Are you a business owner putting in plenty of effort to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the world of digital marketing? Then you have no other choice but to play by the rules as set out by the search engine giant known as Google. The question is, what are these rules, exactly? Where should you be focusing your attention? And what should you be doing differently?

Here is a guide for successfully staying in Google’s good graces and reaping the benefits thereof.

Focus on both on-page and off-page SEO

The first step towards making a positive impression on Google is to spend time perfecting (and regularly updating) your SEO. This means ensuring that you have covered all bases and are not focusing on just a handful of the SEO best practices.

It is recommended that all businesses focus on optimizing both on-page and off-page SEO:

• On-page SEO: On-page SEO refers to the various SEO factors on your own website, over which you have complete control. These factors include your metadata, keywords, internal linking, alt tags, HTML code, images, calls-to-action, loading times, etc.

• Off-page SEO: Off-page SEO refers to all other aspects of SEO away from your site which still have the power to impact its rankings. Off-page SEO comprises of domain authority, backlinks, social promotion, reviews, referrals, mentions, etc.

Due to the fact that Google is constantly changing its algorithms, there is no such thing as doing SEO as a once-off. It needs to be an on-going process, which can often prove to be a full-time job on its own! It is because of the time and effort required to stay on top of search engine optimization that many business owners decide to outsource the work to a digital marketing company, like LAD Solutions.

Dedicate time to optimizing user experience (UX)

There is only one thing more vital than SEO when it comes to staying in Google’s good graces, and that is providing your website visitors with the best user experience (UX) possible. Fulfilled, happy internet users are Google’s ultimate goal, after all. If you can prove that anyone who visits your website has a wonderful experience there and finds everything that they are looking for quickly and efficiently, Google will continue pointing browsers in that direction.

So, you know that user experience is important. Now how do you go about optimizing it? Here are a few tips:

Ensure that your web pages do not take longer that a few seconds to load. This will reduce your website’s overall bounce rate.

Consistently post informative, relevant content that strives to answer consumer questions and concerns.

Double check that your website is responsive and can adapt to the specific device being used to access it.

It should be easy for users to navigate around your website, so make sure that you pay attention to interlinking and ensure that your main navigation bar is clear and minimalistic.

Make certain that there are no broken links in your content.

Make it effortless for users to connect with your business on social media by displaying links to your various profiles at the top of every web page.

Allow for easy contact by placing your contact details in the same place on every web page.

Include a diverse selection of content on your site, such as infographics, GIFs, videos, blogs, press releases, product demonstrations, etc.

Be sure to include clear calls-to-action.

Add a variety of customer testimonials at the bottom of each web page. This can help to bolster the chances of visitors making a conversion.

Avoid Google penalties

Google penalties are not the same as when a website experiences a dip in its rankings as a result of the roll-out of a new Google algorithm. Rather, Google penalties are applied to a website through ‘manual action’ by a human reviewer who is employed by Google. There are various reasons why a website may receive a Google penalty, and the severity of this penalty is likely to vary from case to case.

Most penalties are assigned to websites which display seemingly blatant attempts at manipulating the Google search index. As such, the simplest way in which to avoid Google penalties is for business owners to familiarize themselves with the Webmaster Quality Guidelines and make every effort to keep them in mind whenever they are conducting any SEO-related activity.

Some of the techniques that the Webmaster Quality Guidelines caution against include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Taking part in link schemes: According to Google, any links that are intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results will be deemed to be a part of a link scheme.

• Cloaking: Cloaking is when a website is presenting specific content or URLs to human users and completely different content or URLs to the search engines.

• Making use of automatically generated content: Seeing as though user experience (UX) is Google’s top priority, they expect companies to upload high quality, original, useful and relevant content onto their websites. Automatically generated content boasts none of those characteristics.

• Including hidden links or text: Placing text behind an image or using white text on a white background, for example.

• Using scraped content: Never ‘scrape’ content from other sites and simply place it on yours. Google picks up on this black-hat practice immediately and a penalty is sure to follow shortly thereafter.

The good news is that business owners will be notified via the Google Search Console if ever they receive a Google penalty. Not only will they be notified, but they will also be given information regarding how to resolve the relevant issues. Once the reason behind the penalty has been properly addressed, business owners can then proceed to submit their site for a reconsideration request that may or may not result in the penalty being revoked. If you are struggling to have the penalty removed, it is best to consult with an SEO expert for assistance.

Here’s to improved rankings, happier customers, and plenty more brand-love!