I’m designing a content audit with ongoing recommendations product. I’m looking for sites to help inform and direct what that looks like. Because this is a beta, I’m pricing it at $500/month. If interested, hit reply and let’s chat.
There are two types of things that will hurt your site in search: bad decisions and bad habits.
Bad habits create issues that add up little by little. These might be things you do or don’t do in your daily content related activities like stuffing high volume keywords throughout your posts or using lots of tags that end up in your templating.
I’m very interested in how you can make small incremental improvements to your daily processes that bring compound benefits, but a topic for another time.
One time decisions are just as important.
The effects of a bad decision compound over time too. You can overpay by a point for your mortgage loan on a $400k property and pay an extra $200 in interest every month for 30 years. Just for not doing due diligence once.
On the web, it’s even harder to make good decisions. Bad practices are the norm. Which got me thinking.
Why is it easy to make bad decisions in online marketing?
1. We rely too much on info from the web.
Conflicting advice abounds. And it doesn’t help that 90% of marketing advice is written by interns and copywriters.
Almost always when I talk to someone who recently started a new site or project, I hear them talk about Hubspot blog or Neil Patel properties like Quicksprout. While these sites do a really nice job of ranking in search, it’s not necessarily because they are taking their own advice.
2. Harmful decisions are often a matter of tradeoff.
You decide that the time value of the convenience of a non-optimal or limited solution now is worth more than the hassle of “doing it right,” or having flexibility later.
One bad experience with a web developer will make you run to SquareSpace. Ditto for managed podcast solutions, where quick, easy, and cheap subscription model handily win out over the DIY setup cost and dozens of little things you have to figure out to properly implement yourself.
I’m not saying these are wrong decisions, or that complexity is inherently good. Having started publishing to a list, I get it – enforcing simplicity through constraints wards off enemies like friction, resistance, cognitive burden that all work to prevent progress.
Managed technology solutions on subdomains = bad
Many “no-code” learning management systems, membership sites, and knowledgebases require you use a subdomain. If you’re a large corporation that’s fine, they don’t need those things to rank, and they can throw money at it.
But Google still treats subdomains as distinct from your root domain. They say they’ve “fixed” this, but I can assure you they have not.
We had a client insist on moving their blog to a subdomain during a site rebuild end of 2017. Overall site organic traffic increased 35%, but the blog’s traffic got halved, even with meticulous redirects. It took 6 months and almost double the content to get back to pre-subdomain numbers. Just 4 months ago, they switched it back and traffic jumped.
So when you can, don’t put public facing pages about courses on courses.yoursite.com, put them on yoursite.com/courses. You can have your course software on a subdomain, but any marketing activities should be done pointing to that /courses type landing page.
3. Bad practices are often baked in.
Related to the above, you can choose a technology solution that handicaps your ability to rank.
This isn’t exclusive to shiny new technologies.
A third of the Internet runs on WordPress. By default, it dynamically generates thin content pages every time you add a new tag. This leads to crawl budget issues, drops the average value of pages on your site and leads to users unintentionally finding those pages in search.
4. Sometimes there are no best practices
Common practices… are common. When you do what everyone else does, you end up average. This is fine for some things in life. But on the web, average means invisible.
You can be significantly above average, and still effectively invisible if you aren’t one of the top 10 for a thing. Heck, you can be a top 3 resource and with a couple bad decisions have your site still be effectively invisible online.
Search is complicated. What might be good for others won’t make sense for your situation.
5. The more is better mentality
There’s this idea that when you have a new idea or course or book, you should buy a domain and put a landing page up.
I really don’t know what that’s about when it’s all part of the same business. At first it was a fly-by-night Facebook ad guru funnel thing to do, but now it seems like everyone does it.
A hallmark of wealth is owning a lot of property. There are benefits to having homes in multiple places. Real estate appreciates. You can go to those places.
So maybe people treat websites this way, too?
Whatever the reason, it’s less like buying real estate and more like hoarding beater cars. There is no value to propping up multiple domains. You have a new campaign or product or launch on a new domain, you end up linking to it from your main site. Then it never gets traffic organically anyway, because org traffic is hard, and when it eventually dies, you you have a bunch of broken links.
This one is easy. Just put the landing page on your main site.
If it’s a book, Google will connect the dots between your name, your book page, your amazon linked book page, and your amazon author name.
And you’ll get deep book links your main site can benefit from.
And you’ll be able to rank that page faster.
And your users will stay on your site.
It’s win win win win win to do it that way.
Are you considering any new technology solutions for your online business? If you sign up for the content audit + subscription to ongoing recommendations at $500/month, not only will you have a clear picture of how past decisions are impacting your site and what to do about it, but you’ll have 24/7 email access to ask questions like these.
If interested, in that kind of ongoing access to insights, hit reply and let’s chat.
(Even if you just have a burning question right now about a decision you’re about to make, happy to provide feedback in a quick email reply)