Do you know whether your website is within the Google Guidelines ? When was the last time you checked your outgoing and incoming links? Do you know exactly what your SEO company is doing?
This might seem like scaremongering but with Google's market share now standing at 90% in the UK, business owners cannot afford to ignore what these strict guidelines say.
As a consultant, I see websites every month that flout the guidelines. Some of them rank very well and some of them have been banned. The people who rank well are usually quite happy with the fact they are breaking the rules, but would they be so happy if they woke up one day to find their site on page 10?
During 2006, BMW and Ricoh were famously banned from the listings until they cleaned up their act, but in 2007 Google adopted a much harsher strategy.
They gave penalties to sites without telling them why. Suddenly websites stopped ranking for their own names and traffic dried up totally.
Imagine you had a top ranking website and employed staff based on the revenue Google sent. What would you do if you lost that revenue one day?
One of the main reasons sites are getting these penalties is Google's stance on paid links.
Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's Webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.
Most competitive industries are full of sites that buy links but what would happen if Google suddenly took mass action against those sites?
Last year, the US real estate industry was shaken up massively when Google decided that it didn't want sites ranking highly just because they had hundreds of reciprocal links.
This might seem obvious but reciprocal links had served the industry well for years and suddenly most of the top sites were dropped right down the rankings.
Sites most at risk of a penalty:
- Link sellers
- Link buyers
- Large scale reciprocal linkers
Most of the other tactics such as doorway pages have been largely stamped out and very few legitimate businesses still use these practices.
Competitive search engine optimisation isn't about buying your way to the top or using algorithmic holes to get short term rankings.
The key is to develop long term strategies for sustainable rankings that will help sites ride through the inevitable Google ranking alterations without major trouble.
Related research: SEO Best Practice Guide 2007
Related posts: Google points to VW over cloaking