The Power of Organic Ranking and How Not to Abuse It

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How Not to Abuse Your Site's Organic Ranking | SEJ

The days of the spamming activities working are gone. Google has been successfully punishing those who violate their guidelines and rewarding those who follow it. The search engine giant wants to be fair with businesses, big or small, making equal treatment in organic ranking a priority.

However, we cannot ignore the fact that many of us want to get ranked on the first page of SERPs.

There is a tremendous increase in market share of organic traffic as an advertising channel for businesses. Therefore, the desire to outrank their competitors on SERPs is a no-brainer for business owners.

How Not to Abuse Your Site's Organic Ranking | SEJ

Screenshot taken June 2015 from Net Market Share

What these people do not understand is that search engines have set rules for webmasters on what to do and what not to do when it comes to optimizing websites. Google will penalize anyone who is caught manipulating their organic ranking, and it could take some time before you can get your site back in the game.

How Not to Abuse Your Site's Organic Ranking | SEJ

Screenshot taken June 2015 from Google Keyword Planner

As to why Google decided to take action against those who over-optimized their websites? Simply because we all want to rank and rank some more. These algorithm updates are all about preventing our tendency to abuse our organic ranking.

So how can you stop yourself from misusing known ranking factors, and prevent your website from losing organic rankings?

1. Build a Good Looking Link Profile

SEO is more than just links. Because of our intent to outrank our competitors and get to the top spot of SERP mnay businesses tend to employ unnatural link building tactics on their site. Sure, link is a known ranking factor, but it is one of over 200 search components that Google takes into consideration.

A lot of websites have suffered already because of unnatural and aggressive link building practices. These websites have lost their organic rankings and eventually traffic. It only goes to show that Google is after quality and not quantity.

Here is an example of websites with link-based penalty:

How Not to Abuse Your Site's Organic Ranking | SEJ

Screenshot taken June 2015 from Searchmetrics

If you do not want to be one of them, here are some tips in building a good-looking link profile:

  • Focus on topically related websites
  • Do not use keyword-focused anchor text
  • Avoid linking to adult sites and penalized sites
  • Avoid linking to article directory sites, low-quality directory, and social bookmarking sites
  • Do not buy links
  • Do not participate in link networks

2. Do Not Stuff Your Web Content with Keywords

Aside from crappy links, there is also a tendency to populate websites with keywords. Too many website owners want to rank, regardless of whether their audience is satisfied with their content or not. Worse, they try to integrate keywords that are hidden to search users.

Here is a perfect example of a keyword-stuffed content:

How Not to Abuse Your Site's Organic Ranking | SEJ

Back in 2011, keyword-stuffed web pages could perform well in organic ranking. Thanks to density and exact match keywords. However, keyword stuffing these days no longer works since it does not give value to users.

Here are some tips on how you can avoid keyword stuffing:

  • Avoid repeating your keyword over and over. Check what Matt Cutts has to say about keyword density.
  • Use words synonymous to your keyword (e.g. “digital marketing” and “online marketing”) without being over-saturated.
  • Use term relationships to tap potential keyword opportunities (e.g. online marketing: paid marketing or organic marketing)

3. Produce High-Quality Content

Another big misconception back in the old days was that producing content daily would be enough to rank. User engagement was not even considered. This leads many to write a 500-word article and reproduce it using content spinning platforms.

Today’s digital marketing industry is highly competitive, and producing quality content is one way to win the game.

Here are some tips on how to create quality content:

  • Identify your audience. More than knowing whether someone is going to read your content, you also need to figure out who you should be targeting and what they are looking for.
  • Research your topic and find out what information has already been provided by your competitors: You want to produce something unique, not just an echo of your competitors.
  • Add headings, sub-headings, and use the “one thought, one paragraph” practice to make your content readable. Relevant images and videos can also make your content appealing.
  • Keep an eye on misspellings and grammatical errors. 

4. Always Keep User Experience in Mind

Content and links may play a huge role when it comes to your site’s organic ranking, but you should not forget user experience matters. After all, Google main goal is and always has been to give a better user experience to search users.

If you want to improve your website’s UX, here’s what you need to do:

  • Optimize your content, images, and videos  so your site loads quickly
  • Fix your site’s navigational hierarchy and breadcrumbs
  • Make sure your site is compatible with all browsers and is optimized for mobile devices

5. Do Not Overuse Sitewide Links

Sitewide links are definitely useful. No doubt about that. However, in order to pass some link juice from one page to another, and help other pages improve organic ranking sometimes, we use sitewide links too much.

