Although it’s vitally important that you consider your audience when creating your site and providing engaging and valuable content, it can be easy to forget some of the SEO best practices that you should be using in order to protect the integrity of your site. You have invested time and money into your business – don’t waste it with a website that won’t even show up in the search engines because of a few simple techniques that have been overlooked.
If you want to make sure your site remains fully optimised, then here are some common SEO practices you’ll want to avoid.
1. Duplicate Content
It’s common practice for a large sites to have a number of pages containing duplicate content, particularly if there are a great deal of pages covering the same products or services, with similar descriptions. However this will not do your site any favours when it comes to ranking in the search engines.
The problem with duplicate content is that it confuses the search engines – if a number of pages contain the same information, which landing page should it show for a particular search query if there is more than one match? In effect, you are making your pages compete against each other. You already have competition in the business world, so don’t add yourself into the mix as well.
Before you start deleting all your duplicated pages, stop! The pages you have can still hold value for you, although firstly you’ll need to redirect them. One of the most effective ways of rectifying the issue of duplicate content is to set up a 301 redirect from the duplicated pages to the original page, or the one that you want to keep as the main source of information.
The search engine will no longer see a number of different pages – just the one you want them to, which should begin to rank higher. If you want your audience to still see the content on the duplicated pages, but you don’t want these to be read by the search engines, you could also consider the use of canonical tags. It is similar to a 301 redirect as it will ‘inform’ the search engine to read multiple pages as one, yet it allows you to keep the additional pages for your customers, if you believe there is value in doing so.
2. Thin Content
You may think all of the content on your website is valuable but this isn’t always the case. Content which doesn’t provide a real use – otherwise known as thin-content – is a worthless addition to your site. Having keyword-rich content is not the same thing as having content that has solely been created for keyword rankings. If you’re still producing the latter, then you should stop right now. This includes things like automatically-generated content, content scraped from other sites or low-quality guest blogs. Relevancy is the key to the content you provide for your audience. Does the content on the page match what they are searching for? Does it provide them with a solution?
A web page with just a few sentences is not going to be much help to the customer, if it doesn’t fully explain the product or service – think about creating lengthier, richer, more rewarding content that will actually provide value for your audience.
Google is the equivalent of an information service – it wants to display content that its users find useful, interesting and informative. If it’s not relevant, it won’t rank, simple as that.
3. Not letting the robots crawl your site
It’s a more common mistake than you may realise, but some web developers will noindex the test version of your site whilst they are working on it, forgetting to remove this when it goes live.
If your site is set to noindex this will prevent any search engines from crawling your site. To them, your site won’t exist and you’ll drop off the rankings.
There may be certain pages you may want to avoid being crawled so it’s fine to exclude these but if you want your entire site to be found by the search engines you’ll need to make sure that the robots.txt file is set to be indexed.