Google Penguin 2.0, released in May, 2013, is the latest major version of the search giant's algorithm in a long stream of updates which focus on penalizing over-optimized content and, in particular, many of the link building strategies which were once deployed by the vast majority of search engine marketers. Whether you are doing much of the SEO yourself or hiring a company to do the work for you, it is absolutely essential that you pay close attention to Google's webmaster guidelines as it is becoming increasingly difficult to artificially manipulate a website's standing in the search results. The following takes a look at seven of the most prominent ways to get yourself booted out of Google's indexes.
1 – Keyword-Stuffed Anchor Text
Anchor text refers to the clickable text representing a hyperlink. Traditionally in search engine optimization, anchor text contained keywords designed to artificially increase the ranking of a webpage in the search engine results. Search engine marketers have often optimized their anchor text in such a way that it contains keywords associated with the contents of the page linked to. However, using the same anchor text to excess will ultimately flag your website as over-optimized and, not only this; it also annoys your human readers. You should overcome this situation by diversifying your anchor text to include a wider variety of keywords in order to avoid repetition and make it look more natural within the context of the content itself.
2 – Paid Links
Google's dislike of paid links is certainly nothing new, but its latest algorithm updates are getting better and better at determining which links have been paid for. Link buying often means that you end up with backlinks plastered all over the Internet often accompanied by content which is completely irrelevant. Do not forget that your ranking in the search engines is becoming increasingly heavily influenced by the content of the websites that link to your own. Paid links represent a completely artificial way of manipulating the search results and, if you use link buying services, there is a high chance that your website will be kicked out of the Google indexes within a matter of months.
3 – Internal Links
Internal links are meant to guide human visitors to other pages on your website which they may be interested in. When used with this intention in mind, internal links are useful if not essential to any user-friendly and easily navigable webpage. However, it is poor practice to have too many of these internal links as it makes you website look over-optimized both to your visitors and to the search engines. Be particularly wary of using drop-down menus and the same anchor text in your internal links.
4 – Site-Wide Links
Site-wide links are those which appear on every page of a website, often in footers, sidebars or elsewhere on the pages. Site-wide links, depending on how they are used, can get you punished by Google. This is particularly the case if they all include the same anchor text and/or if they are located on low quality websites. That being said, there are also many cases when site-wide links are useful or even essential. In order to avoid being penalized by Google, the best thing to do is to add a nofollow tag to such links.
5 – Keyword Stuffing
Aside from its use in anchor text, keyword stuffing in the other content of a webpage is also something that many search engine marketers are guilty of. In spite of constant condemnation from Google, many people still seem to believe in things like the myth of keyword density. In reality, however, paying attention to keyword density inevitably leads to over-optimized content of questionable quality. Stuffing your content with keywords will not help to increase your search engine ranking and, these days, it is more likely to get your site penalized. As with your anchor text, diversify your keyword usage and only use them in such a way that they blend in naturally with the rest of the content.
6 – Invisible Text
Webmasters hoping to manipulate the search results with minimal effort sometimes use invisible text containing a list of key words and phrases. Using CSS, this text is the same colour as its background thus hiding it from human readers while remaining visible to the search engine crawlers. Unbelievably, many webmasters are still using hidden text on their sites in spite of Google having been easily able to uncover this method and remove offending websites from its indexes.
7 – Duplicated Content
While there is nothing wrong with posting your own content for which you own the copyrights across multiple websites, it is important to remember that Google doesn't like this. Publishing unique content is a must and this has long been the case in spite of many people still not paying attention to this fact. Worse still, content theft remains a major problem on the Internet with unscrupulous and lazy webmasters stealing content to post on their own sites or to use in their marketing campaigns. Google is becoming increasingly better at detecting such sites and those posting stolen content can expect not only to have their website de-indexed but also to have it taken down entirely.
By avoiding the above list of pitfalls, you'll be well on the way to SEO success in the Penguin 2.0 reality. Focus on regularly publishing and updating with unique web site content, promote your content actively in various social networks and develop meaningful backlinks with good partners. All of these things in tandem will deliver a better experience to both your users and Google's, and likely result in an increase in organic traffic for your site.