There’s a lot of advice out there for bloggers that tells them how to write awesome content, how to get featured on the most popular blogs, and how to do all sorts of technical and creative wizardry to soar through the search rankings.
What’s most important, though, is to get the basics right first. Otherwise, you’ll be running uphill all the way, while your competitors take the handy shortcut that lies just to the side…
Image by Michel Filion.
So, here are four common traps that bloggers should avoid to improve their SEO.
Trap 1 – Broken Links
Broken links are a real pain from an SEO perspective. It’s like having an open wound on your site, with authority and link juice leaking everywhere.
Broken links decrease the trust search engines have in your site – which makes sense, because if you have broken links then you’re obviously not maintaining your site all that often, right?
If you’re running WordPress, you’re in luck. There are all sorts of broken link checker plugins out there that you can use, the most famous being Broken Link Checker. Alternatively, you can use Xenu’s Link Sleuth to check your site whatever platform it runs on.
It’s not just a case of SEO, either. If your blog has broken links to pages you’ve taken down, your visitors will get annoyed. Annoy them enough, and they’ll leave, taking precious traffic with them…
…and you guessed it, when the search engine sees all those visitors leaving in a huff, they’ll punish you by hurting your SEO even more!
Trap 2 –Deliberately Mess Up Your URLs
Obviously, no-one would ever do this – right?
Tell that to the eCommerce site who made their site incredibly difficult for the average user to link to or even bookmark by forcing pages to display a URL to a page that doesn’t even exist.
Tell that to the clumsy exact match domains that don’t describe what the company does, who have recently been punished by Google.
Tell that to the SEO ‘experts’ who think they can use complicated redirect trickery and useless domain names to boost themselves through the SERPs.
There are an awful lot of ways to mess up your URLs. Keep them simple, keep them descriptive, and keep them useful to the user.
Trap 3 – Using HTML And Code For Things They Are Not Meant For
This is really very simple, but time and again I see otherwise very intelligent webmasters falling foul of this particular trap.
Whether it’s using “<hx>” headers to hold phone numbers and email addresses, or using difficult-to-parse code to effectively hide big useful lumps of relevant text from search engines, there are countless ways to needlessly complicate your site. If your site is complicated, or works in unexpected ways search engines may have a harder time crawling it.
Worst of all, if you’re using HTML for unexpected things, a search engine algorithm somewhere might flag your blog as being deliberately dishonest. Needless to say, that’s not what you want!
Trap 4 – Cheap Linkbuilding Services
If a few links from interested people is good, a few thousand links for twenty bucks is incredible, right?
No. Not at all. Those thousand links will adjust something called your “link profile”, a general overview of the quality of your incoming links, so that it looks awful. What happens next is that these links get disregarded, in addition to legitimate links that happen to be at around the same Domain Authority.
Cheap linkbuilding services are dubious at best in terms of value, and at worst (which is most common) they will actually damage your SEO. Avoid the very cheapest linkbuilding services, or you could end up getting burned.
Try Before You Buy
They’re designed to help optimise your site, rather than fix it. So it’s up to you to get the basics right, and then you can decide whether a dedicated SEO company is right for you.