Colder nights, crunchy leaves, and copious amounts of pumpkin-picking posts can only mean one thing: spooky season is well and truly upon us.
Sidestepping any office decorations or pumpkin carving parties of our own, our team at Mackerel Media decided to mark the occasion with a round of scary stories: SEO edition.
From content catches to dev debacles, we share five of the most hair-raising SEO setbacks that we’d glady drive a stake through this Halloween.
1. Comment Spam
Comment spam is still happening in 2022? Frightening, we know.
Comment spam involves placing comments on reputable blogs and online articles filled with keywords and links in an attempt to improve the backlink profile of a website. It’s spammy, outdated and a downright no from all credible SEO specialists. Don’t do it.
2. URL Parameters
While a necessary and useful tool for tracking, searching and filtering content, URL parameters can cause some serious SEO issues if they’re not kept under control.
With the ability to inadvertently generate hundreds of thousands or even millions of extra pages, excessive URL parameters not only present an issue for duplicate content, but impede Google’s ability to effectively crawl and index your site (sometimes they find so many URLs they simply stop!).
This kind of site bloat can be detrimental to your overall SEO health, undoing any great work you’ve done in terms of content and ranking. While it can take some time to rein them in, getting on top of URL parameters will do you many SEO favours in the long run.
There are a few different techniques available to combat URL parameters – this article by Search Engine Journal gives a great overview.
3. Keyword Density
Another SEO discussion we thought (or perhaps hoped) would be long since forgotten: keyword density.
Now, keywords are, of course, a crucially important component of SEO. Content needs to be aligned to search demand in order to rank and perform well, and ensuring keywords are included in Meta Tags, Page Titles and internal links can help make this happen.
But, when it comes to the content itself, prioritising ‘keyword density’, or trying to weave in a certain number of keywords to meet a target quota, detracts from the true aim: creating high quality content that is genuinely relevant and valuable for the reader.
This is something that Google continues to emphasise, particularly through the release of its helpful content updates, which prioritise the quality and relevance of content over the writer’s ability to strategically place keywords.
Top ranking positions are achieved by content which is written for people, not search engines. If achieving #1 is your aim, killing ‘keyword density’ as a metric is a great first step.
4. “I’ve cracked the algorithm!”
Anyone with a Twitter account and an interest in SEO will have undoubtedly come across these four words before: “I’ve unpicked Google’s algorithm!”.
It’s a statement which has graced our inboxes and social media feeds many times over the years, so let’s clear this up nice and simply: they haven’t.
Nobody has ever cracked Google’s algorithm, and nobody ever will. Even if there is just one (which is highly unlikely), it’s infinitely complicated and constantly changing – even Google’s own engineers can’t unpick it.
Sure, someone may have found a way to improve the ranking performance of their own content, or seen the intersection of various well-established SEO techniques come together at the perfect time, but have they been able to outwit the skill and decades of work by thousands of the world’s best software engineers? Absolutely not.
5. The Myth of Organic Traffic Loss Following Site Migration
Businesses migrate their websites for many reasons. Perhaps a brand refresh, an investment in UX or a need for better accessibility and cybersecurity features. Either way, a site migration should be a positive and exciting time for brands, paving the way for better customer experience and improved site conversions as a result.
Despite this, time and time again we hear of experienced web developers and agencies warning clients of a 20-30% drop in organic traffic following a site migration…
Our take – unless you have made a strategic decision to remove content that drives your existing level of organic traffic, there’s absolutely no reason you should see any drop-offs at all.
Proper, detailed, strategic SEO research and planning, delivered well should ideally mean the opposite happens, that your organic traffic starts to rise following the migration to your new website. Surely the point of investing all that money in the new website was to make it better, more visible and more effective for you…wasn’t it?
And that concludes the chilling SEO setbacks that continue to haunt the team at Mackerel Media. What nightmares would you add to the list? Let us know over on our socials.