If you've had a small business website up for a couple of years you may have seen a dramatic drop in traffic once Google brought out the animals (Panda and Penguin) to play. Google's intent was to improve the relevance of returns for searchers but in the process knocked down many websites that provided great content because their SEO efforts ran afoul of the new rules. This mistake of not knowing the rules to the Google game can hurt pretty bad, especially when it causes your business to lose search engine rankings as a result of not knowing what you don't know.
If you are still struggling to get traffic or if you have just built a site and can't seem to get any traction in the search engines, it's time to take a look at what you are doing SEO wise and see if your actions to get traffic are really shooting you in the foot.
5 Ways To Lose Search Rank and Sink Your Site to Oblivion (and how to fix it)
Einstein's definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Too many local small businesses continue to operate like it's 2011 (pre Panda) and wonder why what worked before doesn't work today.
Here's a few of the common practices that are sure to rank you well past page 100:
(1) Cheap backlinks. Prior to Panda the VOLUME of backlinks that pointed to your site was a key factor in determining your page rank. After Panda the QUALITY of the backlink became far more important than the quantity. For example you could have 1,000 links from BobsDIYDiabetesCare.com and it would have less influence than a single backlink from the Mayo Clinic. In fact you may be penalized for having questionable links. Use Webmaster Tools to determine where your links are coming from and set out to eliminate those that are low value..
(2) Keyword stuffing. If you still believe that you have to have a “keyword density” of X% to be picked up by the search engines…forget it. Google wants content written for human consumption not bots and spiders. Put the keyword in the page title, meta description, headline and once in the first paragraph. The rest of the content should be written naturally. If you know what you're talking about the content will naturally contain related long tail phrases that will give you additional opportunities to be found.
(3) Poor quality content. Google doesn't read your content…it relies on the opinions of visitors who do. If your content is full of fluff just to meet a word count objective visitors are unlikely to be impressed. If they are not impressed they will not stay long (time on site) and they will not share. If they don't share that's a sign to Google in addition, website visitors that leave quickly because they did not find what they were looking for will cause your site to have a high bounce rate (you don't want this). Review your content and if an article doesn't deliver on the promise of the page title rewrite it.
(4) Another area that you need to check for is the proper selection and targeting of keywords. This is particularly important for local businesses. One very basic example if you are a locksmith in Scottsdale targeting “emergency locksmith service” will not be as effective as “emergency locksmith service Scottsdale.”
(5) Can you see me now? We are very near the point where people will access the internet using wireless devices rather than PCs or laptops. If your pages are not optimized for wireless they simply aren't being seen by the wireless crowd because the page is impossibly slow to load. Optimize your site for wireless to get new traffic.
That's it. There is a ton of opportunity online, but that doesn't mean you can approach marketing online without knowing the rules. Be sure you're taking the time to understand what is happening with your businesses online marketing campaigns whether you're running them yourself or having a company or agency help. You want to do what you can to stay in Google's good graces (and all of the other search engines) by being natural with your content creation and you have to authentic. If you're natural and authentic, you will not have anything to worry about (especially not losing your website rankings).