How Google is Like Golf


In both golf and Google, the low score wins. In golf, you are penalized for each stroke you take; Google penalizes you for each fault your website has. As Google reviews your website, it looks for transgressions, tallies up the score, and applies it to its algorithm to determine how you rank compared to the rest of the world.

Of course, no one outside of Google is sure of all the parameters Google uses to assign penalty points to a site; Google acknowledges that there are over 200.

Google does give helpful insight into how to avoid penalties. Google is very clear that sites that use “spammy” content and “Black hat” techniques will be punished. What Google is less clear about is how punitive they are to each infraction. Some transgressions are more damaging to your ranking than others are. The critical thing to remember is that they are cumulative.


A good Web Designer or Search Engine Optimizer will pay attention to the Gospel according to Google and avoid transgressions by following Google’s Golden Rules.

1. Sites should be designed for the end user, not Google.

2. Google values sites that are valued by others.

3. Sites should be accessible.

4. Sites shall be mobile-friendly. (updated September 2016)

5. Sites shall be secure with SSL encryption. (updated July 2018)

Frankly, we feel that Google relies too much on rule #2. They call it democracy; we call it a junior high school popularity contest. Unfortunately, this rule has been taken advantage of by unethical SEO companies, and the sale of backlinks permits ranking to be manipulated. The good news is that Google’s latest revision to its algorithm relies less on backlinks than it used to.

Google has decreased the weighting on backlinks, increased the local search weighting, and is now returning far better quality results. This change is good news for site owners that do not have resources for link-building campaigns. The even better news is that if your competition has participated in link farms, their sites may be penalized. Legitimate links are valued, but spammy link farms are on Google’s hit list.

The Single Most Important Factor.

So how do you drive down your score and get better results for your website? Besides the basics mentioned above, your site needs to have useful content. You should write useful content that is easy to read and understandable. Writing good content is the most challenging part of creating a website. You will improve your score by providing useful information to your target audience.

And Then?

Remember, Google gives no rewards, only penalties.

Paying careful attention to the details that make up a website will minimize the penalties that Google may assess to your site and improve your rank. Just like as in golf, the low score wins!

About the Author

Certified by HubSpot in the areas of Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing, and Email Marketing, Neal has been involved in Internet Marketing since the mid-Nineties. He also is Google Analytics certified and loves SEO.