1. Sketchy links
Links are important. That statement is accepted universally in SEO, however, therein lies the issue – people are too keen to build links. Not every link is equal. Some links will give all the link juice that you want and provide no downside, and others will provide nothing but trouble. Troublesome links will make your website nearly impossible to rank. You want a link from a site that has a good backlink profile, that is relevant to your site, and doesn’t have a ton of bad outbound links.
Link quality is everything. You need to look at the backlinks pointing to the sites that you want to get a backlink from. Some sites might seem great, but many are hiding less-than-savory backlink profiles. It’s your job as an SEO to decipher the good from the bad.
Ollie Hill Digital Marketing, a London SEO agency, recommends carefully analyzing every single link you intend to build. In their experience, many links that people build aren’t worth having. And many actually do more harm than good.
Diving deep into the backlink profile of a website is pretty easy in 2019. There is a plethora of great backlink analysis tools available. Popular ones include Ahrefs and Moz. The dream backlink profile is one that is rich in backlinks from relevant and authoritative sites. The anchor text to the site should be diverse and have a good proportion of branded anchor text.
2. Picking bad anchors
We’re not talking about boat anchors. We’re talking about anchor text. Anchor text is the text that makes up the backlinks pointing to your site. When it comes to anchors, over-optimization is the primary cause of failure according to Ollie Hill.
What would the ideal anchor text profile look like?
As a general rule, you want a majority of your anchor text to be brand-related. For example, a branded anchor would be ‘ITsGuru’. The second most common anchor should be the URL itself (10% to 30% would be appropriate) or so would). The rest of your anchor text profile should contain long-tail phrases, topic-relevant words and phrases, generic web terms (i.e. click here).
3. Technical SEO flaws
There are a bunch of different ways that websites miss the mark technically. The most common issue is crawling issues. Some sites are just a nightmare for search engines to crawl. You need to make it clear which pages should and shouldn’t be indexed. A very common issue is that a website has a bunch of low-quality pages or content-light pages indexed. Because of this, the site appears low quality. This is particularly an issue on Google, where sites with low content quality are very unlikely to rank well.
Other common technical SEO errors (that MUST be fixed):
- Lack of https
- Incorrectly used NOINDEX tag
- Slow page loading
- Canonical URL tag setup incorrectly
- Broken internal links
4. Mobile (Un)friendly
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly in 2019, then your rankings will be suffering big-time. Until about a year ago, Google’s crawlers would choose to crawl the desktop version of your website to rank it. Now, Google will use the mobile version of the page to index and rank the site. It’s important to note that many sites that are considered mobile-friendly, but often the mobile-page isn’t very-well optimized. To rank well, you need to make sure that your sites mobile-version is near-perfect.
5. Low-quality content
“Content is king” is definitely the most cliched statement in SEO, but it’s still true. Low-quality content is often short-form, unoriginal and poorly written. Your content should always aim to add value to any reader. The reason content matters so much is that the sole purpose of a search engine is to produce the best result for the searcher. The search engine aims to finds the most quality content to answer the searchers’ query.
Thin and low-quality content triggers algorithmic penalties in Google. Quality content, on the other hand, gets lots of Google-love. If you have a bunch of pages that are low-quality in term of content, either massively improve them or delete them. Pages with bad content are dead weight to a website.
6. Keyword Cannibalisation
This is where there’s a bunch of pages on a website competing to rank for the same keyword. If there are 5 pages which are largely targeted very similar to the same keywords, then you won’t see any impressive rankings. This might seem obvious, but it’s a really common issue. Many local businesses who are trying to rank for [keyword + city], put that phrase in the title, description, and content across a number of pages.
Essentially, Google gets confused with this, and it can’t be sure which page should be prioritized, so it doesn’t give you a good ranking. To fix this, pick one page to that you want to rank for the chosen keyword, and stick with it. Repurpose other pages to rank for other terms. Then be sure to re-index the site so the search engine can re-crawl your site.
Sometimes there’s just too much competition. That’s ok. A good SEO can asses when a keyword has too much competition, and through keyword research will find better opportunities. Finding keywords with little competition is a large part of keyword research. If your website is up against industry giants for popular keywords, you probably shouldn’t expect to win in the rankings. To get the site ranking, try to identify the less competitive keywords.