Google is not perfect and neither are their spiders that crawl through countless
sites everyday – but those spiders are usually really good at what they do!There are times however when they sometimes see things that aren’t really there, and this can hurt you if they report incorrect findings back to the head spider. It’s not something that is likely to happen to you very often, but it is something you need to know about so you can handle it promptly.
Internal links that are inconsistent when it comes to urls are the most common mistake that can lead to poor ranking. If I have a link to www.abcdefg.com in one place, and simply to abcdefg.htm in another location, I know they both go to the same page on my site. Unfortunately, the spider doesn’t always know that too. They may see these links as going to two separate pages with identical content which is where the problems start. Did you hear that ugly sound? It’s my ranking, going down the tubes on an express train. We HATE duplicate content. Google hates duplicate content! Still even when we don’t duplicate, mistakes happen.
Fortunately the fix for this is simple, and you can do it on your own. What you need to do is adjust all of your internal links to match across the board. You need to consistently use ‘www.’ that is the easiest route to go . Set up a permanent redirect, so when someone types in your site name, it automatically redirects to the www. version.
This is one of those cases where avoiding the very appearance of ‘evil’ is important when it comes to Google. Google is extremely harsh on anyone that doesn’t play by their preferred set of rules. Another pitfall that can occur is if you purchase different domains. This is a sound practice to help protect your brand, but it can lead to the same problem with ‘duplicate’ content. The spiders are good, but again, they aren’t all knowing.
The fix for this is to redirect all alternate domain names to your main company site. Some web hosts don’t provide a 301 redirect, but ‘park’ your redirected names and keep the user in the same domain. This isn’t the perfect solution, but it is quick and effective. It will keep Google for pinging you over the duplicate content issue.
This can cause you other problems, but you can get around them by getting a second web hosting account and implementing your own 301 redirect in the .htaccess file. You can ‘park’ all your alternate domain names in the redirected account, and visitors to any of them will be funneled into your main url! It takes a little work and money to go the extra mile, but it is a move that you will be rewarded for and not having to deal with so many headaches is a nice perk to it all.
Getting back to the internal links; it is important to watch your links from content you have put out on the web as well. Make sure all your inbound links are consistent in their direction. Don’t get lazy or confused and send links to your parked sites and then bounce them around through redirects etc… that is wasted energy – be consistent!
Once you have cleaned up all of your links and redirected your traffic to show the spiders that you have no duplicate content, you will probably see your search engine ranking improve. It won’t happen overnight, but usually by the next update you’ll see the difference and know that your hard work paid off.