If you want your site to get noticed by Google, you have to abide by their rules. Ever since the Panda and Penguin updates of 2011, many old SEO techniques were suddenly punished by Google. Lots of site owners gave up their entire businesses while others worked hard to get back into Google’s good graces.
Even site owners that weren’t breaking the rules were finding that their old practices weren’t strong enough to keep them in top positions. Keeping on top of Google’s algorithm is the constant worry of any SEO practitioner. In this article, we want to share some simple things you can check to make sure you’re staying on top of your SEO game, even if you’re currently sandboxed, from the simplest to the most difficult.
Add and update your site map
This is a very simple thing, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do it. An XML site map is like an address book for your site. When a search engine comes to your site to index it, it will use your site map as a starting point to find everything you want to list on your site. Many CMS packages will either generate XML sitemaps automatically or can do it with the help of a plugin. Five minutes now will save Google a lot of time finding your pages later.
Complete your site
Google likes to see completeness in a site. When a site has broken images or links, Google will consider that site to be less relevant than a similar one because it looks abandoned. Google also looks at code behind the scenes such as metatags to learn more information about your site. When it doesn’t have this information Google has to guess. If you’re using WordPress, a plugin like Yoast will help you fill in any missing meta information. There are also many free tools and plugins you can use to find any broken links or pictures.
Run a speed test
A proven thing that Google looks at when ranking a site is speed. Sad to say it, but if your site takes too long to load people will leave it quickly. Google wants to help people get the information they need fast, so they penalize slow sites. Fortunately, Google has a a tool that can help you test your site speed and give you tips on how to improve it. You can find it at https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Make your site mobile friendly
Most of the people in the world get online through their smartphones than through traditional computers, but there are still many sites that do not have a mobile-friendly interface. You could be missing out on a lot of new visitors by not having a mobile friendly site. Luckily, Google has a list of tools to help you do this at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/. You could also investigate using responsive themes on your website as well.
Clean up your backlinks
Backlinks are the foundation of Google searches. If your backlink profile is poor, you’ll get ranked low. If it is spammy, then you could get penalized. Getting out of the penalty box is a long and difficult process of removing spammy backlinks and replacing them with links that are relevant to your industry and have good PageRank and domain authority. There are several third-party companies that specialize in removing Google penalties, such as GetBackOnGoogle.com. If you’re actively being penalized by Google, you may want to look into such a service.