It is safe to say that Google is a pretty popular website. Okay, that was a slight understatement. In fact, Google is the most-used search engine in the world. While most people may not think about the technical aspect of the mega company, there’s more to Google than a bevvy of information and the cool daily homepage animations. In actuality, the California-based company is known for having some of the strictest Webmaster Guidelines and Quality Guidelines on the World Wide Web. By having these guidelines, Google is able to keep up its standards high and help websites operate in a fair, honest and transparent way. Your intellectual property litigation lawyer should be aware of these guidelines.
It was Bloomberg News, a popular website that often has the latest intellectual property and copyright news, who published an article about the recent hike in takedown requests at Google. What is a takedown request? In essence, it is a plea from an individual or a company that believes a particular website is violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines or Quality Guidelines in some way. By submitting a takedown request, you would essentially be asking Google to take a closer look at a website that you believe is using unfair practices.
We did our own research and according to Google’s transparency report, there was an alarming 13.7 million takedown/removal requests submitted by copyright owners and reporting organizations from January through February 15th, 2013. Additionally, 42,989 specified domains were targeted during the same time period. If a website is found guilty of violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines or Quality Guidelines, it will likely be suspended until the appropriate changes are made.
As a website owner, why should this matter to you? Well, most business owners create websites as a marketing strategy to reach new customers, maintain current ones and basically help their business grow in some way. However, if your website is suspended or blacklisted by Google, it will directly impact your ability to market your business or sell your products effectively. In some cases, when someone searches for your company name on Google, it may not show up at all until you make the necessary changes and submit what is known as a reconsideration request. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to ensure that your website does not violate Google’s Quality Guidelines.
For starters, it is important to focus on both the technical and content-related aspects of Google’s guidelines. Let’s take a look at the technical things that you can go over with your intellectual property litigation lawyer. This is to ensure that your site isn’t penalized for a violation of some sort.
• Try to use your website on multiple web browsers
• Eliminate pages that don’t serve much value for users
• Ensure that your advertisements don’t affect how you rank
• If you use content management system, verify pages and links created
• Make sure search engine spiders can crawl your site without interruption
Let’s face it, we are not all inclined to handle the technical aspects of a website. So if you need help, don’t hesitate to consult a professional. Remember that violating some technical guidelines could land you in a world of trouble. In an era of data ownership, domain name disputes, and cybersquatting, you may even need to hire a cyber lawyer to protect your intellectual property and ensure that you’re not committing trademark infringement.
• Avoid using automatically generated content : In a nutshell, this kind of content usually doesn’t make much sense to the reader at all. It is generated by a program and is usually packed with keywords that may help your site rank. Remember to make your website for real people as opposed to search engines.
• Stay clear of link schemes: When websites link to you, it affects your ranking on Google. However, it is essential that all of the sites that link to you have relevancy. For instance, if you are a music producer or songwriter, you may have a link to an entertainment lawyer who helped you draw up some contracts. There is an honest connection here that makes sense. But if you run a daycare center in West Palm Beach, FL and there are links to your website on an auto dealership website in South Africa, then you may be guilty of link scheming.
• Say no to cloaking: Cloaking is a term used to describe the process of using a set of content and/or URL’s for humans that’s different from the ones you use for search engines. When you do this, people who visit your website will be greeted with information that has little to do with what they are searching for.
• Sneak redirects: We’ve all been to websites that have redirected us to a different website at one point or another. If you recently changed your website and now you have a new address, a redirect is perfectly fine. However, if your redirect is intended to trick website visitors or search engines, then you are violating Google’s Quality Guidelines.
• Irrelevant keywords: When you create content from your website, it is essential that it is clear and easily readable. If you pack your content with an excess of keywords in hopes of ranking higher, Google will penalize you.
• Doorway pages: Doorway pages are pages that are created to rank a certain phrase. These kinds of pages can be annoying for users because it lengthens the search process simply so a website can rank higher.
• Affiliate programs: If you plan to use an affiliate program to market your website, make sure that the program you use has some similarities to your website. For instance, if your moving company sells moving services to families looking to relocate, you may have a link you your site from a company that sells discounted moving boxes and other supplies. Or maybe you are serving as the affiliate program for a company. If that’s the case, try to create fresh and original content about the merchant as opposed to just copy and pasting the information that already exists on the merchant’s website. By having updated, relevant information, you will be able to generate excitement and interest from readers.
As you move forward, remember that this is just a snapshot of the Guidelines that you should follow to remain in good standing with Google. If you follow the guidelines by making your website clear, concise and transparent, your website likely won’t be a part of the next wave of takedown requests.
Contact The Lomnitzer Law Firm, P.A. to set up a consultation with an intellectual property litigation lawyer!