Many of you will be familiar with the inverted pyramid writing style, where the most newsworthy content is at the top and the least is at the bottom. I’ve tried to follow this structure; however, all the points below are not to be slept on. They’re all major issues that commonly appear amongst even the best sites.

If you want to get the most out of this article, check out every point here. As you know, there are no shortcuts when it comes to SEO.

1. Index Management Problems

The first and most common issue that we’re seeing is accidental devaluation of the website because of indexing issues. It stems from a common misunderstanding about how Google actually works.

Most people think that if they build links and noindex junk pages they’re fine. However, it’s not that simple – and I’m about to show you a real example.

Start by performing a search and auditing Google’s index of your site. Take a hard look at which pages shouldn’t be indexed and start proactively removing them from your crawl budget.

The problem with Google is that despite you adding a noindex to your pages, they remain indexed until Google recrawls. Some people add robots.txt to block these pages and save crawl budget – which is a good idea, but only after the pages are removed. For the rest of us, we’re going to need to use the URL Removal Tool.

2. Localization Issues

The second most common issue we are seeing is when clients have multiple languages. While it’s great to have international coverage and provide foreign users with localized text – it’s a nightmare for Panda penalties if not setup correctly.

Many people are familiar with the URL structure that you should use for localized text, but many people forget to setup HREFLang on their website.

If you are looking to setup HREFLang codes, I suggest you use this website to get the right country and location code every time.

To add, this covers just 50% of the languages their website operates under. This has created an enormous amount of duplication to be indexed.

Meskipun pengaturan ini tidak sejelas hreflang, pengaturan ini memang sesuatu yang akan memberi Google informasi tentang lokal, dan karenanya membuat kebingungan. Jika situs web Anda memiliki masalah yang serupa, kami sarankan Anda menjadikan lokal dinamis untuk dicocokkan dengan bahasa saat ini.

3. Keyword Cannibalization

This is a surprisingly common issue for most websites that we encounter. Despite the large amount of resources online to help with cannibalization, you would be surprised how many people still suffer from it.

Quite simply, it’s when you have multiple pages on your site competing for the same keywords. And guess what? Google doesn’t like it.

The first step is to learn to diagnose the culprit pages, because if you cannot find cannibalization – how can you fix what you can’t see? At The Search Initiative we have a few ways to find cannibalization but here’s the easiest and most effective.

Use Keyword Tracking Tools
One of the benefits a client gets from working with TSI is that we track keywords up to twice daily with Agency Analytics, one of our partners.

4. Over-Optimized Anchor Text

There was a significant update in October 2016 as Penguin 4.0 rolled out. Penguin 4.0 was an update that changed how Google perceives and interacts with links. I even wrote an article for Ahrefs covering how it affected anchor text optimization.

As part of our auditing process for each new client, we analyze your existing anchor text and break the types down into the below values:

  • Branded – an anchor text that includes your brand name or slight variation, for example: ‘thesearchinitiative’, ‘visit thesearchinitiative’, or ‘TSI’.
  • Generic – an anchor that uses a generic term but does not include branding, for example:‘here’, ‘read more’, or ‘visit site’.
  • Image – a link that has no anchor is generally shown as a blank in AHREFS export feature. Other clues might be file extensions in the alt attribute ‘jpg’ is probably an image.
  • Miscellaneous – an anchor that does not qualify as generic, but is otherwise unrelated to the website. Forum and comment spam often includes anchors such as ‘Steve’, ‘Stuart’, or ‘Stan’.
  • Low Quality – an anchor that is more than 100 characters is generally an irrelevant anchor unless it’s a long URL. Another low quality anchor is a foreign language and symbols.
  • Targeted – an anchor that includes the exact or partial term you are trying to rank for, effective to gain rankings but higher risk for tripping a Penguin filter against your site.
  • Topical – an anchor that is on topic, but does not include your targeted term. For example, an affiliate site reviewing ‘best running shoes’ might include topical anchors such as: ‘healthy workout’, ‘burn lots of calories’, or ‘high impact sport’.
  • URL – this is arguably the most obvious one, but anchors that are naked URLs such as ‘’ and ‘’ would count as URL.

It’s important to note that most people use low quality pillow links and press releases to redistribute their anchors.

5. Poor Linking Strategy

Up until this point, 3 of the top 4 issues have been related to onsite. While Issue #5 is indeed another offsite link building issue, it’s important to recognize the connection. When a website has fixed its technical issues, pumped out valuable content, and improved user performance metrics – link building becomes a lot easier.

