Posts

No matter how bad of shape your website is in, Google will crawl it. Google crawls and indexes seemingly the entire internet. Though we know they may not look as deep into low-quality websites, that doesn’t mean they haven’t at least crawled and indexed the landing page. It takes something truly special to keep Google from crawling and indexing a page, but there are two common mistakes that can actually manage to keep Google away.

Technical SEO is one of the most difficult aspects of optimization to grasp, but if you are making these two simple mistakes, it can keep search engines, especially Google, from correctly indexing your websites. If your site isn’t getting correctly indexed, you have absolutely no chance of ranking well. Until you fix the problem your site is going to be severely crippled, so it is imperative you aren’t ignoring these issues.

1. The 301 Redirects on Your Website are Broken

It is a commonly accepted practice to use 301 redirects after a website redesign. As Free-SEO-News mentioned in their latest newsletter, using these redirects properly allows you to retain the ranking equity you’ve built with your website, rather than having to start again from the bottom.

The problem is when these 301 redirects aren’t implemented properly. Even worse, sometimes properly working redirects can suddenly falter, so you can’t place your faith in the redirects working correctly forever. Code changes, new plugins, or broken databases can cause your working 301’s to begin linking to non-existing pages.

Broken links are an automatic wrecking ball to all your efforts building a solid link portfolio. The best way to ensure that all your links are working is to download a website audit tool, such as SEOprofiler, which automatically checks all of your links and redirects. If your links or redirects suddenly stop working, you will be warned before you start getting punished by the search engines.

2. Rel=canonical Attributes Are Causing Problems

Just as with 301 redirects, the rel=canonical attribute serves a legitimate purpose when used correctly. The attribute can help you avoid problems with duplicate content, but those using the tag without knowing what they are doing can find themselves with some major issues.

Two of the biggest faux pas that we see regularly committed by site owners are to add a rel=canonical attribute which points to the index page to all web pages or to other pages that use the ‘noindex’ attribute. In both scenarios, Google won’t index the web pages at all.

The best advise is to simply stay away from the rel=canonical attribute unless you are absolutely sure what you’re doing. The only proper time to use the attribute is on duplicate pages, and anywhere else will result in significant problems. The problems that can come from using the attribute incorrectly are much worse than those you might see by failing to use the tag on duplicate pages.

Recently, Google updated the link schemes web page that gives examples of what Google considers to be spammy backlinks. The additions are pretty notable as article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword rich anchor text have been included. Advertorials with paid links and links with optimized anchor text in press releases or articles were also added.

With all the new additions, it can be hard to keep up to date with what Google is labeling spammy backlinks or backlink schemes. But, Free-SEO-News’ recent newsletter simply and efficiently lays out the 11 things that Google doesn’t like to see in backlink campaigns.

  1. Paid Links – Buying or selling links that pass PageRank has been frowned upon for a long time. This includes exchanging money for links or posts that contain links, sending ‘free’ products in exchange for favors or links, or direct exchange of services for links. It is pretty simple, buying links in any way will get you in trouble.
  2. Excessive Link Exchanges – While exchanging links with relevant other websites in your industry is absolutely normal for websites, over-using those links or cross-linking to irrelevant topics is a big sign of unnatural linking. Simple common sense will keep you from getting in trouble, just don’t try to trick the system.
  3. Large-Scale Article Marketing or Guest Posting Campaigns – Similar to the last scheme, posting your articles and guest posts on other websites it perfectly normal. However, doing it in bulk or posting the same articles to numerous websites will appear to be blogspam to Google. Also, if you do guest posts just to get keyword rich backlinks, you will see similar penalties. Only publish on other websites when it makes sense and offers value.
  4. Automated Programs or Services to Create Backlinks – There are tons of ads for tools and services that promise hundreds or thousands of backlinks for a low price and very little work. While they may do what they say, Google also easily spots these tools and won’t hesitate to ban a site using them.
  5. Text Ads That Pass PageRank – If you’re running a text ad on another website, you have to make sure to use the rel=nofollow attribute, otherwise it appears to be a manipulative backlink.
  6. Advertorials That Include Links That Pass PageRank – If you pay for an article or ad, always use the rel=nofollow attribute. Simply put, if you paid for an ad or article, it won’t do you any good and can bring a lot of damage if you don’t use the attribute.
  7. Links with Optimized Anchor Text in Articles or Press Releases – Stuffing articles and press releases with optimized anchor text has been a strategy for a long time, but Google has shut it down recently. If your page has a link every four to five words, you’re probably looking at some penalties.
  8. Links From Low Quality Directories or Bookmark Sites – Submitting your site to hundreds of internet directories is an utter waste of time. Most links won’t ever get you a single visitor and won’t help your rankings. Instead, only focus on directories that realistically could get you visitors.
  9. Widely Distributed Links in the Footers of Various Websites – Another older trick that Google has put the squash on was to put tons of keyword rich links to other websites in the footer. These links are always paid links and are an obvious sign of link schemes.
  10. Links Embedded in Widgets – It isn’t uncommon for widget developers to offer free widgets that contain links to other sites. It also isn’t uncommon for these developers to reach out to site owners and offer to advertise through these widgets. However, Google hates these links and considers them a scheme. I’d suggest against it, but if you do advertise through these widgets, use the nofollow attribute.
  11. Forum Comments With Optimized Links in the Post – It is very easy to get a tool that automatically posts to forums and include links to websites. It is a pretty blatant form of spam which won’t get any actual visibility on the forums and the links are more likely to get you banned than draw a single visitor.

There’s a pretty obvious underlying trend in all of these tactics that Google fights. They all attempt to create artificial links, usually in bulk. Google can tell the quality of a link and all of these schemes are easily identifiable. Instead, focus on building legitimate quality links, and use respected tools such as SEOprofiler. It will take longer, but you’re site will do much better.

Duane Forrester

Duane Forrester from Bing

While I often focus on Google’s search engine because it draws roughly a third of all searches, Bing is still important for most webmasters. It draws in the second most traffic, and Bing is clearly fighting to gain more of the market. That means we do need to keep up to date with their best practices and guidelines and listen when they share insight.

Bing’s Duane Forrester did just that recently when he shared some thoughts about SEO on the official Bing blog. His statements aren’t radically different from what you would expect from anyone else working in search, but it does give a little insight into how Bing functions. Free SEO News, a regular newsletter, collected the most important quotes.

  1. Links are still important – “They are still a trust signal that can help ranking. […] The kind [of backlinks] where your site impressed someone enough that they blogged about it, or shared it socially. […] These are best as they allow the engines the strongest confidence that the link is trustworthy.”
  2. There’s nothing wrong with reciprocal links – “Reciprocal links still have value. Shocked? Don’t be, as the value may not be what you’re thinking. They don’t hold a lot of value in terms of lifting rankings, but they are capable of driving traffic to your site, so a recip link can be useful for new sites in terms of direct traffic, and these links can help us find your content in the first place.”
  3. Buying Likes, Tweets, or Retweets is useless – “We all want ‘em, and therein lies the problem. Because likes are sought after, people try to sell them. […] Similar to how a link farm operates, like farms exist, promising to supply hundreds or thousands of likes in a short period. Yeah, yeah, they claim to be ‘all natural, totally organic’, etc. Simply put, they are not and are easily seen.”

None of this is groundbreaking of course. It is no surprise to us that we shouldn’t try to cheat Bing or Google and that you can do optimization without spamming. Following the best practices Google and Bing both publicly share with web masters will protect you from all your problems.