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Shane Barker

10 SEO Traps to Avoid Google Downranking in 2016

Shane Barker
10 SEO Traps to Avoid Google Downranking in 2016

Knowing the latest SEO 2016 tactics are essential to keep your website competitive into the new year. It’s a known fact that SEO is undergoing rapid change. In the past four years, the strategies used to rank better have evolved drastically. You probably already know that the Google Penguin update will come into full effect by fall 2015 and this time it is going to be in real-time. With this update, plenty of changes are forecasted in the SEO world.

You'll need to prepare yourself for avoiding the multitude of SEO moves that could get you in trouble. The following are 10 traps you should avoid in SEO 2016.

1. Link building

Back in February 2015, Google’s John Mueller said that webmasters should avoid link building because it's unnatural. However, Google has recently clarified that buying, selling, or asking for links is alright as long as you don’t violate its Google Webmaster Guidelines. Therefore, it would be best to review your current link building approach to ensure that you’re not violating the rules. Otherwise, you might end up getting penalized by Google and your website could suffer long-term.

Takeaway: For SEO 2016, follow the advanced link building tactics or use search operators to find more link building opportunities.

2. Anchor texts

Since the first Penguin update in 2012, it's become much riskier to use exact match anchor texts in search engine optimization. Abusing (whether unintentional or otherwise) anchor text can get you penalized for over-optimization in SEO 2016. That’s why you should opt to have just five to 10 links to a wide variety of anchor texts and a few major keywords.

A case study found on Moz revealed that you can have better rankings even if you use only a few exact match anchored links from web pages that are highly relevant. Also, search metrics ranking factor 2015 shows that using branded anchor texts has positive effects.

exact anchor text

3. Targeting single or specific pages

A better link profile can boost your SEO 2016 efforts. It’s a much better approach than targeting single or specific pages to rank on Google. A good link profile is one of the most important SEO ranking factors, according to Neil Patel and other experts. I advise that you start building your link profile by performing a link evaluation through your Google Webmasters account.

4. Unfriendly mobile design

The mobile-friendliness of a website is now among Google's top SEO 2016 ranking factors. This means that well-designed mobile-friendly websites perform better than those that aren't optimized for mobile users. Certain factors, such as too small texts and close together links, may result in a website being rated non-mobile-friendly.

You need to optimize your page in a way that caters to mobile users. Due to the ever-increasing number of mobile users, creating a mobile-friendly design will also improve your site performance. You could even experience better conversion rates and user experience, which can again improve your SEO ranking further.

not mobile friendly

5. Low site user engagement

It’s a huge challenge to engage visitors on your website. This can pose a significant threat to your SEO 2016 success. Low user engagement is one of the leading contributors to a lower search engine ranking. However, you could improve user engagement by gaining insight into the preferences and behavior of your targeted audience.

Try performing A/B testing so that you can optimize your site for better user engagement. This basically involves using two similar, yet slightly different, designs to determine which results in the most clicks and conversions. Find out the choices that appeal most to your target audience, whether it's with colors, fonts, offers, or word choice. You can then apply the successful result to your website to enhance your engagement and performance.

6. Poor user experience

Google takes into consideration the experience that users have when visiting your website. A bad user experience can damage your search engine ranking dramatically. The search engine will continue analyzing how users interact with your site for SEO 2016. Any sign of bad user experience will devalue you. If users quickly click away or move back to the search result page to explore other sites, then it's a red flag that your website doesn't satisfy users' queries. This reduces dwell time and increases pogosticking, which is one factor of low search engine rankings. Optimize your website for better user experience by ensuring it fulfills a need. Keep it visually appealing, easy to navigate, and consistently updated with high-quality content.

bad font choices

7. Lacking content creation

Fresh, original content is one of the major factors that will affect your SEO 2016 rankings. If you think updating your website with just one or two posts a month is enough, you better get ready to move lower in the rankings. It's time to teach your users what you're capable of. You need to focus on catering to users in your niche with a wide variety of fresh content that addresses their queries. Try to come up with at least one or two new posts every week to keep your site up-to-date. This can help you rank higher in Google based on its fresh factor.

Steady content creation can help you rank higher in Google based on your freshness factor. In addition to ranking better, fresh content is a splendid way to build better user engagement. Think about the possibilities of engaging your audience with content addressing a hot, trending topic. Updating your site with relevant content that interests your target audience could improve your traffic flow and conversions.

8. Lesser quality content

You already know that unique content is a great way to optimize your site for search engines. However, you should also focus on creating content that's useful and valuable to visitors. Avoiding lesser quality content will enable you to get better user experience and higher search engine rankings. Think about how users would react if they see content that answers the questions they were asking.

Thin content is a part of the Google Panda update. The pages with content that has little or no added value are also affected. Some examples of thin content are: automatically generated content, doorway pages, copied content from other sources, and thin affiliate pages. If your website's filled with content (unique) just for the search engines and not for users, it’s time you start churning up new, unique quality content.

create compelling content

9. Interstitial ads 

Google recently announced that it'll soon start punishing mobile sites that use interstitial ads. You may come across a number of sites that give you the prompt to install the site’s app, which can be downright annoying. These ads block out the relevant content for which users visit the site until they can find the tiny “close” button. Visitors are often frustrated, thus user experience is negatively impacted. From November 1, 2015 and on, these app-install interstitials will result in your site getting downranked on Google. This doesn't mean that you can't use these ads, but you must be prepared to automatically lose your “mobile-friendly” status. You may even end up losing everything you've worked so hard to earn. If you’re still implementing interstitial ads on your mobile site, make a few changes in time for this SEO 2016 update.

intersitial ads

10. Misusing reconsideration requests

When you violate the Google Webmaster Guidelines, you get automatically or manually penalized. Once you have made the necessary changes to your site, Google allows you to send a reconsideration request. This process helps you in revoking any manual action taken against you. However, there are several sites that misuse these reconsideration requests and start violating the guidelines again after the penalty is revoked.

For instance, a webmaster might have received a manual action because of an unnatural link redirecting to another site. They can add the link to their no-follow list, submit a reconsideration request, and then delete the link from the list again after being successfully reconsidered. Using this kind of repeated violation tactic makes it more difficult to pass the reconsideration process again in the future. This is especially true if the violation was made with the intention to spam. Simply don't misuse the opportunity.

Final Words on SEO 2016

With every algorithm update, Google is getting smarter at tackling all the tricks that some webmasters implement for better ranking. Finding loopholes and spamming sites may have helped people in manipulating their search engine rankings before. These unethical tactics will no longer work in their favor with the upcoming updates. In fact, they might end up punished for implementing such tricks and fall in the rankings. If you’re at a risk of getting downranked from Google due to the aforementioned SEO 2016 traps, start making important changes so that you can avoid any future issues. Still have any doubts or questions? Feel free to ask me in the comment box below.

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant, named the #1 social media consultant in the US by PROskore Power Rankings. He has expertise in business development, online marketing and is an SEO specialist who has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and a number of A-list celebrities.

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