Common SEO Problems - Fix the Issues First

One day your superior enters the office and tells you: “ I need SEO for my website to finally fix those problems, because I don’t want to keep on paying per lead”. At this point, you can show him an SEO audit report to point out common SEO problems. There are five possible options to classify your website's health:

  1. Healthy
  2. Small issues
  3. Moderate issues
  4. Major problems
  5. RIP

Common SEO Issues - The Analysis

If the website turns out to be healthy, that’s good news. The challenge in this situation is to ensure that the website stays healthy. However, the majority of sites will have small to moderate problems. The solution for these categories is discussed in this article. If there are major issues that need to be addressed it is important to act carefully, if acting at all. Sometimes the case is so severe that it isn’t worth to fix SEO problems. In this situation it’s sometimes better to start from scratch, often using a different domain.

Examples of small and moderate issues

It’s difficult to make a clear divide between these two categories. It is often a matter of adding up the severity of a number of small issues. The more little errors there are, the smaller the chance is that you will gain a good position on search engines. To get an idea of a small or moderate issue, two examples are given (If you aren’t up to date with the SEO terminology used, read this article first):

  1. Imagine your website is at position eleven or twelve for your most important keyword. Your website is fairly new and its position has gone up considerably over the past few months, but it has stayed on the second page of Google for a while now. The SEO analysis shows that a number of pages contain very little content compared to your competitors. Some of the pages also have the same titles, which were automatically made by WordPress.
    - In this example, a small number of ‘mistakes’ were found, which are relatively simple to solve. It can be assumed that by changing these On Page factors that your website will improve its position.
  2. For convenience, we will use the same website as in example 1. However, now it turns out that sections of text on your website were copied. You didn’t fancy writing lengthy texts so you decided to copy some texts from other websites and pasted them on your own website. They haven’t been copied 100%, just a few sentences which you thought would be handy for your own website. You also sent a number of ‘free’ links to your website after hearing these links are good for rankings. Of course, you often use your own specific keyword as anchor text and make it clear to Google that this is important for you.
    - You can guess the result already: copied content, a couple of low-quality backlinks and an impaired anchor text ratio are things which don’t help a search engine. These problems are already somewhat harder to solve.

The plan for resolving small SEO issues

The analysis has been done, the diagnosis made and small issues have been identified which can be solved with a good treatment plan. The SEO plan is created in consultation with you to return the website to good health. The next step is to implement the plan made.

What is more important to improve, On Page or Off Page?

It is often the case that a lot of attention is paid to Off-Page factors, such as collecting links. This is a waste of your budget without thorough On-Page optimization. Besides this, it is also frustrating to see that this has little effect when it comes to your rankings on search engines.

On Page optimization should be the first step in nine out of ten cases. This creates the conditions needed to fully exploit the power of a good Off Page strategy. See the website as someone’s back carrying heavy stones all day long. This isn’t a problem for a healthy back, but for a back with a herniated disc it is much more challenging, or even impossible.

How quickly can On Page changes be made to optimize your website?

Depending on the size of the website, the number of problems that became apparent during the SEO audit and the budget, a timeline can be drawn up. Normally all On Page aspects should be optimized within a matter of weeks. It is then up to the search engines to analyze the improved website and give it a new ranking. We don’t have control of this process and it can vary from several days to various weeks. You can therefore expect this phase of the SEO plan to last between one and three months.

Is Off Page optimization quicker?

Again this is heavily dependent on the severity of the SEO problems discovered during the analysis. In this case, we assume that small problems were found, such as a high percentage of anchor text for one of the keywords. The anchor text ratio is therefore an aspect that needs to be improved. This process sometimes costs more time because the right links need to be found. These new links then also need to be picked up by search engines. These are processes which last weeks or months and we have little influence in the matter. It is therefore important to be patient and not to speed up this process by using unethical techniques. Generally speaking, this phase also takes between one and three months.

Small Issues Conclusion

The rehabilitation process for your website to recover takes roughly 1 to 6 months. The recovery speed depends on a number of factors, including external factors that no one can control. The degree of recovery is something we do have control of. This means that every website which is slightly damaged has the opportunity to recover, so it has the potential to reach the top spots of a search engine.

The implementation of the action plan with moderate SEO issues

The analysis shows you need to change more than the titles and meta descriptions. The diagnosis is more serious than thought before the process started and a significant alteration is needed to create a healthy website. Of course, we discuss this all with you to make sure you are aware of the severity of the problem. The SEO Rebab Plan to make significant changes is already made.

When are the problems on the website moderate?

