Like it or not, Google is the only real sheriff in town when it comes to the Internet. Because sites depend so heavily on ranking well with Google in order to generate traffic, any rules or regulations that Google has put in place will matter and, therefore, should be understood by all website and blog owners.
While those rules might not have been prevalent 10-15 years ago, they’re an important part of your SEO strategy today, as making a wrong move can cause your site or blog to be penalized by Google, thereby, less noticeable and relevant in search results.
Thankfully, avoiding these penalties is a simple matter of knowing what not to do with your blog, particularly in the area of link building.
If you try to honestly create great posts, develop useful content and don’t intentionally try and take shortcuts to higher rankings, your blog will probably be fine; however, you need to at least be aware of the specific ways that you can avoid getting penalized by Google.
Here are five most important ones:
1. Keep An Eye On Google Webmaster Tools
If you don’t have a Google Webmaster Tools account, you should create one now and set one up for your blog.
Webmaster Tools allows you to see what sites are linking to your blog, what inbound links you have and just about every detail of how people are getting to your site via search queries. You’ll also have a panel that monitors site errors, which is a good thing to keep an eye on.
While you don’t need to religiously scan Webmaster Tools, it is still a great way to manage your links and make sure that you don’t have any looming errors that need to be addressed.
2. Avoid Link Building Sites & Scams
This is getting to be a no-brainer in our day of advanced Google algorithms and penalties. Google has no patience for link building sites, and if they can tell that you’re engaging in that kind of activity, getting a ranking penalty is the best you can hope for.
Since Google is trying to weed out link scam sites, you might see your blog become de-indexed from Google entirely, even if you do have great content.
The safest bet here is to approach your link building from a completely organic perspective. If you’ve already got great content on your site, the last thing you’ll want to do is ruin it by paying to have thousands of links pointing to your blog that will only serve to prove your guilt and incriminate your domain name.
3. Be Picky About Affiliate Links & Ads
It’s fine (and even encouraged) to have affiliate links and ads that are relevant to your site; however, you’ve got to be careful not to have too many.
If your blog is overloaded with affiliate links or keeps links to products or sites that aren’t relevant to your blog’s topic, Google might label you as a “thin” affiliate site, particularly if your content isn’t anything to write home about.
Be on the safe side and limit your affiliate links to relevant products and sites, while keeping them sparse throughout your blog.
4. Make Content Your Main Focus
The general rule of thumb is that if you’re primarily focused on creating a blog with great content, Google will recognize that and will give you some slack. It’s pretty easy to tell when you cross a line from honest site building to crafty blackhat SEO techniques, so just make sure you stay on the right side of the fence, and if you do, your site will be fine.
5. Monitor The Quality Of Your Inbound Links
Even if you follow all the rules, you can end up having seedy websites link to your blog. Use Webmaster Tools to stay on top of this.
If you find that you have links that you don’t want, email the site’s admin and request to have the link removed. If they don’t, keep a record of your email in case you need to plead your case before the Google courts.
Keep it Simple
If you avoid cutting corners and just put honest work into your blog, Google will likely not penalize you, so just make sure you’re not the person who’s trying to circumvent the system.
Instead, put effort into your content and make sure you’re offering up something that Google will want people to see.
Have you received a penalty from Google? If so, what were you penalized for? Did you manage to fix whatever was wrong with your site and get reapproved, or are you still struggling to find a solution? Please get in touch below via the comments section and let us know.