisted which could see your SERP rankings drop overnight.
So how can you avoid making mistakes that put you on Google’s radar? Here we provide you with some tips:
Mistake #1: Buying Links
I am sure you have come across ads online from spammy looking “SEO firms” that guarantee hundreds of links and a first page ranking for some paltry amount.
If you have, the best thing you can do for your SERP rankings is to ignore them. You can be certain of the fact that links you receive are from disreputable, spammy social media accounts or websites. Receiving such links can only hurt your site in the long run.
Also, it does not really matter how smart these websites claim they are. They might even throw in terms like ‘link pyramid’ or ‘link wheel’ to make you believe that your site will be protected in case Google detects the infraction.
You might even observe positive results initially, but remember when I said that Google is continually evolving to detect spammy SEO practises? At some point they will catch you and the punishment you receive will be far worse than the nominal gains you have received.
Mistake #2: Joining the Wrong Link Directories
Link directories are often a misunderstood aspect of SEO.
In days gone by, they were considered an essential part of a SEO campaign, especially when launching a new website. It was possible to submit a new blog post to dmoz.org and other industry specific directories to give your search rankings a quick initial boost.
It’s also logical isn’t it? If your blog post is about medicines, it makes sense to submit it to all link directories related to medicines.
The only problem with such a strategy is that it matters to Google which ‘neighbourhood’ your site is located on the web. If your article or blog is mentioned alongside reputable and authoritative sites, then it is in a ‘good neighbourhood’ as far as Google is concerned. However, if pages of your website are linked to spammy or junky sites, its in a bad neighbourhood and your rankings will suffer because of it, even if the article you have written is completely legitimate.
Anyone can submit an article or blog from their site in a link directory, making it nothing more than a storehouse for junk. By submitting your website to a link directory you put it in a ‘bad neighbourhood’ and as a result become guilty by association.
This does not mean that all link directories are spammy. You can submit your blog to targeted link directories that have been reviewed by a human. This ensures that all the sites listed in the directory are reputable and trustworthy.
Mistake #3: Keyword Stuffing
If you have not heard of the term before, keyword stuffing refers to the practise of repeating a keyword over and over again in a piece of content even if it does not make any sense, just to get a rankings boost.
For example, consider that you have written a blog about ‘pain’ and your keyword is paracetamol and your content goes something like this:
“Dealing with pain is not easy, but paracetamol makes it easier. Remember that you must swallow a pill of paracetamol directly, preferably with a glass of water and not try to crush the paracetamol or chew the paracetamol or tamper with a paracetamol pill in any way to alleviate your pain quickly.”
The rest of the article would go along similar lines with the keyword repeated over hundreds of times just to manipulate SERP rankings quicker. There is no place in today’s Google for such heavily optimised not to mention nonsensical content and here’s why:
Keyword density plays a very minor role in search engines today. If you compare it to more important ranking factors such as trusted links or domain authority, you could consider it almost irrelevant.
If you do a lot of keyword stuffing it can get your website penalised or worse blacklisted. The only thing Google really cares about these days is providing users with an excellent user experience. Content that is heavily keyword stuffed contributes to poor user experience as no visitor would want to read such content.
Most SEO experts believe that these days Google looks to actively penalise sites that indulge in keyword stuffing.
Let’s imagine hypothetically of course that your site is not penalised for keyword stuffing the entire content. Who do you think would want to link to content like that? Definitely not a site with domain authority and trust and links are only valuable if you receive them for non-spammy sources.