4 Boring But Useful SEO Tips
If I ignore site crawl issues, they’ll go away, right!?
What are these pesky issues that Google Search Console keeps warning me about?
404s, Soft 404s? Eh, it’s probably not that important.
If you think this, you’re probably right. It may not be that important. But odds are it’s more important than you think.
If the difference between you and your competitors is unwavering diligence and commitment, then it’s a lot more important than you might realize.
So what’s the dreaded 404 anyway?
A 404 is when a page isn’t found. When there’s a link that points nowhere. It’s hard to spot them all. If you are working on a large site, it’s easy to let them creep in without even noticing. You change the URL of a page here, and somewhere, off in the distance, something breaks. If you don’t notice it at first, your customers probably will. Then they’ll come to you complaining about a page not working that’s buried so deep in your site architecture you almost forgot it was there.
Does anyone even look at Google Search Console anyways?
As with most things related to technical SEO, it’s far easier to ignore problems than to fix them. It takes time, effort, and plain ‘ole hard work to knock them all down. Only the particularly sadistic among us will see it as a weird whack-a-mole game and actually derive some kind of sick pleasure from bringing them to zero. For the rest of us, it’s tedious, time-consuming, and decidedly unsexy.
So first of all, what are the kinds of errors we’re habitually ignoring?
- 404s and Soft 404s – Pages missing or empty
- The SEO title of a page is too long
- The URL of a page is too long
- Missing meta description
Of course, there are more, but these are the bulk of the “often ignored” issues.
Any one of these isn’t so bad. But stack a few on top of each other, and your site probably won’t be performing well enough for your visitors or for your customers. As consumers, we hate it when parts of websites are down. We may just hit that back button and never visit again.
But what about the others? What about the missing meta information?
While these aren’t as bad as a 404 per se, they are at best a missed opportunity.
The “meta description” is our chance to tell Google how we want our page to appear in search results.
Here’s what a Google search for “Aloa Marketing” shows:
This is how an optimized website appears in Google search results. For this example, everything looks pretty decent. I don’t need to tell you that many, many search results on Google look far worse than this!
It’s those ugly looking results buried on page 10 that we’re talking about when we say the “SEO Title is too long” or talk about a “missing meta description”. It’s all about how it looks in the search results. Are the title and description fields working for your pages or against them?
If you do nothing, Google will fill these fields in for you, and the results are never pretty.
If you fill them in and they are too long, they will get cut off. So all that time you spent making it sound smart and snappy will be meaningless, since you’ll get yanked off Google’s stage with the dreaded “…”
Nothing is more frustrating than trying to read someth…
Come in and check out our unbelie…
Yeesh, that’s bad!
Whether looking at a tool like Moz’s site crawl, or just good old fashioned Google Search Console, pay attention to all the errors you see. Getting them to zero might not be glamorous, but it might benefit your site more than you realize.
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Fixing these four errors site-wide can give your site a more “bulletproof” feeling to the end user, and it can probably help your rankings in ways you might expect.
There’s a certain amount of mysticism around Google rankings, and with good reason! No one knows exactly how the rankings are calculated, despite several leaks and deductions from hard-working SEOs.
Even the best in the business – like the legendary Rand Fishkin – strongly feel (in the absence of specific evidence) that there are certain things that can benefit the rankings of all pages on your site. Sometimes deleting a badly performing page, or fixing an error somewhere on your site can have a knock-on, positive effect elsewhere. If you were Google, you’d probably reward sites that had no crawl errors in some small way. It might make your site more “trustworthy”, and it might just boost you that tiny bit over your competitors.
I tend to believe that doing all of these things can only help, both directly and indirectly. It all goes back to attention to detail being at the core of internet marketing.
When I take on a new client, 99% of the time I notice the lack of attention to detail on their site.
For me, this is where I earn my living. And it makes sense, if you think about it. Not every aspect of every job is rocket science, and this isn’t either. Part of being a lawyer is making a lot of copies. Part of every skilled job is highly unskilled and tedious, and no, you can’t have interns do ALL of it.
What makes a good SEO agency or individual is the ability to see how many different aspects of a highly complicated puzzle fit together. It requires creativity, analytical thinking, coding knowledge, knowledge of trends, design aesthetics, human behavior, and much more. A true marketer must understand many soft and hard skills, and that’s why it’s hard to find people who are actually good at it despite the large number of people who claim to be.
I genuinely believe you have to be pretty intelligent to be an effective marketer, as without that base level of intelligence people will miss some important pieces of the overall puzzle. Being a good lawyer is about more than just reading one law book. Being a good doctor is about more than human anatomy.
All serious and highly-paid professions require integrating many different, highly varied skills and disciplines into one whole – a total picture. If this isn’t something for you, then it’s better to hire someone else than to do it yourself.
One thing that I see in business owners is that many of them have a desire to prove that they know something about internet marketing or SEO. They may have read one article, or one book, and suddenly they are an expert. Meanwhile, their site is riddled with errors and technical issues.
It’s one thing to know how to theoretically hit a golf ball, it’s another to get out there and do it one million times and become a pro.
When you hire a firm like my SEO agency, what you are getting is:
- Years of experience. Hardly any problems are “new”, they just might be new to you.
- An understanding of how all the small pieces and details fit together to form a greater whole.
- Confidence and patience. Doing the right thing today will almost always reward you tomorrow, but you have to wait and trust the process.
- And let’s be honest – you’re getting someone who will do all the tedious work that you don’t want to/don’t have time to do.
Sure, I could probably dig a ditch in front of my house. But it’s not my dream to be a landscaper. That’s why I hire someone else. SEOs generally have a high monthly price tag, but I firmly believe that it’s for a good reason.
Few professions more directly contribute to the success of a company than marketing. And when you watch the bottom line magically go up, you’ll be glad you didn’t take the challenge on yourself.