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If you’ve been in the gambling affiliate business for any length of time, you know that Google has a remarkable amount of power over your livelihood. Practices such as paid link exchanges that are perfectly acceptable one day can cause you to drop off the map entirely the next based on little more than a single Google algorithm change.

Making things worse is the fact that Google is pretty tight-lipped about what they’re actually weighing when ranking a site. This leads to plenty of confusion over issues like the duplicate content, over optimization and negative SEO penalties we’ll talk about later.

Unless your golf buddies with Matt Cutts, there’s not much point in trying to anticipate which practices Google will penalize next. Still, understanding the current penalties can go a long ways towards keeping your page ranking where you want them.

Today we’re presenting a brief guide to Google penalties and how affiliate partners can avoid them.

General Rules

A big part of staying ahead of penalties is understanding SEO best practices, as defined by Google. There’s a complete list of them on the Webmaster Guidelines  that should be mandatory reading for any affiliate partner.

We hammer these points pretty regularly but the general guidelines cover:

  • Design and Content
  • Technical Guidelines
  • Quality

It sounds simple when it’s all laid out in black and white, but putting these rules into practice is isn’t so easy.

Duplicate Content Penalty

The duplicate content penalty is a great example of how confusing Google penalties can be. It turns out that there’s a lot more to duplicate content than just posting the same story in two different places. What Google is looking for are duplicates that are being used deceptively. Block quotes from forum posting and printer-friendly versions of a pages generally won’t hurt your page rankings.

What Google is looking for here, and they outline it really well on their blog, are sites that are scraping content and generally behaving in an egregious manner. There are plenty of ways to fix duplicate content. The best is to simply label stories with a canonical tag to make certain that its the version search bots actually index.

Duplicate content is so confusing that Cutts address it again in a recent blog posting titled, Demystifying the Duplicate Content Penalty.


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