Quick Fixes: SEO

Some weeks it seems like you spend more time putting out fires and dealing with admin stuff, than actually doing the work that will grow your business. It’s good to have a short list of compact projects with clear end points when these weeks happen. Here’s a list of quick, straightforward things to fix for […]

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January 8, 2015

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Some weeks it seems like you spend more time putting out fires and dealing with admin stuff, than actually doing the work that will grow your business. It’s good to have a short list of compact projects with clear end points when these weeks happen.

Here’s a list of quick, straightforward things to fix for SEO.

These are things that can be worked on without a lot of time or technology investment. They will take work, but they are not so complicated that you’ll need rounds of planning meetings and deep discussions. Once you know the problem exists for you, you can immediately push for the solution. I include common fixes to help you out.

Duplicate Title Tags

Duplicate title tags make it difficult for search engines to determine what the key pages of your site are. If multiple pages have the same title, then the pages are essentially competing against each other. In practice, the top page of a category or article will  win out over it’s sub-pages (2-n) due to the internal and external links going to it, but why take that chance. Also, having multiple pages with the same title reduces your ability to compete on relevance with other sites.

Find this in Google Webmaster Tools by going to Search Appearance –> HTML Improvements –> Duplicate Title Tags
duplicate_title-tags_GWT

The Duplicate Title Tags Fix:

Have the page title append the page number to the end of the title.
Example: My Website Page – Pg 2

This is a simple fix for a programmer and will get rid of the duplication. If you are using WordPress or another CMS, then see if you can set this in the settings of your SEO plugin/extension/module.

I’m actually seeing this problem on my site right now. I’ve setup Yoast SEO to append the page numbers, but it’s not working. I think it’s an issue with my theme. Hopefully, this will be easier for you.

Slow Loading Pages

There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of blog posts on page speed, caching and how to make your pages load faster. At some point, you might invest in a CDN like CloudFare, but you can do a lot with your htaccess file depending on your server.

The Slow Loading Pages Fix:

Specify longer cache expirations for site assets that don’t change often. Think images or scripts that are part of your template. You can use the mod_expires module on most Apache servers to compress images, text and scripts.

Use mod__expires to set the expiration dates for different media, directories or pages.

Example:

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType image/jpg "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType text/javascript "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/x-javascript "access plus 1 month"
ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash "access plus 1 month"

This example is pretty basic. I’m setting expirations for file types without specify directories or file names. This is the fastest way to do it, but not the best. If you’re willing to take a little time to look at your asset, then you can do something more granular. But this will help you reduce load times.

Bad Indexing

By “bad” I mean either incomplete indexing where not all your valuable pages are getting indexed. Or, bloat where you have a lot of junk pages showing up. Both these issues come back to what search engines are crawling.

The Bad Indexing Fix

Set disallows in your robots.txt file tells spiders that certain areas are off limits to them. Some malicious spiders will ignore the file, but the search engines look at it before going through your site.

Example:
robots_txt_example

Whether you have too few or too many pages being indexed, making sure that the right pages have crawl access is the best way to start fixing the issue. This works in 2 ways:

  1. You help search engines focus on the stuff that matters. Your site only gets crawled so many times per day and it’s important not to send spiders into defunct areas or deadends. If you limit crawling “paths”, then you are more likely to get crawls into deeper areas.
  2. Excluding unnecessary assets from crawls will eventually lead to it being removed from the index. If Google can’t get to something for an extended period of time, then it will remove it from the index.

Note that if you are have completely defunct pages staying in the index, then make sure they are returning a 404 http header and not a 200 or 30x header. Using the wrong header is one reason that old pages tend to stick around.

Remember to Think In Terms of Value

Fixing each of these issues will lead to improvements in SEO and they scale. Remember to think about how much of an impact you can have when listing your issues. We’re not trying to make a big todo list — we’re trying to make an impact with limited time.

A Short List to Make Quick Gains

The issues below are extremely common and easy to fix. That’s all the criteria I used for this. You can probably come up with a longer list thats specific to your organization and site. I find keeping short list of things to get done makes me more efficient because I’m able to add value during those weird little blocks of time you sometimes gain. As I mentioned earlier, this is also a way to keep things moving when you don’t have the uninterrupted work time that you expected to have.

Featured image  “The Mechanic” (1972) Starring Charles Bronson from HiDef Digest

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