Google’s ranking algorithm is a growing beast that evolves over time.
If your website was built over five years ago or by a company who do not really understand SEO. It it is likely your site was built by a team using common SEO ‘hacks’ to get you good, short-term rankings.
But that short time joy, will be giving you long-term pain.
1. Link Hacking / Spamming
This one is going first because it is still common place. Newbies will google “SEO tricks” and immediately learn that Google ranks heavily based on how many other sites link to yours. That is true, but it is not the whole truth.
As a result people will then pay an unscrupulous freelancer / company to put links to their site all over the internet.
Back linking is not about the quantity of links to your website, it is about the quality of the source and the relevance to you.
2. Keyword Stuffing
This is the practice of unnaturally placing keywords on your website to increase the keyword density for things you want to be found for.
The most common and crude example to increase keyword density is placing a tag cloud on your page.
Another strategy of the past was to put the keywords as links in the website footer and header.
Gossip Alert: I worked for a company called Customer Street in 2008 which was bought by a little known telecom provider here in the UK. They churned out websites on mass and promised first-page Google ranking. Their whole strategy relied upon these two mechanisms. After a couple of weeks I would follow up on the websites and see that their SEO performance nose-dived.
3. Multiple Websites
About ten years go it was very popular for companies to buy multiple domains and redirect users to their main website.
The additional domains would be very SEO focused such as;
The website would just serve as a redirect to the companies main website. Alternatively they would just host the exact same site on multiple domains.
This is a proven way to get both the main website and the redirect / clone website on page 5,000
4. Hidden Keywords
This practice involved creating text on your website that was invisible. Either by setting the colour of the text to the same as the background, or placing text purposely behind content.
5. Cloning content
When people started paying attention to content and realising that the ‘hacks’ of tag clouds and hidden keywords was not working for keyword density. They would start to write articles, but instead of writing original content. Web masters would copy and paste the content from other popular websites.
Shameless Plug: This is one of the key reasons we will not use templates for client websites. A lot of web design agencies will buy off-the-shelf templates from https://themeforest.net, change a bit of text and images and booya! Invoice submitted and happy client.
But that template is likely being used by thousands of other users and Google will be indexing each of them. They will detect that 95% of the website content is the same. As a result, the website will suffer a ranking penalty.
Google is a search engine — who knew!? All they care about is serving users the most relevant content for each search. That means creating a rich-user experience and relevant content that engages the audience.
If you are not ready to bring on experts and want to have a website that achieves good rankings, here are a few headline tips to get you started:
- Get advice from reputable sources, such as Google’s SEO starter guide
- Avoid the temptation to seek ‘hacks’ if the article states unbelievable results, it probably is.
- Focus on your visitors wants and needs and not on what Google wants. Create content people will want and your rank will increase.
- Don’t obsess over your daily / weekly ranking results. If your ranking changes rapidly, it is a bad sign. Gradual and natural ranking increase is what you are looking for.