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March 5, 2015 Diagnosing & Solving Technical SEO Challenges Corey Morris Digital Strategist, Voltage @coreydmorris

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March 5, 2015Diagnosing & Solving Technical SEO ChallengesCorey MorrisDigital Strategist, [email protected]

Decade of SEO client experience includes:

Construction Equip. PartsNational Restaurant ChainBoxing & MMA BrandCommercial Paints Mfg.Hearing Centers ChainHospital Beds Mfg.Retirement CommunityInternational Logistics FirmProfessional Sports TeamGourmet Coffee CompanyNatural Products CompanyLaw FirmsBanks, Credit Unions, & Mortgage CompaniesNational Chain of Kid Entertainment CentersNational Chain of Career CollegesCompliance & Risk Management FirmsLeading Brand of Flowers & Shrubs

About Corey Morris, Digital Strategist

[email protected]#SMX #32aIve had the opportunity to work for a couple of growing agencies and share in their successes in growing SEO and online marketing teams

While Ive had some clients in common industries, no major focus and wide variety

Branding, Web Design/Development, Online Marketing

Clients range from NFL teams to one-person start-ups

Distinctive strategy planning & documentation process

Based in Kansas City, Missouri emerging tech hub and capital of the Silicon Prairie

About Voltage (VoltageKC.com)

[email protected]#SMX #32aVoltage recently rebranded from Voltage Creative and we have a balance between web and marketing staff and projects

We use a process that focuses on discovery and documentation that helps us work with clients of all shapes and sizes

We are in the heart of the tech boom in Kansas City and love all of the excitement in our town. Im proud to be part of a local radio show focused on the topic

SEOsAgency MarketersIn-house MarketersWeb PublishersWebmasters

Engineers & Developers: Please dont tune out, but feel free to submit questions for these guys (Eric & Ehren)Who Im Talking To

[email protected]#SMX #32aBasically anyone doing SEOdont tune out developers!

If youre new to SEO, feel free to catch me later as Ill be happy to go into further detail on any concepts that are new

Or, if youre seeking help in how to translate concepts to clients or other team members, I can help with that too!


Not really, but would be a fun topic

Tweet your favorites & use hashtags #SMX #32a

(but please dont tune out)

What Im Going to Cover

Used with permission by creator: Elisa Gabbert. Source: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/matt-cutts-meme-monday-mattcutts/47728/

[email protected]#SMX #32aTechnical SEO Risks

Uncovering Problems

Go-to Tools

Solving Technical SEO Problems


What Im Going to Cover

[email protected]#SMX #32a

Technical SEO Risks

[email protected]#SMX #32aI Have Large-Scale Content:Tens of thousands of product pages that I cant optimize individuallyDozens or hundreds of location pagesHundreds of pages of standardized industry content and referencesMultiple corporations, brands, and/or sites under one umbrella

Technical SEO Risks

[email protected]#SMX #32aIm Duplicate and I Know It:Selling the same products as othersIndustry standards and feature parodyRegulated Industries (standards & limits on details that can be shared)Corporate multi-unit ownerFranchiseeEcommerce website with products in multiple categories

Technical SEO Risks

[email protected]#SMX #32aIf youve been doing SEO, you know about the problems with duplicate content and the best practices related to it

In some cases, like these, we inherently have it and need to handle it somehow

I Have Technology Challenges:I dont fully understand my infrastructureMy team doesnt know or care about SEOI inherited this website/systemI know were a messI dont want to talk about it (someone took shortcuts, bought the cheapest option, we used to be black hat, etc.)

Technical SEO Risks

[email protected]#SMX #32aNo system is perfecteven if we build it from scratch, aspects will get outdated or obsolete based on changes in best practices and standard

Step 1 is to know what we have and to overcome our own problems related to technology.

