Everyone hates spam, there’s no way around it. Whether it comes in the form of an unsolicited email or a low-quality website, spam ignites frustration in even the most patient internet users. Well, despite your hatred for it, have you ever considered that Google may look at your website as spammy? Unfortunately, it could be true

Whether you outsource your SEO and web design efforts or handle them yourself, it’s important to consider some of the things Google considers spam. Otherwise, your site could be viewed as web spam and you would have no idea. Here are some things to keep an eye out for, as Google absolutely detests the following:

1. Over-Optimization

There was a time (not so long ago) when there was nothing wrong with over-optimizing for keywords. In fact, keyword stuffing was considered a viable practice that produced positive results. Well, that’s no longer the case. You should aim to write as naturally as possible and try to satisfy human readers before worrying about the search engines. Natural, long form content with subtle long tail keywords is the way to go. Long tail keywords not only appear more natural, but they also increase your chances of ranking for the search terms your target market actually uses.

2. Low Quality Inbound Links

Ask most people whether they’d have 100 or 1,000 inbound links pointing to their website and they’d obviously say 1,000. Well, you shouldn’t come to that conclusion so quickly. More isn’t always better in terms of inbound links, and quality is what truly matters. If you have too many low quality inbound links from spammy looking sites, Google is going to associate you with those sites.

How do you know whether or not your site has low quality links pointing to it? Try downloading and installing Moz’s Spam Score Checker tool. It’s easy to use and will give you a Spam Score of 0-17. You can then cut off access to the sites you feel are holding you back.

3. Low Quality/Non Regular Content

You can’t talk about website quality without talking about content. Google likes websites that constantly update their pages with fresh, relevant content. If you’re still using the same static copy that you had on your site in 2005, that’s a red flag to search engine crawlers. They want you to focus on adding regular content that users find valuable.

On a related noted, you should avoid pasting external content onto your site – even if you have permission from the original author – without properly attributing it to the source. Spammy sites regularly lift content that they pull in via RSS feeds and you don’t want to make Google think you’re doing the same thing.

4. Poor Web Design

Are you using the default WordPress theme? While there’s nothing wrong with it, the fact of the matter is that a lot of spammers use this theme because it’s quick and easy. Spend the extra five or ten minutes it takes to search for a better theme and install it on your site. Google will thank you, readers will thank you, and everyone will rejoice.

5. Ad Stuffing

We live in a capitalistic society where everyone should be able to monetize their website. However, you should be careful with how you do such. Ad stuffing is not a good strategy and will hurt you more than help you in the long run. As a rule of thumb, you should never have more ads than you have original pieces of content. In fact, you should probably have twice as much original copy.

Help Google Love Your Site

Google wants to love your site, but you have to facilitate the process. Avoid these five spammy mistakes and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy relationship with the search engine giant.