SEO

5 Often Surprisingly Overlooked SEO Tactics

Okay so you do a pretty good job at SEO.  Your clients /employer seem to be happy with your work.  Overall, you’re happy with the results you get.  Yet maybe you’ve asked yourself from time to time – “How can I go even further?” or “What are some possibly easy things I could be doing to go even further?” Or maybe you just figure it’s time to go from “good enough” to “great”.

When clients come to me, it’s quite often because they feel like their site has plateaued – it’s already been optimized, or at least it’s been optimized as far as the previous person/team has been able to take it.  And while there are many issues that could be addressed, here are five of the most common issues I find.

1. It’s All About Google

It no longer surprises me when I discover that a client’s site has 10,000 pages indexed at Google, yet only 500 in Bing. Or they’re on the 1st page of Google for dozens of high value phrases, yet they’re stuck on the 2nd, 3rd or even 4th page at Bing.

All too often people in the SEO world focus all their effort on Google, figuring “If I focus on Google, Bing will take care of itself”. The reality here is that if you only focus on Google, you may be missing a lot of business.

A quick hit opportunity that many site owners /manager don’t even realize – Bing tends to have a more difficult time discovering content on its own.  Simply by submitting a sitemap.xml file through the Bing webmaster system can often dramatically increase the total number of pages indexed there.  And for every additional page in the Bing index, you get a lift across your entire site. It’s not ALL you need to do for Bing, yet it’s fast and effortless.

2.  Over-Saturated Title Tags

Sure, you can try and get sixteen keyword phrase variations in a page Title.  Just in case there might be some way search engines associate your page with all those variations.  And it might even work in some situations.

Except what I’ve found consistently is that when you go this far, you actually dilute a page’s focus – cannibalizing critical ranking value for the most important phrases on those pages.  Multiply that across an entire site, and you could be shooting yourself in the foot.

3. So Many Eggs, Not Enough Baskets

It never ceases to amaze me how many people in our industry put so much time on so few tactics.  The easiest example to focus on is the “It’s all about links” camp.  You know – people who specialize in one thing and one thing only – building inbound links.

Now, it’s not impossible to get rankings by focusing on only one or a couple tactics.  With enough brute force, you can pretty much game the search engines in many situations. Yet the problem with that of course, is longevity.

Just ask all those people who failed to build up high volumes of deep unique content, instead relying on ten unique words on 90% of their pages how they felt after the big bad Panda came along and ate the bamboo floor right out from under those sites…

By taking a broader tasking approach, you are much more likely to ensure longevity, regardless of which way the search algorithm winds blow.

4. We Need More Internal Links, Captain!

Footer navigation.  Sidebar Navigation. Roll-over top navigation. Filters.  Pagination. Sorting. Call-out Box navigation. Related Products/Articles/Sites links.  Today’s page level linking has gotten so out of hand it borders on insanity.  Yeah, sure, Google only counts the first link to a page right?

Well not really.  Okay – maybe for purpose of distributing value from one page to another that’s the case.  Except people who only see this as a consideration are missing a huge issue.

Topical Dilution.

If I’ve got 450 links on a single page, and they all have text in there – either as pure anchor text, or as image alt attributes, image names, parameters…  When you look at the page the way the Googlebot does, all of a sudden there’s a massive amount of text the algorithms have to decipher, and weigh against the topical intent of that individual page.

By thinning out that link depth, you actually help improve the ability search engines have of evaluating all that text and determining the topical focus of the page. And that’s not even touching on crawl improvements that come from the thinning process.  So clean up your internal links, people!

5. Giving Away Your Unique Content

One of the single most common issues I find on eCommerce sites is how they generate a data feed of their product listings for shopping comparison sites.  Except when they do so, they’re taking what little unique content they’ve got on their product details pages and distributing it out to countless comparison sites – causing massive duplicate content problems.

It gets worse when scrapers scoop up those data feeds, and all of a sudden you find those same product descriptions on fifty scraper sites.

By taking the up-front time to create two versions for every product description, and keeping the more extensive, well crafted version for your own site, you can serve both masters – the need for unique content on your bread and butter primary site, and the desire to have your content found on comparison sites.

