Google SEO penalties & how to avoid them

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In the wake of three of the largest SEO penalties since people started to “Google” stuff (Rap Genius, Expedia and Irwin Mitchell) – here is the7stars’ guide to the SEO tactics that work and at the same time keep you safe from the dreaded Google penalty.

It’s more important now than ever, to understand the implications of SEO tactics. SEO is not a dark art built on smoke and mirrors, it should be understandable, transparent and accountable no matter how large your campaign is.

Step 1: It never hurts to re-visit the basic principles of what Google is looking for when indexing your site in organic results:

– Make your website accessible to search engine spiders
– Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links
– Your pages should be descriptive and use and ALT attributes<br /> – Ensure there is one keyword rich, human friendly URL for each page<br /> – Your page should include relevant, unique, keyword rich content</p> <p>Good SEO starts with these basics, and without it, every other advanced technique will be severely hindered and may in some cases negatively impact Google’s propensity to rank you higher than your competitors.</p> <p><b>Step 2</b>: Now that we are clear about what a website needs as a foundation for SEO, we can talk about tactics that deliver results, but still keep you clear of a Google penalty.</p> <p>We base our SEO strategy on clear, actionable data that is both understood by clients and allows us to accurately project results. One of the data sources used is a custom rank correlation algorithm, this formula analyses what websites that rank highly for different terms have in common. The output results of these correlation studies look something like this chart that our partners at Searchmetrics™ released last year:</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://wallblog.co.uk/files/2014/02/Screen-Shot-2014-02-11-at-12.00.11.png"><img class="aligncenter wp-image-50827" alt="Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 12.00.11" src="http://wallblog.co.uk/files/2014/02/Screen-Shot-2014-02-11-at-12.00.11.png" width="587" height="550" /></a></p> <p><b style="font-size: 13px;">Step 3</b><span style="font-size: 13px;">: Now we have a list of actionable priorities that we can build a strategy around.</span></p> <p>The top three signals within the correlation are:</p> <p>– Content being shared on Google+<br /> – Content being shared on Facebook<br /> – Number of backlinks</p> <p>We focus on the tactics that provide the highest ROI for our clients and find that the top three within this list are highly actionable by both our clients and our internal team.</p> <p>The first two signals relate to shareable content, and although we can’t force people to share content on their social profiles, we can control the following:</p> <p>– Ensure the website has unique and useful content<br /> – Ensure that each page has content sharing calls to action<br /> – Ensure that each piece of content relates to a unique URL</p> <p>The third signal is where we start getting closer to Googles’ parameters. Industry experts are citing low quality and spammy backlinks as the source of the penalties for Expedia, Rap Genius and most recently Irwin Mitchell.</p> <p>At the7stars we focus on high value, scalable link acquisition and are able to break these sources down into three target areas:</p> <p>– High quality, hand reviewed directories</p> <p>We have a dedicated in house team that are constantly testing these directories for safety and value.</p> <p>– .edu .gov and .ac TLDs</p> <p>From offering student incentives, policy related content and contests; these domains continue to be a high value source of backlinks</p> <p>– Content earns links</p> <p>Use tutorials, product comparisons, and free resources as a source of powerful passive link building</p> <p>Using the insights above we deliver SEO benefits that help clients climb up search engine positions, achieving that coveted position one spot on Google…. with no extra costs. <div class="linkedin_share_container" 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This company thinks so.">14</a></td><td>15</td><td>16</td> </tr> <tr> <td><a href="http://wallblog.co.uk/2014/02/17/" title="Have Linkin Park and Eminem made the greatest album ever or is this UGC taken to the limits?, Speaker John Bercow looks into making parliament more accessible via tech, Advertisers don’t need to spend a lot to get attribution strategy right, Sky AdSmart – how will the technology affect your TV viewing?">17</a></td><td><a href="http://wallblog.co.uk/2014/02/18/" title="Facebook goes back to the future with Paper, Why radio advertising needs to be ahead of the curve, The new game">18</a></td><td><a href="http://wallblog.co.uk/2014/02/19/" title="The dark side of social media, How digital advertising is changing the way films are brought to market, Brit Awards PR company tells journalists what to write. 