10 Simple SEO Fixes To Improve Rankings

Here are 10 of the most common rookie SEO mistakes that you can fix right now to improve your website’s search engine rankings and traffic. homer

Simple SEO Fix #1 : Poor/Duplicate Title Tags

The title tag of a webpage is still one of the key on page ranking factors, so make sure your CMS is set up to create good titles. They don’t have to be complex, just make sure that the name of your product/article/page is at the start, followed by a separator and your brand, i.e.

This Is A Great Article - Name Of Site

Many CMS systems (including wordpress) have this flipped round the other way by default, so take the time to set it up correctly and you will see the benefits. Duplicate titles are of course a huge no no! See my article on how to correctly optimise your title tag for more.

Simple SEO Fix #2 : Overuse Of Anchor Text In Inbound Links

Think that to rank at the top of the search engines for the phrase green balloons you should point a load of links at your site with this as the anchor text? Think again! Post google penguin, this will see your site take a nose dive down the rankings quicker than you can say chopped pork and ham. For a site to rank well these days you should have a natural link profile with a good mix of brand links (the name of your site as the anchor text), ‘click here’ type links and variations of your keyphrase, i.e. ‘our green balloons’, ‘this site which sells balloons in a lovely green hue’ etc. Ideally of course, you shouldn’t be building these links and should be gaining them naturally, but that is a topic for another day!

Simple SEO Fix #3 : Not Including Your Keyphrase On The Page!

Incredibly this is still something that happens all the time. I saw a great video by a googler who had attended a search expo and was asked by a rookie SEO ‘why is my web page not ranking for the phrase web design services in San Diego’ (I’m paraphrasing). The googlers immediate reply was ‘well, have you included the phrase web design services in San Diego in the text on your page?’ The web designers mumbled reply and bright red face said it all! If you want to rank for a phrase, then make sure you include it on your webpage – give yourself a chance!

Rookie SEO Mistake #4 : Not Using Friendly URLs

Take a look at the URL structure of your webpages. If it looks something like…

http://www.yourdomain.com/name-of-product

… then great. If however, it looks more like…

http://www.yourdomain.com/?c=products&pid=1241&r=true&b=blah

… then you might want to change it! Most good CMS and Ecommerce systems give you the option to set up friendly urls these days and they have two advantages; firstly, they look better when bookmarked, linked to etc and secondly there is still an argument that keywords in url is used as a ranking factor. It may be a tiny percentage, but as Tesco say ‘every little helps!’. For more on creating friendly urls, see this article on searchengineland.

Simple SEO Fix #5 : Not Writing A Unique Meta Description Tag For Each Page

I went into the meta description tag in detail in the second lesson of my Learn SEO series, however, to recap: – Make sure you take the time to write a unique meta description tag for each page on your site. The meta description tag is your pages advert in the search results, so a well crafted description tag can dramatically increase your click throughs from the search results. Have a read at my article for more details.

Simple SEO Fix #6 : Broken Links

Over time websites update their url structures, move pages, delete pages etc and this can cause broken links in your older articles (both internal and external). There are a number of reasons why broken links are bad for your SEO, but a couple of the main ones are: –

  • Broken Internal Links Are Bleeding Pagerank
  • Bad For User Experience

If you are updating your web site’s architecture then take the time to create 301 redirects from the old urls to the new ones. For extenal urls, you should conduct a link audit periodically and go through your old content to find broken links. There are a couple of excellent extensions for chrome that you can run on a webpage to find broken links (I personally use this one). Here’s an article on how to create 301 redirects for your old urls with .htaccess.

Simple SEO Fix #7 : Over Optimising Your Pages

Google Penguin was all about penalising sites that been over optimising, both externally (through link building) and on page. It used to be the case that if you wanted to rank for a phrase you should use it (in its exact form) in the title, the h1 tag (+ h2, h3 etc), bold text, italics and several times in the body content. All your internal links pointing to the page should also use the phrase. Again, this doesn’t look natural and is likely to incur a penalty, so my best advice is just to write naturally. By all means make your keyphrase bold (using the <strong> tag) if it makes sense in the context of the page, but don’t just do it for google. Forget google and write for your readers – after all you are likely to attract more readers and links that way, which is way more important than a 0.01% ranking boost for having your phrase in italics.

Rookie SEO Mistake #8 : Poor Internal Linking

To some extent it is possible to control the flow of pagerank through your site and boost the rankings of your key pages by regularly citing them and linking to them from other content. One of the key points here are that it is definitely the consensus that links from within content are seen as more relevant than boiler plate links (from navigation, footer etc), and the words surround the link are also a ranking factor (probably!), so link naturally to relevant pages from within your articles. As well as helping pagerank to flow through your site, this will also help to decrease your site’s bounce rate as visitors will naturally click through to read other articles on your site. You are controlling both pagerank flow and visitor flow!

Simple SEO Fix #9 : A Links Page With Irrelevant/Off Topic Links

In many ways it feels like in 2013 I shouldn’t have to be writing this, but I still see a load of sites with links pages which include links to loads of off topic sites and are clearly put there for the purpose of exchanging links. Firstly, you don’t need a links page. If you would like to recommend another page then link naturally from within your content – this will be much more valuable for the website you are linking to. If you really must have a links page, then make sure it is for a proper reason and that the link exchanges are relevant. An example might be the website of a wedding planner with a links page containing links to venues, flower arrangers etc. This I can accept and shouldn’t be any reason for your site to be penalised.

Simple SEO Fix #10 : Not Verifying Your Website With Webmaster Tools

If you have not yet verified your website with google’s Webmaster Tools then do it now! Well, after sharing this article with all your friends 😉 Webmaster Tools provides webmasters with a host of invaluable information on their website, including; indexing stats, inbound link details, crawl errors etc. They will tell you a lot of the things you are doing wrong and what to fix to improve your rankings! Additionally, you can also use the ‘fetch as google’ feature to get your new pages quickly crawled and added to the google index, which is very important for time sensitive and news style articles. So verify your site – it’s easy!

Over To You

So, that’s 10 Rookie SEO mistakes and the simple ways in which you can fix them to improve your site’s search engine rankings today. If you have any questions, feedback or more tips you would like to share, then please leave a comment below.

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About the Author

I'm a web developer, programmer, blogger and SEO expert from Glasgow, Scotland, with over 15 years experience in the industry. When I'm not writing about marketing and SEO you'll find me strumming the guitar in my band or listening to Revolver on repeat. Follow me on twitter, connect with me on google+ and add us on facebook to keep up with all the latest trends in SEO and online marketing.

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Denis D. - September 30, 2013 Reply

Very comprehensive list. I finally added the Google webmaster tools for my blog and it is working great.

Also I would like to add that when you have your URLs with your blog or product review at the end you might want to shorten it a little to make it cleaner and simpler. Here’s an example:

Blog post title – 100 of the greatest American authors that lived past 50 in the 20th century

Your Default URL – http://www.yourdomain.com/100-of-the-greatest-American-authors-that-lived-past-50-in-the-20th-century

This is too long and way too cluttered, so go ahead and manually adjust it to something like this

http://www.yourdomain.com/100-greatest-American-authors

Doesn’t that look much better and way more professional, not to mention easier to remember.

-Just a little helpful tip.

    David McSweeney - September 30, 2013 Reply

    That’s a great tip Denis, and something I totally agree with. Thanks for sharing!

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