As was discussed in the small issues section, in this situation it is also important to make sure On Page aspects are optimized first. A couple of common examples of larger problems are:

  • Having several pages which contain duplicate content.
  • Having several pages with little content.

If such issues are discovered an extra analysis is carried out to get all the skeletons out of the closet. A number of tools can be used to automate a part of the process, but other aspects require special attention and are therefore time-consuming.

What about Off Page issues?

Off Page problems can roughly be split into three categories:

  1. Small problems. These fall under a preserving treatment;
  2. Large problems, but without having received a message/penalty from Google;
  3. Large problems, Google has sent a message. These fall in the category of needing immediate attention.

The second category is applicable in this situation. An example of this would be that a large percentage of anchor text is based on one keyword. A result of more than 5% is already somewhat dangerous for a website. This is certainly the case if there are a lot of backlinks. When this is the case the anchor text ratio should not be more than 5% and it is better when this is 2 or 3%. However, this does not apply to your own brand/product name or general anchor text such as ‘click here’.

How long does recovery take?

Recovery, in this case, is slower than if you have smaller issues, which take between two and six months. A significant factor which causes delays is often the budget that is available. The costs quickly run into thousands of dollars as specialist tools need to be used and it also costs a lot of time to improve things. A frequently used solution in such circumstances is to spread the work over several months. A positive side effect of this recovery tactic is that the effects on the rankings each component has can be monitored. However, that’s probably little consolation because every day your website ranking is low the fewer potential customers you have.

Conclusion for Moderate Problems

If your site is very sick then the recovery will also take longer. Unfortunately, the available budget plays an important role here as it can slow down the recovery process. Directional Preference understands this issue and will gladly work with you to come to a suitable solution which fits within your budget. At the end of the day, we don’t want you to tell us: “I need SEO for my website to fix the problems”, but: ”Check my website for SEO to prevent issues”.

The SEO Rehab Plan has been executed, what’s next?

All On & Off Page factors are in a healthy state after finishing the SEO plan. All obstacles are gone and your website is ready to rank. The rehab plan will be reported and discussed in detail. Normally improvement in rankings already has been taken place during this process. The next step is to keep your site healthy and continue to improve it to let your business grow.

A Google Friendly Website that stays healthy and gets fitter

You’ve done it! After several months of hard work, your website is finally healthy. Everything points towards the fact you will be able to conquer the top spots on search engines and found a good balance between you pay per call and SEO campaign. Now it is important to ensure that your website stays healthy and not make the same mistakes you made in the past by not maintaining your site for years. Just like when dieting and you have lost the weight you needed in three months, it’s important to prevent this from coming back. This means that you need to constantly keep an eye on things.

What is a healthy website?

Have you ever wondered why that one competitor was always at the top of Google with all sorts of keywords? Why your site wasn’t there? This means that your competitor has a healthier site than the rest of the market. A healthy site has many keywords which rank highly for a long time on Google or other search engines. Sometimes you see websites appear from nowhere on the first page for it quickly to end up on the twentieth page. In these cases, you can assume that there is something fishy going in which is artificially influencing the rankings.

Depending on the competition your website needs to be in perfect or little less perfect shape. This is one of the reasons to carry out a competitive analysis. It is often unnecessary to optimize your website perfectly. Most of the times it is sufficient to be just a bit healthier than the current number one, after all, it isn’t possible to rank higher than number one.

Besides your position on Google, which is important, it is also important to make sure your Click Through Rate (CTR) is optimized. Optimizing CTR helps to maximize the number of leads in a cost-effective manner. Improving your CTR is an art in itself. Based on data, common sense and using smart technology this can continuously be improved.

Continuous monitoring is important

Imagine that your website wasn’t online for a few days and you didn’t know this. That could have major consequences for your business. You could lose new and existing customers. There are also other reasons why website monitoring is important. But let’s be honest, nobody can pay attention to their website 24/7. However, it is important to respond quickly if your website is offline as it could be costly.

Fortunately, there are several affordable services available which regularly check on your website. For example, you can receive a text message or an e-mail if your site is unavailable. You could also choose to check your website every hour rather than every five minutes. Depending on the needs of you and your website we can help with choosing the right service.

Check your Search Console

A search engine like Google offers you the possibility to use certain tools like the Search Console. Google communicates with you using these tools and gives you hints and tips to improve your website. Make it part of your daily routine to log in and check for two minutes if there are any new notifications. Generally speaking, these aren’t urgent notifications, but it could be the case your website is being bombarded with spam. It’s best to find out about this as soon as possible so you can take immediate action to solve the issue.

