7 Signs Your SEO Might’ve Broke Without You Knowing It

March 2018
scrabble tiles spelling out SEO search engine opimization

1. Excessive listing

Listing or ‘list posts’ grab the most attention. This, for example, is a list post because I’m using numbers. Research suggests that headlines with numbers are preferred over others and are even far more likely to be shared. Based on this, the last thing you want to do is stop making lists posts. Just keep them coming. However, you need to be careful when it comes to a sequence of phrases. A list of facts, statements, or opinions draws shareability but phrases can be extremely harmful. This is because search engines expect and anticipate elaboration and not broken sentences.

There’s a complete thought following every number in this list.

2. Accidental cloaking

Cloaking is when you present content or URL’s that the users can’t see. This is bad… badder than bad. If the user can’t see the content then they’re going to be disappointed. Cloaking often happens on accident though, which is scary. It can happen by being covered by JavaScript, when text foreground and background colors are identical, or poorly formatted CSS places content off-screen. Don’t give search engines the benefit of the doubt and even if the text is visible to the user, avoid matching foreground and background colors. It’s possible that Google can interpret it or consider it cloaking. You can redirect a URL either with a 301 or a 302 if it’s temporary.

3. Links with no anchors

This issue is another form of accidental cloaking but Search Engine Watch places it in its own section because of how easy you can miss it. By typing in an “href” link in html, you may forget to include the anchor text or forget to add the new anchor text after updating and deleting an old one. This unfortunately means that a link to a URL is visible to search engines but invisible to the user. #cloaked.

4. Outrageous bolding and other formatting

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to bolding is that it’s often used as a feature of content structure. It’s natural to want to bold subheading featuring keywords just like it would show up in h2 or h3 tags. Though bolding and italicizing are primarily for emphasizing content or making it easier to skim. You should never use these features to simply bold keywords where they appear. Brian Chang experimented with this by putting his keywords inside “strong tags” and saw his ranking completely tank. If there’s anything to gain from this, it’s that bolding your keywords won’t improve your rankings significantly but it will hurt your website.

hard to read text with too much bold
My eyes simply cannot take the madness

5. The use of frames and iframes

Frames and iframes break the framework of the web by giving one page for each URL and one URL for each page, causing problems for searching. While it’s recommended to stay away from them altogether, if you absolutely must use them, them place alternate content in the NoFrames tag. No one wants a problem to extend beyond SEO and frames are going in that direction.

6. Links to spam sites

While you may think it is, it’s not obvious when you’ve linked to a penalized site. You could’ve linked to a site that has quickly gone downhill or an authoritative site that uses spammy SEO tactics. (Aren’t these guys the worst?) Now that doesn’t mean you should just go remove all the links, simply review your external links periodically.

7. The dreaded ‘nofollow’ tag

Sure, you may need to hide some pages from search engines for various reasons, to each their own. This is a case by case issue where content needs to be visible for users but may fall problematic for search engines. If you have to block your content from search engines, then use “follow,” NEVER “nofollow” in your tags. Never, never, never. When you use nofollow, you’re essentially telling Google to throw away the PageRank whereas when you “follow,” Google knows not to index the page but to pass the PageRank forward.

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