There was an 125 page document leaked last week on various blogs and newspapers online claiming to be Google’s new quality guidelines. Whether leaked by accident or not, it is a very interesting read for anyone who wants to improve their site rankings, as it clearly states what people should do in order to secure their web sites from being spam or regarded as low quality. I read the whole document with great interest and decided to make a simple guide for small companies who do not have the budget for marketing or SEO consultancy. Things need to be checked in order to make sure that you do not violate some of the basics rules flagged up by Google.
Here we go:
Rating scale and web spam
The biggest news is that Google now rates your landing page using five different scales: “Vital”, “Useful”, “Relevant”, “Slightly Relevant” and “Off-Topic or Useless”. This rating is judged by the relevance of your web site’s content with the search term. The “rating” of a web page is a scale, “web spam” is a flag. That means that in some cases your web site might be relevant to the search query but identify as spam. Your content is what will determine the scale rating and your web site design the one for spam (see web spam paragraph below).
“Vital” rating scale
While a celebrity’s name is classified as “vital” and will most probably drive traffic to that person’s personal web page (it makes sense if you google Britney Spears to get her official web site as the number one ranking), a generic entity is NEVER categorised as vital. For example the phrase “ipod reviews” would never be considered as vital, because while “ipod” is an entity,”ipod reviews” is not. It is an information query which means that users may be looking at many web sites which provide similar information to yours. So even if you bought the domain name http://www.officechairs.com unless your content is unique and relevant and not generic do not expect a number one ranking on the keywords “office chairs”.
Google ranks queries with multiple meanings in three different categories: Dominant, Common and Minor interpretations. Many queries have more than one meaning such as Windows or Apple – which could refer to the big computer software companies or the actual glass or fruit. The dominant interpretation of a query is the interpretation that most users have in mind when they issue the query. Bear this in mind when you choose your keyword optimisation strategy for your blog or web site.
Location is important
Good search engines return results that are local, which means that the results are good for users in their specific location. For example, if an English (US) user searches for [pizza], he is not interested in pizza restaurants in London, England. He wants pizza restaurants in the US. In most cases, Google will lower the rating if the page content is from another country. Specifically instructs: Do not hesitate to lower the rating to Off-Topic if there is a mismatch between the task location and page that makes the result useless for a user in the task location.
The above shows that Google has brought location based marketing to a new level, highlighting its importance not only as a marketing technique but also as a SEO optimisation rule. As I explained in my last blog regarding long tail keyword optimisation, this actually might be a good thing, since adding a location to your selected keywords will give you a competitive advantage as well as drive more targeted customers to your web site.
Web spam is the term for webpages that are designed by webmasters to trick search engines and draw users to their websites. Web spam pages include the following:
Hidden text & Hidden Links
Google also highlighted: Webmasters add hidden text and/or hidden links to lure search engines and users to their pages. Hidden text is visible to the search engine, but not to the user, who might find it distracting or annoying.
However, if you press “Ctrl” and “A” keys on your web page you can reveal any hidden text. Copy paste the text to Word format and make sure you increase the font size as well as click the font colour. Some webmasters add text with the font colour being the same to your web pages colour so you would never be able to see it while search engines do. You can also use Ctrl+U to see your front page source on any browser as well if you do not want to do the abovementioned procedure.
Webmasters sometimes load pages with keywords that are related to the query.
- Keywords repeated many times on the page
- Words that are related to keywords repeated many times on the page
- Multiple misspellings of keywords on the page.
Your selected keyword should never be more than four to six percent of your overall word count. If Google reads 100 words in your index page make sure you mention your main keyword four to five times, no more, to be on the safe side.
Keyword Stuffing in the URL
URLs may also contain keyword stuffing. These URLs are computer-generated based on the words in the query and are often formatted with many hyphens in them. They are a strong spam signal.
So if your web page looks like this: http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/our-services/social-media-marketing-for-small-business
Maybe consider making it look like this: http://www.atladasmedia.co.uk/services/smm
While it is not yet determined how many keywords on the URL are considered spam, I would make my links look like the above just to be sure. In most default templates you can change this through your Menu Manager.
Did you buy your web site by an agent or freelance designer?
If you or your webmaster happens to use a Joomlart or Drupal template, please do make sure that you have deleted ALL demo articles from your article directory. Most of these templates come with pre-set articles with irrelevant text. Even if you do modify your articles and pages based on your business, remove all other articles from your article directory when your web page is up and running. If Google reads this it will count toward your content relevance and you will be considered spam.
We call it a sneaky redirect when a page redirects the user from a URL on one domain to a different URL on a different domain, with spam intent. Search engines “see” the first page, while the user is sent to a different page and sees different content.
Simply put, if clicking on the same URL several times sends you to different landing pages each time that is considered sneaky and spam, even if your landing pages are high quality ones such as Amazon, eBay, Zappos, etc or any other popular affiliate programmes.
All this information enhances even more the need to be socially engaged with your potential customers. Social media marketing is going to be one of the most important parts of your overall internet marketing strategy especially with the latest changes on keyword queries Google presented a few days ago. Bear with me, I will update you about this very soon.
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