Now it’s Your Turn

The bottom line message in these five tactics is to hopefully get you to think about what you’re doing a little more, and consider how you can take your site(s) to that next level.  What are some of the most common problems you encounter in your SEO work? Issues that you would think fall in the “common sense” realm but turn out not to be?

12bcd73262dd3dcb8597e6d4f9884119 64 5 Often Surprisingly Overlooked SEO Tactics
Alan Bleiweiss is a Forensic SEO audit consultant with audit client sites consisting of upwards of 50 million pages and tens of millions of visitors a month. A noted industry speaker, author and blogger, his posts are quite often as much controversial as they are thought provoking.
12bcd73262dd3dcb8597e6d4f9884119 64 5 Often Surprisingly Overlooked SEO Tactics

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34 thoughts on “5 Often Surprisingly Overlooked SEO Tactics

  1. I am currently learning how to blog, write articles and do some SEO on my sites. I hope I can one day make a living from this.

  2. Great post Alan! I see a lot of sites that don’t 301 redirect the non www to the www. Seems like a primary fundamental that gets overlooked more than I’d expect.

  3. Regarding #5 “Giving Away Your Unique Content” – I understand your point here, wanting to avoid duplicate content being farmed out across lots of comparison shopping sites. While I agree with you in principle, I think the suggestion is a little idealistic. The benefit of having two different versions of descriptive copy for each product on your ecommerce site would be great, but you have the weigh the cost of creating that secondary version of descriptive copy for each and every product. This would double the work load of the employees who are adding those products to the site, thus making them less productive / taking longer for new products to make their way onto the site. In a perfect world, we would all do everything that we possibly could to ensure the best SEO for our site, but when you have limited bandwidth, you have to be as efficient as possible and consider the potential gains of each SEO effort.

    1. Dillon

      You’re right – we have to find maximum efficiency. Yet it’s a one-time effort. And yes, I happen to be paid for my best practices recommendations. So if a client chooses to believe it’s too cost prohibitive, then it’s their right to roll the dice if I believe the effort is more important than something else they might decide to do on my action-item list.

      So far I have yet to see any client suffer from this effort, and have only seen positive gain. Just my experience.

  4. Well I have seen the opposite to what you are mentioning
    here…Instead of 140 internal links practically 0 (well if you do not count menu
    links). And instead of unique content on product pages, mostly just copy of
    manufacturer’s description with all the data to pint right back to where they
    got the product from. I guess they just love their competitors so much they
    want to make their life easy. As far as Google-centric techniques I can’t even
    begin to mention how common this stuff is. Good post as usually.

    1. Good points Alyasha – owners prefer the “easy” method to site building quite often. Of course the “easy” way, like using manufacturer provided descriptions), is just as likely to be more harmful than helpful for SEO…

  5. I like number 5! It is easy to push those products out all over the place but what people do not understand is that when you do that you take away some of the power from your existing site content.

  6. I feel like points 2 and 3 are two sides of the same coin: people getting in super-tight on one focus and losing sight of how to run a comprehensive SEO campaign. Being dynamic and keeping content fresh and varied helps make your efforts really pay off (and builds a better site!).

  7. Thanks again for another article.

    But if you become too unique, and because I blog about how to search/research (some based on my SEO readings) a common beauty product – Google is sometimes displaying 2 to 4 URL’s for my target keywords (including a directory submission) for my “plain jane” looking blog on page 1, for local search (NZ), and now a bit globally.

    Long standing authoritative shopping, auction, and comparison sites (mainly NZ based), also appear. Really, I’m now a a bit worried my blog url’s are appearing on page 1 for increasingly more Google auto suggest terms, for a product I don’t sell, yet it ranks against authoritative sites that do sell. Not sure if it’s natural, for a blog to be ranked with large and popular shopping and auction sites. This if one over optimizes content (i.e. depth, diversity, SEO),or adapt a unique insightful, content approach, you may be seen too much where you may not truely belong, even if there was some intent to be there as well.

    1. Michael

      That’s an interesting situation you’re in. Without seeing the landscape for those phrases you’re showing up in, I couldn’t venture a guess as to why. If it turns out your content is seen as highly related to a search and there are sites out there that you know are not showing up even though they are more relevant I’d be curious to find out why those sites aren’t.

