There are things on your website that are sabotaging your Google rankings and traffic. No matter how much effort you put into writing content, optimize your technical SEO, building backlinks, they're going to keep you down.
1. Outdated content
I've been doing SEO for a long time, and this doesn't come as a shock and you probably know this. Google prefers fresh content. According to Hosting Tribunal, there are over 1.7 billion websites in the world. Over two million blog posts are being published every single day. Not only that, it's estimated that Google has over 63 billion pages indexed according to WorldWideWebSize. So instead of you thinking, hey, I need to crank out a lot of content each and every single day, what I want you to do is go to Google Search Console and look at all your pieces of content and the amount of traffic you're getting. In the date picker in Google Search Console, I want you to compare what your traffic was like now versus the same time a year ago. You may get more traffic or less traffic, but what you'll find is some pages were doing well and aren't anymore. I want you to look at those pages that were doing well and go and update them. And by refreshing up, making them better, you're going to rank much better versus taking your old content and just leaving it there.
Google wants all the content on your site to be great and updated because it's not just one page ranking on its own, it's your whole site. Google is looking at your whole site as a whole, and when it's all buttoned up and perfect, you're going to do much better.
2. Pages with thin content
Back in the day, 500-word page was considered long-form content. That was six years ago. Today pages that don't go above and beyond and really dig deep won't do well. For that reason, Google tends not to rank pages with thin content. If you can answer someone's question or query, right, whatever someone is searching for is usually a problem, in 200 words or 100 words, that's great, but most people can't. These pages that offer little to no value don't do well. So what I want you to do is go to all the pages that offer little to no value, look at them. If you think they offer value, that's fine. But if you don't, I want you to either A, update them and make them more in-depth, or B, 301 redirect them to other better pages that are more in-depth and offer a much better user experience.
Make sure you assess each and every single page through Google Analytics. Look at how much traffic it's getting before the change and after the change. Look at the bounce rate, look at the time on page. These will all give you indicators if that page is good or bad or needs updating.
3. Excessive or irrelevant ads
Look, when you put a lot of ads on your website, all it's doing is increasing the load time. The more ads you put on your website, the more external resources that need to be loaded which will have a direct impact on your load time and your SEO. Ads make users leave a website if it impacts user experience. Just imagine yourself pulling up a site on a mobile device and all you're seeing is a ton of ads. Even if it loads fast, it's hindering the user experience. So it's not bad to have ads, even Google has ads, but you want to make sure that they blend in, they're nice, they're not too crazy in how they look, and they're not distracting the user. And if you look at what Google is doing with their ads, that's a perfect example of how ideal you want to blend ads throughout your own webpage.
4. Automatically generated content
Now this probably doesn't come as a shocker, but Google wants you to deliver amazing experience. Creating content through automated tools is not going to deliver the best experience. Even if you put in the time and effort to make that content a bit more customized and look personalized, it's still not going to do well. What you need to do is create content that provides the best experience out there and not just from the perspective that is not automated, but you need to look for all the other pages that are ranking for the term that you're going after, and be like, hmm, is my content going to provide more value than theirs? And if you're unsure on how to evaluate that, go to Ubersuggest, type in the keyword that you're looking for to rank for and write about.
On the right side you'll see all the pages that rank on the top, the backlinks they have, the social shares, and their domain score.
This will give you a good understanding of what users like as well as what Google likes, because just because a site ranks number one or a page ranks number one, it's not always what users prefer. So having that social data and backlinking data will also give you a good understanding of what a good page is, and you can use that to come up with the best variation that's better than all your competitors.
5. Intrusive popups or interstitials
Look, Google even said this on their Official Google Webmaster Central Blog. They said "Pages that show intrusive interstitials "provide a poorer experience to users "than other pages where content is immediately accessible." Now that doesn't mean that you can't do popups, I use them, but typically you want to save the popups as an exit popup. So an exit popup is upon leaving, that's what people see versus upon entering.
And what you can do is if you have lead magnets is you can promote it within your content, a top of article, a bottom of article. It's still a way to collect leads without being intrusive.
Other things that you can do is inline opt-in boxes, ribbons, top bars like hello bars, in-text call to actions. These are all ways to drive more leads to the pages you want without doing crazy popups upon first entry.
6. Irrelevant internal links
Everyone knows that internal linking is important, but when you overdo it, it's not only going to lose value but it actually harms your SEO. You have to do it in a very careful manner that's best for users. If it doesn't help users, don't do it. So you want to make sure that you're choosing internal links that are relevant to the content and the page that people are going to read. Don't just have tons of rich anchor text, don't just have a ton of random anchor text, do what's best for the user.
7. Duplicate content
This won't necessarily generate any form of penalty from Google, and they've even mentioned how they don't penalize for duplicate content, but they're not going to rank duplicate content over original content. So you want to make sure that you're publishing new unique content. Now this doesn't mean that you can cite sources or take stats from other places and cite your sources or take quotes from other people and give them credit. It just means that your content has to be new and fresh. And when I'm talking about duplicate content, I'm not just talking about word for word plagiarizing what someone else has already written, I'm also talking about writing the same piece of content that's been beaten to death a thousand times. How many pieces of content do we need to have on banana nutrition facts? There's so many banana nutrition facts articles out there, and they all talk about the same thing. Creating another one even if it's unique and you didn't plagiarize word for word, it's not going to add any value and you're going to have a tough time ranking on Google.
8. Backlinks to spammy websites and domain names
When you link out to other spammy sites, you can get caught up in what Google calls a link scheme, right? A lot of times people are like, hey I'll link to you if you link to me. Doing this kind of things is called reciprocal linking. It can hurt your rankings in the long run. You should only be linking to pages that make sense. It's not about hey should I nofollow this link? Should I do follow it? I want to keep all the SEO juice to myself. It's about providing the best user experience. If you link to something and you think it provides value to a user, then link to it. If you feel that, hey, this link isn't going to provide any value but I just want to link to it for the sake of it because they're paying me money, don't do it. Or if you want to take the money, make sure you no follow that link or market as paid and clearly let the user know that you're paid for it as well.