(5) Site Improvements for Better Rankings
You have a great looking website, with plenty of engaging and informative content (all of it original), and masses of traffic (thanks primarily to Google). Life is good and your business is profitable.
But underneath the surface, material change is lurking and ready to pounce on you. Why do sites which look great and seem to be doing all the right things find themselves in challenges where their rankings become volatile?
Great content may be king, but you still have to build a strong technical site foundation, and keep investing in it consistently. Failing to do so, or ignoring the maintenance and upkeep can certainly impact your site’s prominent rankings.
Technical Poor Quality Indicators
Technical Poor Quality Indicators (PQIs) are issues you should check and watch out for with your website. These are issues beyond content duplication, poor legacy link profiles or over-optimization. Instead, PQI’s typically result from unattended issues or from malicious behavior on the part of others.
The bottom line is that if you garner enough flags from PQIs, you’re going to get hit by a penalty and start seeing traffic and rankings decline over time.
#1.) Control Comment Spam
This isn’t about you getting links from spam sites, but the reverse. Look at your blog comments and you may see a bunch of comments claiming free shipping offers, questionable content, etc. – we all get them, but these are more than in bad taste or a nuisance, they can damage your site’s credibility, and ultimately, your rankings.
You must monitor comments on your site, or lock down the blog or any attached forum if you’re not able to manage comments regularly. This section is often an open door for spammers to leave comments on your site linking out to bad sites. Don’t rely solely on Captchas as your spam-blocker, because these can be bypassed using automated scripts. A good solution is to stop html use within comments, and use a high quality comment scrubbing tool.
It is pretty easy to create too many internal links using tagging or infinite scrolling, and because of uncontrolled use over time, the numbers rise to what Google considers an unacceptable level.
High levels of internal linking is a sign of poor site hierarchy, information organization, and relevance. In practice, we recommend keeping the number relatively low (20-30), and make sure you are linking to another relevant, original page within your site.
#3.) Ignoring Crawler Issues
You should monitor your Webmaster Tools on a weekly basis if at all possible, as this is where Google will communicate to you that they have an issue with your site. Learn more about Webmaster Tools here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJ4qOz23k9U
You should pay particular attention to 404 Pages Not Found, and 500 Server Issues Warnings.
404 Page Not Found means you are losing link value because Google cannot ‘see’ the affected page, plus if you rack up too many 404 errors — this too could quickly manifest into a penalty. If you see a 500 Server Issues Warning, this needs to be addressed extremely quickly – ignoring it is simply telling Google, Bing & Yahoo! that no one is watching the site, and you have some serious quality issues.
#4.) Duplicating Titles and Meta Descriptions
A basic SEO mistake is to forget about using relevant Titles and Meta Descriptions, but worse can be simply cutting and pasting the same text used for the tags and meta for each page. Using the same keywords and text for titles and meta descriptions is duplicate content, and a complete waste of SEO value and very bad for your site’s overall health.
Check to ensure that your CMS is not publishing standard tags and meta, or the default setting within the platform is not over-riding your own unique content. Also, make sure your content team is not being lazy by cutting and pasting duplicate titles and meta.
#5.) Site Loading Speed
Google is official about this – Site Load Speed is a factor in SERPs.
Check the load speed using this tool at Pingdom – if your site is below 75, you have some issues to address — and the ideal is to score better than 85.
SEO is not simply about good, original content and link-building.
There are numerous additional factors you must manage across your site’s foundation, and while PQIs are technical in nature, you need to have the skills to handle them internally, or partner with a trusted company that can help on a consistent basis.