Are you struggling to make your brand stand out in the crowded digital marketplace? You pour your heart and soul into your business, confident that your innovative offerings are exactly what your potential customers need. But somehow, your branding isn’t reflecting the true value of your products or services. Where are all those inquiries hiding?laptop sitting on a stool showing visual branding on screen

Maybe it’s because;

  • Your brand identity isn’t captivating enough to grab attention or accurately represent the quality you deliver.
  • Your social media content isn’t resonating with your audience, missing the mark in engaging and connecting with them.
  • Your presence on social media is sporadic and inconsistent, making it difficult for your brand to remain visible and build lasting relationships.

Branding is like a beautiful tapestry woven from distinctive design and strategic marketing, designed to attract customers and enhance profitability. It’s about infusing your ‘why’ and your values into every aspect, allowing your audience to connect with it on a deeper level. When done right, branding brings your business to life, engaging your audience and leading to a thriving, fulfilling business.

So, how can we achieve this?

1. Compel

As humans, we’re hardwired to crave captivating experiences. We naturally gravitate towards content that compels us. In today’s fast-paced world, where attention spans are dwindling, it’s more crucial than ever to create a brand identity that leaves a lasting impact. Craft a brand that captivates, engages, and lures potential clients into your world.

2. Connect

Deep down, we’re all seeking connection. And successful branding is all about forging meaningful relationships with your audience. When people feel a genuine bond with your brand, they become more than just customers – they become loyal advocates who continuously invest in your products or services. Build that bond by listening, empathising, and engaging authentically to foster long-lasting connections.

3. Cultivate

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Well, it still holds true today. If your brand isn’t consistently visible in your audience’s world, it can easily be forgotten amidst the noise. That’s why regularly showing up on social media is vital for running a thriving business. By staying present, you remain at the forefront of your audience’s minds, cultivating relationships and fostering repeat sales.

Remember, branding goes beyond aesthetics. It’s about creating memorable experiences, making a positive difference in people’s lives, and nurturing meaningful relationships with your customers. Are you ready to bring your dream brand to life? Let’s join forces to turn this vision into reality. 

Google is a powerful search engine that’s used by millions of people worldwide. It plays a crucial role in helping websites rank higher, but this comes with a cost. Many website owners need to be made aware of the standard practices that can result in Google penalties on their website, thus reducing their rankings and affecting their search engine visibility.

It’s crucial to ensure that you’re aware of these practices and avoid them to maintain good search engine rankings and ensure the best user experience for your audience. In this blog, we’ll provide a comprehensive list of standard practices that may result in Google penalising your website, along with an explanation for each point and examples where possible.

Maddi looking at google on phone


  1. Keyword stuffing
  2. Cloaking
  3. Hidden text and links
  4. Excessive affiliate linking
  5. Plagiarised content
  6. Broken links
  7. Slow website speed
  8. Poor mobile optimisation
  9. Spammy structured data


Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing overloads a webpage with keywords or phrases to manipulate search engine rankings. This technique is considered spammy and goes against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, which prioritise providing high-quality, relevant content for users. Websites caught engaging in keyword stuffing can face penalties, including lower search rankings or removal from search results.

Keyword stuffing can take several forms:

  • Content: Repeating keywords excessively within the text, making it appear unnatural and difficult to read. For example, if you’re targeting “best-running shoes,” a keyword-stuffed sentence might look like this: “Our best running shoes are the best running shoes on the market because we offer the best running shoes for all types of runners.”
  • Meta tags: Overusing keywords in meta tags, such as the title tag, meta description, or meta keywords attribute. For instance, a stuffed title tag might be: “Best Running Shoes | Best Running Sneakers | Top Running Shoes | Best Shoes for Running.”
  • Alt tags: Including too many keywords in the alt tags of images. An example of keyword-stuffed alt text could be: “Best running shoes top running sneakers best shoes for running.”
  • Hidden text: Inserting hidden text containing excessive keywords, often using CSS techniques to make the text invisible or nearly invisible to human visitors but still readable by search engines.



Cloaking is a black-hat SEO technique showing different content or web pages to search engine crawlers and human users. This deceptive practice manipulates search engine rankings, as the content displayed to crawlers is optimised to rank higher in search results. The content presented to users may be unrelated or low quality. Cloaking goes against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, which prioritise providing high-quality, relevant content for users. Websites caught using cloaking techniques can face penalties, including lower search rankings or removal from search results.

Here’s an example to illustrate cloaking:

Suppose a website wants to rank high for the keyword “weight loss tips.” The site owner creates a webpage filled with relevant, high-quality content about weight loss tips and shows this version to search engine crawlers. As a result, the page gets indexed and ranks well for the targeted keyword.