In 2012, Google released a video about how they consider sitewide links, which was answered from an algorithmic and manual standpoint.

From an algorithmic standpoint, they may only count 100 links from a domain as one. But on a manual standpoint, if the link is entirely irrelevant, commercial, or off-topic, that could negatively affect the performance of the site in terms of trustworthiness and search performance.

How can you tell if Google may treat sitewide links negatively?

  • If they are naturally followed links, yet are hidden in a location that does not generate click-thru or traffic
  • If links are keyword-rich anchor text (e.g. “home builder arizona”)
  • If links are spammy and entirely irrelevant to the external site

Conclusion

As a website owner, it is natural to want to rank well on SERPs. However, manipulating and abusing known ranking factors just to game the system will not work. Follow Google’s webmaster guidelines and learn how you can improve your site’s overall UX. That way, you can stay friends with Google and provide value to your audience.

 

Featured Image: rassco via Shutterstock

Joseph Cruz
Joseph Gojo Cruz is the author of RankingElite, co founder and head of operations at SharpRocket. Joseph has been working in online marketing industry for over 3 years from website audit, link and content development, social media and search engine optimization. Connect with Joseph on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. Joseph is also a contributor on Ahrefs.
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  • R.Rogerson

    Okay…

    “…
    Google has been successfully punishing those who violate their guidelines and rewarding those who follow it.
    …”
    The only reward for not breaching the guidelines is being left alone. There is no ranking boost for adhering to the guidelines.

    “…
    The search engine giant wants to be fair with businesses, big or small, making equal treatment in organic ranking a priority.
    …”
    Not quite accurate/correct!
    Google will excuse certain entities certain things. Just look back over the last few years, and you’ll see Brands like BMW basically getting away with their practices. This was done as they are deemed as the best result for certain searches, despite what they did – so G waives the manual penalty. (As far as I know, it is not possible to waive an algo-hit.)
    Further, it’s a matter of ratios. If you have only a small number of “bad” bits, you will generally be fine. So larger sites with a huge amount of authority, trust, backlinks etc. can actually afford to take the tiny hit G may levy against them, where as the same penalty applied to a “normal” site will cripple them

    “…
    Build a Good Looking Link Profile
    …”
    You what?
    There are you preaching the Google Gospel and entitling the post about “organic” … and then talk about building a good backlink profile.
    You Do Not build a good backlink profile – you acquire one over time.
    G wants “natural” links. That means links you have had no part in (that means you haven’t asked for it, paid for it, swapped it etc.).
    There is some “wiggle” room – you can have a small % of reciprocal links … it’s natural (though the timing often catches people out).
    But do not by any means believe that “natural links” are those you have built/arranged/bought.
    What you can do is seed links. Social Media is a prime example. You may post a link to your site … others may volunteer to share it. Those shares are “natural”.
    On the other hand – if yo are going to suggest that people are to “build” their link profile up – be honest and upfront about it.
    There are ways you can arrange/buy links and be undetectable. Small volume, high quality and relevant links can be obtained (there are still working link-building companies).
    BUT – the problem is, there is every chance that at some point in the future, some stupid SEO muppet will make a mistake, G will spot it, and you along with their other clients get whacked to position 50+.

    “…
    Sure, link is a known ranking factor, but it is one of over 200 search components that Google takes into consideration.
    …”
    Would have helped if you were honest here, and pointed out that Links are by-far the most influential factor (regardless of all the stupid SEO “links are dead” hyperbole).
    The remaining factors are often tiny, and we still don’t know if there are all additive/subtractive, or if some are multipliers/modifiers of other factors. Further, some factors appear to be specific to certain triggers – such as Query Deserves Freshness, and how old the content is (or when last touched).
    What is key is “how” you get those links.

    User Experience.
    There’s a wee bit more to it than that!
    We don’t know if G looks for things like Readability/Legability. We don’t know if things like font-size or font-face play a part.
    Some factors are known – such as the part of Panda they pulled and put into the mainstream algo – above the fold checks (making sure that people can actually see enough content when the page loads, and it isn’t stuffed with adverts).
    We also know that they use patterns to identify sites that are likely user-friendly, or those that are not. So you can go look at some sites with lots of repeat traffic, and see how they look/work compared to yours (as well as reading up on UX).

