Is Your Site Poised for a Search Engine Penalty?

Is Your Site Poised for a Search Engine Penalty?

If you’re a webmaster who’s devoted hours upon hours to building up your site and its presence in the natural search results, there’s almost nothing scarier than the thought of logging into your Google Analytics account and seeing the massive drop in traffic that indicates a search engine penalty.

It doesn’t matter if you’re facing manual action by Google or if your site simply fails to meet the quality threshold imposed by an unexpected algorithm update. What does matter is the potential loss of traffic and revenue your site faces if you don’t take the necessary steps to determine whether or not your website is at risk.

To minimize your site’s chances of being struck with a search engine penalty, pay attention to the following three factors:

Factor #1 – Is your content written for humans or computers?
In the “good ol’ days” of SEO, the search engines relied more heavily on the number of keyword repetitions present in a piece of content than on its quality when it came to determining which site to place at the top of the search results.

As you might expect, website owners and early SEO strategists figured this out pretty quickly – resulting in websites that were cluttered with keyword-stuffed articles, “hidden” text displayed in the same color as the page’s background and paragraphs of “optimized” content buried in website footers.

But while these strategies would have helped your site to achieve top rankings in 1996, the search engines have come a long way since these early days. Their algorithms are now much more sophisticated and they’re constantly being improved, as evidenced by 2011’s Google Panda update, which specifically targeted low-value website content.

So how should you proceed when it comes to content creation these days? Simple – write for both your readers and the search engines.

As a website owner, your primary consideration should be developing content that your readers will find useful, as the search engines’ long-term intention is to reward sites that provide the best possible value for their users (even if their algorithms aren’t yet sensitive enough to achieve this 100% of the time).

At the same time, though, throw the search engines a bone when it comes to determining the subject of your content by including your target keywords at least once or twice in your body content in a natural way. Don’t go overboard (10% keyword density, for example, is a dead giveaway that you’re trying to game the system), but do make the purpose of your content clear to both readers and the search engines.

Factor #2 – Is your site too perfectly optimized?
over optimization penalty

Run a quick Google search for “on-page SEO techniques” and you’ll come up with lists of specific, easily implemented recommendations on how to make your site’s content more search engine friendly.

Now, don’t get me wrong – tips like adding your target keywords to your title tags, optimizing your body content heading tags and creating internal links between your site’s pages are all valid SEO and usability recommendations.

However, it’s totally possible to get carried away with on-page optimization, resulting in a site that’s weirdly uniform in its SEO value. If you’ve completed the exact same optimization steps on all of your pages, you’ve essentially created a digital footprint that tells the search engines, “I’m trying to manipulate your algorithms into ranking my site better.”

There’s no guarantee that doing too much SEO will lead to immediate action taken against your site, but it’s worth noting that Matt Cutts – the head of Google’s Web Spam Team – has been hinting about the possibility of an over-optimization penalty for years. To keep your site safe, focus your efforts on creating highly-valuable content – not on meeting some arbitrarily defined SEO standards.

Factor #3 – How “natural” is your backlink profile?
Finally, one major area that the search engines have been cracking down on recently is link spam – that is, low value backlinks created for the explicit purpose of improving natural search performance.

Google’s Penguin update of 2012 was one of the first major indications that the search giant intended to penalize sites using manipulative link schemes. Since the update’s initial rollout, a number of further Penguin modifications have been released, indicating that the elimination of any benefit generated via link spam is likely to remain a priority for the engines in the near future.

As such, it’s important that you take a look at the quality of the sites pointing links back at your own pages. Start by gathering a list of your existing backlinks using the information provided by Google’s Webmaster Tools program or a third-party system. Analyze your links, paying particular attention to any created on low quality sites for the specific purpose of building SEO value.

If you encounter bad backlinks in your profile, you can either attempt to remove them (using the Google Disavow Links tool if your efforts aren’t successful) or you can try to outweigh their influence by building quality links using more natural methods. Whichever option you choose, make the regular monitoring of your site’s backlink profile a part of your regular SEO routine in order to avoid search engine penalties that could threaten the stability of your web-based business.

How to Choose a Good SEO Company in Uganda for Your Business/Website

How to Choose a Good SEO Company in Uganda for Your Business/Website

How to Choose a Good SEO Company in Uganda for Your Business or Website

A reliable and trustworthy SEO company can help your business grow by establishing your digital brand and ensuring that you have the best possible Internet presence.

