The way I see it, SEO comes in two parts—of course, there’s onsite and offsite, but what I’m referring to here are “fixes” and “improvements.” Fixes are things that are “wrong” with your site that can be changed for the better—usually once. Wrong here is in quotes because it doesn’t necessarily mean your site is broken, but it is objectively correlated with lower domain authority and lower ranks. Generally, fixes are applied early in the campaign and never looked at again, since you don’t need to address them more than once.
Improvements, on the other hand, are more subjective, gradual, and repetitive in nature. For example, you’ll always need to produce and publish more content, and you can always tweak the exact layout of your site. Improvements tend to get all the attention because fixes are one-and-done changes that don’t have to be looked at again, but there’s always the possibility of old fixes getting neglected or new fixes arising as new pages are added or removed.
The average search marketer is unwittingly neglecting at least a handful of fixes at any one time (unless they’re some sort of web development savant), but they often go unnoticed because the regular improvements (content, links, social, etc.) are sucking up most of his/her time. Instead of continuing to allow this to happen, take an hour or two out of your day, right now, and check for these easy fixes that you might be neglecting:
You’re probably aware that duplicate content is a no-no, and you obviously don’t duplicate your content on purpose. But new page additions, sitemap changes, and improper initial procedures can make it easy to neglect a piece of duplicate content when it arises. “Duplicate content” here doesn’t mean you copied and pasted one page into another, necessarily; usually, it’s a URL variation (like http:// versus http://www) that leads Google to index two versions of the same page.
You can check for duplicate content issues by analyzing the web crawl information you find in Google Webmaster Tools. If you identify any pages with duplicate content, clean them up by either deleting one of the sources or introducing canonical tags, which tell Google which version to index and which one to ignore.
Just like duplicate content, duplicate title tags or meta descriptions can rob you of valuable ranking potential. Some CMS platforms fill in a default set of titles and descriptions when not otherwise specified, and some people updating your website may not be versed enough in SEO to write unique titles and descriptions. Use Google Webmaster Tools to indicate how many titles and descriptions you have in duplicate, and work on eliminating and/or improving them. This may be a manual process, but once it’s done, it’s done (for all your current pages, at least).
Whether you like it or not, your site is probably going to attract some bad links along the way. Even if you preserve a perfect link building strategy focusing only on the most valuable sources, some old links from the past can stick around or some new links can come from unfortunate sources. Use a link search tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer and check through your link profile. Chances are, you’ll catch at least a dozen or so links that don’t belong in your profile. Take this time to remove them manually or ask their respective webmasters to remove them.
Images are often overlooked in SEO because they aren’t always considered standalone content and they can be uploaded by almost anyone. But without any information to tell Google about the image, it won’t know what it’s looking at. All the images of your site should therefore have a title and some descriptive alt text, which lets Google know what’s going on. Checking for any gaps in this best practice can give you more indexed images for Google Image Search, and therefore more real estate across the web.
Working from my earlier description, you might consider this an improvement rather than a fix since you probably work on internal linking on a regular basis. However, it’s easy to forget about your latest and greatest content (or products, or any page that is added regularly). Naturally, you want your newest pages to have as much ranking potential as your oldest pages, but they’ve had the least amount of time to be linked to from your older pages.
In just a few minutes per new page, you can find a handful of places on your website where you can provide a link. If you do this for each new page, you’ll greatly increase the interconnectedness of your site, giving all your new pages the ranking power they deserve.
If you’ve left one of these fixes unattended, don’t be embarrassed—it happens to the best of us, and one unattended fix isn’t nearly enough to drag down your ranks in any terrible way. However, staying on top of potential fixes can keep your site in smooth working order, preventing those unchecked items from accumulating and bearing a serious impact on your overall campaign. Make time at least once a month to check your site thoroughly for these easy corrections, and remember how easy it is for the simple things to be overlooked.