    The reality is that having a website and wanting SERP traffic involves hard work, effort and time.
    The stupid SEO hacks of the past are getting nuked as each month passes. Shortcuts are now causing bleeds. Silly tactics are causing traumas.
    This leaves us with the hard work of creating content and then promoting it, or pulling publicity stunts and gaining attention etc.
    You know – the usual stuff you do in the real world.
    No more magic bullets, quick cheats, simple fixes.
    You want the ranking – you work for it … and hope you work harder, smarter, faster than your competitors.

  • http://www.makalee.net/2015/04/eskisehirin-en-iyi-spor-salonlari.html Jennifer Love

    Thanks for sharing these valuable information. I feel confident after reading your post.

  • http://www.gaintap.com Graham

    So I would love to agree with you, and I’m a big supporter of the type of SEO that white hats like Moz are pushing – but I know a dude gaming the system in Chicago like crazy. This guy is absolutely dominating SEO and he admits he is doing pure crap. I checked his backlink profile and it is seriously pure garbage. He posts links on PBN’s at a rate that is higher than they can be blacklisted. It’s absurd, this guy has #1-3 spots for serious money keywords.

    So gaming the system still works if you game faster than you can be penalized. It sucks and sets a really bad example.

  • http://theinnovatorscrowd.com Steve

    Nice article.

    I think you have to think long term when it comes to SEO, my theory is do it the right way and you’ll enjoy success for a longer time than you will when you use black hat techniques.

  • http://honesty.im chenzo

    Great stuff Joseph!

    All about that white hat organic !

  • http://www.tia-942.org michael Ng

    It is important to understand the purpose of Google. Google was created to help search engine users like you and me to get the most related and relevant result when we the users key in a particular keyword. Hence USER EXPERIENCE is important. While it is good to rank well on Google, it is also important to look at the number of organic search traffic to the website. Once we have a good amount of organic traffic, we will look whether the traffic can be converted into leads and nurturing the lead into a sales. The end result is always a sale. Hence to move forward it is good to look at Conversion Rate Optimization.

  • http://khulnaitpark.com/ Amit Shahani

    It is very important fully grasp the aim of Google. The search engine was created to help users find relevant result depending on the keyword used. Consequently, USER EXPERIENCE is also essential. Even if your site is ranking on Google, it is important to take organic traffic into account. As long as acquisition of organic traffic is well-taken care of, you can still rank regardless if your site’s purpose is to generate lead or generate revenue.

    • R.Rogerson

      You know, that isn’t too badly spun.
      Was that manually re-written, or did you use a tool like the Best Spinner or something?

      • http://khulnaitpark.com/ Amit Shahani

        Yes i use Best Spinner tools

      • R.Rogerson

        That’s my point!

        There’s 2 things wrong.
        1) It’s blatantly obvious to a human that the content is spun (I didn’t even have to read the initial comment, as the basic sense pattern was identical).

        2) You’re link spamming comments that use NoFollow links!

        So not only are you lazy and using bad tactics – you’re wasting time and effort too!
        Damn, aren’t you a special kind of stupid.

  • http://www.redlemonph.com/ Valerie

    Yes, it’s true that most of the companies nowadays wanted to get ranked on the first page of the Google, and the only main reason for this is to gain “SALES”. In the first place, Google has been made to help people get relevant result but I think this has been abuse by many people. It’s good to punish those black hat. Anyway, it’s a great idea to point out that user experience is very important to a website specially when the website is not mobile ready or not responsive.

  • http://www.imunchfoodbar.com/ saleem khan

    Great stuff Joseph!

    All about that white hat organic !

  • http://www.retreathotels.pk saba khan

    It is important to understand the purpose of Google. Google was created to help search engine users like you and me to get the most related and relevant result when we the users key in a particular keyword. Hence USER EXPERIENCE is important. While it is good to rank well on Google, it is also important to look at the number of organic search traffic to the website. Once we have a good amount of organic traffic, we will look whether the traffic can be converted into leads and nurturing the lead into a sales. The end result is always a sale. Hence to move forward it is good to look at Conversion Rate Optimization.

  • http://www.yourislandslimo.com zob

    i have been in the business for almost 2 years now and just a month ago i’ve been running google adwords and paying seo to rank me. It’s really hard to get up there. currently i have not come close to even 2-3 pages. i just wish there was something really affordable and works awesome to keep my site on number 1 page.