Google has been updating its ranking algorithm for several years. The intention of these updates is to improve the quality of results they provide and to prevent manipulation of search engine results for any given search query. The very first documented update was released back in 2002, a time when spamming the crap out of the internet or building reciprocal links was all one had to do to rank a site in Google. SEO was quite easy back in the days until Google started rolling out some major updates like Panda, and Penguin that made two of the most adorable animals the sworn enemies to most of the SEO analyst on the face of this planet. Each update conveys a message to online marketers and SEO experts and it is clear. Google wants us to play the game by their rules and most importantly provide value to the visitors.
Image source: internet-search-engine-marketing.com
Some SEO analysts and companies had pulled out of the SEO game every since the devastating Panda update. The handful of SEO experts who are still passionate about the industry and who are strong-willed not to quit (just yet), need to keep themselves updated about all the updates and comply by Google`s guidelines and stay away from black-hat SEO methodologies.
We`ll list some of the tips below to keep oneself safe from penalties from Google in 2014.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing and maintain right density
This is one grave abominations that you should never commit. It might bring you quick results, but you are just asking for an imminent slap from Big G. Although, not many SEO analysts don`t add all the keywords they want to rank for separated by commas to the end of the content or hide them from users and allow it to be visible only for search engine bots anymore, one still needs to understand the fact that targeted keywords or keyphrases should appear naturally in the content and the keyword density shouldn`t be high. One would get mixed opinions about an optimal density % even from the experts in the industry. The key is to keep the keywords appear as natural as possible in the content and use different forms of the keyphrase instead of blatantly repeating them several times.
Avoid web spam
If you are already a tenured SEO professional, you should have understood that, you should avoid web spam and low quality link building like the plague. It is a shame that even in 2014, you could find a lot of SEO companies employ black-hat techniques like, building thousands of links using blog comments, submitting spun articles to article directories, Web 2.0 properties sites, social bookmarking, etc. A lot of companies are still clueless and struck with using tools that could blast out spun content to a lot of low-quality websites for links.
The screenshot below was not took in 2008 but now in May 2014. The SEO package of a company that boasts itself to be one of the top SEO firms in its state. We can be sure if you they didn`t change their strategy, the company would go extinct unwilling to evolve.
Bad SEO company example – avoid this kind of service!
The Penguin update was released back in April `12 to hit a final nail on the coffin. After the update, a lot of websites which had numerous low-quality back links were completely removed or got a temporary penalty from Google. The innocent business owners who had chose the wrong SEO companies, thought it was a really harsh move by Google to de-rank their websites.
In October 2013 Google added the Disallow Tool to Google Webmasters Central. The purpose of the tool is to inform Google to not consider the back links submitted for ranking a website. However, this tool needs to be used with caution. One needs to remove all the spammy links manually initially and then use the tool to disregard the links that they were not able to remove manually.
Anchor Text Diversification
It is good to diversity the anchor text since using the same anchor text a lot of times could affect your rankings negatively, thanks to Penguin. One can use a tool like MajesticSEO or Remove`em to check a site`s existing anchor texts. Find the ratio of money keywords, brand name, and non-money anchor texts that are pointing to a website. The point is to build high-quality links pointing to home and internal pages of your site with a wide variety of anchor texts and make everything thing look natural to the search engine bot.
Social signals and Brand awareness
This is one of the best ways to protect your website from Google penalties. When you have a professional-looking website with a custom design and a killer branding, it will look legit both to your visitors and Google. You don`t really have to shell out a ton of money for this. The experts from the IMspot marketing forum agree that a simple Wordpress website with a custom theme, a professional logo, physical address and phone number mentioned in the contact page would do just fine. Use the same contact information provided on the website on Google+ business profile and Facebook. This is one way to inform Google that you are real.
One should also make use of Google Authorship to associate their Google+ profile with all the content they post not only on their own website, but also when they contribute content to other sites. Be active on Facebook and Twitter and ask your customers/clients to follow you on the Social media websites. Even if you only have a 50 followers in Twitter, it is okay. Don`t go overboard and buy Facebook likes and Twitter followers for money. If you site is not receiving a lot of traffic and if you had 1000s of subscribers on Facebook, Google is definitely going to take your site with a truck load of salt.
Content is Queen
Alright alright, Content is King! Although, this is quite an important point, we didn`t want to bore you and added this as the last point since you would have come across it a gazillion times. A site is not going to rank well with just 150 or 300 words of content in each page. The content should be long, well-structured, unique and it should provide value to the visitor with the right keyword density. One should also use multimedia content like images and videos to make the pages rich.
If you want to know more about the Google updates, you can take a look at the list of all the Google algorithm updates over on Moz.