In 2015, it has never been more important to avoid all of the following pitfalls, traps and Google hazards if your website is going to rank well and attract your share of search traffic.
SEO used to be a simple process, but with the evolution of Googles algorithms, there are now more ways than ever to be penalised and drop out of SERPs.
1. Over Optimization
On page keyword density is an easy way to drop out of the rankings for specific keywords. In most instances we see, there are simply too many exact match keywords on the page for the total volume of words.
This ratio is very important and should be around 2% for a 500 - 1000 word page.
In addition, because Google uses 'Latent Semantic Indexing' to associate keywords, you should use variations of your keywords or phrases instead of repeatedly using your ideal keywords.
2. Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is a big no no. If you reproduce content that google is already indexing then you will struggle to rank.
In addition, if you have several pages that all cover similar content then Google will in all probability not be able to decide which of them it prefers so it will err on the side of caution and rank none of them.
It is preferable to have one large page covering a topic in great detail rather than having many smaller pages all touching on the same subject matter.
You should also reference aithority content by linking to it rather than by reproducing their content.
3. User Engagement
How people react to your content has a large bearing on how you rank. If real visitors like your content and stay on your pages, then google will recommend it to more visitors.
By contrast, if a large percentage of your visitors hit the back button and 'Bounce' (see below) back to Google for a different result then Google will assume that your content is not suitable for that search result and you will drop in the rankings.
Your click through rate is also influential, so write compelling meta description tags as they have a direct impact on how many people click on your google listing.
4. Bounce Rate
Your page bounce rate needs to be as low as possible. As a rule of thumb, 55% is the upper end of where you should aim for, but having said that, your bounce rate is compared with your competitors that rank above and below you, so you need to have a bounce rate that is lower than theirs.
The downside to this is that you have no way of finding out what their bounce rate is.
5. Page Load Speed
If your site is a heavy old hector with large images and file sizes then it will load slowly and drop in the rankings.
Use YSlow, the firefox plugin to test your pages and aim for a score of 80/100 or better.
6. Backlink Keyword Density
Baclink exact match anchor text used to determine your ranking for that specific keyword. Today (in 2015 and going forwards) it does exactly the opposite.
The more you use an exact match anchor text as your link text, the less your will rank for that term (and associated terms).
You should use your URL, your Brand and Junk text for 75 - 85% of your backlinks with plenty of variation to keep your back-link profile looking natural.
7. Backlink Categorisation
This is a little known area of SEO but is vitally important for top rankings.
Every quality page indexed by Google has been given a category. This category is determined by the categories of the sites linking to it, and it then passes that category onto the sites it links to.
Google uses this categorization to identify the quality, relevance, theme and influence of your page and without suitable categorization, you won't rank first for any high traffic search terms.
8. Contextual Links
You should link from within your content, referencing other relevant content in your own site as well as external 'authority' content that your users will find useful.
It is a case of givers gain, because if you are prepared to share useful content that your visitors will value, Google will reward you with better rankings.
9. Link Networks / Bad Neighbourhoods
Google has declared war on link networks that automate the linking process and attempt to manipulate their search results.
They have a manual spam team that hunt these networks down, de-indexing them and ALL the sites they find that use them.
Be warned.... just because a link network seems to work today, doesn't mean that it will do so tomorrow.
If you can find the network and join it then so can Google and they will hit you hard when they find it.
Avoid automated link building at all costs, be cautious of who you get links from and keep your site safe from potential penalties.
Negative SEO is a real threat in todays Google, so keeping clean and avoiding bad neighbourhoods is vital to your long term success online.
10. Site Quality
The quality of your writing, navigation, site code errors and the like will affect your sites performance in SERPs.
Google can easily assess the quality of your site and will rank it accordingly. Every page needs to have a unique page title, description tag, content etc as well as having no errors, dead links or other coding faults.
Google wants to recommend good pages, so give them good pages and you will benefit with increased traffic and visitors.
Find out more about each of these areas of SEO and find out how you can improve your website HERE