Pushing your website through the ranks of competition can be a long and arduous process however the end result of a first-page appearance is as rewarding as a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Approximately 67% of search traffic goes to the first five results in an organic search listing so getting your site to the top search results is an effort worthwhile making.
We’re dealing with search engines who rank websites by extracting meaning and may hold your site back from the first page until you can prove credibility. If you’re not on the first page, you need to figure out what your status is with the search engines in order to identify the reason why your website ranks where it does.
So how can you tell where your website stands with search engine standards? Elementary my dear Watson. The power of deduction and logic is an SEO professional’s best friend. Look for clues and hints in content, technical SEO and your link building strategy to uncover any reasons why your website is being held back from the first page.
Google has many different ways of torturing business owners however, they’re very clear about what they expect and accept as best web practices. If you’ve crossed the line and triggered any type of penalty you will see a dip in traffic from a slip in the ranking.
Duplicate content penalties can be identified through an SEO audit of your site or entering the URL in question on Siteliner. The report generated will give you an idea of the percentage of content that is repeated as well as the pages it is found on.
Duplicate content can result in a pretty serious penalty since Google absolutely despises it. They will even deindex your site based on the percentage of duplicated content that is published on your site so delete any duplicate pages permanently.
Siteliner also indicates whether any links on your site are broken. Although it’s not something that triggers a penalty, it is considered a ranking signal because it has to do with user experience. When a user clicks on a broken link it’s basically the same as hitting a dead-end and can result in the user leaving your site, possibly never to return. Too many broken links are a sign of poor website maintenance and reflect poorly on the site owner.
Part of Google’s mission statement involves providing the best user experience to those who use their search engine. Take the time to fix the broken links on your site to improve UX. The accumulation of small improvements will result in a better quality website that deserves a higher ranking.
Are you buying your backlinks? If so, shame on you! You may have been penalized for participating in a link scheme. This type of linking strategy is specifically penalized and any strategy that is used to manipulate ranking for that matter.
Believe it or not, there are still link builders using spammy black hat linking techniques that can get your site penalized. Private blogs networks are an example of black hat linking since they are specifically built with the purpose of providing domain authority to a target site.
This technique was extremely effective before Google began exposing sites as PBN’s. In fact, this method still works today-but only until the site is discovered and penalized. If you or your link builder is linking to your site from PBN’s you may see a temporary rise in ranking only to be followed by a severe loss in ranking and search visibility. The more PBN’s you have attached to your site the more severe the penalty.
Writing comments on blogs and leaving a link to your site was a technique that worked to lift the ranking of a website, however, comment spamming can be penalized for unnatural linking or user-generated spam. Before penalties were being given out, this method of linking spawned the development of software to do the commenting and linking for you.
If you own a site that allows comments you will be quite familiar with the fake compliments on your posts and pages from suspicious email addresses that often have nothing to do with your content. These poor comments from odd email addresses are an example of comment spamming. This practice is still in use today, in which Google is well aware of it and will penalize your site if there is an excess amount of these links or any reason for your link profile to look unnatural.
If you are leaving a link to your site by commenting on a blog, make sure your comment is insightful and on a reputable site that will refer traffic or at least contribute to spreading the awareness of your site. Never use software to automate comments on sites as this will land your website in the penalty box.
Since search engines began to accurately extract contextual meaning from websites there has been a more cautious approach to using anchor text. Using anchor text was one way to manipulate ranking for specific keywords so the overuse of anchor text is likely to draw suspicion to your backlink profile. Exercise caution when using anchor text in your backlinks so as it is quite possible to over-optimize your website for that specific keyword which would adversely affect your ranking rather than help it. Josh Hardwick from Ahrefs states that “most SEO’s recommend between 1%-5%” of your links with anchor text, however, after a study of 19K plus keywords he believes that it’s better left unmanipulated to be on the safe side.
The issue of not having enough backlinks to substantiate your credibility as an authority is a common issue for new websites. Having no links or too few links when trying to rank a relatively competitive term will ultimately disqualify your site for a first-page appearance.
Domain authority is a value that search engines use to assign authority and credibility. The DA of a website is improved by a number of factors but the number and quality of referring domains linking to it account for a large percentage you can improve on.
Typically brand new websites will need a boost in their DA through an effective link building strategy. Links from high-quality sites will have a greater impact than links from low DA sites. Links from pages with relevant content from websites in the same niche represent the most value in optimizing your site and proving credibility.