A lot of companies fail to take advantage of the power of the Internet because their SEO consultants do not have the necessary experience or knowledge to identify new markets and explore new opportunities.

The importance of reliability in SEO

I am insisting on the matter of reliability and trustworthiness because after talking with a couple of our latest clients, I realized that they have experienced a sudden drop in traffic after they hired an ‘SEO company’ that did all sorts of tricks on their account.

So, choosing a reliable SEO firm is not only important for progress but it is also necessary in order to avoid losing your traffic potential due to bad SEO practices.

Step 1 – Decide why you need to hire an SEO Company

Before actually choosing which SEO firm you will trust, it is important to decide and have clear in your mind, the reasons you need to hire an SEO firm in the first place.

In my opinion you should consider hiring an SEO or digital marketing firm when:

  • You don’t have a have website and you need to build a proper Internet presence from the beginning.
  • You have a website but you are not getting any traffic
  • You have a website, you are getting traffic but not customers (i.e. conversions)
  • You have a website but it is not optimized for search engines, social media or users
  • You want to improve your internet presence
  • You want  to find new customers in other digital markets i.e. mobile

Step 2- Where can you find a good SEO firm?

SEO firms live online; they are not the kind of companies that need to be in your neighbourhood.

In the majority of the cases all communication is carried out via email, skype or Google+ hangouts and there is absolutely no reason for a site visit. This method is actually faster and it also costs less.

So, where can you find good SEO Companies?

1) Word of mouth – Ask you friends (either your real friends or your friends on FB, Twitter, LinkedIn) if they have a recommendation to make.

Knowing that a company did good work on someone else’s web property is a very positive factor.

2) Click on the ads – When you search for terms like ‘reliable seo company’ or ‘seo services’ you will see a number of ads on top of the search results.

These are PPC ads and companies that their ads are displayed, invested a good amount of money to secure one of the top positions.

In order to get a good ROI they have to provide for a good service otherwise they will not be able to survive in the long term.

3) Organic rankings – The same rules apply for organic rankings. Companies that appear in the first positions of the SERPs have already invested a good amount of time and money, which is another signal that they take their business seriously.

In addition, if they can find customers online for their own needs, they can do it for you as well.

Step 3- How to assess the reliability of a SEO company?

Regardless of how you will find the company to hire, it is always advisable to do a bit of assessment before making your final decision.

In general a quick way to assess the reliability of a company is by looking at the services

If you see something like ‘We can get you to the top of Google Search’, in simple words it means that they don’t know what they are doing.

Too good to be true promises are equivalent to fake promises and you need to stay away.

They can explain what actions they will do – Although your goal is to hire a professional firm to handle your Internet presence without having to worry about SEO or digital marketing, this does not mean that you shouldn’t know what methods they will use to increase your website rankings or get more traffic.

If they can’t explain exactly what they will do and all they tell you is about ‘building links’ then forget about them, they can do more harm to your website than good.

Ask them to do a SEO Audit first – Another way to evaluate the work of an SEO is to ask them to do an audit of your website. A SEO Audit does not cost much, but it’s a quick way to evaluate the effectiveness off the company.

If you are happy about their work you can continue with buying more services.

Talk to them – Don’t forget about the traditional methods i.e. make a meeting. In this case it can be a virtual meeting using Skype or Google+ but you can still ask questions and interview your prospective partners.

Step 4- It’s all in the results

One of the most interesting things about the internet is that everything is measurable.

There are metrics and reports that can help you measure and monitor the activity of your website in terms of incoming visits, time users spend on site, pages they visit and many more .

What you can do is start looking at these metrics and if after 6-7 months the SEO Company you hired did not manage to bring in more traffic then possibly you need to consider changing your contract.

The best way is to discuss with them first and hear what they have to say having always in mind that changes to a website may take time to generate positive or negative results.

As a rule of thumb 6-7 months is a good period to judge the effectiveness of any SEO techniques.

Conclusion

Even if you are a small business owner, a blogger or an online shop owner, you need to ensure that you have the best possible Internet presence and that you are taking advantage of all digital channels.

If this is something you cannot do yourself either because you don’t have the time or knowledge then it is more preferable to hire a professional, reliable and trustworthy SEO firm to do it for you.

Before hiring an SEO make sure that: you know what they will do, how much you will have to pay and what to expect as a result.

Don’t believe in too good to be true promises and if they don’t produce decent results after 6-7 months then consider terminating your contract.

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