6 Key Google Ranking Demotions (and confirmations) That You Should Know About

A series of algorithmic demotions are discussed in the recently released (leaked?) Google docs. Descriptions are limited, but definitely worth a look so we can get some insight into how each impacts your SEO.

  1. Anchor Text Mismatch – When the link does not match the target site or page it’s linking to, the link is demoted. Google is looking for relevance on both the linking page and the target page. Over the years, most SEOs are in agreement that relevance is assessed not only in the words within the link, but the paragraphs, and possibly whole pages (and now finally admitted, whole websites) at a time.
  2. SERP Demotion – A signal indicating demotion based on factors observed from the search engine results page, suggesting possible user dissatisfaction with a page. This is likely measured by views, clicks, going back to SERPs (bounces), and more obviously visible things users hate such as pop-ups and thin content.
  3. Navigation Demotion – Contextual, hamburger, inline, and others. Presumably, this is a demotion applied to pages ignoring navigation best practices or user experience. Even forgetting to use them can be a biggie.
  4. Exact Match Domain Demotion – In late 2012, Google's Matt Cutts shared that exact match domains would not get as much value as they did historically. We can see now that there is a specific filter for exact match domain demotion, something that used to be very, VERY desirable.
  5. Product Review Demotion – This is likely related to 2023’s product reviews update which focussed on ensuring reviews included "why/how" the user would benefit or be impacted by the product/service and other more valuable information...not just weak metrics like star ratings.
  6. Location Demotions – Appears to be related to local SEO (precise location) where a physical location is available. Some larger sites may be demoted for people searching nearby when pitted against a local business offering the same or similar services/products. I.e. A café vs a grocery store that sells coffee.

While these six examples of how Google might demote your pages barely brushes the surface for SEO, important questions must be asked: Does SEO really matter to my business? Is search engine ranking a worthwhile business strategy? Can my website rank at all? If your answers are No, No, or No, then maybe you should focus on conversion strategies instead of attraction strategies.

And Seven (7) SEO Confirmations to Set Your Mind at Ease.

  1. New Page Scores - New pages start out with the same ranking/score as your Home page...until they establish themselves, after which they could rank better or worse.
  2. Top of Page Content is Favoured – Pages get truncated (cut off). So, it's best to keep your most valuable/actionable/informative content "above the fold", or within the visitor's initial view.
  3. Short Content– Not to be confused with "Thin" content, short content is simply that. Valuable, just not that long. Google prefers this to be original (so forget using the AI generators that puke poor quality content - and if you do use them, edit, edit, edit). Your copywriting should be unique to the offering. Thin content means less valuable, boring, uninformed, useless as well as short (could be long, too).
  4. META Data Character Counts – Not a thing. We're as guilty as the next in recommending min/max character counts for meta. In practice, we seldom want to go beyond the key marketing message anyway, so the absence of a character count doesn't impact us as much as a poor message can. Just keep in mind that Google may pull anything they want from your page or the META to display in SERPs. The better you craft it, the less likely they'll change it.
  5. Dates are Important – they inform Google what's fresh or dated. Editing updated the date. Google might look back at the previous 10+ (they don't archive forever, just the past few) versions of a page to confirm this. Page content can confirm freshness just as much as a posting date/time stamp can.
  6. Domain Age/Health is Critical – You'll want to ensure your domain doesn't have a bad history. Given thousands of domains are abandoned or expired or sold daily, doing your due diligence is smart. Case in point, one domain I recently registered has earlier hosted an electronics store for students. I'm still discovering sub-domains, product links, and whatnot months after getting it. Redirects and HTACCESS to the rescue, but still.
  7. YMYL is Separate – Finance, Health, and Insurance websites are assessed on how well they adhere to a singular topic. Google applies a separate ranking score for these.

Conversion strategies: once a visitor arrives on your web page, everything (words, photos, videos, etc) must support their decision to purchase or otherwise make contact. Every small to medium size businesses should create conversion pages - one for each product or service, and run ads against them.

Attraction strategies: information helps people learn. For a business who's customers perform topical searches, content still reigns supreme. Go big, publish pages and pages and pages of content - just keep your page on a single topic. Pillar pages are good. Topic-specific supporting pages are better.

connect and convert more easily with improved messaging