Google’s SEO rules are actually pretty simple and follow a single basic principle, that pages should be built for users and not for search engines. The Google Webmaster Guidelines define all of the bad practices that will land you in hot water and include specifics of Black Hat techniques that should be avoided. The key rule being that you should ‘avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings’.
With the Penguin update, Google’s methods of checking up on websites abusing the SEO rules are more sophisticated so playing within the rules is now more important than ever.
Google: SEO Rules
In their constant effort to produce rankings of organically grown and authoritative internet content, Google penalise websites that employ any of these methods:
- Cloaking, hidden links and text.
- Paid link building schemes.
- Pages with little or no relevant/original content including those that have been automatically generated or scraped.
- Sites that are built for affiliate programs and add no extra value.
- Doorway pages or underhand redirects.
- Misleading loading pages stuffed with irrelevant keywords.
- Keyword stuffing.
When it comes to link building, specifically, Google’s SEO rules are a little more prescriptive with several guidelines to avoid a negative impact on your page ranking:
- Trading in links that pass PageRank – this could be the exchange of money, goods or services but if you ‘buy’ a link then you are contravening Google’ SEO rules.
- Using automated link software – any service that produces wholesale links to your site is a no-no.
- Excessive use of partner link exchange programmes – building backlinks exclusively with pages that are set up for cross-linking is considered a Black Hat tactic by Google.
- Wholesale content marketing with keyword rich anchor texts – campaigns designed to capitalise on certain keywords and posted globally will be likely to earn you a penalty.
‘Planting’ unnatural links is also a sure-fire way to earn you a penalty and negatively affect your page rankings. Defined as a ‘creating a link that wasn’t editorially placed or vouched for by a site’s owner’, an unnatural link can come in many guises. Here are a few examples:
- Comments left in forums that include a keyword-stuffed link either within the post itself or within the signature e.g.
Thanks for the advice on used cars, Peter. Used cars are a minefield when buying used cars.
- Links left in low-quality bookmark or directory sites. Directories have a place on the internet and are generally regarded by Google as being useful. Check the domain authority before listing your site on any of these services and check that they are well designed and maintained.
- Using any text advertisements that pass PageRank.
- Native advertising or advertorials where an article which includes links to pass PageRank has been paid for.
- Widgets, hidden links or low-quality keyword rich links that are embedded into sites. This can include widely distributed links within templates and footers of sites.
- Articles or press releases distributed across other sites with over optimised anchor text links e.g.
Jimmy’s is the best restaurant in London for best restaurant food. Find out why we are the best London restaurant in this guide to the best London restaurants.
The best way to avoid Penguin penalties is via the organic growth of natural backlinks and building links with high domain authority. You can use tools to assess a domain’s authority or ‘Trust Flow’ and follow the strategies we’ve outlined here. It’s important to do this as part of an ongoing process of maintenance to ensure that existing backlinks and any organic backlinks are of high quality.
Helpful SEO advice from Opace
Dodging the Penguin isn’t hard as long as you know the guidelines and working with an SEO company that understands Google’s SEO rules is important to avoid costly penalties. Here, at Opace, we know the importance of maintaining a good standing with the major search engines so contact us today on 0845 017 7661 to find out how we can improve your SEO strategy.