Finding The Positive in Negative Ranking Factors

When working to improve a website’s ranking on Google, we are often quick to assess what more successful competitors are doing (and for good reason). It can also be helpful to review factors that are keeping lower-ranked websites off the first page of the search engine results pages, and make sure to avoid them ourselves.

In August, Moz released results of its 2015 Ranking Factors Survey, a biennial assessment of the current and future state of Google’s search algorithm by the best and brightest minds in the SEO and search marketing space. The report covers a broad spectrum of ranking factors including the negatives. That’s what I want to explore today.

Negative Ranking Factors

The report mentions 17 negative ranking factors and rates each on a scale from 1 (no direct impact) to 10 (strong impact). Today we are going to look at the top five.

1. Total number of unnatural links to pages/subdomains (8.26/10)
First announced in April 2012, Google’s Penguin algorithm update began addressing linking schemes used to manipulate search engine results pages based on the number of links pointing to a page. Since its debut, Penguin has seen at least five updates and another is said to be coming before the close of 2015. This next update will be a real-time version, meaning there will be continuous updates rather than specific release dates.

How can you recover from Penguin? Start by cleaning up and removing bad links that violate Google’s guidelines. See what Google says about disavowing back links.

2. Page is duplicate content (7.74/10)
Google defines duplicate content as “…substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.” While duplicate content is often not deliberate, it has been and is used by some in an effort to manipulate SERPs. Read more about duplicate content.

3. Page content is thin (7.69/10)
In its guidelines about original content, Google recommends that webmasters build pages with “plenty of rich information.” This information includes content that covers the subject or focus of the page, and keywords that indicate or support the subject. How much content is enough? Opinions vary, but a minimum of 300 words is a good start. Most important is that the content fully covers the topic at hand. Remember that Google ranks content based on value to the user, so make sure yours is useful.

4. Amount of over-optimized anchor text to page (7.55/10)
More than ever before, it’s important that anchor text makes sense to the user and reads properly within the content. If linking to a page that is optimized for the keyword “home improvement,” all of the links to the page should not be on the phrase “home improvement.” Rather, mix it up a bit and link on phrases like “home improvement contractor,” “our services,” and other options. The key here is that the anchor text still needs to directly correlate with the target page. The user should not be surprised by the page they see after clicking a link.

5. Non-mobile friendly for mobile SERPs (7.49/10)
This ranking factor has been beaten and re-beaten in 2015. If your website doesn’t have a mobile solution, it’s time to move it to a responsive design. We learned from Google back in May that mobile searches had officially surpassed desktop searches. So … what are you waiting for?

Click here to see the entire list of Negative Ranking Factors.

Let’s Get Positive

If your website rankings are less than impressive and it’s time for a change, reach out to The Web Guys. We can build you a brand-new, responsive website and begin working toward better rankings and overall online visibility for your company.

Ready to get started? Call us today at (317) 805-4933.