Written by Annie-Mai Hodge on 09.10.2020
What is Sabotaging Your Website’s Rankings?
There are plenty of things that you can do boost your search engine rankings, but unless you do a thorough SEO audit and eliminate the common mistakes that can damage a website’s SEO, all of your hard work could be in vain.
Whether you are looking to do a review of your website to improve your SEO, or struggling with your rankings and wondering where you are going wrong, this article will point you in the direction of some important things to look out for that could be sabotaging your business rankings.
To succeed with content marketing, you’ll need to consistently produce well written, high-quality and user-friendly content. With a regular output of great, relevant content on your side, your SEO will improve, and this will help to boost your rankings for your target keywords and attract a steady stream of relevant traffic. On the other side of the coin, bad content will seriously harm your SEO.
What counts as ‘bad’ content? Not considering your target audience when producing content is one of the biggest mistakes that website owners make. Churning out lots of banal, run-of-the-mill content, just for the sake of it, without actually thinking about fulfilling your target audience’s search intent is likely to do more harm to your SEO than good.
Without considering search intent of your target audience, you’ll probably have a low conversion rate, high bounce rate, low click-through rate, and users most likely won’t spend long on your page. All of these combined will seriously damage your SEO.
Instead, focus on creating quality, original content that provides answers to search engine queries that your target audience are likely to be making and provide them with useful, accurate information. Ensure you do keyword research and find suitable keywords within your niche for your content to target, but avoid black hat tactics such as keyword stuffing.
Taking more time to produce better content rather than lots of rushed, useless content is always going to be a superior strategy to improve your position in the SERPs. That saying, Google also prefers fresh content – so ensuring your website is updated regularly is essential in order to maintain and boost your rankings.
Other examples of bad content include scraped and duplicated content lifted from other websites. Not only is this morally wrong, but it will also likely result in a penalty from Google, which will seriously affect your rankings.
Overusing Internal Links
Internal linking is, of course, a good thing, but all good things should be done in moderation. Linking to other content on your site is natural, and building up a website with a strong internal linking system helps to keep users on your site for longer by bouncing them between pages, and therefore helps your SEO by signalling to Google that your content is worth reading.
However, if you overdo it with internal links, Google won’t like this either. Websites that are ‘over-optimized’ with too many internal links and keyword-rich anchor text won’t provide a good user experience as the content will sound unnatural. In addition to this, too many internal links may be distracting to a user – a potential customer – who is reading your content.
While there is no set rule for the ideal number of internal links that you should be using on any given page of your site, it’s best to judge it on what feels natural on the page and within the content. Only include internal links where they add value to the content by being helpful and relevant for the reader.
Spammy outbound links
If you’ve engaged in any underhand SEO tactics in the past by participating in link schemes, exchanged links or even been paid money by other websites for you to feature a link to them on your site, you may now have some spammy outbound links from your page.
Featuring links on your profile that have been paid for or exchanged for other links is very likely to cause severe damage to your SEO, as the sites you link to will likely link to other spammy sites, which will reflect poorly on your website’s own link profile and damage its credibility with Google. Paying for links and participating in link schemes is a sure-fire way to damage your link profile.
Instead, focus on linking to relevant, high-quality pages where its helpful to your audience to do so.
Bad backlink profile
Whether you’ve engaged in black hat link building in the past, or have suffered a spam attack from an underhand competitor, if you have a bad backlink profile with spammy links pointing towards your page, this will seriously harm your rankings.
Ensure you do regular checks of your website’s backlinks using a free backlink checker such as Ahrefs. If you find that you have links with negative link juice pointing towards your site, you should take steps to repair your link profile.
Misusing anchor text
Improper use of anchor text can affect your SEO much more than you’d likely think. Using lots of generic anchor text such as ‘Click here’ not only looks spammy and creates a bad user experience, it will also send the wrong signal to search engines and likely ruin your website’s SEO.
You should aim to use a variety of different types of anchor text throughout your website, ensuring that most of your anchor text is clear and descriptive of what is on the page being linked to, to help give context to both users and search engines. If your anchor text helps with creating a good user experience and is easy for search engines to read, you are much likely to have better rankings in the SERPs.
Auditing and eliminating problems
If you are particularly struggling with your rankings despite your best efforts, it’s absolutely worth manually going through your site to find problems that are holding your website back from reaching its full potential. Once you have removed any elements that are sabotaging your site’s SEO, you can then focus on rising through the ranks using white hat techniques that boost your SEO without any risks.
Even if you aren’t having any issues with your rankings, you should aim to do regular audits of your site to eliminate any issues that might affect your SEO over time. SEO is an ever-changing landscape, and it’s always best to stay one step ahead of the game, and not take anything for granted.