Other Risks & Issues (Known or Unknown):302 redirectsErrors in XML Sitemaps404s, 500s, and other crawl errorsMissing and/or duplicate tagsMultiple H1s and improper h-tag hierarchyFlat URL structure and/or hierarchy problemsURL tracking parameters without canonicalsMobile, printer-friendly, and feed pagesMirrored and iframed content

Technical SEO Risks

[email protected]#SMX #32aI hate the phrase I know enough to be dangerous as it is often true.

Danger and risks lurk in manual and automated efforts that arent fully understood or comprehended.

Thats what causes many of these risks and issues in addition to simple ignorance (which isnt a bad thing as we are all hopefully continually learning and growing)

Uncovering Problems

[email protected]#SMX #32aSome Indicators:Drops in organic trafficDrops in visibility in SERPsDrops in organic conversions relative to totalWebmaster Tools data alarms (not always a message from WMT)Error reporting in audit toolsChanges in organic quality scoring Uncovering Problems

[email protected]#SMX #32aWouldnt it be nice if we got an email with specifics every time there was an issueor if Google would tell us via GWT?

Unfortunately, many times issues are hidden and we have to proactively seek and find them.

We have to discern between drops due to company, industry, macroeconomic, seasonal, or other considerations and problems related to SEO

In many cases the buck stops with us and we are the ones who have to find the issue when theres no UX or

Validation of problem(s):Duplicate page content (tags, copy)Not all content indexedLots of omitted pages in SERPsCanonical tag problemsWWW vs. non-WWW with no global redirectXML sitemap not accurate (enough)Holy crapI made URL updates without 301s!!!I have 47 products with 95% same detail

Uncovering Problems

[email protected]#SMX #32aSo we have an idea or cluenow what? We have to go track down the cause of the problem. It can be like Jeopardy, except we find the answer and have a lot of potential questions to sort through before we find the right one that fits with the indicator.

We must check against best practice standards as well as competitor or comparable websites that are ranking wellwhere do we differ and where are we out of tolerance from the norms.

Go-to Tools

[email protected]#SMX #32aSome Examples:Google SERPs and search operators ($0)Google & Bing Webmaster Tools ($0)Moz Pro ($99/mo. & up)Raven Tools ($99/mo. & up)Bruce Clays SEO Toolset ($30/mo. & up)Copyscape (credit based/cheap)Internet Officer Redirect Checker ($0)Google Analytics ($0)DNSStuff ($0)Screaming Frog ($0)

Go-to Tools

[email protected]#SMX #32aThere are a lot of other great tools and Ive limited this to my go-to tools for the sake of time.

Additional tools for indicators:PanguinMozs algorithm update historySiteliner (affiliated with Copyscape)

Solving Technical SEO Problems

[email protected]#SMX #32aUnderstand the Current Situation:What technology is in place for my website?What questions do I have about how it works?What is required from a content standpoint?What can be programmatic versus manual?Do I have CMS control over SEO elements?What resources are at my disposal?

Solving Technical SEO Problems

[email protected]#SMX #32a

----- Meeting Notes (2/28/15 20:43) -----At the end of the day, the help we can get via internal resources is huge and can solve all of the bullets above the last one.

Work it out:Review sitemap & find areas that can follow templates for URL structure, tags, headings, & copyBuild formulas for the planned dynamic items in plain English for each template sectionConsider content strategy: merge content & address need for unique content including user generated content (reviews, tips, comments, etc.) & other ways to build at scale Solving Technical SEO Problems

[email protected]#SMX #32aPlot out the actual current and/or proposed sitemap on paper, in excel, etc.

