Not long ago we were approached by a new client who was plowing money into pay per click, an incredible amount. They are a heavily funded company with a huge amount of investment behind them. The PPC model was working well for them but they wanted to increase other channels and so enlisted us to help with improving their organic positions.
The client came to us after being very frustrated with their current SEO company. Their organic rankings and visibility were poor and they wanted to rank for their well-known (and therefore highly competitive) product brand names. The site had been established for a number of years with a strong brand and links from established authority websites.
At the start of the campaign, I conducted a comprehensive website technical audit. That identified a number of key issues including:
- Poorly optimised Title Tags;
- No header tags;
- Duplicate and thin content pages created by the CMS;
- Thin content on the homepage, category pages, and the product pages;
- Errors in XML sitemap;
- NOINDEX tag present on key pages;
- No schema markup.
The audit when into a far more detail but these are just a summary of the key points.
While all these issues needed to be fixed, for me, there were a couple of issues that stood out head and shoulders above the crowd for why they were not achieving the organic positions of their brand, backlink profile and PR connections deserved.
- Search for the page on Google.
- Click on the green drop-down arrow
- Select Cashed version
- Click text only version
- and search for the text
If the text is not in the cached version, your content is not getting indexed.
What this meant was the search engines only had a UR, Title Tag and incoming links to work out what the subject of the page was. There was a nice paragraph of content on the page that spelled it out nicely but the search engines just could not see it.
2, NOINDEX tag present on certain key pages. The internal flow of the website was an utter mess. Core website pages were set to NOINDEX NOFOLLOW. The search engines bots were working very hard to even get to the pages that the client wanted to rank.
As far as I could tell, this was a failed attempt to remove this content from the search engines index. The majority of the time I prefer to use a canonical instead of the NOINDEX tag as the canonical passes trust and value where the NOINDEX does not. I very rarely use the NOFOLLOW tag only in very rare situations when I am trying to sculpt the flow of the search engine bots.
Specifically, the major jumps came in the product pages. Now the search engines could firstly easily reach the page and secondly index the content on the page as the organic positions jumped overnight and the traffic swarmed in.