Recently I was contacted by a site owner who wanted to know why their site is not ranking highly on Google for certain terms, despite years of building relevant and valuable links, and wanted some tips on building better links.
Excellent Backlinks, But Low Ranking
I took a look at the backlinks of this site (sorry, can’t mention the site to readers) and found over 400,000 backlinks from highly relevant portals, sites, blogs, forums and other web publications which organically linked to the site because of its selection of tools and resources for its target market.
Upon further investigation, I took a look at the anchor pointing to this site : more or less, all relevant because of the theme and brand name of the site.
What is the issue I thought, why are they not ranking properly? Then I took a deeper look at the site.
Linking is Very Important, But Don’t Forget the SEO Basics
Despite the amount of hardcore organic inbound links, the site itself was designed in a fashion which countered the value of the links, and soured the link juice.
After reviewing the site, I determined that they were lucky to rank as highly as they did (#25 to #40 for some terms) because of the obvious (to me) blunders in content management system programming and overlooking of SEO basics. If they did not have the incoming links, they would probably not even rank at all.
Linking Builds Authority, But On Site Errors Kill Your Status
Here are some of the basic SEO issues overlooked by this site and many more which can sink a link building campaign :
- No use of keywords on the page : The keywords they were targeting were not listed on their homepage, which most of the links pointed to. Furthermore, if the keywords were listed, they were buried in irrelevant text at the bottom of the page. Sure, we’ve all seen or even ranked sites in the top 5 on Google for terms only used in the anchor text of links, but not every competitive market is the same … put relevant text on your site!
- No Headers : Not only did the homepage not properly use the keyterms which they wanted to rank for, but they did not feature these terms in the proper H1 and H2 listing formula, before mixing the keywords in with other content.
- Duplicate Titles & Meta : 95% of the pages on the site used the same title tags & meta description tags. Furthermore, the content on each page was very similar, so the site itself is seen as an ongoing copy of its own content.
- Duplicate Pages : Doh! Over 100 links to search results which all show the same exact content!
- Broken Links & Pages : A rather large number of the pages within the site return a 404 error or there are problems with the dynamic URLs in the internal linking, meaning that something changed in the CMS database which was not applied to the hard coded links. If the site serves broken pages and broken links, search engines think the site is under construction. Furthermore, these mistakes sour the ‘link juice’ passed throughout the site. Why would search engines want to serve their users a site in the SERPs which is under construction?
- No Alt Tags : I believe that Alt Attribute Tags are of importance not only to the blind who are using the Internet, but also to differentiate & define the images and content used within sites, which can help with rankings.
- Text in Images : Three paragraphs of text which would be extremely useful for SEO are hidden to the search engines as images. Do not hide your text.
These are only the tip of the iceberg for this mystery site, but as the changes are made, I highly expect the site to float to the top of the rankings and even dominate its niche. And when it does, I’ll be more than happy to share the site information :)
In the meantime, what are some of the SEO basics that you see sites forgetting or leaving out? Feel free to share some below.