10 Things to Avoid To Improve Your Website Ranking

Here, we’re going to discuss how to improve your website ranking, by avoiding these practices. Business people, marketers and content creators are always asking the same question: How can I get my content seen via Google? Google’s answer is simple; just create great content, but it goes much deeper than that.

The idea of ‘great content’ is a largely subjective one; there is no one fail-safe recipe for creating great content. All audiences are different and find varying types of content valuable and interesting. There are many factors that could lead to content being considered as ‘great’ by Google and other search engines, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay on top of what works.

Creating web content that the Google Overlords deem to be worthy of their algorithm ultimately depends on what your objective is. Even at emarkable, where we spend hours dissecting and studying Google’s algorithm updates, we find it difficult to remain 100% sure of what works for Google. One thing we are completely sure of is what Google, and the general internet user, hates. The fact is, you can’t create weak and spammy content and expect it to take off. Ignoring the demands of Google, and the behaviour of your potential customers is futile. As marketers we welcome Google’s increasingly scrutinising algorithms because it forces businesses and bloggers alike to create user friendly, well written content.

Google Overlords

There are a number of things a huge proportion of Irish businesses include in their content, unbeknownst to them that they are, in fact, harming their chances of ranking on Google. The following list is composed of the 10 most common, but less obvious, content sins committed by Irish businesses and marketers, and chances are, you’ve committed each of these in your time. Without further delay, here are the 10 things Google, and your readers, hate the most, and therefore the ones you should avoid in order to improve your website ranking.

1. Is this an article or an advertisement?


Accurate depiction of Google

A very accurate depiction of Google’s Top Heavy Update

One Google Algorithm that is less talked about on marketing blogs is their Page Layout Algorithm, otherwise refered to as the Google Top-Heavy Update. This algorithm, which came into effect in early 2014, penalises websites that have too many ads. The reason? It makes it difficult for readers to see what the content is actually about.
As well as an algorithm being in place, having an excessive number of advertisements on your page will indirectly result in a poor ranking. If a visitor arrives on your site looking for a recipe for the perfect curry, and they are bombarded with irrelevant ads, they are likely to click away immediately which negatively impacts your bounce rate.
Google has also started to crack down on advertorials. Advertorials are nothing new; they have been a staple in glossy print magazines for years, but they are quickly becoming as much a part of digital content. These are typical posts advertising a brand in the hope that your website will rank when people search for that product (See later reference to a company Google banned in the UK). Google is not a fan of this kind of content.
Instead of turning your content into an advertisement, create something genuinely helpful for potential readers and customers.
2. Autoplay Videos

Video Autoplay

Two words sum this one up very quickly: so annoying.

YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have all introduced autoplay video functions despite it being a feature that no one wants. Not one person. None.

The reason they are forcing these loud and often embarrassing, depending on where you are, videos on us is simple: money. Social Media platforms charge advertisers after their ad has run for a set time, therefore it is in their benefit to autoplay videos in order to get more money from advertisers. No regard for user experience at all. The thing is, though, the Twitters and the Facebooks of this world don’t really need to worry too much about whether their content is coming up on Google. You do.

In general terms; a web user wants to land on a page they chose to click on, read the article, browse around and then watch the embedded video if they want to. An Autoplaying video usually insights panic into the user; where is this noise coming from? How do I make it stop? More likely than not they will simply click away from the page, and never return again. It feels intrusive and spammy for the user. This reduces the average time spent on your website, which ultimately diminishings your website ranking on Google. Furthermore, in September 2015 Google introduced a ban on Autoplaying Flash videos on their Google Chrome Web browser. We reckon that it is only a matter of time before they introduce an algorithm that penalises the usage of autoplay video.

3. Moving Advertisements

We’ve all spotted them. It’s usually someone waving, or people playfully pushing each other around and it’s very distracting.

Being greeted with a side bar full of moving advertisements is not uncommon these days and there is something obnoxious, even spammy, about them. Traditional marketing methodology would teach you that a moving advertisement is gold as it draws the users’ eyes to the ad. Inbound Marketing teachings, however would argue that the consumer has evolved from being drawn in by obvious advertising. They are there to read, and they aren’t going to click that ad no matter how much the little guy jumps and waves to get their attention.

If you’re being distracted by flashes and movement while trying to read something the fact is you are going to leave the site. You already know by now that this negatively impacts your web ranking.

4. Failing to answer the question

According to SEO god, Rand Fishkin, one thing that Google really hates, is when you claim to be answering a query but don’t. This can be for a number of reasons, for example you are filling the  content with information that doesn’t directly answer the query and the user bounces back to Google immediately. Google calls this ‘Pogosticking’.

5. Recommended Spam

You know how you pretend you never read the Daily Mail but secretly do? Well, did you ever notice the ‘From the web’ articles at the end? These are ‘Recommend Articles’ that Daily Mail advertises on their site in exchange for a little extra cash in the kitty.
They are nothing but spam.
Spam advertisements
They always have the most ludicrous titles like ‘You won’t believe how this woman reverse aged herself’ or ‘This celebrity has a secret’; pandering to our natural curiosity and obsession with staying young.
In May 2013 Google banned a UK business for using advertorial links and in 2015 they knuckled down to find ways to root out dodgy link practices just like this in a quality update called ‘Phantom’. The phantom update deals with a lot of the things we are talking about in this article but it is predominately concerned with destroying use of this questionable take on ‘Recommend articles’/’From the web’ method of generating more income.
This kind of advertisement is viewed very much in the same way as top-heavy ads, so instead of risking your search engine ranking, opt for a recommended articles section that suggests articles that you have written on a similar subject. (Like ours).

