Google SEO penalties & how to avoid them

google logo 2013

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 <title> and ALT attributes
– Ensure there is one keyword rich, human friendly URL for each page
– Your page should include relevant, unique, keyword rich content

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.

Step 2: 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.

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:

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Step 3: Now we have a list of actionable priorities that we can build a strategy around.

The top three signals within the correlation are:

– Content being shared on Google+
– Content being shared on Facebook
– Number of backlinks

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.

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:

– Ensure the website has unique and useful content
– Ensure that each page has content sharing calls to action
– Ensure that each piece of content relates to a unique URL

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.

At the7stars we focus on high value, scalable link acquisition and are able to break these sources down into three target areas:

– High quality, hand reviewed directories

We have a dedicated in house team that are constantly testing these directories for safety and value.

– .edu .gov and .ac TLDs

From offering student incentives, policy related content and contests; these domains continue to be a high value source of backlinks

– Content earns links

Use tutorials, product comparisons, and free resources as a source of powerful passive link building

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.