Rather than needing 100’s of links to rank a site, you can achieve a lot more with less. Since link building and onsite both cost money – you may be wondering why not just spend money on links?

Google has introduced many link building filters to thwart your efforts, therefore, the more links you build the more likely you are to be caught. By delivering better content you will not only improve your conversion rates, but you will make it easier to rank higher, permanently.

So, the question is, what makes a link strategy good?

The first thing is to avoid over-optimizing your anchor text, because this is eventually going to cause a penalty. Choose to use topical terms and branded anchors to hit your pages instead.

The second thing is to target other pages than your main core pages. If you have created a blog post that is valuable and internally links to one of your core pages, throw some links at that page too.

Not only will this help prevent overcooking your page, it’s going to help you rank for long tail keywords that you didn’t claim before.

6. Low Quality Affiliate Content

This should go without saying, but if your content is not good then you don’t deserve to rank. However, what most affiliate sites are guilty of is not mopping up all the juicy long tail keywords that are easy to rank for and provide noticeable traffic. It’s not that they don’t want to rank for those keywords, it’s just that they don’t know how.

While this highlights the power of content in Google’s algorithm, this is slightly different from what I am describing with low quality affiliate content. The main culprit we see is when every page has an affiliate link and there’s no actual user value. It’s possible to rank this way, but there are some drawbacks.

7. User Performance Metrics

We have noticed that many affiliate sites and even some eCommerce companies are not focused on user performance metrics. This is bad for several reasons: Firstly, you’re going to be limiting yourself severely.

There is a finite amount of people searching monthly for what you offer. By avoiding the issue of content, you’re forcing yourself to spend money on links to brute force rankings towards terms that are not relevant and not fruitful.

Instead, we would suggest that you should focus on converting your existing traffic while simultaneously growing your potential traffic. Take this example:

If you have 1 customer in 1000 visitors that purchases from you then to triple your customers you have two options:

  • Increase traffic from 1,000 to 3,000
  • Increase conversion from 0.001% to 0.003%

In the past 2 weeks, we have managed to increase the sessions by a modest 4.26%, which we’re happy to take, considering the condition of the site – but lower than average for our clients.

However, the main point to notice is the 79% increase in Conversion Rate, 86% increase in Transactions and 49% increase in Revenue. These changes mean that as we fix the devaluations against the site this client is primed to make a significant revenue gain.

8. Titles & Meta Descriptions

This is like keyword cannibalization in that it’s surprising how many websites still have issues with it.

9. Internal Redirects

This is one of the most common issues that websites face. A large volume of 3XX Redirects on your website seems fine to most – if it’s a 301. However, this isn’t strictly true and here’s why:

A 301 redirect is designed for when a user requests a page that is no longer available and has been permanently moved. This is something that happens a lot across the internet. The server after a moment of latency returns a different URL and the page loads as usual.

The issue with the above is the term latency and it’s something most webmasters ignore. The physical distance between a user and your server means that even a tiny bit of header information takes time to send and receive.

If you are looking to improve your user experience, then you should make your website as fast as possible and therefore remove all 301s when not absolutely needed. This will be better for your user and help authority flow within the website unhindered.

However, what’s the difference between a 301 and a 302 redirect?

Whilst a 301 redirect points towards a permanent move from one location to another, a 302 is a temporary move. From Googlebot’s perspective this means that:

  • 301 Redirects should index the new URL, rather than the previous URL
  • 302 Redirects should index the previous URL, ignore the new URL

Google has claimed to handle both the same but it doesn’t make sense that they would do this. Both status codes have different purposes and should be treated differently. Make sure you’re using the right redirect on your website.

What are pillow links? Pillow links are used to diversify your anchor text ratios – in the audio industry this would be comparable with signal-to-noise ratio. When you buy a microphone, you want low noise and high signal – but this is the complete opposite to SEO link profiles.

If your link profile has a high signal and low noise, it’s going to be easy for Google to analyze your website’s links and pick up unnatural trends with their machine learning. You could consider pillow links to be dithering for the audiophiles out there; you add noise to the signal to improve the quality.

Despite the client having built 315 pillow links in the past 12 months, only 25 of these links were indexed. This means that despite all the time and money spent, it was providing almost no value.

The solution is to use indexing tools that encourage Googlebot to index your pillow links… or just build all quality links and you won’t have this problem.

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