I had a great meeting recently with a bunch of SEO people and as expected, we had some frank discussions. I started out the evening talking about how we raised the Skinnymixers brand from nowhere to number one in their category, mainly by just cleaning up the index.
One of the people wanted to know why we removed the tag pages and categories from the index. He’d been doing SEO for a while, and couldn’t figure out why we’d bother with it. Even if it were duplication, like I was saying, Google wouldn’t rank it because it was a tag page, right? I argued that if a user found that page, it wouldn’t help, because it’s still one click away from your content. With potential duplicates, like pagination, it’s best to just clean it all up and get rid of them.
We had a similar discussion in bloggersSEO, where someone claimed that only external duplication mattered. Actually, internal duplication is a big problem, because it indicates to Google that you’ve got a low quality site, one that’s not regularly cared for. That’s the reason Google has the canonical tag, to stop duplication. It’s one of the best things you can do to improve your site. When we do an audit, we start with finding out what Google’s already indexed and looking to see if it’s the stuff the site owner wants to pop up first in search. If it’s not, we get rid of it.
Time and time again, when a strong brand isn’t ranking number one, it’s usually because of a poor user experience. So start your SEO at the index, and don’t worry about backlinks. It’s all about the user experience. The backlinks will come later when your business is set up and running smoothly.
This article was originally published on stewartmedia.com.au.