Every now and again I will be contacted by a website owner who believes Google is punishing them. They may have experienced a significant drop in traffic, not appear in Google at all, or they’re not being found for keywords they used to be.
Search engines have always been very secretive about the punishments they deliver, but we do know that they’re automated, and they can mostly be reversed.
Punishments are a tense and uncomfortable time for business owners as there is very limited information about what specifically can be done to fix the problem. In my experience reversing punishments is not a quick and easy process, so can cause a drop in revenue through the website.
This is the most common punishment we see delivered by the search engine gods, and it’s also the most difficult to identify.
Usually you will notice you have a penalty because your traffic from search engines will suffer a significant decrease. This is most commonly associated with your website not appearing for search terms that you formerly enjoyed traffic from.
If you are still listed in Google, but can’t be found in the first 50 listings, then chances are a penalty has been applied to your site.
The worst type of punishment is a ban. We don’t see these very often, but they certainly exist, and are to be feared.
A ban occurs when the website can no longer be found in the search engine. You can check if you have been banned by doing a search for your business name, or running a site command in Google.
The site command will tell you how many pages in your website Google has in its index, so if you see any pages at all, you haven’t been banned. Here’s how you check:
So in my case, I’d be typing in site:www.nickyjurd.com.
If you have been banned, the best thing you can do is wait a couple of days. Sometimes the engines have little jitters when doing an update and you might inadvertently fall out of the index temporarily. If after a few days there is no improvement, then you’re permitted to begin worrying.
Some new website owners mistakenly believe they’ve been banned, when they just haven’t yet been added to the index.
1. Start a blog.
2. Tell people about your website.
3. Put your web address in your email signature.
4. Start a Google AdWords campaign.
5. Give a testimonial to a business you’ve recently dealt with.
6. Write an article for someone else’s website.
7. Start an eNewsletter.
8. Write more keywords into your web copy.
9. Ask other websites to link to you. Ask nicely.
10. Post comments on other people’s blogs.
11. Participate in online forum discussions.
12. Find relevent directories to post your website to.
13. Ask you customers to tell other people about your website.
14. Provide unique content people want to read.
15. Create a Facebook profile for your business.
16. Become a twitter.
17. Invent a gimmick that people will talk about.
18. Approach a business to link to your website.
Do you have any ideas to add to this list?
You may have read previously how against reciprocal linking I am – but perhaps I should clarify – I’m against dodgy reciprocal linking. That is, when you exchange links with a website you have nothing to do with in the hope of raising your search engine ranking.
There are lots of legitimate reasons to link to another website. Here’s my favourites:
It’s much better to write some good quality text around your link rather than just having a list of links off to the side in a links page. Visitors are much more likely to visit the links this way, and it enables you to be seen as a helpful expert in your area. For an example, see the blog post I wrote about Flying Solo. How boring would it have been if I just stuck it off the side in a links page!
Search engines don’t care what your website looks like. In fact, it even seems to prefer the ones most people would believe are old and in need of a re-design. Why is this so?
Google uses the text on your website to determine what you will rank for. It’s a major determining factor.
Google can’t read images. So it doesn’t matter how beautiful your sunrise picture is, or if you’re smiling on your corporate profile page.
Google isn’t fond of flash. Anything that moves, wiggles and blinks doesn’t contain a lot of information, so Google doesn’t look at it as seriously.
Google loves headings. Break up your text into logical pieces with headings on each. Don’t scrimp on this.
Google loves copy. The more text you write and the more pages your website contains will reward you with great rankings. Put important text up the top.
Google hates copiers. Don’t steal other people’s text. It doesn’t belong to you, and you wouldn’t like it if someone stole yours!
The text on your home page is the most important text on your website.
Your home page not only leads your visitors into the money-making parts of your website, but it also provides the most important terms search engines will use to rank you.
Without text on your home page you’ll fall behind competitors in the search engines, and annoy customers who’ve come to explore your site.
Consider the most important words you believe your customers will type into a search engine and ensure these are included on your home page. This might be your location and industry, like cairns web design, or it might be the product you’re selling, like tennis balls.
Summarise your website on your home page by including useful paragraphs and snippets about what information can be found throughout the website. Invite people to explore further through strong calls-to-action.
Most importantly, don’t let your web designer build you a home page with just images, and no text.
Small business owners on a tight budget are often tempted by the cheap prices of inexperienced web designers or the opportunities presented by tech-savvy family members. Unfortunately my firm has recently fixed a lot of problems caused by the creation of what we refer to as backyard websites.
If you’re serious about your business but don’t know much about the web here’s what you should consider when choosing someone to build your website:
Every business owner wants their website well ranked, but most are mystified about how the ranking work. Here’s some easy steps you can take to start moving your rankings upward.
Consider your product, industry, location and services. Also look toward complementary products and services.
For example if you sell tennis balls you will want to consider tennis balls, tennis, tennis ball, tennis equipment, tennis coaching and sports equipment.
Be careful of including too many keywords as it will affect your customers’ readability and the search engines will not like it.
Here’s an example from a real website:
For those who are fascinated by natural marvels, the privately owned Granite Gorge Nature Park is an unforgettable spectacle.
This is how more keywords could be included:
Granite Gorge Nature Park is a spectacularly scenic holiday destination just outside of Mareeba with wide sweeping views across huge volcanic boulders, private swimming holes and abundant wildlife. Come for a few hours and enjoy hand feeding our rock wallabies, or stay for a few nights in our holiday park. We cater for caravans, motorhomes, campers and are especially popular with Grey Nomads.
Whenever you add new text to your website keep in mind your target keywords and include them as you go.