1. Poor Optimization
This particular point can address many issues, including lack of targeted keywords in your website’s content as well as internal links, confusing or jumbled page layouts that cause a user visual confusion, problems with your site’s responsiveness on varied devices like phones or tablets, no title tags or meta descriptions, and other varied issues.
Additionally, if your site has issues with duplicate content, keyword stuffing, cloaking, or invisible text, then you need to ensure that these problems are addressed immediately. Ultimately, the search engines will not only have difficulties crawling and classifying your website, but they are likely to penalize you as many of these optimization issues are bad SEO practices.
2. Lazy Site Architecture
The way a site and its pages are organized on the backend can impact your SEO considerably—especially when the pages are not siloed correctly. While convention flat site structures tend to retain their popularity, in 2020, John Mueller of Google hinted at the idea that a hierarchal site structure could offer the search engine improved indicators related to what the pages on your site actually mean as well as how each page is connected and related to others.
Proper site architecture allows a user to flow easily from one page to another without encountering dead ends—and this, in turn, is considered crawlable by the search engines.
Another essential factor relates to the URL structure. URLs are one of the building blocks that go into creating an effective site hierarchy—and are key in ensuring a visitor is directed to their intended destination. It is important that the structure of a URL is simple and not overly complicated with complex parameters.
Google also ranks the security of your website high on its list. HTTPS guarantees that your site is secure, which can lead to boosted rankings. Plus, ensuring your site is HTTPS can provide for an enhanced user experience, protect a website visitor’s information, deliver PPC campaign effectiveness, and improve data in Google Analytics.
3. Broken Links, 404s, and Other Site Crawlability Issues
If your site happens to be large in nature and has lots of pages, you need to confirm that all pages are accessible with only a few clicks—and usability experts suggest that the number of clicks to reach a given page should not extend past three. Therefore, internal linking is a key crawlability issue, and if you have broken links that lead to nowhere or pages that are not linked to other website pages, the search engine will have a hard time crawling your site.
Additionally, 404s can have an impact on rankings as pages showing this error code do not exist—at least not anymore. However, a 404 error does not necessarily impact the SEO of your entire site because they are incredibly common. Rather, if a page returns a 404 error code, Google and the other search engines will just not index it. So, with that thought in mind, if you have a couple of 404s related to your site, you probably are not in danger of experiencing damage to your rankings. If you have dozens, that is a different story. Regardless, we do encourage you to fix any 404 errors—as, at the very least, addressing them means that you are less likely to lose a visitor who encounters one and bounces.
4. Disavow Backlinks from Toxic Domains
Backlinks from reputable websites and sources are something your practice wants—they are key to establishing credibility and authoritativeness. However, if there are “unnatural” links leading to your website from toxic domains (and even if it is through no fault of your own), your practice’s website is still being penalized for the association. It is imperative that you keep a clean backlink profile as it is key to a long-term SEO strategy.
Bad backlinks have been traditionally viewed as inorganic, but there are exceptions to this rule. Usually, backlinks that are considered “bad” are typically purchased or attained by black hat SEO practitioners engaged in dubious backlinking schemes. If you have worries about this, then it is necessary to do a full audit to ensure bad backlinks are disavowed. Why should undoing a questionable backlink strategy be a priority sooner rather than later? Because, like with 2012’s Google Penguin update, Google’s algorithms are improving by the year. Your best bet is to stay off their radar with a pure, future-proof website.
On the other side of things, it is possible to receive an organic link from some ultra-spammy site. It likely was not generated by a human, but it does not benefit your website either, so it is safe to remove.
Google offers a Disavow tool, but it should only be used as an absolute last option because it could harm your site’s performance in Google search results. Instead, conduct a link audit from the Link Report page of Google Search Console. Better yet, partner with an SEO expert in this process, so you are not inadvertently doing more harm than good.
5. Site Speed
Site speed is one of the signals and indicators that Google uses in its algorithm to rank a website and its pages. Ultimately, if your website is slow to load, that means that Google has a hard time crawling the pages—and will not review as many as it would if the site loaded faster. This, therefore, could affect your indexation in a negative manner—and in turn, your SEO. Fast sites are simply easier to crawl and index.
Additionally, the speed of your site also impacts the user experience. Studies show that the average consumer will bounce away from a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. So, if that potential patient is coming to your practice’s website only to find it is slow, it is likely that their attention span will wane, and they will pursue their search elsewhere. And that could quite possibly be on your competitor’s website—especially if that site loads faster.
Quick Stat: Google reports that 53% of mobile website visitors will abandon a website if it does not load within 3 seconds.
We encourage you to work with a professional website developer as well as an experienced SEO technician to clean up these issues and ensure your website is timely, efficient, and fast. Your search engine rankings—and your potential patient’s attention span—depend on it.
BONUS: Poor Content
If your site’s content is badly written, duplicated, tired, uninformative, shallow (meaning too short), or simply boring to a reader, they are going to spend less time on your website, and Google is going to deem your site irrelevant.
What is written on your website matters. Not only is it reflective of your brand and your practice, but it also serves as a determination to Google whether or not your business is fresh, open for patients, and engaging to your website’s users.
Your website content must position you as an expert and a thought leader. It must address the pain points and problems of your prospective audience, answer their questions, go in-depth, and be grammatically correct. Ultimately, if your content does not provide any value to your users, then Google is going to take note of their lack of interest, and that will hurt your site’s rankings.
Make an investment in high-quality, interesting, long-form content that excites, informs, and spurs a reader to act.