There are quite a few things that negatively impact your website’s ranking on the search engines. But in this article we will touch on six fairly key ones that lower your search engine ranking.
1. Poor Quality Page Content
This is probably the ultimate “sin” when it comes to websites and web pages. Your website and its pages MUST contain informative, relevant content that your visitors will find useful, and that Google can see IS indeed relevant to the search queries your prospective customers or followers are entering in the search engine search box.
Google wants to send its users, the searchers, to websites that are RELEVANT to their search queries.
So right away that tells you that you better have good relevant content on your web pages of the kind that your visitors would want and expect to find. If not, Google will soon figure it out, and send searchers elsewhere while your website sinks in the search engine rankings.
2. Duplicate Content
Google does not like duplicate content on the pages of your website. It also doesn’t like it if you have two websites which contain duplicate content. It also doesn’t like it if you copy from other websites’ content. And it is now pretty good at detecting websites that have taken original content from other websites and planted a “massaged” version of that content on their own pages.
Matt Cutts, Google engineer and spokesperson, is on record as stating that the way Google handles duplicate content is deciding which is the most important and ranking that highly while lowering the others. His one word answer to the question, “Is it good practice to combine small portions of content from other sites?” was “NO.”
3. Spammy or low quality backlinks.
This is getting to be old hat, but still some website owners aren’t getting the message. Google is on the warpath, and has been for some time now, against sites that have spammy, low quality backlinks coming from other sites. You will drop very quickly in the search engine rankings, or likely already have, if you have low quality backlinks coming into your site.
So what is a low quality backlink? It can be a link to your site coming from another site’s webpage whose content has nothing to do with the content on the page it is aimed at. These often have “click here” anchor text on the originating page and perhaps a word or two as to why you should click to go to the target site. But unless the page originating this link is a respected directory, an association in your industry, or is in some way relevant to your site’s content, it is low quality.
A spammy backlink typically comes from “link farms.” Link farms are sites which will link a jillion website or web pages to your site for a fee or some other exchange.
How do you handle backlinks you don’t want? You request the offending website take out the link to your website. Failing that, you can try Google’s Disavowing Link tool that can be found on your Google Webmasters.
There you will see the following Cautionary Note from Google:
“This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.”
4. Keyword Stuffing
This is the “technique” of inserting irrelevant keywords into web pages in an attempt to manipulate the Google search engine results.
According to Google, “Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose).”
Examples of keyword stuffing include: lists of phone numbers without substantial added value; Blocks of text listing cities and states a webpage is trying to rank for; Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural.
Sadly, many websites still try to fool the engines with these silly, and now obvious, tactics. Don’t do it, or you will pay the price of having your website sink in the search engine rankings.
Also note that with the advent of Google’s recent Hummingbird algorithm, Google can process natural language much easier than before, even to the point where it can now parse search phrases and sentences spoken on mobile devices.
So instead of keyword stuffing, fill your web pages with useful, informative, relevant content for your viewers, and so that Google can easily determine what your pages are all about.
5. Images with No “Alt” Text
This is a simple one. Remember that Google can’t yet “read” a picture or graphic. So make sure when you insert photos or other graphics into your web pages that you include “alt” text. It’s “alt” text because it provides an alternative to the graphic – text that Google and other engines can read. Alt text is typically inserted at the html code level. If you don’t know how to do this, your webmaster will. If you use WordPress, select the “Text” tab as opposed to the “Visual” tab when you go to insert alt tags.
If you want to make it easy for Google to show your photos and graphics in Google Images, you need to insert a short description in the alt tag that describes what the graphic is displaying. Most website owners are familiar with this, but if you aren’t make sure you get someone to show you how to do this. BTW, as long as you are not overdoing it, you can put a keyword in that alt text. Just make sure it makes sense to do so.
6. Pages with no HTML Title Tag, or no HTML Meta Descriptions in the “head” section of your web page’s underlying HTML code, or No H1 or H2
Headlines in the actual page content that is visible to visitors.
The HTML Title Tag and the Meta Description tag tell the search engines what the page is about. Again, if you don’t know how to insert title tags and meta descriptions, get someone to show you. Your webmaster will know.
You should also use headlines in your web pages similar to how offline advertisements do. A headline, besides being enticing and/or informative for your visitors, also tells Google that what’s in the headline is important. In HTML code, headlines range in size and importance from H1 through to H6.
With H1 being the largest, and hence, the most important. H1s are usually the main page title that is visible to viewers. Once you have your H1 title, one or two H2 headlines in the body copy liven up a page and make it easier to direct your viewers attention where you want it to go.
Today many platforms such as WordPress and other make it fairly easy to insert headlines even if you don’t know any HTML code. And if you do want to learn some very simple HTML basics such as how to format an HTML title tag or Meta Description tag, there are plenty of places on the net that will show you how.
Just Google it.
Written by Bob Nelson
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to RESULTS PROFESSIONAL MARKETING and a clickable link back to this page.