Your website is a crucial part of your business. After all, many people go Google these days when they’re looking for an answer to their questions or needs. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is important for your Google ranking. The better optimized your website is, the higher you will rank. Most people don’t scroll down past the first half of the search results page, so ranking at the top is critical for being noticed. Taking steps to optimize your website can help your ranking, but there are certain tactics that can actually result in a penalty from Google. Here are a few tips on how to ensure that your website stays penalty free.

Stay Away from Private Blog Networks

Link building is a crucial part of SEO. Gaining links is important, but so, too, is the quality of those links. The more natural and organic they are, the better. When active users share your information and link back to your site, these links are safe.

Buying links, however, can lead to a penalty. Buying links refers to paying for links, or content that contains links, exchanging goods or services for a link, or providing a “free” product in exchange for a link. This practice goes against Google’s webmaster guidelines. They take this practice very seriously. Depending upon the seriousness of the violation, it can take just a few weeks to several months for the problem to be resolved.

Stuart McHenry President of McKremie a USA SEO Company offers this advice, “We handle lots of Google penalty issues here at McKremie. Our Google penalty removal service often helps people remove unnatural link penalties. Beware how your SEO Company is obtaining links for your business. And stay away from private blog networks at all costs.”

Avoid Deceptive Pages

Deceptive pages are those that are designed to look like they’re helpful to readers, but are actually created to make money with ads or affiliate links. For instance, a deceptive page may look like it has useful information, but its actual purpose is to get visitors to click on links. Some deceptive pages may have a title that sounds helpful, but the information contained in the page has nothing to do with the title at all. Deceptive pages violate the quality section of Google’s webmaster guidelines, which can result in a ranking of lowest quality.

Watch Out for Overuse of Keywords

Keywords are an integral component of SEO. These words and phrases make it possible for people to find you through a Google search. When it comes to keywords, however, more is not always better. Overusing keywords, also called keyword stuffing, is one of the most well-known black-hat SEO techniques and has been against Google policy for over a decade. Keep keyword use to no more than 2% to 3% of the page to avoid overuse as well as a potential Google penalty.

Don’t Cloak Keywords

Some individuals try cloaking, or hiding keywords. This is a technique that involves adding keyword text in a color that blends in with the color of your background, hiding text behind an image, or making the font size 0. For instance, white words on a white background. Visitors to the page don’t notice the text, but Google does. Google can see the content visible to visitors as well as the content that is cloaked, and a penalty will be applied if this is done too often.

Beware of Anchor Text Abuse

Anchor text is a word, or a phrase, that contains a hyperlink to another page, either within your own website or to another one. This text can be very good for SEO, when it is relevant. Relevant anchor text from a high-quality website can aid in boosting ranking. Overuse of anchor text, however, can be quite harmful. For instance, dropping anchor text with links back to your website on various other websites and forums can trigger Google algorithms to hit you with a penalty.

Show You are a Trusted Business

Google cares that each of the businesses listed on its search results page is legitimate, and are related to the search queries of search engine users. It’s essential that you come across as genuine, which can be done in part by offering a seamless user experience on your website. Make sure that you share your physical address on your site and be consistent with the same NAP (name, address, phone number). A good social media presence can also be helpful. All of these factors can help you to be seen as a trusted business by Google.

While there are plenty of steps that you can take to improve your rank in a Google search, it’s also incredibly important that you keep in mind the things that can land you a penalty. The user experience should be a top priority and avoid trying to trick Google. Should you find yourself with a penalty from Google, don’t panic. There are plenty of ways to get yourself back on track.