This article will outline the five most common ranking factors that can have a negative impact on your SEO campaign. In order to rank highly in Google you will need to ensure that you avoid each and every one of these bad practices and the ranking penalties that they can bring about.

1. Duplicate content.

Googles overarching mission is to provide its users with high quality information which is relevant to the search query that they submitted, therefore it will come as no great surprise to learn the Google has effective measures in place to make sure that the top ten results for any given keyword do not comprise of pages containing identical content. One of the means that Google uses to achieve this is by penalizing pages that contain content which originated on another website.

2. Cloaked Content.

The idea of cloaking content is not a new concept, in fact it has been around for years. One of the oldest methods involves rendering the text in the same colour as the pages background to make it invisible to the human eye whilst presenting the same text as content to search engines. There are other methods of cloaking text through CSS. Each of these procedures are against the terms of service of Google and as such, carry penalties.

3. Paid Links.

Many websites offer people the chance to obtain a link from them in return for cash, often these links can seem as though they would be very valuable for your SEO efforts, it is not uncommon to see PR6 and PR7 websites offering links for cash. However, before you grab your credit card and go off hunting, there is a catch, buying links is against Google’s terms of service and carries hefty ranking penalties. Typically Google will penalize both websites involved in the paid link transaction, and additionally every page rank update sees the PR of sites know to have sold links heavily downsized.

4. Linking To Websites Of Bad Repute.

Google and other search engines realize that no person can control who links to their domain, however the websites that your domain links out to is an entirely different scenario, these links are firmly within your control and Google considers each of the websites you link to when it calculates your ranking positions. Linking out to websites of a bad repute will have a negative impact on your own rankings.

5. Canonicalization.

Canonicalization is the process of showing identical (or very similar) content on more than one url. Often this can occur through incorrect server configuration (not redirecting non-www. to www. or vice versa) but canonicalization can also come about on ecommerce websites that show the same product lists on more than one page or even on websites that display the same products on pages which sell in alternate currencies. In this situation, use of the rel=canonical tag is recommended to let search engines know which page you would like them to index.