I’ve been going through my sites, friends’ sites and clients’ sites lately and looking for things that could anger Google. I’ve also been working with a ton of review and giveaway bloggers and have been seeing a lot of mistakes being made that could have a negative impact on their sites if Google finds it. Here are 5 common things you can find on numerous sites that can piss off Google and help to get your site penalized or unlisted from their database and rankings.
1. Requesting links back to your site by incentivizing your traffic
Whether it is through your giveaway software like Rafflecopter or just in your copy, this is looked upon negatively. I’ve seen people offering 5 or 10 entries to write a post about them and include keyword rich backlinks to their site or to their contest. Google looks down upon non natural links and if they find your site and see you are incentivizing people for giving you links, they can and probably will penalize you, or take that particular page out of where it currently ranks. You want to be careful with how you word things and if you just want them to write about your giveaway, don’t talk about links and don’t include keywords to create backlinks from with the entry. Let the site owner decide if they want to include a link and off of which terms to do it from. It should always be natural and you should not try to push for links, especially in plain site where Google can and will find it. You could also just have the person place your widget within their site as well if getting extra entries is your goal. Place copy and paste code on your site so they can have the contest on their site as well.
2. Asking for G+’s in your giveaways
One thing that is common and I almost started to do but ended up not doing was asking for a Google + vote for the post with the giveaway or for numerous other posts on a site. The reason why Google may frown on this is that they have included Google + as a much larger ranking factor for SEO. If you’re logged into any of your Google accounts and you have given a site a G+, that site will start showing up more often if there is a relevant page, instead of what you may have wanted to find or would have found without the G+ vote. If you look at normal search results, one of the things that appears under articles, posts and some sites are how many G+ circles the author or the site appears in. Because of the huge ranking factor given to a G+, almost as valuable and sometimes more important than a backlink, Google can get angry when you are giving entries in exchange for a G+ which wasn’t actually earned based on the content of or someone enjoying your site.
3. Media kits and selling backlinks
One thing that you’ll find in a ton of Media kits are the PR of the website and how many do follow backlinks you’ll get from buying ad space, a guest post or a sponsored review. Not only does this lower the value of your links when Google finds it, but if it finds that you and numerous others are trading links, you can end up creating a map or ring from your media kit, even if you didn’t intend for a ring to form. If Google finds patterns in links from companies that advertise with you and other similar sites, you could hurt your own rankings and standings in Google because it may map it as a webring or connect all your sites together. If newer companies with no authority are buying these ads with backlinks in them and using that as a strategy, you could actually do damage to them if Google picks up a pattern which could also have another negative impact on your site, your site’s authority and the authority of the links that come from your site. If that company hires an SEO firm and the firm finds these links, it could also cause you to lose a potential future advertiser.
4. Donations for backlinks
One thing that you’ll find when Bloggers are fundraising is that they give away backlinks at certain donation levels. This is definitely not something that Google looks well upon. It is basically the same thing as buying and selling backlinks. If you are fundraising and want to list people who have donated, don’t say you are selling backlinks for donations, but do it as a thank you to your sponsor and make sure you aren’t pitching that everyone gets backlinks. That is bad for both you and your donors’ websites.
5. Blogroll links off of the same keywords
Years ago people would be able to blogroll keywords and point them to their homepage or to specific pages on their site. Then Bloggers began blog rolling backlinks to other sites off of keywords and creating web rings of blog roll keyword links. They would even give four or five keyword rich blogroll links to one site from the same blog. This was great for SEO back then because you would get keyword rich backlinks from every page of a relevant site to yours and the Search Engines didn’t always look for it so it worked. Eventually Google got smarter and decided that this was definitely a bad practice and began penalizing sites for doing it. Luckily I never did this on my sites so I survived that update. Before you blogroll with your friends off of specific keywords, make sure you are doing it in a way that isn’t a web ring and you may want to just link off of the site’s name instead of a keyword. The content of the site is enough to let Google know what to rank you for and you won’t need the keyword rich blogroll link. Keyword rich blogroll links are also easy to spot and Google can easily tell what you’re doing. These types of links can also distract the spiders and robots from your main navigation and devalue the homepage links you are using to pass authority to your own site’s internal pages. You also want to make sure you don’t blog roll keywords from your own blog roll into your site, or at least be cautious with how many since it can end up looking like people who stuff their footers with keyword rich links or hide keyword rich links below the site in the footer space.
It’s kind of amazing how some people who know SEO still try to get away with these tricks or tell others who they compete with to use them. Many of them seem like good ideas at first, but when you think about what Google looks for and what they are trying to find when they are crawling their database to see who is trying to rank higher by using things they look down upon, some of these things are clearly not within their guidelines for what is good and what is not. There are a ton of other things which you’ll see on sites that could easily hurt their rankings if Google finds it, but these are 5 very common ones that I have been seeing a lot.