Keep the formulas simple and just put brackets around dynamic elements and use plain English (or language of choice)

Remember that any dynamic or user generated content must be rendered or output into the HTML of a page and not be iframed in or part of a feed inside a container

Work it out (continued):Determine areas where canonicals are needed & document (could be a big project)Review pagination & develop plan for canonicals and/or single page solutionsDetermine options for the Robots.txt and XML Sitemap files & develop recurring audit planBring in the UX & Dev teams to review details the plan & elicit feedback

Solving Technical SEO Problems

[email protected]#SMX #32aCanonicals can be tricky and dangerous if implemented improperly. Plan well and test like crazy

Dont forget your root files!!! These can be overwritten by systems or people on accident or be dynamically updated with details that arent in line with your SEO plan

Walk your teams transparently through the steps youve taken, what youve decided to do, and to get their feedback on your plan. They may have more efficient or effective ways to accomplish your plan. By cluing them into the level of effort and detail youve put into it they will appreciate your trade and hopefully accept any best practices education, etc.


[email protected]#SMX #32aBuilding Dynamic Content for 54k+ Pages for Tractor & Construction Equip. Parts RetailerNo choice but to scale and use databaseDeveloping formulas and ensuring that even data-driven content has unique sources and aspectsTesting new ideas and techniques on single section of content before going global


[email protected]#SMX #32aWe had the problem of being a retailer selling common parts. We needed to rank at the top near the manufacturer and beat all others selling the same parts

So many pages and so little resources that we couldnt touch each page

Test, test, testwe got to a point where testing was imperative for growth alone, but also could hurt us if not done properly as we didnt want to lose positioning

Overcoming Duplicate Content Challenge for Restaurant Chain with ~100 LocationsWriting of custom blurb for each locationUse of user generated content including reviews, social media interactions, and local specialsDevelopment of formulas for tags and headings to utilize databaseUtilize local specials and calendar information WINNING!

[email protected]#SMX #32aHalf the stores were franchise owned and the other half were franchisees. This made for some interesting content challenges.

We were limited by resources as the internal development team put SEO as a low priority for a YEAR

We used pretty much every element on a page to work in our favor and to differentiate the locations from each other.

Identifying Hidden Problems for Boxing & MMA Equipment BrandRecent Magento upgrades and MOM integration query developmentCould not identify cause of drop in organic traffic & sales seen in Magento and Google AnalyticsFound drops & increases in traffic to URLs in GA and determined that URLs had changed without 301sTracked down thousands of 404s WINNING!

[email protected]#SMX #32aMy whole deck could have been a clinic going through this example. Im still working with this client auditing and planning for their temporary and long-term solutions.

I found clues to their issue in Google Analytics by looking at changes in traffic to specific pages. I found evidence that old URLs disappeared and new ones came online.

We circled back with their IT team and found that their custom feeds and queries from MOM to Magento did wipe out and rebuild category URLs on their ecommerce sitesoops.

NO 301s and lots of ignorance

Im continuing to work with them, but so far have found 404s, 302s, multiple versions of home pages, duplicate product pages (on site), duplicate content (off-site), HTML formatting in meta descriptions, and several more problems. The biggest fix/recommendation is use of canonical tag (for now)

National Chain of Career Colleges with Hidden Problem Not Found with ToolsAwesome optimization and custom content for all locations and programs & no problems in WMT or intelligence toolsPattern of rankings stuck on page 2 and held back from where expected on page 1Duplicate mirrored site on different domain name found in page 70 of SERPs via manual review


[email protected]#SMX #32aYes, I literally went through 70 pages in the SERPs manually not knowing or thinking that Id find the issue.

Yes, from all accounts, this was the thing holding us backwe had a lot of data to show that.

Yes, we seriously won in nearly all markets by removing this issue.

Advice for SuccessPrioritize activities and have patienceExplore all options and trust best practices and your experienceEducate your team and get their buy-inBalance costs and resources with potential impactDont cry wolf and dont give up


[email protected]#SMX #32aFight the good fight! Dont quit and admit defeat. Work to get ALL of the details from your team, the client, and all stakeholders. Dont let someone hold the key to solving your problem by not understanding or thinking that any details are insignificant.

Were all in this together

Source: http://www.bloggersideas.com/internet-best-memes-can-help-marketing-business-grow/

[email protected]#SMX #32a

[email protected]#SMX #32a