So, you’re probably looking at this title and wondering what this article is all about, and indeed, wondering what this title is all about! Quite simply, for an SEO campaign to work and be effective, you need to make sure that your website (your home) is fully optimised and free from all of the issues that not only could, but WILL affect the results of your campaign.
There are two major updates with Google, three if you consider EMD, but Penguin and Panda are the ones that will come along and rock your rankings if things are not perfect. Where the Penguin update focuses on link building and more so your techniques, the Panda update looks at your site and really hammers any site that is thin or weak on content or is simply just another spammy site set up to try and get business.
Because the Panda update tends to roll out more frequently than the Penguin and focuses on tons of onsite optimisation factors, you might think that everything is ok one minute but then you can suffer the next, so you need to really take a good look at your onsite content and optimisation and make sure it is really, really strong.
Things to look for and deal with:
- Canonical Issues – With a website you generally have www.mywebsite.com and mywebsite.com, basically, one with www. and one without www. Now, when you have two working like this, Google can see them as duplicate content, so I suggest you only have one version. If you type in either versions of your own site in your address bar, when you have this issue both will exist, but what you want to happen is the mywebsite.com to become www.mywebsite.com. And all the pages need to follow suit throughout the website. So, you end up with one set of pages, rather than two.
- Duplicate Content Issues – Duplicate content is now one of the key factors when it comes to the Panda hit, because if your site uses the same content as loads of other sites then you are going to suffer. Everything on your site has to be unique and of high quality and must not appear anywhere else on the Internet. Using something like www.copyscape.com is a must, as you need to make sure that what you have on your site is yours and that no one else is using it.
- Repeated Meta Tag Problems – Your title tag has a massive impact on your onsite optimisation, so use it correctly. Every page should have a unique and relevant title tag and you must make sure that you do not keyword stuff. Simply describe the page with some well thought out keywords to avoid over optimisation penalties at a later date and also try to spend some time writing unique meta descriptions as well.
- Weak / Thin Content – The Google Panda hates weak, spammy or duplicate content, so make sure that your site offers concise, quality and totally unique content if you want to do well in the rankings. This SEO ranking factor is now so important that you really need to make sure that every single piece of content on your site is worthy of being there, which is where hiring a content writer could be a safe bet.
- Over optimised URL’s – You know the URL’s we mean, ones that are packed full of keywords and seem to go on forever, and these days, this is a complete no no. As we mention below, it is fine to make sure that your URL is relevant and has the right level of keywords in, but if you decide to take a risk and simply pack it full of words, then you will be paying the penalty at some point in the future.
- Under optimised URL’s – If your site has a load of weird code in the URL or you have simply just not thought about how your URL’s are part of the ranking equation, then now is the time to really think about how you can utilise these more. Make sure that you have a relevant keyword in your url, keep them short and make sure that they follow some kind of logical structure.
To be honest, the things I have mentioned above are just the critical things when it comes to your campaign being affected by a poor website, so you simply have to make sure these areas are noticed and dealt with before you start the SEO journey, as although they might not affect your early rankings, these issues will come back to bite you a little later down the road, guaranteed!
By Ian Spencer