Search engines remain one of the largest sources of traffic on the internet. Ever since they existed, experts have tried to undo their insides to find ways to improve the ranking of websites. And for almost as long, the search engines themselves have evolved so that they cannot be made to display poor quality websites in prominent positions.

Most people know that the more efforts you put into your “Search Engine Optimization” program, the more effort you put into your website, the likely it will rank better on Google and similar websites. This in turn creates visibility and is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools currently available.

However, not that many people realize that poor search engine optimization can affect your website’s chances of ranking on Google. A poor quality website will be ranked and a website that will intentionally try to fool Google will be officially penalized.

Since most searchers never venture past the first few results – and a tiny percentage past the first page – it is absolutely important that you do not do anything that could affect your chances of ranking high. Here’s a rundown of what Google is looking down on right now.

Bad quality content

Google’s goal is to direct searchers to the websites that are likely to be most helpful. Sites with short articles (300 words or less) or pages that users click away from quickly fall into the rankings.

The content must also be original. If you’re just copying and pasting from other sources, you won’t be that useful in Google’s eyes.

The repair: Quality content. Fill your website with articles that are original, current, detailed, and read by users from top to bottom.

Excessive use of keywords

Keywords are the words and phrases that a potential visitor can type into a search engine to find your website. By including them on your website, you show that you have the answers to their questions. However, if you go overboard, your website will become so cluttered with keywords that it will degrade the quality of your content.

Make sure your website bears no resemblance to the old joke: “An SEO expert enters a bar, bars, pub, tavern, inn, drinks, beer, alcohol.”

Not only does this result in poor quality articles that no one wants to read, but it also hurts your Google rankings.

This also applies to attempts at deception: this can consist of writing keywords in the same color as the background so only Google knows they are there, or formatting tags such as:

to make certain words and phrases look more important than they really are.

If you get caught doing it, you will get a strike against your website.

The repair: Quality content again. An article that many people can read freely is worth a lot more than an article that just exists to demonstrate as many keywords as possible.

Bought links

One way Google can judge the quality of a website is by counting how many other websites are linking to it. But once this was known it was of course possible to “buy” links to your website in order to artificially increase its popularity.

However, Google is smart enough to tell the difference between a real link and a link that is paid for and automatically generated by the software. Get caught doing this trick and it’s a black mark from Google.

The repair: It’s simple: don’t be tempted to gain instant popularity. When you invest in a solid, ongoing digital marketing strategy, the rewards are far richer.

Hides behind redirects

Another trick websites have used once is to set up a page that appeals to Google but immediately takes a visitor to another page. This could mean, for example, creating a landing page with high quality content and high resolution photos, but that soon leads the visitor to a page with special offers. Google doesn’t take these attempts at deception well.

The repair: As above, avoid quick fixes. Building a real audience through legitimate digital marketing is not only better for your search engine rankings, but also better for your conversion rates, sales, and bottom line.

Bad quality hosting

Setting up even the simplest website takes investment. However, as long as you shop with a reputable seller, you get what you pay for. Trimming corners can often result in poor quality service that Google doesn’t like.

A good website host is fast, reliable, and doesn’t rely on tricks like hidden advertising to generate income. If you’re trying to save money by going for an inexpensive basement option, you might end up with a website that takes forever to load, or is offline half the time, or that is loaded with additional advertising bumf.

If this is your website, Google assumes – rightly in most cases – that users should not enjoy the experience and should go to another website instead.

The repair: Avoid free hosting and research real reviews of the paid options. Find one you can trust to deliver a service that might fit your business, even if it isn’t the cheapest.

SEO is constantly evolving. Google constantly reviews the performance of its algorithms and adapts them accordingly. Keeping this information up to date and keeping your website up to date can be time consuming, but we can help you. We have decades of experience helping companies raise their profile online. Get in touch with the team to see how we can help you too.