How to protect your site from low rankings and penalties
Organic traffic presents the most efficient way of bringing visitors to your website. Contrary to paid traffic, it doesn’t cost you anything, yet it’s more relevant as it reflects the actual value of your site’s content.
According to recent studies, 53% of total traffic comes from organic search, while paid search brings only 27% traffic. On top of that, 49% of marketers believe organic search is the most profitable channel they use.
Thus regardless of your blog’s purpose (selling products or just publishing articles), having organic traffic is a precious asset. Monetizing a website with decent traffic can make you anywhere from dozens to thousands of dollars every month.
But to get the traffic, you need a lot of niche-oriented, high-quality content. And not every content converts well. Some pages on your blog even harm your ranking and prevent the site’s visibility from search engines.
To avoid low ranking and Google penalties, make sure you don’t have any of the following content on your blog.
Content that no longer serves the latest information
When posts on your website contain claims, statistics, or advice that are no longer relevant, it almost automatically pushes your ranking down. This ends up in a lower volume of organic traffic.
Articles with the most current data perform better as Google ranks higher content with fresh information. Unless your posts don’t cover evergreen topics that hardly change over time (how to make banana bread, how to maintain good friendships), you need to update your content occasionally.
Bringing old articles back to life with updates is an efficient way to regain ranking. In addition, it saves you the time and money necessary for creating brand new content.
How to avoid this problem
For identifying outdated content on your website, you can use a free tool from Google called Search Console.
Find section Search Analytics, check all four boxes (clicks, impressions, CTR, position) and use filter Pages. You’ll get stats for your posts that you can download and analyze.
Pages with CTR lower than 1%, high impression rate, and positions between 1 to 30 are worth updating.
You can improve these posts by adding more subheadings, images (always with alt text), facts and stats backed by research, and (relevant) backlinks to high authority sites. Check whether you have any broken links (links to non-existent pages that usually appear as 404 pages). If you do, replace them.
Don’t forget to target the right keywords as well. You can find them the same way you found your stats in the Search Analytics section. This time, check the filter Queries instead of Pages.
Keep in mind that for accessing this information, you need to verify your website’s ownership.
If you can’t do this, for example, because you want to update your old Medium stories, check the stats page. Find posts that got decent traffic in the past and review each article separately. In this case, you have to find harmful factors on your own.
Short content with little-to-no value
Google tends to rank long-form content higher; although an article’s length isn’t a ranking factor itself — the quality is.
Theoretically, if you manage to offer better data, insights, and in-depth clarification with shorter content, you can beat your competitors. Practically, the likelihood of writing a 700-word story that gives a great user experience and profound explanation is scarce.
If you want to play an SEO game and drive traffic with your content, short-form content providing little to no value won’t get you there.
How to avoid this problem
Writing a long post is a time-consuming activity. On the other side, it brings in the most results. This fact shouldn’t prevent you from writing short-form posts, though.
Long stories help you with organic traffic and ranking; short stories help you stay in touch with your audience.
Find a reasonable ratio between long and short content creation.
For instance, write weekly short blogs about trending topics or quick updates. Once in a month, make an effort and create a long piece on an evergreen topic.
In case you already have many short but useful posts, you can update them and merge relevant ones to create one long post. Four 2-minutes articles with tips for better sleep are better off together as a complete guide to good sleep. Add relevant data and keywords, and you get ranking-worth content.
Auto-generated content is a form of content generated by software, with no (or little) human participation.
Although creating auto-generated content can be tempting as it cost you almost no time and money, it will hardly help you get organic traffic.
Automated tools often create articles that provide poor user experience and bad optimization. This content doesn’t offer any new insights as it consists only of recycled information from other published articles.
That’s the reason why the Google algorithm evaluates generated content often as a black hat SEO strategy.
How to avoid this problem
If you’ve published on your website auto-generated articles, I recommend you rewrite them and add unique insights, stats, and data.
Use information from reliable sources, preferably from a website with high domain authority. This will improve the chance of organic traffic and higher ranking.
Other generated articles that will be hardly useful even after editing should be removed from your site completely.
If you still insist on using software for content creation, use it only as a framework for your story. Then, fill in any insights and facts with source links by yourself.
Content overflowing with keywords
Including keywords in your articles helps search engines to find your content easier. But more keywords don’t necessarily mean more visibility.
Articles overloaded with words you’re trying to rank for act as a trigger for Penguin, part of Google’s core algorithm. Once Penguin evaluates your content as keyword-stuffed, you can expect a significant drop in organic traffic.
According to Google Search Central, content that kills your ranking looks like this:
“We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at email@example.com.”
How to avoid this problem
Although there’s no particular rule for the right amount of keywords in the text, search engines respond well to pages with a keyword density of around 0.5%. It equates to 1 keyword per 200 words.
You can use this simple formula to calculate it:
KD=(KWa/ TW) x 100
KD= keyword density; KWa= keywords appearances (total amount of keywords used in the text); TW= words in total
For instance, you used a keyword 15 times in a 1000-word article, which gives you (15/ 1000) x 100=1.5. This is considered very high density, and you should cut the number of keywords at least to half.
You can also avoid keyword stuffing by using synonyms or semantically related words and phrases.
Content that is no longer useful can be quietly destroying organic traffic to your website.
Hence, you should validate your site’s performance every once in a while to see what no longer serves its purpose. This will prevent you from search engines’ penalties and provide a flow of organic traffic.
Ensure that your site doesn’t contain any of the following:
- Outdated content — regularly update data, statistics, or any claims in your content that are no longer relevant
- Short content with no value — don’t rely on low-quality short posts to increase your ranking
- Auto-generated content — Google algorithms might identify this as a black-hat SEO strategy which turns into a penalty for your domain
- Keyword-stuffed content — using a high density of keywords on purpose results in a penalty and low domain ranking
And as always, write for humans, not for search engines.