In the world of content marketing, search engine algorithm changes are often deadly. Often the websites that suffer the most are those that were created solely for the search engines, without a thought for the user experience. If your website has been left in the dust at any point by a search engine algorithm change like Panda or Penguin, and you want to avoid this in the future, then learn to identify and avoid these top 10 SERP killers.
1. Duplicate Content
According to Duane Forrester, Senior Product Manager at Bing, “Search engines demand fresh content.” Do not recycle old content or copy content from others. Add your own fresh, relevant content to preserve your rank. Remember, user experience should be your ultimate goal.
2. Stuff Those Keywords (or Ignore Them)
Keyword usage is essential to SEO, but you have to use them wisely. Incorporate the phrases people will be searching for, but avoid stuffing your pages full of keywords at the expense of readability. Write for the readers, but with keywords sprinkled in, and you will do well.
3. Stuff the Site with Graphics
Search Engine News warns that a site that is all graphics, with no text, will tank your rank quite quickly. You have to give the search engine spiders something to crawl.
4. Ignore Social Media
Do you have 0 Facebook Likes, Tweets or +1’s for your content? Your ranking is going to suffer. As the search engines are getting smarter, they are starting to recognize social media shares as a way to identify quality content. Bing is building strategic partnerships with major social media sites. Ignoring these venues will hurt your rank. Stick those buttons on your blog posts and encourage social media sharing of quality content.
5. Hide Your Text
It may seem logical that stringing together all of your keywords, and then hiding them by making the text color identical to your background, would work to fool the search engines. But that technique died years ago. In no way does this create a good user experience for searchers, and search engines will certainly penalize the website.
6. Ignore Your Load Speed
Google ranks sites well that load in 5 seconds or less. If you are adding so many graphics to your site that it does not load quickly, you will not rank well.
7. Fail to Erase Your Old Site
If you are redesigning your site, don’t forget to redirect all of your old URLs to your new ones using 301 redirects. Sort of like a “change of address” with the post office, this will ensure that your old “address” is not stealing your current traffic.
8. Links from Shady or Thin Websites
Google used to reward sites that had thousands of back links, but not anymore. Now the quality of those links is just as important as the quantity, so ignore the link schemes, directories and focus on building organic links through quality content marketing and expert networking.
9. Wax too Long with Content
Quality content is the focus of today’s search engines. If you can cover the topic quickly, then do so. Give the reader what they need without getting too wordy.
10. Create an Ad-Heavy Site
People don’t like to be bombarded with ads when they get to your site, so ad-heavy sites will be penalized. Yes, you need them to make money, but make sure those ads are balanced with large amounts of quality content.
The search algorithms are constantly evolving with one goal in mind: to provide users with the sites that meet their search needs. This is relevancy. As they get smarter, the SEO “tactics” that once worked by ignoring the human user are going to fall flat. Focus on providing the reader with quality content and a solid user experience, and you will do well.