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How to Avoid Penalties When Ranking in Highly Volatile Industries

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When trying to rank on Google through search engine optimisation, there are some industries which are far more competitive and volatile than others. 

The dominant search engine Google makes regular algorithm changes every few weeks and months – so you can find yourself making some strong progress but being shot down by a penalty in a highly contentious industry.

If you are trying to rank a website with little competition or local searches, you are probably not going to face any kind of volatility or penalties in your rankings. But you are going to have to tread thin if you are going to rank well in some very competitive and highly sensitive industries such as gambling, loans, insurance, hosting, FX and more. Our guide below gives some vital tips when trying to rank in the most penalty-stricken and volatile search results on Google.

Conduct Fierce Competitor Analysis

One of the best starting points is to look at your competitors and who is ranking on pages 1, 2 and 3. 

There are certain details to look out for such as:

  • Whether they use a landing page or a homepage to rank
  • What are their URL structures?
  • What are meta-titles like?
  • What kind of links do they get and where do they point them to?

A good example of URL structures and why it is useful to looking at competitors is taken from Dime Alley use the following which is more popular:

Rather than another traditional method of /loans/installment. Looking at competitors is key for any specific industry, but it is likely that they have gone through the motions and overcome penalties in the past to secure those positions. Furthermore, there is a lot of evidence and gossip amongst SEO practitioners that copying the techniques of those on page 1 in terms of layout, URL structures and links is the best practice to secure similar positions.

Using Low Risk Link Building Strategies

If you are competing in the more penalty-ridden industries such as casinos and loans, you may need to be more careful with the links that you build and acquire.

Notably, getting brand name links to your homepage is always going to be a low-risk strategy and then spreading your links across a few resourceful blogs and guides, will build you up as an authority and look incredibly natural. Make sure your content is not thin and has real statistics, graphs, and images to back up your resources. 

If you are using exact match anchor text to your target pages, such as ‘casino bonuses,’ ‘car insurance’ and ‘personal loans’ – these are more likely to be pulled up when it comes to penalties and algorithm changes – on the basis that they do not look natural.

Whilst you might get away with using these from links from your highest DAs, if most of your links are pointing to landing pages and have exact match or partial match, this could land you in hot water. In this case you may need to look at the percentage of links that are targeting the homepage and guides vs your landing pages.

Avoiding Keyword Issues with Meta-Data

When competing in a volatile industry, you must be careful not to use your main keyword too many times in meta-titles and meta-descriptions.

For instance, you may need to only use the word ‘casino,’ ‘loans or ‘insurance’ just once in the meta-title of your key page.

If you use it more than once, you may find that you will suffer a penalty or not quite get the rankings that you need in the first place. Yes, Google can sometimes be that sensitive!

Therefore, it is also important that your brand name does not have one of these words in its name, or it could be overused by accident.

Selecting a Good Domain

This brings us onto the next bit which is choosing a good domain or brand name for your business.

Whilst historically, it was popular to just pick a domain name based on what people searched for e.g. or – today, it is more about creating brands, so your name does not necessarily need to be related.

However, if you have an exact match domain or partial match domain which is too similar to a volatile keyword, this could cause all kinds of problems that might lead to a penalty. 

Having a partial or exact match domain is powerful if you are a local business e.g., – because the domain still has a lot of SEO influence. 

For instance, it could lead to the overuse of a main word such as loans or insurance in your meta-titles, headings, URLs, and links that you acquire. Google might see this as keyword stuffing or just overkill and demote you accordingly.

Partial match domains may also have this issue such as or – so you may need to avoid these kinds of names too.

One suggestion might be taking a broader term like games, finance, or cover, which is not as delicate, taking an example from or PaddyPowerGames.

You could be a little smart and add words into your domain like ‘compare’ or ‘quotes’ so that you capture all keyword rankings for these too.  But as soon as you start dabbling with exact match keywords, you might be walking on eggshells!

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