Google is the most widely used search engine worldwide and the visibility of your online content depends largely on its ability to locate your website. Adopting effective SEO practices to improve your website's visibility in search results on Google is therefore crucial. However, there are a number of SEO practices that are considered unethical or manipulative and can lead to penalties from Google. These penalties in turn compromise your online visibility and damage your website's reputation.
In this article, we will examine the SEO practices to avoid in order to avoid Google penalisations and at the same time improve your website's visibility and reputation.
Practices to be avoided
Over the last years, Google has intensified its fight against misleading and deceptive SEO practices. Being penalised by Google can have very serious consequences for a website, dropping traffic and drastically reducing revenue. Here, then, is a list of practices to avoid:
Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of inserting an excessive number of keywords in a website hoping to increase its visibility on search engines. This technique is considered spam from Google's point of view and can lead to a site being penalised. Instead, use keywords naturally and consistently within the content of the page.
Buying links from low-quality or dubious websites can damage your site's reputation in the eyes of Google. Instead, you should focus on creating high-quality content that naturally attracts links from other websites.
These are links that are present in the HTML code of the page, but are hidden from the user. This practice is considered spam because it is used to improve a site's ranking in search engines without providing added value to users.
Poor inbound links Link
If the website has many incoming links from low quality sites, which were only created to improve the site's ranking, this can lead to a penalisation by Google.
Copying content from other websites and publishing it on your own site can lead to penalisation by Google in terms of ranking and, in the most extreme cases, even domain name. Create original, high-quality content that meets the real needs of your users.
Using doorway pages
Doorway pages are pages created specifically for search engines and not for users, and are usually loaded with keywords and links to pages within the site. The use of these pages can lead to penalisation by Google. Instead, it is important to create high-quality and relevant landing pages for your users.
Over-optimisation refers to the practice of excessively using keywords and optimisation tags on your site. This can appear as spam in the eyes of Google and, depending on its severity, can lead to a ranking penalty. Keywords and optimisation tags should be used in a balanced and consistent manner within the page content.
Using irrelevant keywords involves inserting keywords that are not relevant to the content of the page, in order to attract traffic to popular keywords. This is a technique that is considered spam and can lead to a penalty.
A wrong redirection occurs when the website sends the user to a page other than the one they requested. This technique is often used to send users to phishing or malware pages.
Poor affiliate pages
If your website hosts many affiliate pages that have little or no original content, but are only used to generate commissions, this may be considered spam and result in a penalty.
A sitemap helps users and search engines navigate the website. If it is disregarded, it can become difficult for users and search engines to find the necessary information, thus resulting in a penalty in search results.
Cloaking is the use of techniques to show different content to search engines than that displayed by users. This practice is considered spam because it deceives search engines and provides different content than what users expect to find.
Domain spam concerns the use of domain names that have been chosen to exploit the popularity of keywords, but which have no value for users. Google penalises sites that use spam domains.
Spyware, adware and viruses
If spyware, adware or viruses are present on your website, Google will penalise it. These are harmful programmes for users and Google naturally wants to ensure the safety of sites in its search results.
Why does Google penalise these practices?
Google regularly updates its search algorithms to detect and penalise websites that use unethical or manipulative practices to improve their visibility in search results.
These penalties, on the one hand, reward with increased visibility in search results all those sites that make an effort to ensure the provision of high quality and relevant content to users. In parallel, they punish all those sites that try to manipulate the results.
Using incorrect SEO practices may seem tempting, but the effects on a site's visibility are short-lived, while in the long run the risk is to seriously damage one's online reputation, causing not only a great loss of traffic but also a considerable loss of business. Moreover, the recovery process in the event of a penalty by Google can be long and laborious.
While there is no official definition of unethical or manipulative SEO practices, Google has published guidelines on practices that comply with their policies. It is therefore important to follow Google's guidelines for developers and adopt ethical and user-friendly SEO practices, rather than attempting to manipulate search results artificially. In this way, your website and your online business will be rewarded in the long run. In general, ethical and Google-compliant SEO practices are those that aim to improve the user experience by providing high quality and relevant content. For instance, content optimisation, natural link building and website loading speed are all factors that can improve the user experience and the visibility of your website in search results.
What penalties does Google apply?
Google enforces various penalties for websites that do not comply with their policies and guidelines. Here are some examples:
Manual action penalty
This penalty is applied manually by a member of Google's spam team. It can be caused, for instance, by the creation of spam links, the presence of low-quality content or the manipulation of search results.
Algorithmic penalisation is automatically applied by Google's search algorithms. It can be the result of practices that do not comply with Google's policies, such as the presence of duplicate content, manipulation of meta tags or the presence of spam links.
If your site is breached or compromised by malicious activity, it may end up on a Google blacklist. This means that your website will not appear in Google search results and users will be warned not to visit it due to potential security threats.
If your website is flagged as non-compliant with Google's policies, it may end up appearing further down the search results list or may be excluded from search results altogether.
Google may remove content on your website that violates their policies, such as offensive or harmful content.
To conclude, avoiding penalties from Google is important to ensure the long-term success of your website. This can be achieved by adopting ethical and user-friendly SEO practices, such as creating high-quality content, optimising meta tags, creating quality links, and securing your website. Moreover, performing a comprehensive SEO audit of your website by professionals such as DevInterface can help you identify any problems and vulnerabilities and adopt the right strategies to avoid incurring Google penalties. Remember that a well-optimised website not only improves your online visibility, but can also help you generate more traffic and get more conversions. Contact us for a full SEO Audit of your website and ensure the long-term success of your online business.