opinion

So Google Hates You?

Joe D

We've all heard another webmaster say something like, "Google hates me - I just know it." And for the most part, I think we've all felt that way at one time or another. It could just be that you have an active imagination, I mean, why would Google hate you? Then again, if you have a very poorly designed and managed website, it just might be true!  Keep in mind though, Google doesn't hate you - it just hates your website.

If you want to get a higher rank on Google there are a number of different things you can do.  However, if you don't do the most basic of things, such as better design, structure, navigation and management of your website, there's no point in working hard to jockey for position - it's never going to happen.  This article features a list of basic things you can fix today that will help Google to stop hating you, learn to like you and maybe even one day love you.

#1 - Clean-Up Your Website

Do you have a messy website? Is it filled with a bunch of banner ads, pop-ups and other garbage that would turn-off the average surfer? Google "sees" your site much in the way that a surfer sees it, so chances are if you've got all that going on, you've turned Google off too. Clean up all those banner ads and try a more straight-forward approach. Make it easier for your site visitors to view your content, find what they are looking for and perhaps even make a purchase. If your users are happy - and you can measure that in conversions and recurring visits - Google will be happy too.

#2 - Target Relevant Keywords

If you don't tell Google that you are relevant for a certain keyword of key phrase, how is it supposed to know? You need to target your primary keywords by placing them in prominent spots on your page. The title bar and the header is a great place to start, but you can also use heading tags <h1>, <h2> and <h3> to attract attention. You can't just expect Google to figure out that you have a specific type of content based upon a small, text-based tagline at the bottom of an inner Web page. Make sure to use your relevant keywords wisely and strategically as well - don't just throw them out there and hope that they'll do some good.

#3 - Duplicate Content

We all have a pet peeve, and this is Google's. Google hates it when you post duplicate content to your website that has been already posted on other websites or blogs. There are tools you can use to check for duplicate content, such as the one available at Copyscape.com. Google loves unique and original content that can't be found anywhere else. The more original the content on your Web page, the higher your page will rank in the Google index. If you must re-use an article make sure to re-write it yourself or hire a professional re-writer to get the job done effectively.

#4 - Start Clean

While you can make a big difference just by cleaning up your messy site, it is always better to start off doing things the right way. If you launch an SEO-friendly website from day one, it's much better than trying to clean up a bad site and get back in Google's good graces. Make sure your site is user-friendly - easy to read, easy to navigate, filled with relevant content and regularly updated. Accessibility is a big issue for disabled users or for users that access your pages via mobile devices that might not be able to view all types of content.

#5 - Too Much Flash

That brings us to our last point. If you have elements in your website that can't be viewed by a majority of your users, or that shuts out a specific demographic completely, you might want to re-think your design. Flash looks great, but it has almost no SEO value. If you don't have any text-based content that the engines can read, they won't be able to index your content, view your keywords or rank your site accordingly. Keep your site simple, easy to read, quick to load and clean.

Now once again, get busy!

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