However, when users click on the search result expecting helpful weight loss tips, they are directed to a completely different page promoting an unrelated product, such as an online casino or pharmaceuticals. In this case, the website owner has used cloaking to deceive both search engines and users, which can lead to penalties if detected by search engines like Google.

To avoid cloaking and its potential penalties, it’s essential to focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that serves the needs of both search engines and users. Be transparent and consistent in presenting your content to all visitors, regardless of whether they are human users or search engine crawlers. Doing so will improve your search engine rankings and create a better user experience for your site visitors.


Hidden text and links

Hidden text and links refer to deliberately making text or links invisible or nearly invisible to human users while still allowing search engine crawlers to index them. This deceptive technique aims to manipulate search engine rankings without affecting the visual appearance of the webpage for users. However, hiding text and links goes against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, which prioritise providing high-quality, transparent content for users. Websites caught using hidden text or links can face penalties, including lower search rankings or removal from search results.

Examples of hidden text and links techniques include:

  • Small font sizes: Using a tiny font size (e.g., 1px) to make the text difficult or impossible for users to read while still being indexed by search engines.
  • Matching text colour to the background: Setting the text colour to be the same or nearly the same as the background colour, making it blend in and become virtually invisible to users.
  • CSS positioning: Using CSS to position the text off-screen or layer it underneath other elements on the page, thus hiding it from users.
  • HTML comments: Placing keyword-stuffed text within HTML comment tags so that it is not visible to users but still readable by search engine crawlers.
  • Hidden links: Concealing links within other elements (e.g., images, buttons) or using CSS techniques to make them invisible or barely noticeable.

To avoid the use of hidden text and links and the potential penalties associated with these practices, focus on creating high-quality, transparent content that is easily accessible to both search engines and users. Ensure all text and links are visible and easily readable, and avoid using techniques that could be considered deceptive or manipulative. Doing so improves your search engine rankings and provides a better user experience for your site visitors.

Excessive affiliate linking

Excessive affiliate linking refers to including an overwhelming number of affiliate links on a website, often at the expense of providing valuable content. While affiliate marketing can be a legitimate and profitable way to monetise a website, overloading your site with affiliate links can lead to a poor user experience and may be perceived as spammy by search engines like Google. Consequently, this can negatively impact your search engine rankings.

Here’s an example to illustrate excessive affiliate linking:

Suppose you have a blog about healthy living and nutrition. Instead of creating high-quality, informative content that genuinely helps your readers make better choices about their health, you prioritise adding numerous affiliate links to various health supplements and products within your articles. As a result, your content becomes cluttered with promotional links, making it difficult for users to find the valuable information they were looking for.


This excessive use of affiliate links can lead to several issues:

  1. Decreased user engagement: Users who visit your site searching for helpful information may be put off by the excessive promotion and leave without engaging further with your content.
  2. Loss of credibility: Your audience may question the authenticity of your recommendations if they feel you are prioritising sales over providing valuable information.
  3. Poor user experience: The overabundance of links can make your content easier to read and navigate, leading to a frustrating experience for visitors.
  4. Search engine penalties: Search engines like Google may perceive your site as spammy and lower your rankings in search results, making it harder for users to find your content.


To avoid these issues and maintain a robust search engine ranking, it’s essential to balance affiliate marketing and providing valuable content. Here are some tips to help you achieve this:

  1. Focus on quality content: Ensure your primary goal is to provide helpful, informative content that addresses your audience’s needs and interests.
  2. Add affiliate links strategically: Include affiliate links only when they are relevant and genuinely helpful to your audience. Please make sure they are within the overall user experience.
  3. Disclose affiliate relationships: Be transparent about your affiliate partnerships by including a clear disclosure statement on your site, as required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines.

Monitor user engagement: Regularly review your site’s analytics to ensure your content resonates with your audience and does not drive them away due to excessive affiliate linking.


Plagiarised content

Suppose you run a blog about travel destinations and find a well-written article on another website detailing the top 10 things to do in Paris. Instead of researching and writing your original essay, copy the entire article, change a few words, and publish it on your blog as if it were your work.

By doing this, you’ve engaged in plagiarism, which could result in several negative consequences:

  1. Copyright infringement: The original author or publisher may take legal action against you for using their content without permission, potentially leading to fines or other penalties.
  2. Loss of credibility: Your readers may lose trust in your content if they discover that you’ve plagiarised from other sources, leading to a decline in traffic and engagement.
  3. Search engine penalties: Google and other search engines may penalise your site for duplicate content, resulting in a lower ranking in search results and decreased visibility.


