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Some SEO activities can harm your Google ranking
As we have seen, there are lots of factors that will positively affect how your website is displayed within the Google search results.
It is also important to realise that there are other factors that can negatively affect your search engine ranking. A lot of these factors are common sense.
Read the Google Webmaster Guidelines and act on the advice.
Buying in links
Google specifically warns you against buying links from third-party suppliers. Google is constantly looking for companies that offer links for sale, when it finds these it may often devalue the links or may nullify the value of the links altogether.
You should read the advice that Google makes available to Webmasters and verify for yourself that buying links could well harm rather than help your website SEO efforts.
Using excessive keywords within picture ‘alt’ tags or in your text
A spamming technique involving the creation of hundreds of tiny graphics files which were displayed at the bottom of page, quite often these were square one pixel sized graphics with the same colour as a Web page background so that nobody noticed them. However each graphic would have alternative text tags, repeated over and over again, in an attempt to spam the search engines.
These days this sort of spamming activity will be detected and your search ranking will be harmed as a result.
Also do not overuse keyword phrases in your text.
Excessive doorway pages
Another technique beloved of Internet spammers is the creation of vast numbers of doorway pages. These doorway pages are written solely to get Google’s attention, and each one will be packed with keywords promoting a particular product or service.
Google warns against promoting doorway pages solely for the sake of SEO and states that you should write website pages for the benefit of your visitors, not for the benefit of your SEO position.
While you might get away with a few doorway pages, excessive use will be detected, and may harm your on-site marketing activities.
If you create a large number of pages containing duplicate content, this may be detected, and you can be penalised for it. This applies to creating multiple pages with similar content within the same website or creating multiple websites with similar content.
Excessive duplication will be viewed as an attempt to spam the search engines.
If you visit a website that contains numerous broken links, you will not be very impressed with the website. In the same way if Google finds lots of broken links on your website it will mark you down, your web page search engine ranking will be adversely affected.
There is no excuse for broken links and you should regularly check for broken links on your website and fix them immediately. If you have lots of links to external websites it is even more important that you check that these work okay.
Links to, or from ‘bad’ websites
Many organisations have been tempted to use third-party companies that provide links to their websites in exchange for payment. Google specifically states that this is against their terms of service and you may find that if you purchase links to help increase the visibility of your website within the search engines you are penalised by Google, and end up being harder rather than easier to find in Google.
Google disapproves of any websites that charge other companies for back-links, as well as websites that have a reputation for spamming or spreading forms of malware.
A reciprocal link is when a website has included a link to your website in exchange for you including a link from your website to their website.
Take care with reciprocal links
You should be especially careful with the websites that you link to. If you have engaged in reciprocal link exchanges with other websites, check very carefully prior to adding a link to someone else’s website. Google maintains a database of websites it considers undesirable, you can be heavily penalised simply by linking to a site that Google disapproves of.
Incorrect spelling and bad punctuation may also harm your Google listing. There is no excuse for spelling errors within a website, as all website design programs have built-in spelling checkers. To illustrate the point, a number of years ago I was checking out the website of a major British bank and found to my amusement they repeatedly misspelt the word ‘mortgage’. It did not convey a very professional image.
There are many examples of companies that have been banned by Google or have had their website listings demoted in the search engine results. For instance at one point BMW in Germany was banned altogether by Google.
You should investigate Google’s terms of service for yourselves and read what Google has to say about how to write websites and how to promote websites. If you play by the rules your website will be listed by Google without any trouble and if you use careful SEO techniques, over time you should see your website listing rise within the search engine results.
If you go against any of the terms of service listed by Google, or if you employ an SEO company that in turn uses black hat techniques, you may find that your search engine position listing is impaired or in extreme cases, your website may be banned from Google altogether until you stop trying to spam their index.
Try searching for information about Google search engine penalties and you will find numerous examples of companies, large and small, that have fallen foul of Google’s terms of service. Make sure you are not one of these as if you are banned from Google you may find being re-listed is a long and tedious process.
The bottom line is, stick to the rules outlined by Google, and you should be okay.
A recent laugh out loud example of how not to market a website is Interflora in the UK. Allegedly they were offering incentives to bloggers to write about their website and include a link back to the main Interflora homepage.
Also allegedly they have placed a very large amount of advertising with online newspapers for Valentine’s Day which again included a link back to the Interflora homepage.
Rightly or wrongly apparently Google interpreted this as an attempt to spam the Google index and overnight the Interflora website was almost completely removed from the UK version of Google.
This was so bad that even if you typed in the actual company name i.e. Interflora you still couldn’t find it in the UK version of Google. This might well have been fixed by the time you read this but it is a graphic example of how upsetting Google can dramatically affect the way your website is listed within the Google results.
Incidentally, I don’t think Google was too upset because as a response from being effectively banned from the search engine results, Interflora appeared to be greatly increasing its ‘paid for’ advertising, so that it was displayed at the top of the Google paid results. I guess Google always laughs in the end.
A few years ago a similar thing happened to BMW in Germany where reportedly they had used a rather over-enthusiastic search engine optimisation company to produce lots of tiny websites, all pointing to the main BMW website. Again they were temporarily banned, but after a while allegedly mended their ways and they now appear as normal within the search engine results.