The big, bad, scary SEO monster is lurking. He’s hiding in every corner. He’s changing his tactics when you least expect it. Out of nowhere, he is crawling your website searching for an opportunity to drag you back down into the dark dungeon of the 100+ ranking sites.
What do you do? How can you protect yourself from this monster? Do not fret. There are ways to protect yourself and ensure that you’re placed in that sweet number one spot. The first step is to understand a few SEO components you may be inadvertently missing within your strategy.
1) Lack of Purpose & Overuse of Keywords
Ever heard of the term “keyword stuffing”? Probably. Most inbound marketers know this is a HUGE no-no, but it is still alive and well today due to a misconception that sites like Google rely solely on keywords as a relevancy signal. This is simply not true. Search engines are getting closer to mimicking human language which means not only do your website pages need to be strategically optimized, they also need to serve a purpose and provide value to the reader.
When reading through your website, ask yourself these questions:
How does this page help the visitors on your website?
What valuable information does it provide?
Is the content on the page relevant to the keywords used in the page title, URL, and H1 tags?
Is the content of this page relevant to the website as a whole?
The more natural and relevant the content, the more likely search engines are going to move you up in the rankings.
Example: Let’s say you have a website page about “Siamese Cats”. The content should include information about the origin of the breed, typical lifespan, common diseases, best homes for the breed, etc. and other content that would be relevant to learning more about Siamese cats. It should not include the word “Siamese Cats” sixty times. It should also not include unrelated content such as information about, for example, vitamin supplements. Search engines will see right through this kind of trickery and penalized the website.
2) Inattention to Bad Backlinks
For every website, paying attention to your backlinks in crucial. The term backlink refers to a website, or websites, that have text that quite literally links back to your website. In many cases backlinks are a good thing that signal to Google that your site is more authoritative than those without that back link. However, there are backlinks that can be extremely harmful to your website.
Spammers have been known to create content, link back to your website and cause your rankings to fall. This is called Negative SEO. In some cases, competitors will try this tactic as well. Without monitoring these backlinks, your website can fall in rankings and your traffic can drop considerably in a very short amount of time. This is especially true if there are several bad backlinks directed to your site.
You can overcome this nuisance though. Google sees when this is happening, and assigns a manual penalty to your website. This means you have the ability to control whether or not Google should actually follow that link. Once you clean up these toxic backlinks your website should come back into good standing with Gogole.
How to Overcome Toxic Backlinks: Look through all of your backlinks using a scanner. If you find any spam links, try to remove them and add them to the disavow list or make them “no follow”. This is absolutely critical to maintaining a healthy website. If this tactic is not working for you, make sure to reach out to Google and let them know what is happening. It may take a while to get a response, but they will be able to provide the appropriate solution.
3) Imperfect 301 Redirects
301 redirects are simply a change in the URL that links to your content. In a perfect world all images, title tags, content and layout would stay the same while only the URL changed. When 301 redirects are done properly, the link maintains around 85% of its original equity even if the new page isn’t a perfect match. Issues arise for search engines and websites when links are redirected to pages that are not relevant to the original content.
Example: Let’s refer back to that “Siamese Cats” page. If you set up a 301 redirect that links to a page about Siamese cats, that’s perfect. If it links to cat breeds, you’re probably fine. If you’re redirecting to a page about office furniture...kiss the link equity goodbye.
Another thing to watch out for is creating massive amounts of 301 redirects back to the homepage. When you do this you risk losing all link equity. It is possibly and probable that Google will drop the old URLs from its index. So, it may take a bit more time, but you’re better off establishing relevant 301 redirects.
Lastly, beware the infinite loop trap and crawling errors. These occur when too many overly complex redirect patterns are in place. Typically, Google will follow numerous redirects, but with each extra step you risk losing additional link equity and relevance of the anchor text on those pages.
The above lists only three ways you could be potentially hurting your SEO. However, there are many, many things to consider when creating an optimization strategy for your company. The key thing to remember is that you stay relevant. Keep your content meaningful. Ensure your website has a direction, a purpose, and is optimized for the user. Lastly, clean up technical issues to make it easy for Google to crawl your site and give you the ranking you deserve.
Originally published Mar 21, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017