Imagine that it’s Halloween and the trick-or-treaters are roaming the streets in their costumes. You’ve got a house full of candy, and you’re anxious to hand it out. By turning on your porchlight, you signal to these little ghosts and goblins that they should ring your doorbell.
Wait, what does this have to do with SEO?
Well, let’s say that your house is your website and the trick-or-treaters are human web browsers (and potential customers) or even the search engines themselves. In this analogy, your porchlight is good SEO. A dark house, in contrast, is bad SEO.
By failing to optimize your website, you could be keeping search engines away. You might even be frightening users off!
Obviously, you don’t want that. And here at TCM, we don’t want that either. That’s why we’re presenting this multi-part, holiday-themed series tackling SEO problems that might be plaguing your site.
Even though there are Halloween references in this post, know that a lack of SEO will haunt your website every day of the year if you don’t address it.
So, what are some of the scariest, spookiest SEO issues that might plague your website and keep everyone away?
Read on…if you dare!
Not Enough Content
Like a nearly-empty bag at the end of a long night of trick-or-treating, a website without much content is a huge disappointment.
Actually, it’s even worse than that. If your website lacks sufficient content, then there’s not much for Google or other search engines to crawl and index. If a search engine doesn’t find much on your site, it’s not going to recommend that any living human user go there.
Remember that customers conduct searches because they want to find answers to their questions and/or alleviate some pain. If you don’t have much for anyone to find, then you won’t be found. Scary, but true, like a blood-curdling scream in a dark wood that no one will ever hear…
And if you think that publishing tons and tons of content without regard for quality is going to help you, we’ve got bad news for you there as well. Having lots of unhelpful content that does nothing but take up space is just as bad as having very little content.
Create content for your website, but be sure that it’s worth reading. Quality always beats quantity. And content can take a variety of forms. If you’re stuck, feast your eyes on this list of ways to vanquish writer’s block!
Just as you might be unnerved to encounter your doppelgänger on the street, you should be concerned to find duplicate pages on your website.
The reason for this is that duplicate pages can hurt your ability to rank. When Google encounters two or more pages with identical content, it has to decide which one is the original and/or which one should be indexed. By making this indexing exercise harder for the search engine, you actually can end up competing against yourself when trying to rank.
Your site may have duplicate content for a number of reasons not due to intentional copying. For example, if you have an http and an https version of a particular page (an unsecured and a secured version, respectively), search engines may see this as duplicate content.
You can set up a 301 redirect indicating to search engines that you have a preferred version among the pages with duplicate content. The search engine will then index that page with a bonus benefit: consolidating the positive ranking factors for all of the pages into the preferred one.
We all know the frustration of clicking on a link hoping to find a product we want or the answer to a burning question only to have the site tell us that the desired page does not exist.
If that happens to you more than once on a particular page, you’re probably going to leave that site and look elsewhere, aren’t you?
Broken links, also known as dead links (and undead links on Halloween) are bad news for your website. Your site may have dead links on it for a number of reasons. For example: the page linked to may no longer exist, the destination URL there may be malformed, or the host server may not be reachable, among others.
Google may not hand you a penalty for having broken links on your site, but that doesn’t mean that these go-nowhere links can’t do you any harm. You don’t want your site looking like a link graveyard!
If a human user finds your site unhelpful or undependable because of a multitude of broken links, then that user is likely going to turn elsewhere for the information or services that you’re trying to offer. User frustration will be reflected in the decreased amount of time people spend on your website. This, in turn, sends a signal to Google that your site doesn’t have much value, which translates into a loss in rankability for your site.
Exorcize those dead links! You can prevent some dead links from happening in the first place by taking care to type in URLs properly when you are linking out to another page on your site. If you discover a broken internal link on your website, fix the URL or change the link to send users to another, comparable page on your site.
Due to the constantly shifting nature of the web, it’s inevitable that some of your external links will eventually turn up dead. It’s not as easy for you to address those, as you don’t control them. One solution is to change that link to send users to another site that will serve more or less the same purpose.
What’s the best solution? Conduct an SEO audit on your website! Did we mention that TCM performs SEO audits?
Bad SEO is not a treat. If your page isn’t optimized, then search engines won’t recommend you, and human users won’t find you. Start with adding more content. But remember to make it high-quality, informative, and engaging content! Next, work on eliminating duplicate content and purging those (un)dead links from your site. You’ll be dancing the Monster Mash in no time!
Look for additional entries in TCM’s “Holiday SEO Series” in the coming weeks!
And, as always, if you need help with your site’s SEO, beyond what you see in this blog, contact Triple Canopy Media! Our porchlight is always on!