SEO Following Google Webmaster Guidelines: Mission Impossible?
This guest post is written by Val Danylchuk, the author of Web Tracking Guide, If you would like to write for us, Check the Guest posting Guidelines here
Google search engine has become the #1 traffic source for many websites. Millions of webmasters fight for top rankings and free targeted traffic that follows. This puts Google in a position to set some rules. In fact, they have to, otherwise their search results would turn into a world’s spam folder, and no-one would use their service.
If you are a webmaster who counts on Google as a primary source of traffic, you absolutely have to learn their guidelines and play by the rules. Otherwise, you risk to be banned from search results, and after that it is hard to get back.
SEO Webmaster Guidelines
So, if you haven’t read Google’s guidelines yet, do yourself a favor and start learning now. Read at least these two definitive documents to start:
You may notice that some of the restrictions sound really scary, effectively outlawing some widely used web promotion practices:
- “Linking schemes” are prohibited. They are defined as “links arranged to artificially manipulate PageRank”. But who determines the intent of a link? Link exchange was widely used long before Google, but now they view it as artificial PageRank manipulation, and you have to take that into account if you care about ranking on Google. The same applies to site-wide links, blog rolls, web rings and similar arrangements.
- Duplicate content penalties. Beware if you use blog engines – with default settings, they often publish the same content on a post page, home page and all related tag pages. Change your settings to display only summaries on most of these pages, or mark them “nofollow”. You should also beware of duplicate content if you syndicate articles in directories or other blogs. Do not publish the syndicated article on your website, it may be considered duplicate. Write an extended version, add some value.
- Doorway pages are defined as “keyword-optimized pages with little content, designed to rank high and send the visitor elsewhere.” Is there a clear distinction between a doorway and a regular page? If you publish any big database or index online, take care to put as much unique, valuable content on every page as possible.
- Paid links without “nofollow” can get both parties penalized. If you buy advertising, even if PageRank is not your focus, you can get banned if paid links are not marked “nofollow”. Google has a reporting system for that. So double-check with your advertising partner to comply.
- User-generated links without “nofollow” can get you penalized for “sharing authority” with bad sites. You are responsible for what you are linking to. So either make all user-generated links “nofollow”, or moderate them to make sure they are acceptable.
- Extensive promotion in social networks is considered suspicious. I have no idea how Google differentiates between reasonable announces with eventual success and artificial schemes, but be aware that unusual patterns in links and traffic may hurt you.
- The basic premise is “Build it and they will come.” Google seems to believe that if you have a valuable site, people will link to it naturally and promote it for you. Hundreds of SEO and Internet marketing experts beg to differ. That just doesn’t happen.
Is This a Lost Case?
With such draconian restrictions, which are targeted at black hat SEOs but affect innocent webmasters, how do you promote your website in a safe way?
You have two options:
- Let Google enjoy their pure index, and proceed with your regular promotion practices regardless of their rules. Make sure you receive enough traffic from other sources, so Google does not have the power to dictate you how to promote your business. If they list you, great. If they don’t, so be it.
- Do your best to follow Google guidelines rigorously. Limit yourself to the safest techniques possible. Simply white hat is not enough, use the shining-white-glows-in-the-dark hat.
Don’t let all of this scare you, it is still possible to promote your website successfully and rank well in Google. Here are a few tips to help you if you choose to comply.
- Remember that links “pass reputation”. Be extra careful when linking to other sites.
- Use guest blogging and link baiting, these are some of the safest promotion techniques available. Co-incidentally, they are also very effective.
- Avoid duplicate content.
- Use article submission, forum posting and social bookmarking judiciously, so they don’t look like a link spamming scheme; diversify your link sources.
- Only exchange links with highly targeted sites that practice the same policy.
- Don’t buy links for PageRank.
- Be aware of potentially dangerous practices and avoid them in favor of safer methods. Read my article: Top 10 Most Effective Link Building Techniques. Most methods listed there are safe when used thoughtfully.
Good luck with your Google rankings… Or your liberation, if you choose to ignore them!
This guest post is written by Val Danylchuk who blogs at Web Tracking Guide.