To avoid plagiarism and its associated consequences, consider implementing the following best practices:

  1. Create original content: Invest time and effort into researching and creating unique, high-quality content that provides value to your audience.
  2. Cite your sources: If you reference someone else’s work or ideas, give proper credit by citing the source and providing a link to the original content, if applicable.
  3. Use quotation marks: When quoting text directly from another source, use quotation marks to indicate that the words are not your own.
  4. Paraphrase and summarise: When discussing information from other sources, try to put it into your own words and provide your perspective or analysis.
  5. Use plagiarism detection tools: Utilise tools like Copyscape or Grammarly to check your content for potential plagiarism issues before publishing.


By following these guidelines, you can create unique, valuable content that benefits your audience and your search engine rankings while avoiding the pitfalls of plagiarism.


Broken links

Your online store sells electronic gadgets. You’ve published numerous blog posts with links to product pages and related articles. However, some products have been discontinued and their pages removed, while other articles have had their URLs updated. Many of your older blog posts now contain broken links that lead users to “404 Not Found” pages.

The presence of these broken links can lead to several negative consequences:

  1. Poor user experience: When users encounter broken links, they may become frustrated and leave your site, increasing your bounce rate and reducing the chances of making a sale or gaining a loyal visitor.
  2. Loss of credibility: Broken links can make your site appear unprofessional or poorly maintained, causing visitors to question the reliability of your content or products.
  3. Negative impact on SEO: Search engines like Google consider the quality of the user experience when ranking websites. A site with numerous broken links may be seen as providing a poor user experience, leading to lower search rankings.


To address the issue of broken links and maintain a positive user experience, consider implementing the following best practices:

  1. Regularly audit your site: Use tools like Google Search Console, Screaming Frog, or Broken Link Checker to identify and fix broken links.
  2. Update your content: When you remove or update content on your site, ensure you also update any internal links pointing to that content.
  3. Use redirects: If you’ve moved or deleted a page, set up 301 redirects to guide users and search engines to the new location or a relevant alternative.
  4. Check external links: Periodically review your external links to ensure they still lead to good, relevant content. Update or remove any broken external links as needed.


Proactively addressing broken links and maintaining a well-organised, user-friendly website can improve the user experience and your search engine rankings, ultimately driving more traffic and conversions for your online business.


Slow website speed

Slow website speed refers to the time it takes for a webpage to load and display its content to users. A slow-loading website can lead to a poor user experience, as visitors may become frustrated waiting for the content to appear, causing them to leave the site prematurely. This increases the bounce rate and negatively impacts your search engine rankings, as site speed is a ranking factor considered by search engines like Google.

Here’s an example to illustrate the issue of slow website speed:

Suppose you run a photography blog with high-resolution images and embedded videos. However, you still need to optimise these media files, causing your web pages to take a long time to load. Users who visit your blog may become impatient waiting for the content to appear and decide to leave before fully exploring your site.

The consequences of slow website speed include:

  1. Increased bounce rate: Users may leave your site without engaging with your content if they wait too long to load.
  2. Decreased user satisfaction: Slow-loading pages can lead to a frustrating user experience, potentially resulting in fewer return visits or negative feedback.
  3. Lower search engine rankings: As site speed is a ranking factor, a slow-loading website may rank lower in search results, making it harder for users to discover your content.


To improve your website speed and provide a better user experience, consider implementing the following best practices:

  1. Optimise images: Compress and resize images to reduce file size without compromising quality. Use appropriate image formats like WebP, JPEG, or PNG, depending on the situation.
  2. Minify code: Minify your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files to remove unnecessary characters and whitespace, reducing their size and improving load times.
  3. Leverage browser caching: Enable browser caching to store static resources on users’ devices, reducing the need to download them during subsequent visits.
  4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN): A CDN distributes your content across multiple servers worldwide, allowing users to access your site from a server closer to their location, resulting in faster load times.
  5. Optimise server response time: Choose a reliable web host and optimise your server configuration to reduce the time it takes to respond to user requests.


By improving your website speed, you can enhance the user experience, increase visitor engagement, and ultimately improve your search engine rankings, driving more traffic to your site.


Poor mobile optimisation

Poor mobile optimisation refers to a website needing to be designed or configured to provide an optimal user experience on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. With the increasing prevalence of mobile browsing, websites must be mobile-friendly, which can significantly impact user satisfaction and search engine rankings. Google prioritises mobile-friendly websites in its search results, meaning that sites with poor mobile optimisation may rank lower and receive less organic traffic.

Here’s an example to illustrate the issue of poor mobile optimisation:

Suppose you run an online magazine with a complex layout featuring multiple columns, large images, and intricate navigation menus. While this design may look great on a desktop computer, navigating and reading on a smaller mobile device screen becomes difficult. Users visiting your site on their smartphones may need help finding the information they’re looking for, leading to frustration and a high bounce rate.

