Website devaluation is a hot SEO topic today, and it’s an important step when considering your company’s online presence. Google releases algorithm updates regularly, which means what may have worked six months ago is no longer a white hat SEO tactic.
Improving your startup’s SEO is a long-term process, so be wary of anyone selling quick fixes. When your website is devalued, you will drop lower in rankings, and will no longer appear in some searches. These seven actions can all lead to your website’s devaluation by Google.
Fear not, because many of these can be changed fairly easily and can become a part of your long-term strategy.
How Your Website Is Being Devalued by Google
Number 1: Overusing Link Building in Press Releases
A common practice for many companies was to publish their press releases with a dual purpose. It would be the PR they needed, but it would also improve their link building. This overused strategy is now devalued by Google, which means press releases need to be used only for that: press.
Google compares press release distribution for SEO benefit as another source of paid links. Other forms of paid linking have been devalued for some time, and now link building in press releases has been added to the list.
It’s important to note that this isn’t a penalty. It’s the “removal of value” for your website, thus decreasing your SEO power.
Number 2: Using Black Hat SEO
This is one of the most common ways to get devalued by Google, and not something you want to try. Black hat SEO has decreased over the last few years, but some companies are still trying.
Black hat SEO involves tactics like:
- Keyword stuffing
- Hidden text
- Link farms
Cloaking for SEO
Cloaking occurs when the content presented to the algorithm is different from what’s on the website. Visitors will see a visually appealing website, but the graphics and limited text can impact SEO performance.
Therefore, some companies present a different website to the algorithm that has the same URL, but more SEO-friendly content. Instead, balance visuals and copy to create a customer-focused website that is also beneficial to your SEO.
Keyword Stuffing for SEO
It’s beneficial to use keywords throughout a piece of content, but to a certain extent. If you begin stuffing a blog post full with your choice keywords, it will not only be harder to read, but it will also be unfriendly to the bots crawling your content.
Because the algorithms have gotten smarter, it’s unnecessary to include excessive keywords. Instead, focus on providing valuable content and strategic keyword usage.
Hidden Text for SEO
Web developers have been using this trick for years, and it initially worked. They would include keyword-heavy text in the same color as the website’s background, making it invisible to the viewer but visible to the search engine.
This meant they could add a greater number of keywords throughout the website without impacting user experience. Smart, but not what you want to do for your own startup’s SEO. Instead, focus on a few choice keywords used well throughout your website.
Link Farms for SEO
Link farms are created for the sole purpose of increasing a website’s popularity by increasing inbound links. This is typically done via a service rather than manually, and often looks like a typical web page with excessive hyperlinks.
This doesn’t sound inherently bad, but these link farms typically connect unrelated content. Google doesn’t like unrelated content, which means websites using this technique can be de-indexed.
These tactics are particularly important to know when hiring an SEO firm to help your startup. Unfortunately, many un-reputable SEO firms use black hat tactics for seemingly impressive results and a quick buck, only to disappear when Google discovers what they’ve done.
When a search engine finds these tactics in play, they will penalize your website and remove it from the search engine index. Not what you want!
Number 3: Low Quality Backlinks
When sourcing backlinks, you need to focus on high quality sources. Low quality sources and spam websites are a red flag for Google’s crawlers, in addition to irrelevant links. (Like link farms.)
It’s important to acknowledge that every site will have some low-quality links, so you only need to be concerned when it reaches above 75%. When sourcing backlinks, check their Open Site Explorer Domain Authority or Ahrefs Domain Rank. (You’ll want to avoid websites that score below 10 or 40, respectively.)
Link building is like a neighborhood. You want to build your relationships with websites in the good neighborhoods, because that will better benefit your startup. For instance, a small local business would want a link from their local chamber of commerce instead of one from a random blog that has nothing to do with their industry.
Find your neighborhood, and focus on quality over quantity.
Number 4: Using Excessive Guest Blogging
Wait, isn’t guest blogging great? It can be! While building relationships and writing unique blog posts for every guest posting opportunity is a white hat SEO tactic, Google considers submitting repetitive and low-quality posts to multiple websites as a violation of its distributer guidelines.
Instead of saving your best posts for your own website and giving your second best to other websites, focus on providing high quality, unique posts to other bloggers. This will not only help with your personal relationship with them, but also provide the best information to their followers and can ultimately help your brand. (As well as your SEO.)
Connecting with followers outside of your own will help grow your base.
Number 5: Ignoring Slow Page Loading Speed
Video backgrounds, high quality imagery, and animation can be a great addition to your website, but it’s important to remember the value of a quick loading website. If your website loads too slowly, your visitors may grow impatient and head to a competitor.
Google’s algorithm regularly crawls websites specifically looking at loading times, and large file sizes can negatively impact this. Google also looks for mobile-friendly design and intuitive navigation.
To minimize your risk of being devalued because of this, focus on user experience. Work on decreasing loading speeds and increasing intuitive design elements. It’s possible to create an engaging website that also meets Google’s standards; it just takes some additional effort.
Number 6: Ignoring Website Security
Security is crucial for your website, especially if you have ecommerce or membership features. Google prioritizes security (rightfully so), and will devalue your website if you fail to meet certain criteria.
These standards include:
- Implementing two-factor authentication
- Purchasing advanced security packages
- Partnering with a reputable hosting company
The less secure your website is, the more vulnerable it is to a hack. And while you may not be holding the unreleased episodes of Game of Thrones, you still have information that needs to remain secure.
Number 7: Using Duplicate Content
For search algorithms, duplicate content is a sign of less valuable content. For example, three blog posts on the same topic with the same keywords. While the repetition may not seem bad from a business side, it can hurt you when looking for improved SEO.
When creating an ecommerce or niche service website, it can be a challenge to create truly unique pages for every item or every blog post. It will be worth this extra effort and expense when your SEO continues to improve.
SEO is a complicated beast and can quickly become overwhelming. Instead of getting exasperated and hoping for the best, focus on avoiding these seven tactics. Google’s devaluations are built to help consumers, and it’s critical that you follow their rules if you want to appear in their results and improve your SEO.
Not all SEO firms are created equal. Find out how we wear the white hat and create lasting, numbers-based results for your startup by calling us at (415) 640-8009.