      My base assumption is that such sites are just poorly optimized and even your half-effort is paying off. Alternately, even if you don’t intentionally focus on those phrases, if your content supports them, this could still be a result.

      Of course after the Panda rollout worldwide, anythings possible though.

  8. #6 – I make a Facebook page and call it a day.

    Social media marketing can be extremely beneficial for SEO, but only if site owners are willing to put in the time and effort. Just having a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Twitter handle, etc doesn’t mean anything if you don’t use it! It’s not worth anything just sitting there.

    1. Ah Nick,

      You had to go and bring that concept up, didn’t you? The “Build it and they will come” crowd, morphed into the “Set up a seat at the social media table and go home” crowd… Yes, this belongs on the list, without a doubt.

  9. Great tips in here Alan, now I strongly believe that that you can really optimize the website of each and every client who lends your services. Thank you very much for sharing such precious keynotes, they are very educating.

  10. I see clients who have never had an SEO audit, or haven’t done one in a long time. Not doing an audit is extremely odd to me – how can you possibly know what to work on if you haven’t conducted the baseline research? Conduct regular audits is also crucially important. Sure, we all watch the SERP’s and monitor dozens of other statistics on an extremely regular basis, but I’ve also found that can cause some amount of tunnel vision. I’ve encouraged some clients to go to competitors just so they can secure a more objective and fresh-eyed review of their current situation.

    1. ah – the lack of audits. That’s why audits are my primary business :-) It allows me to not even need to comprehend why site owners wouldn’t want one. Okay that’s a lie – I see them all the time. I just don’t have to interact with them :-)

      1. I’m with you – and it is an area I specialize in as well. The old 7P adage –
        Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance holds true. If you don’t know what the problem is, you can’t create a real plan. Without a real plan, all you have is hope and a prayer – and last I checked, Google isn’t using either in their algorithms.

      2. The real problem is that most of these clients don’t know that they need a SEO audit, or never heard of SEO. They first must be taught about all of this.

      3. Ahhh – a very good point indeed – but keep in mind that I think there are few better learning tools than the audit reports themselves. Once can explain the concepts of on-site and off-site strategies and tactics, but when you can look at your site and understand how each implementation will positively (or not) affect your rankings, everything becomes clearer.

  11. As my opinion Social media marketing can be extremely beneficial for SEO, but only if site owners are willing to put in the time and effort. In Seo there are many way to get good result of our site. but we need to focus on publish the web site in correct way of seo tactics

    1. Simon – yes – site architecture is vital AND difficult to resolve after the fact, especially on a complex site.  Planning is crucial, and implementing 301 redirects – including keeping track of everything along the way, as well…

  12. Many thanks, Alan. I really liked your last paragraph about “giving away unique content”. Creating two versions of your content with different quality is a great deal to be listed in comparison sites and still keep the power of unique content for your own site. Great.

  13. Nice post. I just wanted to mention something regarding internal links. While I agree completely that many only focus on one or a few tactics, the most prominent one more than likely being “getting more links”, very few actually even put in the effort to vary the types of links they are building. Some only focus on buying up link packages, which seem to generally just be a ton of profile links. If this is working for you so far, thats good, but if there happens to be an algo change you could be in trouble. Link building, as well as every other aspect mentioned above is an ongoing process.

    1. JC you’re right – link profiles need to have the right kind of diversity, just like everything else as it relates to what appears to look natural.  

  14. Hi Alan,

    Thinking about your quote (below) … How would you suggest go about the thinning out process?  Or, what would you recommend we keep if we started from scratch?

    By thinning out that link depth, you actually help improve the ability
    search engines have of evaluating all that text and determining the
    topical focus of the page. And that’s not even touching on crawl
    improvements that come from the thinning process.  So clean up your
    internal links, people!

    1.  Vernessa,

      Every site is different, however there are some general rules.  The best strategy is to start by taking out links that have the least relevance to the topic of the page they’re on.  From there, it depends on a lot of factors.  Using a solution like CrazyEgg you can get real data on what users do and don’t ever click on over a period of days or weeks.  This gives you good insight into which links you can afford to get rid of without harming user experience.