Google loves links, specifically high-quality editorial links that help identify websites and webpages that bring most value to users. And Google hates link schemes.
Google upgrades its algorithms that distinguish editorial links from paid ones on a regular basis by analyzing link patterns. Here are three examples:
- You’ve been in the cleaning business for years, but your site got zero reviews. Suddenly, Google comes across dozens of reviews about your company. All of them feature a link to your site, specifically one single inner page that describes services you provide.
- Your site’s backlink profile has been stable for years, but suddenly it receives 100+ inbound links. A massive spike like this, especially if you haven’t posted any content, suggests to Google that something fishy is going on.
- You’re smart about links and consistently earn them through guest posts. Unfortunately, all of your articles are published in the sponsored section. This is a clear sign to Google that you paid to be published and, consequently, paid for the link.
A spammy anchor list raises a big red flag to Google, too. Actually, it’s one of the easiest ways for Google to identify spam.
If 100 percent of your site’s inbound links feature one single anchor text, it suggests to Google that:
- You do everything you can to rank for this phrase.
- You build links artificially (i.e., purchase them).
This is why you need to diversify your anchors. Links pointing from similar anchor phrases, even if they truly are the best editorial links, will harm your site rankings. Don’t let this happen – perform regular link profile audits.
Don’t use any SEO practices that might suggest to Google that you rely on paid links rather than editorial, naturally-acquired ones. Even if your links are good, and Google thinks that they are bad, no matter what you do, your site is in a real danger zone.
Try your best to be objective. If you were coming to your website for the first time, what would you think of it? How does it make you feel? Irritated? Overwhelmed? Calm? Happy?
There are a lot of things that can contribute to these emotions, such as overall design, colors, fonts, navigation, and images.
Your goal — Take 30 minutes and jot down some things you notice. Consider:
- Where your eye goes to first
- If the company contact information is easily found
- If the site loads fast or slow
- If the product or service information is up to date
- Whether the navigation bar makes sense or not
- Broken links
There. That was easy. Now you have to decide what to do about it. I suggest asking a friend or perfect stranger to evaluate your site too. Someone who is honest and you trust. Because sometimes we think something looks good, but we’re wearing rose colored glasses.
Once you have a second or even third opinion, it may or may not be time for a re-design.
Site owners should periodically verify that the site is completely accessible for both search engine spiders as well as users.
Robots.txt, for example, can be useful at times when you do not want a page to be indexed, but accidentally marking pages to block the spider will damage rankings and traffic.
Given that more searches now occur on mobile than desktop, and the impending switch to a mobile-first index on Google, brands should also ensure that any content published is constructed for mobile usage.
When speaking about the user experience, visitors themselves also pay a considerable amount of attention to load speeds. Brands should optimize for load speeds, watching site features such as cookies and images, that can slow down pages when not used correctly.
Things to do to improve your site’s accessibility:
- Check that robots.txt is not blocking important pages from ranking
- Make sure the robots.txt contains the sitemap URL
- Verify that all important resources, including JS and CSS are crawlable
- Find and fix any 404 errors
- Check that all content, including videos, plays easily on mobile
- Optimize for load speed