We’re midway through Rankings Week. Today I’m going to switch things up and address 8 things which you are likely doing RIGHT NOW which are hurting your rankings and chances of ranking without your even knowing it. Let’s talk about what hurts rankings.
What Hurts Rankings
Black Hat SEO – Black hat SEO is the most obvious example of what hurts rankings. This is anything which is construed as an effort of trying to trick the search engines into awarding you with better rankings through less than approved methods. Keyword stuffing is one example of black hat SEO and while it largely went out with Y2K, some webmasters still try it on occasion and are still penalized by the search engines in the SERPs.
Too Many Reciprocal Links – It’s alright to have a couple dozen reciprocal links when you’re just starting out, but if you go overboard then this will look like a black hat SEO tactic which makes it seem like you’re just linking to positively affect your ranking (gasp).
Link Farms – Link farms are notorious as far as what hurts rankings goes. This is in the same vein, but when I say link farms I really mean it to be a catch all for bad links which are pointing towards your website.
Duplicate Content – Google doesn’t link duplicate content on your site. If you have very similar content which has to exist in two places on your site for your visitors for whatever reason, make sure you notify the search robots of this so that they will
Canonical Issues – Take a look at all of these: www.example.com, example.com/, www.example.com/index.html, example.com/home.asp.
These are all essentially the same home page for a site, but they can be completely different in terms of content. The best thing to do is to make sure that you choose one URL and stick with it whenever linking back to your site. If you forget this and accidentally link to two or more different URL structures for your main page, it may direct to the same place, but you’re spreading out your link juice.
Plus, search engines need to choose one canonical URL to associate with your site.
Ultimately the best thing you can do as I mentioned is to choose one URL to stick to, but if you have other URLs which exist or you’ve linked to in the past, the best thing to do in that case is to make a 301 redirect on these URLs to point to the URL you want to use, thus focusing all of that link juice to where it should go and showing Google which is your main URL.
Flash Sites – Using flash makes it difficult for search engines to properly crawl your site. If you use a flash intro this can have disastrous effects on your SEO efforts and ranking. I know flash intros look cool, but having traffic is cooler.
Lack of Content – If your page is primarily made of images, it won’t rank well because search engines need text content to identify what your site is about. Without that content, they won’t know what to do with your page. Part of this means using your keywords effectively and having keywords to begin with.
Broken Links – Remember that there’s a technical side to what hurts rankings, and a good example is broken links. Broken links can cause problems whether they’re on your own site or on someone else’s site pointing to yours. Obviously if you were receiving powerful link juice from another possibly high PR web page and it suddenly disappears, you’re going to feel the effects of that link (depending on the strength of it).