SEO is a dynamic landscape and it changes fast. It’s never smart to sit on SEO problems; the faster you resolve them, the better your business does. Today I want to talk about some of the best SEO hacks and fixes you can implement right now to improve your rank. These are problems that you can work on each week as you run your business, with the end result of really improving your SEO.
Eliminate duplicate content
Eliminate all the duplicate content on your site. Each time web crawlers find duplicate content on your site they waste a crawl cycle on something unoriginal. To diagnose duplicate content problems, use Screaming Frog or another duplicate content tool that works by crawling your site just like Google does to see what’s there. Using the “duplicate filter” in the tool you can see all of the different versions of the same URL.
So now you know about duplicate content, and it’s time to eliminate it. There is more than one way to do this, and the best choice depends on your circumstances.
- Use a 301 redirect to your preferred URL.
- Use rel=canonical tag.
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=2″/>
- NoIndex tag.
<Meta Name=”Robots” Content=”noindex,follow”>
However, you must remember not to combine these techniques; use either the rel=canonical or the NoIndex tag. Also, remember that the no index and the Google URL removal tool are the only certain ways to remove a page entirely from the index.
How fast your page loads—or how slowly—is now a definite factor in its rank. Speed is something you have to stay on top of, because as you add more content, especially video or images, you can slow down your loading speed.
Use Google’s Page Speed tool or a similar tool to test your site’s speed so you know how you’re doing today. Rerun your test every few months, or more often if you add a lot of content regularly.
You can help your site run faster as a matter of course if you make speed an ongoing priority:
- First, optimize your images. Huge images kill your speed, so make sure yours are 100kb or less. Stick to jpg files unless you can’t. If you already have lots of great images and you need more speed, use an image compression tool to shrink down what’s there.
- Old plugins. Next search for unused plugins and themes and get rid of them. Don’t just deactivate them, because outdated plugins can be a security risk.
- Enable gzip compression. This lets your server use smaller file sizes which in turn means they load faster. Gzip compression can spare your server the work of loading around fifty to seventy percent of original file sizes.
- Above-the-fold first. Focus on optimizing your above-the-fold region first to boost speed right when a visitor comes to your page.
- Minimize redirects. Try to use redirects only as needed; streamline your structure regularly to minimize redirects.
Really optimize the title and description keyword or tag fields
If there’s a field to use, don’t waste that opportunity. Your description and title tags allow people to find what you’re posting and each should clearly express what they’re on and use your target keyword phrase. Your fields should seem accurate and descriptive not only to search engines, but also to people. Learn more.
Optimized content promotion
It really doesn’t make sense to optimize your content and then stop dead with the optimization as soon as you hit “publish.” Optimized promotion includes these basic strategies:
- Post keywords. Use your target keyword phrase as well as one or two secondary yet related phrases in your posts sharing social content. This is particularly important on platforms that go into search results: LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook.
- Use hashtags in your posts too, preferably based on your keyword phrases.
- Answer queries with content. Respond to queries on Yahoo Answers, Quora, and Reddit with your relevant links to content.
- Network with influencers. Who ranks highest for your keywords on social platforms? If they’re influencers and not direct competitors, ask if you can share your content with their followers. Learn more about digital influencer marketing.
- Use voting and social bookmarking sites. Search voting sites and social bookmarking sites for keyword optimized categories you can post it. These categories tend to feature submissions with the most votes, so if you’ve got great content, submit it for votes.
- Link with similar content. Find other pieces of content that mention your keyword phrases and ask their owners to link up with your related content.
- Recycle and repurpose great content. Today’s blog post can be tomorrow’s podcast, and so on. Repurpose in smart ways and remember to link new and older pieces of content.
Rename content files
Remember to name your content files to include keywords and descriptive details to optimize them for search. Never go with the generic numeric file name like “image804385634.jpg” or “ebook.pdf.” This helps Google find and rank your content, but it also helps humans who are trying to decide whether or not to click on your links. Finally, include your brand name in the file name to bolster influence.
Analyze drops in traffic
Every site experiences drops in traffic. Your task is to watch yours, determine what caused them, and fix problems as they happen. Here’s how to assess a drop in traffic.
First, check your running list of changes to the website. Larger companies should save this running list in Google Docs and use Google Analytics to annotate it. You’re checking the list to see if someone on your team made changes to the site that could hurt your SEO.
Next check your analytics to see that it is properly installed, currently working and hasn’t been jeopardized. You are making sure that what you’re seeing is actually a drop in organic search traffic rather than an error in analytics tracking.
Once you confirm that it isn’t a tracking error, compare the time periods just after and just before the drop for your landing pages, top keywords, top browsers, top search engines, top devices, top regions, and top languages to see where you lost traffic. Make a note of this and continue.
Now, check your webmaster tools. Find out if your site has been hit by Google with a penalty by looking for alert messages in Google Search Console. If you’ve been penalized by Google, fix whatever problem caused the penalty and re-submit your site. You’re also looking for crawling errors, duplicate content, sitemap errors, manual actions, and essential images or URLs that are blocked by robots.txt, to name a few examples.
Now, check your ranking tools like Moz, SEM Rush, Search Metrics and even GA. When you check these tools look at the visibility index for your top keywords, changes in your keywords per page, losses and gains in ranking, and local rankings. This should give you more insight into what happened to your traffic.
Next use a third party tool to conduct a link analysis. This should help you identify Penguin penalties and negative SEO. Some signs of negative SEO include: fake social media profiles trolling you, loss of backlinks, and spammy anchor texts.
Remember, when your site experiences a drop in SEO traffic, check your analytics first, your webmaster tools second, your website third and backlink profile fourth. If you don’t have the answer at that point, check for Google updates on larger websites like seroundtable.com and searchengineland.com. See this post for a complete discussion of diagnosing drops in traffic.
Eliminate or improve thin or bad content
Google is always on the lookout for thin content and content that’s just plain bad. In Google’s eyes your content is no good if it doesn’t provide original value to users. Google specifies four kinds of thin content:
- Automatically generated content. Using content spinning, translator, and other machine-generated content programs gives you thin, auto-generated content that Google hates.
- Boilerplate content. This happens most on sites that are all offering the same products for sale. For more information on writing great product descriptions, see my post here. Remember, even a product description benefits from adding your brand voice and insight to the mix.
- Scraped content. This is content that is just republished or modified only a little. Remember to add value and your own commentary to anything that you found elsewhere.
- Doorway pages. These pages are created to manipulate web crawlers to produce a better rank for some queries. If the sole purpose of a page is to take searchers somewhere else, it may be a doorway page.
Fix your schema markup
Schema markup is code like rich snippets that helps search engines get more information and more detailed results. A good schema markup gives Google your rich snippets, and also explains not only what data is there, but what it means.
It’s simple to place Schema on your website the right way, and it’s also worthwhile because Schema works well for SEO. There are multiple schema generators available such as Schema-creator.org. To use it, simply fill in each fields with your information, let it generate your code, and then paste that code into your site. Alternatives include Magento’s plugin for Schema.org and Raven’s schema plugin for WordPress.
Revamp your sitemap
Your sitemap can make your site easy and intuitive for browsing—or it can sabotage the whole site. Make sure your sitemap is doing what you need it to, and do this regularly. You need to because as your site changes and takes on more content the structure can really shift. Also, if you don’t update your sitemap it won’t reflect your current content; you’ll end up with dead ends and delays. When you do update your sitemap, submit the newer version using Google Search Console.
Get Going Now
Now is the time to take on your SEO issues. There’s often no way to make everything perfect in one day, but you can and should work to correct each and every SEO issue you see on your site. Have you used these SEO hacks yet?