How to Diagnose an SEO Problem and Find a Solution
If you have noticed a negative shift in your web traffic recently, there is a good chance that the reason for it is related to your SEO practices. The best way to confirm that your traffic issue is related to the content and the way it’s indexed by search engines is to look at the search results only, isolating the traffic you get from manual searches from the traffic obtained through links on other domains. Once you’ve done that, any apparent drop that is still visible is coming from the way the search algorithm interacts with your pages.
Generally speaking, there are a couple of major violations that result in the search engine penalizing your pages. Integrated IT Solutions recommends checking first for any notifications in your Search Console. These notifications will typically have detailed descriptions of the violation which help you to isolate it and remedy it. Afterward, submitting a reconsideration request will get your page analyzed by a trained professional and, if the errors are gone, it will get re-approved.
If you have no messages, then your issue stems from the use of Google’s sorting algorithms, Penguin and Panda. Broadly speaking, Penguin related issues stem from links that run to your site from other sites, and Panda issues stem from thin content on your site.
Identifying and Correcting Link (Penguin) Issues
Whether you were manually notified of your SEO issue or you unveiled it through investigation, the steps to correct the problem remain the same.
Use a combination of your Search Console and related tools like Open Site Explorer to run multiple reports on your incoming links.
Remove duplicates to get the best master list possible.
Check for links that come from advertising, links from “doorway” pages, and links you paid to have included on other sites. Also, make sure that your site is not indexed in more than 1 or 2 of the most important web directories for your industry.
For links from ads, adding the “nofollow” attribute takes care of the issue by assuring the Google bots that you are not trying to spam them.
For other links, you will need to reach out to the owners of the pages and request removal.
If any pages refuse to remove your link or fail to respond to three attempts, then Google has a disavowal tool that allows you to correct the issue through them.
If your list of incoming links doesn’t have anything suspect in it, meaning it does not have any links from countries where you don’t operate or links that you paid for, then the next step is to look at your content.
Identifying and Correcting Content (Panda) Issues
Thin content is another issue entirely, and one that can be remedied quickly once you know what Google views as “thin” content. As you review your pages, remove, rewrite, or redesign around the following issues:
Ad-heavy pages. These are pages that have excessive advertising as defined by Google, and their own guidelines need to be consulted for the most up-to-date rules.
Pages with scraped content. These are a major problem for Google, an often times they are also violating copyright or other intellectual property laws.
“Doorway” pages. Pages that serve to convert people to ecommerce sites and for no other real purpose are penalized. Reviews are one thing, but direct conversion pages are another.
Poor product descriptions. Ecommerce sites that only list basic manufacturer-supplied information in their product descriptions are penalized.
Unmoderated user content. If you have reviews or comments, make sure you prune out any spammy or otherwise poor-quality contributions to keep your own site sharp.
Following through with these basic SEO diagnoses and troubleshooting recommendations will solve most of your algorithm indexing issues. It can take some time for the algorithms to re-index your site, but once you have fixed the problems, it’s just a matter of waiting that period out before your performance will be restored.