Whenever trends start to come around, especially ones that have already caused slaps in the past, Google comes back and slaps the sites right out of their indexes, or your site from your old SERPs, and rewards the Webmasters and Bloggers who paid attention and at least didn’t advertise that they were doing stupid things. Unfortunately with the new wave of Bloggers that might be able to write to build an audience based on a couple of pages that rank well, they don’t know how to keep their rankings which will enable smart people to take over. Many of them also do not realize that you should never depend or rely on Google (Or Mention the keywords you rank for in your media kits) because relying on Google could wipe them out if they relied on one or two pages for the majority of their traffic. With Google+, Panda, Penguin, Weather and Q4, the Google Dance is back again and that means you need to be smart or get ready to fail. Here are ten things I have noticed and ten things that can cause you to get Google slapped in the next few Google Dances. (I wrote this before Matt Cutts weather updates which is actually one of the things in here. You should also think about Zebra before it gets released to play with Penguin and Panda.)
1. Selling links as part of a post.
If you clearly say, state or write on your site that you can buy links or a certain amount of links inside a purchased post, regardless of how many words are in the post, this can get you a Google slap. No where in writing should you say you will sell off links or you can buy an extra link within a paid post. This is exactly what Google is telling you not to do and selling links is bad for your Advertisers, the quality of your site and can penalize everyone. You should also be careful what you write in emails because you never know who will get them and send them into Google if you anger them, they are your competitors, etc…
2. Deleting those posts when the advertising is over (especially when it’s a yearly buy).
This is one of the worst things you can do, but it is another growing trend. Some site owners are selling off links and blog posts as part of a package when the advertiser just wants to buy an ad to get banner space on the site. Unfortunately if the blog is just advertisers’ posts or a majority of the content is, or you keep the post but remove their links, this can potentially hurt you. If someone writes you copy and there are legit links there, don’t ever delete it (unless it is causing you damage). If Google liked your content but wasn’t ready to rank it yet and finds it missing, it can and probably will penalize you. Even if that company is no longer spending money with you, they did initially spend and keeping the posts active on your site keeps the content in place which makes the engines happy and keeps your site healthy and able to rank for more long tail keywords. Constantly deleting content and links is a bad thing and something you need to be careful off. If you delete links to sites that don’t work anymore or have changed content, that’s one thing, if its because an advertisers or website isn’t paying you, the Search Engines (SEs) will figure it out and your site could get a large penalization.
3. Flat out saying how many links you get per post.
If you say how many links you get in any post someone buys, the SEs can easily now prove you are selling links and your authority and can remove it from you. This has never been looked well upon and if you are buying from sites that clearly sell these links, you are also putting yourself at risk since the SEs know about them and look for them. If this is a chunk of your backlinks and strategy, you should prep to have your rankings removed and have a backup plan to make up the missing revenue, until you can rebuild your rankings.
4. Using all no follow
This is something that has become another growing trend. Lets start with what each is.
Do Follow – Do Follow links are links that say the site I am linking to is relevant and a trustworthy site. That link helps to tell the SEs what to rank that page/site for in their indexes. The more links like this from high quality and relevant sites, the better chance the SEs will start to show you for those terms.
No Follow – No Follow links were created for webmasters to say that the site they are linking to is not trustworthy and they don’t think the content is relevant. This does not give any credit to ranking the website.
If you no follow links to sites that have a ton of authority, that can hurt you since you are telling the SEs that they are wrong just like linking to these sites with Do Follow shows you know what you are doing and can actually help you in your rankings. Adding no follow links to all of your links also shows that you are just randomly linking out on the web and there is nothing relevant out there. This also looks bad on your site and can penalize you. You need to be cautious of who you do and don’t add no follow tags to and do it smart.
5. Keyword stuffing your footer and over tagging
I always love this. This is when you have a footer link with more than 4 or 5 keywords in it and they aren’t being used for navigation, but are used to push link juice. Then you can have one where you have 20 or more footer links, which is never good, trying to pass even more link juice but is actually reducing the amount of authority each link can pass. My favorite is when you scroll down and see a large solid colored footer. If you highlight it you might find hundreds of keywords stuffed in the footer and also with the same color as the footer links so it looks like a solid box. This is a very old trick and does not work for long term success anymore. It is also a growing trend and one that new Bloggers and Site Owners need to be cautious of when using them.
6. Buying likes, tweets and Google+’s
Facebook, Twitter and especially G+ have been cracking down on fake profiles, follow me I follow back, etc… Think about link exchanges and link farms from years ago. All of the people who follow everyone back on twitter are essentially doing this. If you have 12K followers and are following about the same amount, being mentioned as a person who follows back, etc… it is obvious you may not be an authority in that field for much longer. Eventually the SEs will update their ranking signals and this could cause a penalization off of the authority of people tweeting and sharing you. It will still help your site, just not as much as someone with a much lower number of people they follow vs. followers that is also within your niche sends out a Tweet. The same goes for G+. It clearly shows how many circles you have and circles you are in. This could easily become a ranking factor (I actually already think and say it is). If you are clearly not an authority because of an equal or odd amount of circles, it could reduce relevance, especially with Author Rank. Asking people to like you or G+ you is a definite way to try and game this and if you do it publicly through Rafflecopter or in a post, you could get penalized, especially for asking for G+’s.
7. Incentivizing Google+’s
This is the same as above. Some people are incentivizing traffic to add G+’s or to give them G+’s. This is definitely something Google will penalize you for. You should never do it if you want long term success.
8. Heavy amounts of guest posts off of lists
If you type in marketing blogs that allow guest posts or cooking sites that allow guest posts and find these lists and start posting on them. This is an easy way to get caught not having natural links. The SEs know about these lists because they make their jobs easier in catching sites that sell off links. These lists contain high quality sites and if all of the sudden you start showing up on them and eventually cover a good portion of them within a short time frame, it could raise a flag with the SEs that you are going after easy to get links that aren’t natural and you could cause your site to get a penalization.
9. Creating lists as bait
This is an old trick to get a ton of shares and people hitting your site. You can also get a ton of comments and thank yous for adding people to these lists. Unfortunately what people aren’t thinking about is that this is an obvious link bait trick and one that Google will probably start to hit within the next couple of animal updates. It probably won’t be in Zebra, but we may start to see Zebra hit these easy link bait tricks. If you do a list of people and add their Twitter accounts then all of the sudden there are tweets going out about them, Google sees these and may begin to penalize you now for them since it is obvious you are going for link bait and free traffic. It could be for a specific keyword or term and you have an internal link in the post you wanted to pass juice on with to rank a specific page or it could be to get that page to rank. Whatever you are doing your list for, remember that this is an old trick and one that the SEs and Google may start going after soon. Right now I don’t think it will penalize you, but it may change in the future so you should think about your lists and what the actual goal of it is.
10. Selling links
This is dumb. Don’t put it in your media kit, don’t advertise it and don’t do it. Yes you can sell ad space, but when you specifically call it a backlink or you say you are selling links and mention your PR, you can get your site penalized.
Now that Google is updating every month and adding new animals and changes to it’s algorithm, the Google Dance is officially back. Some of the tricks black and grey hat SEOs used to use are now coming back with new Bloggers and Site Owners. If you don’t be cautious and these are on your site or in your strategy, you may get a Google Slap and your site may begin to fall out of the SERPs.