Avoid Google's wrath! Search engines & off-site optimisation
A great site is no good if Google doesn’t know about it. You need to alert them to its existence – and, more importantly, its value – as soon as it’s ready. Use Google Webmaster Tools (recently renamed Google Search Console) to register your site and submit a sitemap containing your pages: this will ensure the search engine crawls them all.
Off-site optimisation requires some thought into your company’s linkbuilding and branding strategies. The better your work in these areas – as well as the on-site stuff you did earlier – the more authoritative Google will consider your site to be. Among the most important of Google’s ranking factors is links pointing to your site.
The House Always Wins
In days gone by, unscrupulous SEO agencies could easily build poor-quality links to their clients’ sites. Google, understandably, was more than a little irked by this, and started dropping the hammer on them. Good linkbuilding is tough; it requires a creative – but metrics-driven – SEO agency with a proven track record.
When you’re caught cheating, or counting cards in a casino, you’re thrown out; Google responds with similar force when it thinks a website is trying to trick it. And, as is also true of casinos, in the long run, the house always wins. Maybe you’re a genius SEO con-man: maybe you’ve genuinely come up with a way to beat it. It won’t matter. Your victory will inevitably be a short-term thing: Google will almost certainly update its (increasingly complex) algorithms to accommodate your tricks at the first opportunity. Its reputation depends on it.
A Cautionary Tale
Trying to defeat Google is like trying to fistfight the sun: you’ll waste a lot of energy, and you’re liable to get horribly burned in the process. For example:
When it was discovered that links counted in search engine rankings, some smart Alecs decided to indulge in a spot of link-farming: building vast networks of sites that all linked to each other in order to rack up huge numbers of links to their own webpages. Because this was detrimental to user experience – it pushed irrelevant sites right up the search rankings – Google responded by penalising sites in their updated algorithms (this is why Penguin – which you can find out more about in the SEO eBook's glossary – exists).
People realised keywords in copy were a critical variable in most rankings. So they decided to flood their sites with keyword-packed text – often irrelevant to the site itself. Some webmasters even packed their sites with invisible text (black writing on a black background, for example) or in tiny, imperceptible writing. Google didn’t update their algorithms to ignore this tactic: again, they updated them to actively penalise the offenders. Overnight, these SEOs were rewarded for their deviousness with terrible, terrible rankings.
Google’s motto, for a long while, was ‘don’t be evil’. By no means does this mean it’s a soft touch. When Google thinks it’s being messed with, it responds swiftly, brutally, and without mercy.
In short: don’t be a smart arse.