How to avoid SEO penalties in algorithm-stricken industries4 min read
When trying to rank on Google through search engine optimization, there are some industries which are far more competitive and prone to algorithm updates than others.
Industries such as casinos, insurance, loans, hosting, and FX are highly competitive, and many SEO practitioners will turn to black hat techniques to secure Page 1 positions.
Google is the most popular search engine used by consumers; it makes regular weekly algorithm changes. As a result, firms may find their initial SEO progress is shot down by a penalty which can ultimately lead to a significant loss of traffic and revenue.
The guide below gives some vital tips when trying to rank in the most penalty-stricken and volatile search results on Google.
Choose a good domain
When trying to rank for a highly competitive keyword, SEO professionals might look at selecting a domain which is very similar to the ‘big money’ keyword. There is certainly evidence that having a domain with competitive keywords in it will give you an SEO boost. For example, carinsurance.com or onlinecasinos.com
However, in today’s marketing landscape, this is not as essential, and Google looks more at brands rather than just keywords within a domain name.
Firms which have an exact match domain or partial match domain (i.e. loans or insurance is in the domain name), will need to be a little bit cautious, however. This is because there will likely be a higher mention of ‘danger’ words, like insurance and loans, a lot more in the content, the meta-data, and the links acquired.
SEO professionals need to be aware of keyword stuffing, or over-use of sensitive words, their brand’s anchor text as this is likely the first thing Google will look at if they are going to penalize a business.
Strong competitor analysis
Competitors are a good starting point for any SEO professional. Those which rank on the first two pages of Google’s search results will provide insight into what works and what does not.
Not only can SEOs then emulate the right kind of techniques for said industry, but they can also see who has potentially fallen within the search rankings and been hit most by algorithm updates and penalties.
Since the casino and insurance sectors are known to have their own kind of algorithms, SEO’s working in these markets will need to play close attention to whether the landing page, or homepage, is used to rank. Consideration will also need to be given to URL structures, meta titles, and how frequently is a keyword mentioned on a page.
When looking at URL structures, there may be a specific layout that ranks best for Google. Taking an example below from the loans industry, they use https://dollarhand.com/installment-loans/ instead of ‘loans/installment’ or ‘/installment/loans’.
With language in mind, SEOs will also need to take heed of what kind of rhetoric and language is being used within competitor sights, as well as what links are used.
As a result, looking at competitors is essential for ranking in a highly specialized and competitive industry. Firms which are well established in the market are likely to have gone through the motions and have overcome penalties in the past in order to secure such strong positions.
Using low risk link building strategies
SEOs assisting firms in more penalty-ridden industries will need to be more careful with the links built and acquired.
For starters, getting brand name links to a homepage is always going to be low risk. Spreading these links across several resourceful blogs and guides, will help build a business up as an authority, while appearing organic.
Linking to homepages and guides is much harder to penalize than if links are embedded within ‘money pages’ of hyperlinked to words like casino or loans. However, firms need to ensure their content is not thin and includes real statistics, graphs and images which validate their resources.
It is important, therefore, for SEO professionals to review what percentage of links go to their organization’s homepage, money pages and guides; looking at competitors and their split can be very useful here. In fact, using tools like Majestic can show you this immediately.
Be cautious with link anchor text
When choosing the anchor text of a links, SEOs should ideally be on the cautious side. In general, no legitimate site will offer hyperlinks of ‘car insurance’ or ‘best casinos’. Instead, SEOs should look to hyperlink to phrases like ‘find more information here’ or ‘check your eligibility’.
Hyperlinking to phrases which can be actioned – like ‘quotes from $300 per month’ – is also likely to be more effective. Using a mix of these techniques will look more organic within money pages.
The use of synonyms can also be helpful when considering which phrases to hyperlink. The word ‘car insurance’ can easily be interchanged with ‘motor insurance’, for example. Rephrasing is also a popular technique used by SEO professionals – instead of ‘car insurance policies’, try ‘insurance for your car’.
Avoiding abbreviations is also a common technique used by SEOs. Instead of saying ‘VPNs’, ‘virtual private networks’ can be used to anchor text more naturally.
Patience is key
Overall, the competitive industries mentioned within this article are so valuable that they attract a lot of attention from SEO practitioners, and this means black hat techniques who are trying to game the system and generate some quick traffic.
Whilst cautious techniques will take several months to have an impact, firms can have peace of mind they you will sustain good quality rankings and traffic and avoid future penalties.
Firms which make sure they look carefully at competitors and avoid overusing the big keywords in their content and links should be good to go!