Category: Ranking Factors


Whenever you register a domain name, details such as your name and address and the date of registration are held by an organisation called ICANN. If someone wants to determine who owns a website, they conduct a WHOIS search which will tell them. For privacy reasons many web owners hide these details, but this raises the question as to whether this will negatively impact on your SEO rankings?

To address this, we need to understand what Google’s entire ranking algorithm is designed to achieve. Google can only survive if web users continue to use it as a search engine. This means that the results which Google presents for any given search term need to be relevant and show websites that the user would be happy to visit.

The degree to which Google establishes whether any single website is worthy of showing up in its results is established by taking multiple factors in to consideration. For each of these, Google’s algorithms then apply a score to that site based on what it considers to be a positive or negative indicator.

When it comes to your WHOIS details there may be many valid reasons why you would want to keep your details private. It could be that you want to avoid your employer discovering that you are running a website. Another might be to avoid strangers knowing your home address. Whilst these are perfectly reasonable, unfortunately, Google knows private WHOIS registration is something that potential spammers use, and this is where it could impact your ranking.

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The sort of spam we are going to be discussing isn’t those annoying emails from a lawyer asking you to get in touch to claim your $20 million-dollar inheritance (if only!). Instead, it is what Google considers spam tactics used to game the SEO of a website.

There shouldn’t really be any confusion over what is considered spam in the eyes of Google, because they have published guidelines and regular updates to its definitions. While you may not deliberately intend using spammy or blackhat tactics, you could do so accidentally. Unfortunately, in Google’s imaginary SEO courtroom ignorance is no defence, and the punishment is lower ranking or worse, deindexing for your website.

Side note: Read this for why you might want pages of your website deindexed.

If you employ a consultant or an agency to carry out your SEO, it will help you to ensure they are not putting your website at risk, if you know what these spam tactics are. Hopefully, you will have employed a reputable SEO agency, but being able to spot if they are up to dodgy practices, is no bad thing.

The way in which Google determine whether they consider your website to be spammy or not is by checking for ‘spam flags’. These are indicators which their crawlers find when they visit your website. Having just one or two isn’t good, but it may not be enough to have your website banned, but if they find several of these spam flags, then it could be curtains for your site.

Here are the 5 main spam flags that you must avoid.

#1 Malicious, or Harmful Content: This is a no-brainer but if you have any content on your website that is malevolent and directs hate towards a person or group of people, then Google regard that as spam.

The harmful element is regarding anything on your website that uses phishing to try to gain access to a user’s personal information, and their financial information. This is obviously different from legitimate e-commerce activities where you use a proper merchant account.

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One of the biggest mistakes many website owners make is failing to measure the impact that their SEO activities have made. This is akin to following a diet and exercise program, and then not bothering to check your weight.

There are two specific SEO metrics which Google looks at very closely to see if the visitors they send to a website via their search results are having a good experience. These are ‘Page Views‘, and ‘Session Time’.

If you have a business with an online presence, it is not enough to have people visit your website; you want them to engage with the website and the content therein. The more that they read articles, watch videos and click through multiple sections of your website the better.

The level of engagement that a visitor has with your site, is measured by a metric called ‘page views’. A high number of page views tells you that visitors are taking an active interest in your website, whereas a low number suggests they are disinterested in looking through it.

This data is measured by Google, and if they see that visitors are clicking through to lots of pages on a website they will increase the ranking of that site. The reason for this is that they want their search engine results to show sites that encourage activity. One way this is achieved is with great content that users find interesting.

Compare this scenario to a site which has little or poor content and as a result, visitors very rarely click through to other pages. The page views metric will be low, therefore, Google reduces the ranking of that site.

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There are a lot of things to think about when you’re building a new WordPress website. You need to get the design right, you need to add the right plugins, and you need to make sure that your content remains up to scratch.

However, you also need to make sure that your website’s technical side doesn’t suffer while you focus on improving your design and functionality. Maintaining low load times is essential when it comes to both the user experience and SEO, and you need to make sure that your WordPress website is as fast as possible.

With this in mind, I’ve put together a list of a few easy ways to improve your WordPress website’s speed. They include:

Optimise Image Size

The first thing you should do is make sure that your images are relatively small. Never try and upload high resolution pictures to your WordPress website, because it’s simply not necessary. They will take extra server space and a long time to load, slowing your site down.

If you do have large images, the best thing to do is to compress them before you upload them. If your website is already up and running with a range of large picture files, then you should consider installing a plugin to minimise them.

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