Five SEO rules to live by

Looking back over a decade or more of SEO best practice, we ve compiled a list of simple rules that you can check any SEO plan against to avoid engaging in tactics that may do more harm to your website than good.

5 SEO Rules to Live By

Google may have fingers in many pies, from mobile phones to self-driving cars, but their core business is still their search engine. Processing an average of 3.5 billion searches worldwide every day, Google dominates the search market and has even found itself acknowledged by the Oxford English Dictionary as the verb to search the Internet. ( A “Bing” meanwhile, is defined as an old Scottish word for “a heap of waste from a mine” ).

But users would be quick to abandon Google if it stopped giving them good answers so maintaining their market dominance necessitates that Google maintains the quality of their search index. Accordingly, Google has invested a huge amount of time and money in building a team dedicated not only to improving its index, but also to protecting it. They are on a crusade to ensure that their search engine remains the first choice for any Internet user and their primary enemy is anyone who is trying to position a site in a better position than the one it "deserves" according to their algorithm. 

Under the auspices of this "Web Spam" team, Google has released numerous updates to its index, the most famous codenamed Panda and Penguin, and the ramifications of these continue to be felt by businesses today. Google is still releasing new iterations of these updates as well, and adding more update projects to its schedule. Tracking Google updates has become a daily task for webmasters and SEO consultants, with whole web communities dedicated to analyzing and discussing what Google may, or may not, be doing.

All of this makes agreeing on an SEO plan a daunting task for any business. Whether your building your plan in-house or using a third party agency/consultant, how can you possibly predict what tactics and techniques Google may decide are “bad practice” in the future? The good news is that you don’t actually have to be a psychic (or work for Google) to predict that. Looking back over a decade or more of SEO best (and worst) practice, we’ve compiled a list of simple rules that you can check any SEO plan against to avoid engaging in tactics that may do more harm to your website than good.

Rule 1: If you can automate it, it's probably spam

Google believes in a "human-generated" Internet. Any content, link, or page generated by a machine alone is likely to be classed as SPAM at some point in the future.

This also includes downloading content from another site or provider and regurgitating it on your own website. The days of cheap "affiliate" sites that could reproduce a manufacturer or supplier's content but with generally better structural SEO are almost completely dead. 

Rule 2: If you're doing it because "It's Good for SEO" or "Good for Google" but not "Good for the User", it's probably spam

Anything done to a website purely to help it position better and that has zero benefits for the end user is probably a SPAM tactic. Whatever you do to your website, whether you do it under the banner of SEO or not, should be done to improve the experience for the user. Google wants to deliver its customers to websites that give them a great experience - if that's you, they should position you better.

Rule 3: If you are paying an unknown third party for something, it's probably spam

Anything that promises links, clicks, or traffic from undefined sources in exchange for money is either a straight out con or more SPAM (unless we're talking about a clearly paid for advertisement). 

Google don't have a problem with you buying advertising from them or from anyone else - but they don't like to see links, social media updates, or blog posts that are made to look organic but have really been bought and paid for. If you’ve paid for links in the past, check your Google Webmaster Tools Control Panel and consider disavowing any links that may be penalizing your website.

Rule 4: If someone tells you it will "trick" or "trap" Google, it's probably spam

No matter who it is you are talking to, if they tell you they've figured out something Google doesn't know about its own system... then they're wrong (or soon will be). The problem with any SEO "trick" is that Google gets to hear about them pretty quickly. Even a technique that actually works will almost invariably engineered out of the algorithm in very short order. At best, the benefits are real but transitory. At worst, those real benefits become real penalties if Google think you've been trying to abuse the system.

Rule 5: If someone told you about it in a spam email, it's probaby spam

Sadly the snake oil SEO salesmen of yesterday still exist today and they're still shilling their wares via email, social media, and good old-fashioned cold calling. If a company is resorting to SPAM email to get your attention, how good do you think their SEO is really going to be? Shouldn't they be living handsomely off the customers who find their website organically?

Hit delete and move on.

Oh no! It's too late! I already did something that I think is spam...

Don’t worry, all is not lost. Clean up your act and apply for reassessment from Google. It’s simpler than you fix and Google won’t “hold a grudge” against a site that has made mistakes in the past.

Contact us to find out more about cleaning up bad SEO and removing a Google penalty.

Find out more...

Four Tips for Handling Online Returns
In some sectors the return rate for an online business can be as high as 30% or more. We've been handling returns on our platform for a long time and we've learnt a lot about what works, and what doesn't, when it comes to handling returns online.
How to Highlands and Islands eCommerce shipping
We're often asked if our shipping matrix can handle "Highlands and Islands", as many of our customers use couriers that charge extra to reach the more "further flung" areas of the United Kingdom. Of course, our answer is a resounding "YES".
Integration Frustration: Five signs your agency does not understand integration
Many of our customers come to us frustrated with a lack of integration between their eCommerce website and their back office systems. Frustratingly for us, it seems that a lot of agencies are still touting integration services that don t work or lack the back office expertise to truly understand the systems that they are working with.
Introducing Arthur
Arthur is not just a gimic - he's our first step into deploying artificial intelligence into our software stack.

Artificial Intelligence is everywhere - including in our support team, helping us to respond faster and chasing up those pesky website issues!
Is it time to move your advertising budget from Google to Amazon?
Moving ad spend from Google to Amazon makes a lot of sense if you are looking to shift physical or digital products and have them available on Amazon, but will it generate long term ROI?
Kill your Donkeys
Not all CPC campaigns are created equally - what would happen if you went "all in" on your best performing campaigns? It's time to kill the donkeys!
The Jurassic Park Test
About to make a change to your website? Make sure you've applied The Jurassic Park Test to ensure that you'll have a measurable return on investment and can prove that your changes are taking your online business forward.
Quick Support

Ready to Launch?

If you're ready to start the next phase in your eCommerce journey, or you need a boost to help you reach the stratosphere, please contact us using the form below.

We're ready to help...

The important stuff:

Tell us more:

Tell us a little bit more about you and your requirements and we'll be able to tailor our response to your precise needs.

I'd like a demo of Gravit-e.
I'd like a free audit of my website and SEO.
I need to integrate my website and back office systems