Whether you personally carry out your business website’s SEO, it is done by someone else in-house, or you employ the services of an external SEO consultancy, in all three scenarios, it is Google’s rules that you are playing by. If their rules have a preference for something, it should be done, if there is something that they don’t like, it needs to be avoided where ever possible.
One such area to be aware of is in relation to what Google considers spam. In particular, Google has a spam filter, whose main purpose is to weed out spam content and activities, and the websites who are creating it. At this point it is important to make the distinction between poor content and spam content or tactics.
Poor content is simply content that is written badly, difficult to consume or which simply does not give any visitor a positive experience. This may create some issues in relation to ranking with specific metrics like the time visitors stay on your website being noted by Google as being poor. They may push down your websites ranking on the SERPs, but you would not be flagged as having used spam.
While publishing poor content may just innocently be down to website owner’s inability to create good content, spam content and other spam tactics are seen by Google as deliberate attempts to manipulate a website’s ranking.
There are numerous ways in which spamming can be classified, but there are three ways which create huge red flags in the eyes of Google.
We won’t go into huge detail here as it is obvious from the term what this is. It is the practice of using excessive amounts of keywords not just in the content, but in other places such as meta descriptions and tags. Google went on the crusade against keyword stuffing many years ago, and anyone who has paid any attention to their announcements since, will know that it continues.
Spamming Using Backlinks
Backlinks can play a huge role in helping websites with their SEO, and Google encourages their use, but only if done properly. Google want backlinks to help users navigate within a website or between websites. What they definitely do not want are backlinks which serve no other purpose than to try to artificially boost a website’s search engine ranking.
There are some specific tactics that if used and discovered by Google will put it in real danger of being put through Google’s spam filter.
- Linking out to popular websites whose subject matter is not relevant to the website linking to it.
- Link sponsorship programs which sell backlinks or exchange backlinks in return for goods or services.
- Link farms and exchanges where users create links from their sites in return for backlinks from others.
- Using anchor text in links with phrases like ‘Click Here’ or ‘Click for More Info’
- Using anchor text which misleads the user who is taken to a website they weren’t expecting to see
In some circumstances, redirects can be perfectly innocent, such as a new domain name being created, but wherever possible they should be avoided. They can raise potential spam filters from Google, and if they detect any other issues it may tip the balance of their opinion in a direction you don’t want.
Here are some redirect tactics you most definitely should refrain from:
- Creating redirects from previously high traffic expired domains.
- Redirecting to the homepage but using a splash page instead.
- Creating unnecessary redirects from the homepage, after it has been found via a search on Google.
If you use Google Search Console, it has tools you can use which will flag up any potential spam issues with your website before Google steps in and applies a spam filter.