Check your content

You can’t be careful enough with your website, especially when it concerns one of the most important aspects of your digital property, your content. Carrying out a monthly Content Quick Scan gives you the certainty that your text keeps being seen by Google as an original text. It is not uncommon for text to be copied by other websites to fill up their pages. This is good news for you, as long as Google sees that you are the original author. This means that the other pages will never score better than you in the rankings. However, sometimes Google will mistake who the original author is. This is why it is important to regularly check your website for originality. If there are problems the text can be altered to make it unique again. Besides this, you could contact the website which has stolen your content. Unfortunately, this is generally a waste of time, because you are talking to people who are less ethical and don’t worry about things like plagiarism.

Safety first

Did you know that 30,000 websites are hacked per day? 30,000…per day…, that’s a ridiculously high amount. This means there are a lot of people actively looking for sites like yours. Therefore it’s a good idea to take some precautionary measures to significantly reduce the risk of getting hacked. 100% security can’t be guaranteed, because if it’s possible to break into the FBI computers then hackers can probably access your website too.

Continuously strengthening your link profile

Firstly, let’s tell you what a good link profile is. To start with, it isn’t just backlinks. Many people working within SEO will tell you that backlinks are the most important element of SEO. However it isn’t as if a good ranking is based purely on backlinks.

You can’t simply spread a number of backlinks across your website and ignore the bigger picture of your link profile. Backlinks are a part of your profile. The backlink discussion goes much deeper and is fairly complex.

Let us discuss other factors which influence how healthy your link profile is. The next list is a discussion of characteristics which are good for a healthy link profile. The list is far from complete but shows the most important points for consideration.

Put simply: a good link profile features many independent links and no spam links.

You probably already knew this, so now a number of less obvious features of a good link profile will be explained.

If you unravel the importance of various factors which influence the ranking of your website then it looks like this (assuming you have already optimized the On Page factors):

  • The most important factor for ranking of a website: Link profile;
  • The most important factor of a link profile: Quality of the backlinks;
  • The most important quality aspect of backlinks: Anchor text;
  • The most important quality aspect of anchor text: Diversity.
Branded Anchor Text

For Google it is important to be able to differentiate between the anchor text of your brand name and normal anchor text. Imagine your company is called Smith Physical Therapy. The anchor text could be ‘Smith Physical Therapy’, which refers to the website of Smith Physical Therapy. A good profile has a high percentage of this kind of anchor text. This percentage varies depending on the strength and trust factor of your domain, the industry and competition analysis.

Related anchor text

Another form of anchor text diversity is semantic relevance. This means anchor text that is relevant, such as synonyms of words that roughly describe the same thing. For example, you sell coffee makers on your website. Instead of always using 'coffee machine' as the anchor text, you could also use anchor texts such as 'espresso device'.

Long phrase anchor text

This is another important aspect of a healthy profile. A thinned out anchor text is made up of more than one word which partly contains a keyword. It would be a bit strange if hundreds of anchor texts consist of exactly the same keyword as the one you would like to rank for without adding another word. To stick with the example of the coffee maker, a long phrase anchor text could be ‘coffee maker that isn’t too expensive’.

Generic anchor text

Another form of anchor text diversification is generic anchor text. These are anchor texts that contain generic words, so not keywords or brand names. An example of this is ‘while some businesses offer extra services’. As long as other factors, such as relevance and quality of the source link are guaranteed then this anchor text contributes to the health of the profile.

The relevance of the site linking to your site

This element is also known as subject-specific popularity. In an ideal world, all the backlinks from all the webpages return to the same subject. The website of a physical therapy practice benefits from links of health-related websites more than a coffee maker does. Of course, there is always some overlap and discussion about what is and isn’t relevant, but we are talking about the bigger picture and not the exceptions.

The relevance of surrounding text

Relevance goes further than just a relevant website for your industry. A healthy link profile has links which are surrounded with relevant content around your anchor text. The ideal link for a physical therapy clinic is to have a link from a website about back pain. In that article, the physical therapy clinic could be referred to as a good clinic for solving your back pain. If a coffee website writes an article about headaches which can be treated by ‘Smith Physical Therapy then that too is a relevant link. However, the first link will have more of an impact because this is from a health-related website.

Links from sneaky spam sites

First I will explain what is meant with sneaky spam sites. At first glance, a website can look like a normal website. However, when you look where the site refers to, you see there are a lot of spam sites. Google detects this and could, therefore, think that your site is spam because that site refers to several spam sites. These sneaky websites find themselves in a ‘bad neighborhood’. Your website is infected with a ‘toxic’ link by that sneaky website which gives what seems like a great link on the surface.