Top 6 ways to prevent SEO cataclysms

I recently saw the Joe Rogan podcast with Randall Carlson and Graham Hancock where they discuss the cataclysm theory. The guests argue there is the possibility that an advanced civilisation existed before it was thoroughly wiped out by a huge meteorite that shattered the ice sheet and caused a giant tsunami, fires and rainfall over most of the Northern Hemisphere.

Even if this idea sounds preposterous to you, the reality is that a meteorite could fall into the Earth at any time, and at the moment.....WE ARE NOT READY.

Not only we are not ready to survive as a race in the event of a cataclysm, but most of us are not ready for all the bad things that can happen to our websites.

You might think... how dare you to compare my website's collapse to the extinction of the human race?
Well...I guarantee you, after the former scenario...

YOU WOULD FEEL WORSE!

Among all the terrible things that would happen to your website are:

  • Google penalising your website
  • Google removing your website from its index
  • Hackers spamming your website to oblivion

The work of months can be gone in a matter a minutes and no one will take responsibility for it. To make matters worse, you will survive to witness it, and to find a solution!

Greatest Hits

Many factors can cause havoc on your website. This article about the worst internet disasters of all time relates stories of earthquake shattering submarine connection cables and leaving big areas of Southeast Asia out of service for a month. How about servers losing power and leaving sites like Craiglists without connection AND WITHOUT THEIR BACKUPS?

When it comes to SEO tragedies, it is even more amusing, as SEO problems are mostly caused by your own incompetence. This is what probably sleek SEO managers at BMW felt after Google penalised their site because of using spammy doorway pages –websites created just to redirect traffic to the actual site.

How about this? because of spammy link building, RapGenius lost 80% of their traffic.

SEO is perhaps the one area where getting penalised can leave your website in the abyss of search rankings for months, without knowing when Google is going to bring you back into the rankings.

You always need to plan for the worse.

6 tips to avoid tears

1. Back up your WordPress site

if you are using an earlier version of WordPress, your site is susceptible to being hacked or corrupted. I've seen this too often, and it is not funny. The whole site gets obliterated and you get some porn content on your website instead. Then when your customers Google you they get a search result with that porn content clearly displayed. Your worst nightmare.

You can avoid this by backing up the site following the WordPress Codex so that in the event of a tragedy you can shut everything down and start the website from zero with the saved content.

2. Monitor your backlinks

As I mentioned earlier, Google can penalise you for having links that Google regards unnatural, that is, links built simply to pump up your rankings.

In late 2016, Google can automatically penalise you as soon as you get the wrong links. The good thing is that it can also lift your penalty as long as you get those people to remove the link to your site.

Any backlinks pointing at your site should 'make sense'; think about people on those sites, would anyone benefit from linking through to your site?

You can use Google Search Console to monitor your backlinks.

Search traffic report>Links to your site

If you want specific information about the quality of those links, use majestic ahrefs or open site explorer (who have a useful 'spam score').

3. Check your search engine directives

Part of SEO is to manage the messages that you are sending search engines about whether they should index pages on your website or not. These are called directives, and if you don't get them right, you can block your whole site from Google and not even notice about it.

Here are Google's guidelines about blocking URLs from search.

To check all the directives that your website's pages currently have, use Screaming FrogAsk me if you have any issues interpreting the data and taking action and I'm happy to run through the report free of charge.

4. Prevent comment spam

This one is another frequent pain in the neck. You check your pending comments to be approved and you see thousands of spam comments in a myriad of languages waiting to place poisonous backlinks on your website.

How dare they!

If you are using WordPress, there is a plugin called Akismet that protects you from these vile robots.
More information in WordPress Codex.

5. Prevent negative SEO

We mentioned already Google can penalised your website if you have low quality backlinks. Sadly this is something your competitors may use to their advantage, pointing bad backlinks to your website so that Google think it was you who did it and penalise you. You don't want to be in this situation, trust me.
Keeping track of your backlinks and setting Google Search Console alerts can help you prevent this situation.

6. Prevent duplicate content

Because of the way they have been developed, websites may display the same content on different URLs. This drives search engines nuts because they don't know what URLs is the correct one to rank and it can cause issues.

Screaming Frog can help you identify duplicated content across your site, which you need to solve by adding directive tags such as 'meta robots= noindex', rel = canonical, etc.

If you are using Wordpress Yoast can do this for you.

We don't value SEO rankings until we lose them. Think about it!

Are there other areas in business where you really need to prevent nightmares to be witnessed?

Leave comments below!

Peru Buesa