The consequences of poor mobile optimisation include:

  1. Decreased user satisfaction: Users who need help navigating your site on their mobile devices may become frustrated and leave without engaging with your content.
  2. Higher bounce rate: Visitors who have a poor experience on your site due to inadequate mobile optimisation are more likely to leave quickly, increasing your bounce rate.
  3. Lower search engine rankings: As Google prioritises mobile-friendly websites in its search results, your site may rank lower if it needs to be optimised for mobile devices, resulting in less organic traffic.

To improve your website’s mobile optimisation and provide a better user experience, consider implementing the following best practices:

  1. Responsive design: Implement responsive web design, which allows your site to automatically adapt its layout and appearance based on the user’s device and screen size.
  2. Simplify navigation: Optimise your navigation menus for mobile devices using larger buttons, collapsible menus, or other mobile-friendly design elements.
  3. Optimise media: Compress and resize images and videos to ensure they load quickly and display correctly on mobile devices.
  4. Increase font size: Use larger font sizes and sufficient line spacing to make your text more readable on smaller screens.
  5. Optimise for touch: Ensure that clickable elements like buttons and links are large enough and spaced apart to be easily tapped with a finger.

By focusing on mobile optimisation, you can provide a superior user experience for visitors browsing your site on their mobile devices, improving your search engine rankings and driving more traffic.


Spammy structured data

Spammy structured data refers to manipulating or misusing structured data markup (schema markup) to deceive users or gain an unfair advantage in search results. Structured data is a standardised format for providing information about a webpage, such as article titles, author names, images, and ratings, which helps search engines understand the content better and display rich snippets in search results.

However, some website owners might attempt to use spammy structured data to inflate their search rankings artificially, provide inaccurate information, or mislead users. This goes against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and websites caught engaging in these practices can face penalties, including lower search rankings or removal from search results.

Here’s an example to illustrate the issue of spammy structured data:

Suppose you run an e-commerce site that sells kitchen appliances. You add structured data markup to your product pages to enhance your search result listings with rich snippets, such as star ratings and price information. However, instead of accurately reflecting your customers’ genuine ratings and reviews, you manipulate the structured data to display inflated ratings and fake reviews, making your products appear more popular and highly rated than they are.

The consequences of using spammy structured data include:

  1. Loss of credibility: Users who discover that your site provides misleading information may lose trust in your brand and choose to shop elsewhere.
  2. Decreased user satisfaction: If users feel deceived by the inaccurate information in your search result listings, they may leave your site without making a purchase or engaging with your content.
  3. Search engine penalties: Google and other search engines may penalise your site for violating their guidelines, leading to lower search rankings or removal from search results altogether.


To avoid penalties and maintain a positive reputation, consider implementing the following best practices when using structured data:

  1. Accurate representation: Ensure that the information you provide in your structured data accurately represents the content on your webpage without exaggeration or manipulation.
  2. Follow guidelines: Adhere to Google’s structured data guidelines and use the appropriate schema markup types for your content.
  3. Keep data up-to-date: Regularly update your structured data to reflect any changes in your content, such as new reviews or updated prices.
  4. Test your markup: Use tools like Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool or Rich Results Test to check your markup for errors and ensure it is implemented correctly.


By using structured data responsibly and transparently, you can enhance your search result listings with rich snippets, improve your search engine rankings, and provide a better user experience for your site visitors.


To prevent or reverse any penalties imposed by Google, consider implementing the following strategies:

  1. Create high-quality, original content: Focus on providing valuable, unique, relevant information to your audience.
  2. Optimise for keywords naturally: Use keywords strategically and sparingly, ensuring they fit seamlessly within your content.
  3. Ensure a user-friendly website: Prioritise website speed, mobile optimisation, and easy navigation to improve user experience.
  4. Fix broken links: Regularly check for and repair any broken links on your site.
  5. Use structured data appropriately: Follow Google’s guidelines for implementing structured data and ensure it accurately represents your content.
  6. Monitor and remove spammy backlinks: Regularly audit your backlink profile and disavow any low-quality or suspicious links.
  7. Stay updated on Google’s guidelines: Keep informed about the latest changes in Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and adjust your SEO strategies accordingly.


Ultimately, no matter how great your content is, if your page speed and useability are poor, it won’t get you far! When creating your website, explore the small details that give your visitors a great experience. It will all pay off when avoiding Google penalties and ensure high search rankings. Ensuring you read up on SEO best practices, such as following Google’s guidelines, will help you avoid encountering any issues. However, if customer feedback says otherwise or penalties are already in place, there is still a way out. Utilise our expert SEO services here at Hey V.A. for assistance with all your SEO needs – be it audits and reports, keyword research or content optimisation – we can help. Contact us today, and let us guide you towards higher rankings!