To maintain its credibility and ensure repeat visits, Google is always trying to improve the results it delivers to users. As part of their work to enhance the customer experience, engineers at Google have been working to identify the types of pages that appear to be “spammy,” or that are not sufficiently relevant to any particular keyword phrase that gets typed into their search engine.
To further its efforts, Google has started taking aim at sites that look as if they’re “designed to look relevant,” and this kind of change may inadvertently affect your own search engine rankings if you don’t stay on top of your website.
So how can your website content make your site look less relevant? Let’s explore a few ways:
Lack of originality. When your website was originally created, did the webmaster copy or paraphrase content from another site? Search engines have gotten much better at detecting those practices.
Lack of freshness. Generally, search engines visit Web pages at least once every 2 weeks. When they come back, they perform any number of tests to see if anything on a page has changed. If the content always stays the same, it may not be considered sufficiently “fresh,” and the search engines will demote the Web page. Although you’ll find some pages on the Web that haven’t changed in years, it’s important that you curate your pages more frequently.
Lack of quantity. How big is your website? If it has five pages and you don’t have a lot of content on your site, it could be mistaken for just a parking page or a placeholder site. For any given page, how much text is on it? If you have a big site with just a few words on each page, it can look suspicious.
Lack of quality. In the past, many people added machine-generated content to pages to attract more keyword searches. Alternatively, they may have had content written that was highly repetitive. Normally, if you read content out loud and it doesn’t sound natural, it probably needs to be refreshed. This may also be the case if you had content written for your site several years ago, when search engines rewarded the practice known as “keyword stuffing.”
A solution to many of these problems is to devote some extra time each week adding bits of content to your website. For example, if you have a website that sells several products, you can write a paragraph each week on one particular item and then add that paragraph to the product page. You can then include a link on your home page that “features” that item. Sprucing up pages that haven’t been touched in a while is always a good idea, especially when you have new products or services to add or discontinued items to remove.
Because Google uses a set of “secret formulas” to understand site quality and relevance, it isn’t that difficult for the average site owner to get caught up in traps that are meant to ensnare some of the Internet’s shadier operators. Sites that ranked highly on Google for years may find that their fortunes have changed if they haven’t updated or upgraded their content.
Web pages that are too similar to other pages on the Internet can also find themselves marginalized. For example, real estate websites often use similar content when describing local communities, and search engines may conclude that those pages aren’t sufficiently compelling to warrant higher rankings.
In any case, keeping your website up-to-date and making it more of a resource for its topic matter are two ways to stay out of the “spam traps.” Best of all, if you’ve been competing against a batch of spammy pages, Google’s new approach can push your site higher simply by removing the low-quality competitors who have held spots above your own.
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