Published on Thursday, August 10, 2017

The silent website traffic killer

Tom Mcloughlin, director of SEO Travel, shares more of his top tips for making sure you're top of the list on Google.


"When people think about SEO, usually the topics they jump to are link building, blog writing or trendier topics like content marketing in recent years. However, you rarely hear technical SEO being highlighted. It's not very sexy and is associated with the geekier side of the business and as a result it often gets forgotten or overlooked. Unfortunately, this is the biggest mistake you can make. You can attract all the links in the world to your website, but if you have underlying technical issues then your site will be stuck in limbo.

One of the biggest issues caused by technical problems is how your site is crawled and indexed by Google and other search engines. If you make Google crawl 1,000 URLs, but you're site only has 200 pages of good content, then your whole website will perform worse. You have a 'crawl budget' which, if wasted on low quality pages, will hold your whole site back. Correcting those problems can give you a massive boost in ranking and traffic performance across the site, even if you do nothing else. So what are the main problems, how can you find them and what should you do to fix them?

The main offenders that will cause your site to underperform are:

* Thin content
* Duplicate content

Thin pages are viewed as low quality by Google and will drag your whole website down (and not just the offending pages - your good ones too!). These might be genuine pages on your site that only have 50 words on and little else, but they might also be caused by technical problems like those created from a search function on the site.

Only 100 unique words on this page

Duplicate content is when pages are created that have identical or very similar content present. Again, this can be caused by writers copying and pasting the same text on to multiple pages. However, normally it is caused by technical issues creating multiple versions of the same page.

The first job is find them by doing a content audit. Use a tool like Screaming Frog to crawl your site and look through the pages it lists. If you see lots strange URLs with numbers or characters like ? tagged on the end then you probably have issues. You can also do this process in a more manual way by doing a site: search in Google. To do this put into Google and it will show you all the pages you have indexed. This should line up with the number of pages you have on your site. If it is much higher then you probably have an issue. The first few pages of the results will probably look ok, but keep clicking through to later pages in the results and see if anything strange appears.

These pages shouldn't be indexed

For duplicate content, there is an excellent tool called Siteliner which tells you the amount of duplication on your site. Plug in your URL and if it returns pages with high % duplication then investigate further and identify all the offenders.

There are a number of actions to fix your indexation problems:
* Update content - if the offending thin or duplicate content is on genuine pages on your site then update the content so it is of a high quality as I wrote about here.
* Noindex pages - if the offending URLs still need to be seen by users, but cause duplication then add a noindex tag to them. This will stop them being indexed by Google and affecting your performance, but still let users find them on the site.
* Delete pages - if the offending URLs are of a low quality and don't need to be seen by users then delete them altogether.

Finally, once you have been through and ensured that you only have good quality pages on your site that can be accessed by search engines, create an accurate sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console. A sitemap is where you tell Google what pages exist on your site, so if you have an inaccurate one that lists low quality pages, you are instructing Google to go and visit those pages and wasting your crawl budget that should be spent on visiting your good pages.

If you're confused by why your website is underperforming, it's highly likely technical issues and bad indexing are to blame. Don't build your house on sand, fix those problems and let the rest of your marketing activity reach its full potential."


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