Whenever there’s a major Google update SEO forums turn ablaze with disgruntled search marketers wondering why their rankings have suddenly dropped. What’s most shocking, however, isn’t the penalty, but rather, why it was such a shock in the first place. Google may keep the exact perimeters of its algorithm a secret, but they’ve always been very clear about what search marketers shouldn’t do.

Many companies use the phrase “ethical SEO” to promote themselves. Lose translation: we follow the rules. Unfortunately for buyers, following the rules comes at a cost (because quality comes at a cost). If you aren’t willing to put in the time or money to get it right from the outset, you don’t belong in the industry. If you’re making any of the following five mistakes, best change your strategy before it’s too late.

1. Ignoring Website Metrics

In March Google rolled out the Fred update. Since then metrics have been a very important ranking factor. Time spent on pages, bounce rate and click through rates can now affect your placement in the SERPs, so make you you don’t neglect the design elements of your website and pages. The best way to do this is to keep a close eye on your analytics and constantly make adjustments to your template and on-page content.

2. Writing Generic Blog Posts

Unlike typical 500-word blog posts, pillar content is genuinely beneficial to the Internet and something that Google would proudly showcase at the top of their search results. According to Paul Gordon of 720digital you should try to look beyond online sources and break information rather than curate it. This is a surefire way to acquire natural backlinks from people referencing your work.

3. Getting Links From Content Farms

While 10 years ago it was possible to produce 250-word articles riddled with mistakes, submit them to Ezine or another content farm, and achieve results within a matter of days (sometimes hours), this strategy is now extremely damaging. Take the time to develop quality guest posts written by good writer, and submit them to relevant blogs with a high trust flow.

4. Removing Prepositions In Keywords

Preposition-less keywords do nothing but hinder the readability of your content. You’re not fooling anyone by writing “SEO firms London” rather than “SEO firms in London” – definitely not Google! In fact, the algorithm is now so advanced that it doesn’t even need exact match keywords to rank relevant pages. If anything it will regard preposition-less keywords as spam.

5. Not Optimising For Mobile

More people access the Internet on mobile devices (smart phones and tablets) than desktop computers. Clean, responsive designs now get priority in the SERPs. If you haven’t updated your template and optimised for the mobile generation, make that your top priority as no amount of off page SEO will compensate.

To summarise, the entire search engine optimisation process is simply common sense. If something feels wrong, then it probably is wrong; if something is too easy, then it probably won’t provide much value. If you aren’t always following Matt Cutts (the SEO world’s gateway to Google), start reading his blog and brushing up on your knowledge. While changing your whole business model may seem daunting, the results will eventually pay off.