10 SEO Guidelines by Google you should never break
The competition to rank in the first page or position of popular search queries of Google is often quite intense. Sometimes the competition compels digital marketers to take some not so well advised techniques to rank their website ahead of their competitors. The SEO guidelines by Google set by the company in place, which if broken and discovered, will lead to penalisation of the website or blog, or in some cases even banning the entire website from the search engine results. This also has some negative long-term consequences, as any future website created by a banned unique whois user will also have its domain authority significantly affected.
Google SEO Guidelines has been put in place to provide the best results possible user’s search queries. And also provide a fair advantage to all the content creators and website owners who have the best interests of the user in mind. To Google, the needs of the users come first and they will prioritize it over everything else. In addition to that, they would also prefer to rank websites which provide valuable, unique and engaging content much higher.
The techniques which violate any of Google SEO guidelines are referred to as black hat techniques. To be on the good books of Google, here are some SEO Guidelines by Google listed out and do not attempt to break them under any circumstances:
1. Unoriginal content – #1 SEO Guidelines by Google to never break
There is nothing Google hates more than providing unoriginal and/or copied content. So much so that they have listed it as the first point in their quality guidelines. Providing copied content is a bad deal for all the stakeholders involved except the one who provides the copied content. Users get unsatisfactory search results for their queries prompting them to move to other search engines. It also affects the original content creators who work hard to create their content will have their work stolen and won’t get adequate recognition and compensation for it. So Google does whatever it takes to prevent duplicate content because it is bad for business. Copying content can be so much appealing because it is very easy to do so, and website owners can fill their website with content quickly, but it will lead to a high penalty and affect the other pages of the website which does have original content.
2. Making use of irrelevant keywords and keyword stuffing – No longer an important factor in Google SEO Guidelines
This was quite a prevalent practice the initial days of search engine optimisation. Content creators often stuffed their articles with irrelevant but high volume keywords, to drive traffic to their web pages. This often resulted in unsatisfactory search engine results page for the user, and Google had to quickly stop using keywords as a major signal for their search engine results. In recent updates, Google has not only started penalising irrelevant keywords usage but also keywords which are used quite often in an article or content of a webpage. Known as keyword stuffing, a page which has an unnaturally high frequency of keywords on a webpage will significantly affect its position in a search engine results page (SERP)
3. Unnatural link building schemes
In the recent Rank Brain update, Google has decreased the significance of the backlinks of a webpage and has focused more on the behaviour of the users in a webpage. Google penalises web pages which have links embedded in various unnatural elements such as widgets and unrelated keywords throughout the internet. It also discourages guest posting schemes which are made just for the sake of building links. This rule is highly debated and many consider Google does not penalise violators of this rule in any major way. But webmasters do have to keep in mind of the quality and relevancy of the websites in which their links are posted. Marketers often use this tactic to link a webpage with irrelevant and spammy websites in hopes to decrease the page rank of their competitors. Even though it may violate Google guidelines for SEO, Link Building is still considered one of the major factors and spending time on building quality backlinks is a worthwhile investment.
4. Cloaking websites and sneaky usage of redirects
The practice of altering the website such that it appears completely different to a user as compared to crawlers of a search engine is known as cloaking of a website. This is usually done to make a website appear much more attractive to a search engine than it actually is. Google hates being fooled and if you are found to be employing such practices, there is a very high chance that your entire website will get blacklisted. All the other major search engines also penalise websites for cloaking. But when it is used to manipulate the search engine results and show content to users not related to what they queried for, then it has the same consequences as cloaking of websites. If you have a long-term strategy in mind, then you must never even consider cloaking your web pages. Usage of redirects itself is not considered a bad practice by Google.
5. Texts and links which are hidden
When website owners create content or provide links which cannot be seen by users but is still visible to web crawlers, it is considered that they are providing hidden texts or links. Usage of such practices is not appreciated by Google. There are multiple ways it can be done, like, using the text in the same colour as the background, providing the text offscreen with the help of CSS, creating text with a font size of zero, attaching a link to just a single character or providing text behind an image. This may sound a very smart and simple strategy but is also a simple way to get your website blacklisted from the Google search engine results page.
6. Content scraping from other websites
Google loves original, attractive and innovative content and if your website is found to have it, it will not hesitate to place your website on top of the search queries provided that other requisites are met. Scraped content is similar to copied content in that you will rewrite content from other popular website and hope to get some of the traffic to your website as well. To prevent content scraping penalty it is advisable to provide content value that is unique to your organisation and which the users will crave to get more of. Google also hates content which is generated automatically with the help of various Automatically Generated Content (AGC) tools. This type of content will not be ranked by Google even if it has various keywords, but doesn’t make any sense to its readers.
7. Creating doorway pages
If multiple webpage results for a search query leads or redirects to the same page then the pages are considered to be doorway pages. Websites where all the web pages funnels or redirects to a single page which has any relevant content or a website containing many web pages with similar content are also considered a doorway page practices. LIke all practices aimed at fooling its search algorithm, Google abhors this practice. If it finds any of the web pages employing this practice it can lead to subsequent blacklisting of the web pages.
8. Providing irrelevant Rich Snippet markups
Rich snippet is a recently introduced feature by Google to provide users with instant information the user requires in the search engine results page itself. Content creators can audition their content for the rich snippets section by tagging the relevant content with rich snippet markup. Google realises that this has the potential to be misused and has started penalising content creators who misuse this feature by marking irrelevant content with rich feature snippet.
9. Websites reported to malicious, pirated or spammy content
As has already been established initially in this article. Google has the needs of the users as their primary goal. In accordance with that, it will instantly penalise websites which are found to have malicious content such as viruses trojan and other malware or reported to have phishing content in it. Websites which are perceived to be spammy or uses excessive advertisements are also penalised by Google and have their websites downgraded in the search engine results page. The penalisation of pirated websites is a recent phenomenon after the implementation of the reformed Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and if your website is reported to pirated content, you mustn’t be surprised if a drop in your website’s rankings is observed.
10. Removing hacked or user spam content
This is usually not the fault of the website owners but their website will be penalised the same if they have not taken the necessary measures to prevent it. According to SEO guidelines by Google, it is better to repair and make all the necessary changes like removing the content and redirects immediately after the website is hacked. Failing to do which your website will be heavily penalised as it gives poor search engine results and the content can affect the computers of its users. It is also advisable to have a mechanism to prevent the users’ from uploading spammy content to your website. If your website has enough credibility, Google will send you a warning about the spam content, but most of the time they penalise websites without providing any prior warning.