Does this sound familiar? You put your heart and soul into your business website, spent weeks perfecting every element and now you find yourself floundering around page 8 of the search results. Have you searched for your business name, found nothing and wondered where it all went so wrong?
I might have the answers as to why, or at least an insight that might help you to understand why. Here are a few things Google hates. Fix them and you can get back in the good books with the Sultan of Search.
1. Broken links
You’ve probably heard of the Google spiders, those clever little critters that go crawling through your site gathering information to determine your search ranking. If a spider finds a broken link on your site, i.e. a link that doesn’t work, you go down in the rankings. Google doesn’t like broken links, so a simple way to improve your ranking is to go through your site and make sure all your links are working.
2. Being sneaky
There are all sorts of sneaky ways people try and ‘trick’ Google, in an attempt to improve their ranking; cramming their pages with keywords, hidden text, duplicate content, cloaking or participating in link schemes. Put it this way, if Google is smart enough to be the number one search engine in the world, it can figure out if you’re trying to get one past it. So don’t. These sorts of tricks will definitely influence your ranking, but not in a good way.
3. Bad anchor text
What’s anchor text you ask? When you embed a link in the middle of a sentence, the words you use in that link are called the anchor text. Try not to use generic terms like ‘Click here’. Instead use a specific keyword.
4. Bad alt. text for images
Google can’t read your images. But it can read the keywords you use to describe them. So make sure you optimise your alt. text as well, with relevant keywords.
5. Paid links without disclosure
Google doesn’t have a problem with paid links. They just don’t want you to hide the fact that they’re paid for. So make sure you use words like “sponsor”, “advertisement” or add a “no follow” tag. That way Google won’t think you’re trying to pass them off as ‘natural’ links.
If there’s a general rule of thumb to follow to get back in favour with Google, it would be this: create a positive experience for a visitor on your site with interesting or useful content, relevant and appropriate use of keywords and working links. In other words, create the kind of site you enjoy visiting. Google will love you for it.
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