6. Lies, Lies, Lies! 

In early 2015 Google announced that they are working on a new ranking system that will weed out all the liars out there. This means that, for example, bloggers pontificating health tips without any grounding or source won’t find it so easy to rank on Google.

Known as the Truth Algorithm, this new system will clean up query based SERPS that contain misleading or misinformed results that are factually flawed or simply nonsense. The idea here is to reward sites that contain verified or at least well sourced facts to ensure that people are finding what will really answer their question, as opposed to rumours, blatant sales attempts, poorly interpreted research, and pseudoscience.

Hopefully this will be the start of the disintegration of fear-mongering online, although can we really leave it in the hands of Google robots to determine what is true and what is not? That is definitely a discussion for another blog post.

There is no telling exactly when this Truth Algorithm is going to be launched, however it is worth consciously avoiding publishing misleading information for your company’s benefit from now on.

7. Clickbait

As marketers, a browse through Facebook for us is often like pulling teeth, to use a blatant cliché. So many people sharing clickbait articles! It’s face meltingly irritating.

You know the type: “He proposed at the ball game – you won’t believe what happened next”, “This content writer is tricking you into reading irrelevant content – it will blow your mind”; that kind of thing. These articles have a sensationalist headline that doesn’t really tell you much about what is in the article (see point 4). There is no appreciation for user experience in this kind of content at all, and you should avoid it all costs.

clickbait meme

Clickbait articles do not actually tell potential readers what they are clicking into. People who visit these sites are usually disappointed, don’t get what they want and, you guessed it, leave the site, thereby impacting your bounce rate. Yes, pogosticking makes another appearance.

Thankfully Google devalue this kind of content through their Panda Algorithm which focuses on that elusive term ‘great content’. Facebook is also clamping down on clickbait , filtering this kind of content out of people’s feeds. It’s definitely working its way to becoming an obsolete method of getting people to read your content.

8. Linking to weak sources

This is similar to the ‘Recommended Articles’ issue discussed earlier. The Google algorithms are getting smarter, and they are checking your sources. They are checking them twice etc.
When you link to a website you are citing it as a source, giving it your seal of approval. If you are linking to content without checking its credibility or quality Google will interpret this as your site being of the same calibre as theirs. This can lessen your domain authority and ultimately effect your search engine ranking position.

9. Low word count

If your content is thin, it’s fairly obvious that you haven’t put a lot of time, research or thought into whatever you are writing about. How can you properly inform someone if you are only sharing 100 word blog posts? This is where the quantity over quality mentality really fails businesses.

When you see a website that has a blog filled with 50 word blog posts, you immediately disregard them as a credible source, and Google does the same. What makes us cry inside the most is when you see articles that are low on actual informative content but high on images, imbedded Tweets and memes (we see the irony, we love a meme).

Google’s Phantom feels precisely the same. In its second updated it specifically targeted ‘thin content’. Paul Edmondson of Hubspot claims that his site lost 22% of its traffic as a result of this update. No one is safe! So just bring your a-game.

10. Plagiarised content

An angel loses its wings every time you plagiarise someone else’s content and try to pass it off as your own.

The internet has somewhat devalued the art of writing and those that don’t value the talent involved don’t appreciate the work and time that people put in to researching and creating unique and informative content. For some reason, people think it is ok to lift content and reuse it elsewhere; this is copyright theft and a number of things can happen, getting sued being the most terrifying. Not only is plagiarism, or to put it bluntly, content theft, infuriating and damaging to your reputation, it’s also penalised by Google.

Way back in 2012, which is a lifetime in digital marketing years, Google introduced an algorithm that penalises websites that use plagerised content. It might like a simple way of getting content for your site, but ultimately your ranking will be damaged and Google might serve you with a removal notice.  Which you deserve, in fairness, if you are stealing other people’s content.

We understand that if you are not a writer, this might seem like the easy way out. But if you are not a writer, hire a marketing company that has specialist in content marketing (like emarkable, perhaps) to do the writing for you.

Seems like a lot  work, doesn’t it? Admittedly, it can be a heavy workload ensuring that your content is sin free. That being said, the work is worth it for the sake of your business’ online reputation. The bottom line is, you shouldn’t be lazy with your content and you need to be willing to stay on top of changes in Google’s algorithms. You also shouldn’t assume that what you think is right for your business is right for your customers; they will decide that for you and, evidently, so will Google. 

Do your business a favour and create valuable content that improves your business’ chances of generating leads through the internet. Emarkable’s dedicated content team can help you to create exceptional marketing content on a regular basis that is worth something to the public, to Google, and ultimately to your business. 


Richard Coen

With over 21 years of experience in Digital Marketing, 31 years in sales and 25 years in business development, Richard assists companies to develop key growth strategies on a local or international basis. He can assist marketers to achieve balance in their approach to key areas affected by the growth in digital marketing.