How To Avoid The Nasty Google Penalty

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So the nasty Google penalty strikes again and this time threatening to drop the rankings of mobile websites who run pop up scripts on their websites.

How To Avoid The Google Penalty

I am sure this will irritate a number of marketers, website designers and business owners. It could quite possibly seen as yet another attack by Google in an attempt to control the web.

But is it really?

Why The Google Penalty Exists

Google is in the business of helping people find what they are looking for. It helps them find content that is relevant and helpful. While Google does help businesses be found by people who may require their services, this is more of a by product.

Google needs to serve up results and recommends websites with content that people want. If they don’t people stop using Google or they lose trust in the ads and they stop clicking on those.

Marketers and search engine optimisation companies soon found ways to boost the rankings of websites just to get them to the top of the results pages, it didnt matter if those websites contained quality content or not. This meant that people would click on a result link and only to be disappointed with what they found and left to return to the search results.

This is when Google looked at why this was happening and started to put checks in place to ensure that people couldn’t game the system  and started to penalise those who were.

What Is The Latest Google Penalty About

The latest Google penalty aims to improve visitor experiences with mobile websites who try to force the visitor to take some kind of action when they’re navigating to a page that Google marks as “mobile-friendly”, while using a mobile device.

This would include a popup that covers the main content of the page, displaying an alert bubble or other website elements that visitors need to dismiss before they can continue reading the content. It also includes content that is pushed down by an element, requiring users to scroll down to see it.

“Pages that show intrusive elements provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible,” Google product manager Doantam Phan wrote in a blog post.

“This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”

These changes however wont penalise interruptive mobile elements that Google determines to be non intrusive or provide a public service. These would include things like:

  • advising users of a site’s cookie policy
  • age verification pop-ups for sites with objectionable content.

How You Can Avoid The Latest And The Other Google Penalties

As website owners and digital marketers, our focus needs be on the visitor and their experience, not on how we can squeeze them into taking action.

Think about it. If you are looking for something online do you want to read the content you find and feel like it has helped? Or do you enjoy going to web pages that are filled with poor content that isnt very helpful? Whether the content is useful or not how do you feel when you are about to start reading or a half way through reading, when a box appears asking you to “Signup Now”?

I find it annoying and interruptive and so do most people. So why do we think its a great idea to use it on our websites?

To Avoid A Google Penalty…

You need to look at your website from your users perspective. Think about what kind of experience they are expecting. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself…

  • Are they likely to be annoyed by being interrupted?
  • Is your content helpful enough or is it self promotional?
  • Are writing for search engines or for people?
  • What do your analytics suggest? Are you adjusting and adapting your site to improve analytical results?
  • What search engine optimisation are you doing? The good kind or the bad kind? Do you know?
  • Are you using link farms to get as many back links to your site as possible in the hopes you will be seen as more relevant?

So In Conclusion

Always approach your website from the visitors point of view. Create content for them, not for you or the search engines. Build and create pages that they will have a great experience while visiting your website.

Also don’t try and get to the top of Google for keywords and phrases you want to be found for. Look at what your ideal client may search for. What problem do they have that you can provide a solution to? What kind of question would be asked?

Looking at the keyword research we have done for a number of clients:

  • short phrases are often highly competitive and don’t convert well
  • more specific longer phrases are less competitive and convert better.

Yes longer phrases receive fewer searches but those who search these phrases tend to be better quality visitors.

Longer Keywords help generate better visitors

Mobile devices being used more and more to access website content. You need to consider how your visitor will experience your website on a smaller screen.

Stop putting your energy and money into trying to add clever gimmicks to your website. Don’t try and bend the user to your will and take action. Your visitors wont like that, will be annoyed and be less likely to engage further with you.

Instead create great content instead that your visitors will find helpful, love you more for… and Google wont penalise you for.

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