Almost a year ago, I wrote a little piece about duplicate content – what it is, why you should care, and how to get rid of it. And duplicate content (despite my best efforts!) remains one of the most prevalent issues brands face in SEO.

In this post, we’ll shine a light on a few less-discussed issues plaguing SEO accounts. They’re harmful and preventable, but most brands I work with don’t know to look for them, let alone know how to fix them. Let’s change that.

Spider traps

One of the surest ways to kill your indexing efforts is a spider trap (explained in depth on the Portent blog by Matthew Henry). A spider trap is infinitely expanding URLs that show up in a crawl, like this:

They’re often caused by missing opening “/” marks:

This is an easy mistake to make and one that can prevent search engines from crawling your site, which will torpedo traffic.

Non-competitive keyword expansion

Everyone knows about keyword explorer tools like Moz, SpyFu, SEMrush, etc. But not everyone knows about SEMrush’s handy Domain vs. Domain tool, which helps you ID keywords a competitor is ranking for and you’re not.

It’s easy enough to use; just go to the tool:

Isolate the keywords unique to the competitor domain:

And strip the competitor name from the search to get a full list of non-brand keywords you should consider adding to your expansion:

Focusing on the wrong goals

We’ve all gotten marching orders before that sound like “I’d like to rank for x, y, and z keywords on this page.” But that’s usually a knee-jerk request that hasn’t taken into account the entire keyword landscape: real, achievable opportunities, keyword gaps, purchase intent of the keyword, etc. A full keyword mapping project (which I’ll dive into in another post!) will provide you with a much more layered and accurate view on your keyword landscape and can show you what you should actually be prioritizing.

The upshot: don’t just pick three juicy head terms with high search volume. Do your research and figure out where you can make an impact, in gaining both clicks and users who have actual interest in your product or service.

 

There are, of course, roughly one million other mistakes I see brands make in SEO, but these three are both prevalent and preventable. If you have any questions, you can always drop me a line @dportney. And keep an eye out for my upcoming epic blog on keyword mapping!

 

2 Comments

  1. Steven van Vessum February 20th, 2017

    Hi David, good piece – very to the point!

    I’ve seen the first issue in hundreds of our user’s website. It’s so easy to make a mistake like that, and create a crawl trap in the process.

  2. Emmerey Rose February 21st, 2017

    Very helpful post David! I was wondering, does SemRush have a free trial period? this tool looks bomb! would love to check it out.

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David Portney
I’m David Portney, a Senior SEO Manager and Analytics Geek at 3Q Digital. Yes, I’m very into SEO & Analytics but let’s call it a passion and not an obsession, okay? Find me on Twitter @dportney. I enjoy public speaking very much so feel free to contact me if you’d like me to speak at your event.