One of the most notable commercial trends in 2020-2021 has been the rise of e-commerce, and although the shift in consumer trends towards online shopping has been well underway for quite some time, the events of the last year have hastened this transition considerably.
In fact, digital retail has seen such growth over the last year that, according to recent industry reports, global e-commerce sales are set to hit a record $4.2tn as online sales continue to surge. What is perhaps most interesting about these figures is that they look set to continue despite the fact that physical retail stores are opening once again following long periods of closure during 2020 and 2021.
Although it remains to be seen how, exactly, the shift to online retail will impact the commercial environment in broad terms, what it has made clear is the importance for businesses of having an online presence. In fact, with online retail becoming so important for businesses of all sizes, we might be seeing the beginning of a digital divide between those businesses with an online shopfront and those that fail to adapt to this new environment.
With so many businesses operating in the online space, however, this has made it all the more important to stand out from the crowd. With Google rankings becoming increasingly competitive as more and more businesses transition to online retail, there has never been a better time to get a handle on your SEO.
Unfortunately, however, even the most well-intentioned business owners might find themselves having fallen afoul of Google’s search engine algorithms. There are many different moving parts involved in executing an effective SEO strategy, and if even one of them is off-kilter, this can significantly hamper your visibility. This can make it difficult to diagnose the source of the dysfunction when you do run into an issue with your SEO, as the issue might not be obvious at first, second or even third glance!
For this reason, it is important to have a set of tactics and strategies you can use to diagnose the issue with your SEO. Being able to run through a list of common issues will help you to pinpoint the source of the issue much more quickly than a full-on website audit, which can often take up a significant amount of time.
With that said, in the following article, we will set out some of the most common issues online that businesses have with their SEO. Although the issues that we set out here are by no means a comprehensive list of everything that might be wrong, if you run through them, you will be able to troubleshoot your way to figuring out what the main issue is.
As we have mentioned elsewhere on this blog, one of the most important elements of a successful SEO strategy is having fresh, original content. Although according to Google, duplicate content won’t necessarily see you penalised, it can still have a big impact on the efficacy of your SEO.
According to Google, duplicate content is any substantive blocks of content that are either a complete match, or are appreciably similar, to existing content across your domains. These will be filtered out by Google’s search engine algorithms, which will hurt your competitiveness in the rankings in the long run.
For this reason, it is important to keep your website updated with fresh, original content and to avoid recycling content where possible. This will ensure that the search engine algorithms are able to properly rank your website.
A good tip for ensuring that your content stays fresh and avoids duplication is to keep and stick to an updated content calendar. When it comes time to post a new piece of content, you will quickly be able to check whether something has been posted before.
We have written on this blog before about the importance of ensuring that any links contained in the content hosted on your website are kept in working order. Despite this, broken links are rampant online, with users frequently running into the dreaded ‘404 error’.
Not only will broken links hamper your SEO ranking, however, but they will also have a big impact on the user experience that someone has when visiting your website, which might drive them away in the long run. As such, keeping your links in working order is a good first step to take when you are trying to troubleshoot the source of your SEO issues.
This can be done using a site audit tool, which will often have a special plugin to check, and fix, any broken links it comes across.
Low word count
One of the most frequently overlooked issues when it comes to posting content online is word count. Although there is no minimum or maximum word count specified in the Google SEO guidelines, it is well known that Google ranks content with more depth higher, and, generally speaking, content that has more depth will be both longer and well supported with references.
With that said, if you are struggling to stay competitive in the rankings, have a look at the average length of your posts. If they are consistently under the 500-word mark, this could be an indication that they are not long enough and could do with expanding.
Once again, a good way of keeping track of this is to use a content calendar that takes note of when something was posted, what the topic was, and how long it was.
Too much linking
Although a well-thought-out link-building strategy is, as we have stated before, absolutely essentially to staying competitive in the Google search engine rankings, there is definitely such a thing as including too many links.
Link-stuffing is something that Google and other search engines are well aware of. If you tend to over-stuff your written content with internal and external links, this could have the opposite effect to the one you intended.
Performing a website audit with a link-checking tool will allow you to keep an eye on how many links are contained on your website. You should also keep in mind the basic principle that only high-quality, relevant links should be included.
Low text-to-HTML ratio
Low text-to-HTML ratio is a surprisingly common problem that impacts the SEO rankings of websites. Although it sounds technical, having a low text-to-HTML ratio essentially means that your website has too much back-end HTML code and not enough written content that end users can actually read.
A low text-to-HTML ratio is often indicative of much deeper issues with your website, such as inefficiently coded websites, too much hidden text, or slow website loading.
While this is not necessarily the easiest fix to make, a proficient SEO expert or your website admin will be able to remove unnecessary code to reduce the page size and increase the website speed. This will help to take some of the bloat away and improve the responsiveness of the website.
As we have previously written on this blog, meta descriptions are one of the most frequently overlooked aspects of SEO. Although meta descriptions will not directly impact your ranking, they nevertheless encourage click-throughs among users.
A quick site audit will usually flag up any issues with your meta descriptions, and there are a number of specialised tools you can use to do this.
Putting it all together
If you have read all of the above and still find yourself somewhat confused, please feel free to reach out to one of our content consultants at Purecontent today – and if you want to supercharge your online business, or simply create content that keeps your customers informed, our content consultants are here to help!