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What do you do when your site just isn’t getting anywhere in the search engines? Here’s our quick SEO troubleshooting guide.
It’s a frustration felt by many website owners. You have a decent enough site, it has a few rankings and gets a little bit of traffic. However, that just isn’t enough.
It takes time and money to develop a website, so understandably you want to see some end results. Whether you’re doing your own Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or have outsourced it, this can often bear the bear the brunt of your frustrations.
Why aren’t you higher up in the rankings? Why are search engines overlooking you in favour of your competitors? The likelihood is that it your site just isn’t seen as an authority yet. You aren’t giving Google enough information to persuade them to reconsider their rankings.
So what can you do? Well, here is a quick checklist of best SEO practices that may well help:
Unique Content on Each Page
SEO types talk about this a lot, and not without good reason. Your content tells the search engines what a page is all about. If they have seen the very same content elsewhere they will assign little or no attention to your efforts. It doesn’t have to be War and Peace, but 200 words on each page should ensure there is sufficient information to feed the search engine spiders.
Deep Link Building
Your homepage is usually the strongest page on any site by default. It attracts the most unique visitors and is likely to have the same effect on links. However you shouldn’t overlook pages elsewhere in your site’s infrastructure.
Make sure all of your money pages have inbound links pointing to them. You don’t want to be solely reliant on strength filtering down from the homepage, so find ways of expanding your link building practices.
Optimise Internal Linking
Don’t start splashing links around left right and centre, but if you have the opportunity to use an optimised text link (rather than an image or a simple ‘Home’ term) do so. This can be done within your content, on the sitemap and in your navigation.
Where you have more than one link on any single page leading to the same secondary page, ‘nofollow’ those that are contained in images or Flash files (for example your company logo might contain a link to the homepage). Essentially you want to ensure that the search engines recognise what the primary keyword is for each page and can move around seamlessly without getting stuck in a loop.
Get the little things right too.
The SEO impact might be marginal, but this is a process built on margins. You have to ensure that your Meta title includes your target keyword for that page and your description will attract the attention of search engine users, whilst also being optimised.
Again, this isn’t something that will leapfrog you from page five on Google straight to the top, but every little helps. You are trying to indicate to the search engines what your page is all about, so you might as well shout about it. Get your keywords in the H1 heading of each page, of which there should be only one on each page by the way, and really anchor that phrase to it.
Now a ranking factor, making sure your site is up to speed will help improve visitor retention and your SEO work.
Remove all Broken Code and Redirect Links
You might not be able to see broken bits of code, but the search engines will. It can slow down a site and can mean that your pages take longer to index. Equally broken links are pretty poor practice too. If you don’t want to lose the link authority a page has built up, make sure that it redirects to a relevant page on your site, not just the usual 404 message.
Avoiding SEO Suicide
Don’t Sign up for Link Farms
Great on paper, awful in practice. Being herded in one numerous other sites to get a decent link back will end in disaster. Your link will be worthless and you may be penalised.
Avoid Bad Neighbourhoods
You should not only ensure that you aren’t receiving links from or, worse still, linking to shady sites, but you should also ensure that there are none being hosted on the same server as you. These bad neighbourhoods can have a negative impact on your site’s authority.
In both of the above situations, simply removing the links should see any penalties being dropped when Google next index your site.
This should have died out a decade ago, but some people still insist on having a keyword density of 20%. It makes content illegible and gets the search engines’ backs up. All in all, there is no benefit to continually repeating the same phrase. A few times throughout the content, including near the top, will be sufficient.
As above, but don’t try hiding keywords on the page either. Visitors might not see them but the search engines will. You will get no benefit and could actually end up suffering if they think you have tried to game the system.
Avoid blackhat nonsense. Even if your SEO work is taking time to flourish, just keep strengthening and you should start to see results. While your site is being worked on you might also want to consider trying out PPC or even marketing your site through social media channels. This can help to ensure that traffic levels improve and your overall online profile is raised.
If you are concerned about the strength of your site you might want to try our free website analyser. Don’t worry, there’s no obligation, you will just get a quick SEO report to demonstrate areas that your site could benefit from improving.