4 Reasons Your SEO Isn’t Working
Your SEO just isn’t working. Here’s why…
It’s easy to get bogged down by all the intricacies required in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). From placing carefully chosen keywords throughout all content to ensuring an adequate amount of backlinks are present within your site, SEO is incredibly detail oriented and can require long work hours.
In order to improve SEO while still maintaining a semblance of free time, it’s paramount to focus on the forest from the trees. Work smart not hard! Optimize your time as well as your SEO by steering clear of the four most prevalent SEO problems focusing websites face on a daily basis: keyword stuffing, duplicate content, 404 Errors, and bad backlinks.
Finally, make sure you are staying up-to-date with Google Best Practices using these four variables, which impact your ranking within the search engine.
1. Keyword Stuffing
It’s a tricky thing, trying to make sure your website doesn’t fall into the hundred thousand page rabbit hole in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). A common way of making sure your page stays optimized is using relevant keywords throughout your website, (making your work easier to search from a user prospective and easier for the search engine to understand the focus of your content).
The trap many SEO auditors fall into is cramming as many keywords as possible in every piece of text (keyword stuffing) and not paying attention to character count or readability. Meta descriptions (or general page synopses located below the title tag) are a SEO variable that constantly victimized by keyword stuffing.
Search engines can easily cut off lengthy meta descriptions due to location and use. For Google, best practices suggest keeping meta descriptions under 160 characters and placing keywords towards the beginning of the text. This way search engines won’t cut your meta descriptions short and your keywords will be front and center allowing search engines to focus on your presented content.
To avoid keyword stuffing, keep up with a search engine’s best practices for character count concerning title tags, meta descriptions, and any other text baring aspects of SEO. Also make sure your actual composition is relevant and coherent to its site page. Coherent and relevant content (essentially readability) make it easier for crawlers to categorize your site.
2. Duplicate content
Good content drives SEO forward, but duplicate content can sink a site faster than the Titanic. Duplicate content refers to using the exact same content multiple times throughout a website. For example, if your website sells two similar chairs and you use the same title tag for both chairs, you have duplicate content on your website.
Falling into the trap of duplicate content is easy when you focus on providing text for hundreds or even thousands of pages; however, it can hurt the health of your site. Search engine crawlers may overlook one-of-a-kind content because are overwhelmed sifting through duplicate data. Furthermore, a search engine may recognize the duplicate content as the primary page. Finally, search engines may determine duplicate content as original content, confusing the engine and dropping your site in SEO rankings.
The problem stems from the way search engines consider content. Search engines view every URL entered as a separate entity. If you have two duplicate URLs entered, you may view them as the same page, but the search engine will discern them as two separate, distinct pages. The solution? Start using canonical tags. If you have duplicate content the canonical tag lets the search engine know the duplicate page is a copy of the primary, original page. In return the duplicate is not treated as a separate entity. This way your site is protected from falling in SERP rankings.
3. 404 Error
It’s possibly the most annoying encounter to have on the Internet; You click on a URL link and it takes you to that annoying 404 Error page. You backtrack and try the link again, and once again you are rerouted to the 404 Error. A 404 Error is one of three options; an incorrect URL, a linked page that has been deleted, or someone alters a URL without first updating the URL.
Apart from being tiresome, a 404 Error detracts from prime SEO. Search engines crawl website pages, figuring out how to classify and systemize your content. If your website leads the search engine to a 404 Error, it essentially stops the search engine from doing its job. This can be punishable in search engines like Google, who will push your site further into the abyss of lowly ranked pages.
The solution? Regularly audit your site with systems like www.moz.com and keep an eye out for those pesky 404 Errors. Once you’ve identified which pages are broken links, review all possible issues from incorrect URLs to outdated pages. Keeping your website functioning well without any annoying 404 Errors should be high priority for you as a host as well as a user.
4. Bad Backlinks
Backlinks, or links one website gets from another, is a variable in SEO ranking. While the actual value it earns from search engine rankings is unknown, backlinks lend validity and trustworthiness to your site and increase rankings accordingly.
For example, if a well-known art gallery’s website backlinks to a local artist’s website, the artist’s site may increase in SEO rankings. An increase in SEO rankings can result from backlinking because the artist’s website is now endorsed by a site of value (the well known art gallery), in turn placing value on the artist’s site.
This kind of endorsement can be beneficial for both websites and becomes a sought after association to appreciate your site in the eyes of search engines. It’s normal for site developers or owners to chase after as many backlinks as possible, putting their energy towards a quantifiable end game as opposed to a qualitative goal.
But what if your website has backlinks that are irrelevant or do not promote the validity of your own website? What if your site is linked to a low quality site or worse, a site that’s been penalized by a search engine? Essentially, how do you recognize bad backlinks?
It’s not hard to analyze a site and decide if a backlink is valuable to you or not. If the site is illogical with irrelevant and incomprehensible posts, chances are it’s a bad backlink. These kinds of sites are created simply to link websites together, without any other offered value, ultimately being realized as insignificant by the search engine. Furthermore, if the site is using specific, calculated keywords as anchor text, (or the link within site content), chances are it is not legitimate.
The good news is getting rid of bad backlinks is simple! You can get in touch with the owners of the site and ask them to remove the backlink. You can also disavow links, referring to the process of contacting the search engine and asking them to excuse these bad backlinks when analyzing your website. Read more about bad backlinks and their removal here, https://yoast.com/clean-bad-backlinks/.
Keywords, content, 404 Errors, and backlinks are all variables related to rankings on search engines and more specifically, on Google. Google is possibly one of the most important and popular search engines, and keeping you site optimized on Google is no small feat! One of the primary factors of SEO optimization is recognizing Google best practices change sporadically and without warning. You could wake up tomorrow to find Google’s site ranking variables have changed and your site, which had at one point been on the coveted Page 1 of SERP, is now on page 129,000. Without consistently checking the status of your site and regular auditing, you are leaving the fate of your site to chance.
Yet, there is another possibility to help you work with (not around) the Google gods. While Google best practices for SEO change with technology and hundreds of variables related to the algorithm from which they derive, there are SEO factors that we know can affect ranking.
These are the SEO variables that you have some control over and all four factors revolve around your website’s content; avoiding keyword stuffing (can the search engine understand the focus of your content?), avoid duplicate content (can the search engine systemize and analyze your content?), avoiding 404 Errors (is the search engine able to successfully ascertain all of your site’s composition?), and avoiding bad backlinks (is the content on your site valued by a credible source?).
Luckily, all factors have been described in their general best practices throughout this blog, which should give you a head start at fixing common SEO problems and not falling into frequent, everyday traps.
Maintaining a macro vantage point from using canonical tags to avoiding 404 Errors, from keyword utilization to steering clear of bad backlinks will help you keep up with Google Best Practices. Remember, it is possible to optimize your time as well as your SEO!
Click here for a free copy of our Free SEO Guide for more great tips and best practices for your website.