In the previous article on 7 Things That Hurt Your SEO Rankings and How to Fix Them, we found how a drop in SEO rankings can be one of the worst things that can happen to a website.
A bad SEO entails practices that are outside the boundaries of Google webmaster guidelines and it affects the optimization of your website for search engines.
There are many techniques that can hurt your SEO rankings if implemented. Serpstat, in 2017, found about 300 million errors when they indexed 175 million pages with an SEO audit tool. These errors stemmed from not doing SEO the right way and while we have discussed 7 of these errors, here are more things that could hurt your rankings and how you can fix them.
1. Accessibility and indexation
The accessibility and indexation of your site contribute greatly to how your website pages can be seen on search engines. Some of the categories to consider include:
Canonical Tag: duplicate content makes it difficult for search engines to decide on a page to show users, which could affect the visibility of either page. If you will be implementing a rel=canonical tag, ensure it is done correctly, to avoid losing your website ranking. Situations, where you may implement wrongly, may include:
- Incorrectly installing a code, by inserting it in <body>, instead of the <head> section
- Implementing a rel=canonical to a 404 page
- Launching without checking the code, which triggers search engines to de-index.
Noindex Tag: if you do no longer need a noindex tag on a webpage, ensure you remove it as soon as possible. With the tag still there, search engines will not index the webpage, which could leave you wondering why your SEO isn’t improving. Always keep track of your pages to know when a tag is no longer relevant.
Robots.txt: always check for pages hidden in robots.txt and take them out when necessary, to help improve your SEO rankings. If you have redirects in the webpage hidden in your robots.txt file, the crawler will likely not recognize it.
Nofollow links: nofollow links have no SEO value but you could be penalized by search engines for not using it properly. Many websites easily fall victim of this, as they often have links featured in their web pages that are unrelated to the content of the page. This ends up dropping their SEO rankings.
2. Links and bad redirects
While links are great to help drive traffic and boost your SEO ranking, they could also ruin your SEO efforts if they aren’t managed well.
Broken links on your web pages should be rectified or removed as soon as possible. Reasons for broken links could stem from entering the wrong URL, removal or permanent move of the linked webpage by the destination website, or a software on the user’s end that is blocking access to the destination website. There is a WordPress plugin for WordPress users that can be integrated into the website to get rid of dead links. You can also manually check for broken links by using the broken link checker plugin.
How to disavow negative backlinks
Google has a Disavow Tool that can help protect your site from penalties that may arise from bad linking and also help remove bad links. This tool simply sends a signal to Google to ignore negative backlinks. To disavow negative backlinks, look for the links you want to disavow, create a disavow file and then upload to the Google Disavow Tool. Once this is done, the specified links will no longer be considered by Google
Bad redirects and best redirects – 301 and 302
301 and 302 redirects might look similar to a user but definitely not to search engines. While 301 is a permanent move to a new site, 302 is temporal but a lot of users get to mix both up and use either, without thinking much about the difference. If you use 302 rather than 301, search engines might view it as a temporal move and still continue to index the old URL, which could affect your SEO rankings.
3. Not maximizing Google Search Console
Google Search Console is packed with lots of benefits that should be maximized in order to have the best SEO experience. Some of the things to pay attention to in Google Search Console include search analytics, links to your site, mobile usability, robots.txt tester, sitemaps, index status, and security issues. Once an identified issue is fixed, your rankings will be improved and your website will gain more traction.
4. Meta tags
Meta tags are important for SEO and usually one of the first things to learn in SEO training. Your key meta tags, including keywords attribute, title tag, meta description attribute, and meta robots attribute should be taken seriously, as they help search engines understand what a page is about.
Don’t use too long or too short titles and descriptions. The optimal number of words for your title required for the best SEO practice is 10-15 words, which is about 78 characters, following Google’s current meta title guideline.
Your description should be between 110 and 120 characters, for easy optimization for both mobile and desktop. While you ensure your title and description aren’t too long, you should also be careful not to make them too short. Your meta tags should provide enough info about the page to help the search engines understand the content.
Google encourages creating good meta descriptions; ensure there’s a description for every page on your site and they must be different for each page. Duplicate content could mess with your rankings. You should also include clearly tagged facts in the description and use quality descriptions.
Doing SEO wrongly will affect your SEO rankings and following the accurate SEO practices, based on Google standards, will help your website success. These common errors should be avoided at all cost. If you are also caught flouting the SEO rules, you might be penalized by Google which could cause a huge drop in your rankings.
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