How bad SEO could see your site ‘disappear’

Search engines remain one of the biggest sources of traffic across the internet. For as long as they have existed, experts have tried to unpick their inner workings to find ways to boost the rankings of websites. And for almost as long, the search engines themselves have been evolving so that they can’t be gamed into displaying poor quality sites in prominent positions.

Most people understand that the more effort you put into boosting your ‘search engine optimisation’, the better your website is likely to rank on Google and similar sites. This in turn creates visibility, and is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools available today.

Not as many people realise, however, that poor SEO can actually hurt your site’s chances of ranking on Google. A poor quality website will fall down the rankings, and one that’s ruled to be purposefully attempting to deceive Google will actually be formally penalised.

Because most searchers never venture beyond the top few results – and a tiny percentage beyond the first page – it’s absolutely vital that you avoid doing anything that could hurt your chances of ranking high. Here is an outline of what Google currently looks down upon.

Poor quality content

Google’s aim is to direct searchers to the websites that are likely to be the most helpful. Websites that contain short articles (300 words or fewer), or pages that users click away from in quick fashion, fall down the rankings.

Content needs to be original, too. If you’re merely copying and pasting from other sources, then you’re not that useful in Google’s eyes.

The fix: Quality content. Fill your site with articles which are original, up-to-date, contain a good amount of detail, and which users read from top to bottom.

Overuse of keywords

Keywords are the words and phrases that a potential visitor might enter into a search engine to find your site. By including them on your site, you’re demonstrating that you have the answers to their questions. But go overboard, and your website will become so rammed full of keywords that it’ll affect the quality of your content.

Make sure your website doesn’t bear any resemblance to the old joke: “An SEO expert walks into a bar, bars, pub, tavern, public house, drinks, beer, alcoho..l.”

Not only will this make for poor quality articles that nobody wants to read, but it’ll hurt your Google rankings.

So will attempts to deceive: This could be writing keywords in the same colour as the background so that only Google knows they’re there, or misusing formatting tags, such as <h1>, to make certain words and phrases look more important than they really are.

Get caught doing this and you’ll get a strike against your site.

The fix: Again, quality content. An article that many people freely choose to read is worth much more than one that exists purely to demonstrate as many keywords as possible.

Bought links

One of the ways that Google can assess the quality of a website is to count how many other websites link to it. But of course, as soon as this became known, it became possible to ‘buy’ links to your website to artificially inflate its popularity.

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

The fix: This one’s simple: don’t be tempted to purchase instant popularity. Invest in a solid, ongoing digital marketing strategy and you’ll get much richer rewards.

Hiding behind redirects

Another trick websites once used is to set up a page that appeals to Google, but which instantly takes a visitor to a different page. For example, this could mean creating a landing page full of quality content and high-resolution photos, but which soon whisks the visitor away to a special offers page. Google doesn’t take kindly to these attempts to deceive.

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

Poor quality hosting

Setting up even the most basic website takes investment, but so long as you’re buying from a reputable seller, you’ll get what you pay for. Cutting corners can often result in a poor quality service, the type which Google does not like.

A good website host is quick, reliable and doesn’t rely on tricks such as hidden advertisements to bring in revenue. If you attempt to save money by opting for a bargain basement option, you may end up with a site that takes forever to load, or is offline half the time, or is loaded with extra promotional bumf.

If this is your site, Google will assume – rightfully so, in most cases – that users won’t enjoy the experience and would be better served viewing another website instead.

The fix: Avoid free hosting, and research genuine reviews of the paid-for options. Find one that can be trusted to deliver a service befitting of your business, even if it’s not the cheapest.

SEO is ever evolving. Google is constantly assessing the performance of its algorithms and adjusting them accordingly. Keeping on top of this information and keeping your site up-to-date can be a time-consuming process, but we can help. We have decades of experience helping businesses to boost their profile online. Get in touch with the team to see how we can help you too.