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Facebook buys instant messaging service WhatsApp for $16bn">20</a></td><td><a href="http://wallblog.co.uk/2014/02/21/" title="Making the most of mobile opportunities in the travel industry, 4G, SnoreG: Demand for UK 4G still low 18 months on, Sport sponsorship: the good, the bad and the politics">21</a></td><td>22</td><td>23</td> </tr> <tr> <td><a href="http://wallblog.co.uk/2014/02/24/" title="Mad Men due to collide with Mad Scientists, How Japanese brand Pocky set a Guinness World Record on Twitter, Animated digital campaign reveals what kind of entrepreneur you should be">24</a></td><td><a href="http://wallblog.co.uk/2014/02/25/" title="Three in five Twitter mobile users are on Twitter while watching TV, The ten commandments of mobile research, What you need to know about securing your digital legacy">25</a></td><td><a href="http://wallblog.co.uk/2014/02/26/" title="O2 goes to next level with Twitter customer services, Jelly for brands: is now the right time to join?, Four trends that are changing the face of media research, How can brands apply the principles of SEO when content is shifting to video?">26</a></td><td><a href="http://wallblog.co.uk/2014/02/27/" title="Can your LinkedIn company page replace your corporate website?, The facts about Twitter trolling, Five reasons marketers should embrace Flash-free dynamic display, Muhammad Ali joins the rumble on Twitter">27</a></td><td><a href="http://wallblog.co.uk/2014/02/28/" title="Predicting the Oscars with social media (and the problem with Her), The growth of online performance marketing in the UK is encouraging but there’s no room for complacency, Ten mistaken beliefs about customer communities">28</a></td> <td class="pad" colspan="2"> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table></div></div><div id="rss-3" class="widget widget_rss"><h4 class="widgettitle h2"><a class='rsswidget' href='http://www.brandrepublic.com/rss/news'><img style='border:0' width='14' height='14' src='http://wallblog.co.uk/wp-includes/images/rss.png' alt='RSS' /></a> <a class='rsswidget' href='http://www.brandrepublic.com/rss/home'>News from Brand Republic</a></h4><ul><li><a class='rsswidget' href='http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/article/1336941/samsung-produces-live-tv-ad-galaxy-s6-mobile-world-congress'>Samsung produces 'live TV ad' for Galaxy S6 from Mobile World Congress</a><div class="rssSummary">Samsung has used its Galaxy S6 launch event at Mobile World Congress as the basis for an innovative TV spot, which was turned around in just three hours.</div></li><li><a class='rsswidget' href='http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/1336940/jo-swinson-backs-omnicom-female-leadership-event'>Jo Swinson backs Omnicom female leadership event</a><div class="rssSummary">Jo Swinson, the minister for women and equalities, has backed Omnicom's Omniwomen female leadership event, which is taking place in the UK for the first time.</div></li><li><a class='rsswidget' href='http://www.brandrepublic.com/article/1336918/disruptor-ollie-bishop-founder-digital-agency-roast'>Disruptor - Ollie Bishop, founder of digital agency Roast</a><div class="rssSummary">Having begun his career at Espotting Media in 2000, Ollie Bishop has gone on to found no less than five businesses.</div></li><li><a class='rsswidget' href='http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/article/1336914/five-innovations-marketers-watch-mobile-world-congress-2015'>Five innovations marketers should watch from Mobile World Congress 2015</a><div class="rssSummary">As Barcelona airport prepares for a surfeit of executives dragging cases across the terminal, and run on cuddly toys in duty free, Jim Dowling, managing director at Cake, picks his top five trends from Mobile World Congress 2015.</div></li><li><a class='rsswidget' href='http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/article/1336909/sony-rings-real-madrid-star-gareth-bale-help-revive-smartphone-sales'>Sony rings in Real Madrid star Gareth Bale to help revive smartphone sales</a><div class="rssSummary">Real Madrid midfielder Gareth Bale is the new ambassador for Sony's Xperia Z3 range of smartphones, and its activity tracker Lifelog, as the company looks to boost sales.</div></li></ul></div><div id="rss-4" class="widget widget_rss"><h4 class="widgettitle h2"><a class='rsswidget' href='http://wallblog.co.uk/feed/'><img style='border:0' width='14' height='14' src='http://wallblog.co.uk/wp-includes/images/rss.png' alt='RSS' /></a> <a class='rsswidget' href='http://wallblog.co.uk/'>More from The Wall</a></h4><ul><li><a class='rsswidget' href='http://wallblog.co.uk/2015/03/05/is-your-website-a-neanderthal/'>Is your website a Neanderthal? </a><div class="rssSummary">Websites were the dominant species of the early digital age. 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