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SEO disasters: the good, the bad and the taboo: Steven van Vessum

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There’s huge taboo around sharing SEO disasters. No one wants to look bad, so everyone shares graphs showing organic traffic going up on social media. SEO disasters happen though, more often than you think. If we’re not open about the things that go wrong, how can we improve ourselves and help others improve? Others will make the same mistakes as you did, while you could have helped them prevent it.

Steven wants to break this taboo by documenting and analyzing devastating SEO disasters he comes across. The topic of this talk is both educational and funny. It’ll inspire people to do better, and (hopefully) help break the taboo.

Published in: Marketing
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SEO disasters: the good, the bad and the taboo: Steven van Vessum

  1. 1. Why listen to me?
  2. 2. Who am I?
  3. 3. Who am I? • VP of Community at ContentKing 2015 - now
  4. 4. Who am I? • VP of Community at ContentKing • Previously: ran an SEO agency 2015 - now 2009 - 2015
  5. 5. Who am I? • VP of Community at ContentKing • Previously: ran an SEO agency • I ❤ to write and talk about SEO 2015 - now 2009 - 2015
  6. 6. Who am I? • VP of Community at ContentKing • Previously: ran an SEO agency • I ❤ to write and talk about SEO 2015 - now 2009 - 2015
  7. 7. Real-time SEO Auditing and Content Tracking
  8. 8. Why SEO Disasters?
  9. 9. • I love hearing and reading about them Why SEO Disasters?
  10. 10. • I love hearing and reading about them • Makes me a better SEO Why SEO Disasters?
  11. 11. • I love hearing and reading about them • Makes me a better SEO • Helps me teach others Why SEO Disasters?
  12. 12. SEO Disaster: post-mortem
  13. 13. What happened and what was the result? SEO Disaster: post-mortem
  14. 14. What happened and what was the result? Why did it happen and 
 how could it have been prevented? SEO Disaster: post-mortem
  15. 15. A note on laying blame
  16. 16. A note on laying blame SEO Disasters are caused by developers :(
  17. 17. A note on laying blame SEO Disasters are caused by developers :(🚫
  18. 18. A note on laying blame SEOs love to blame developers SEO Disasters are caused by developers :(🚫
  19. 19. A note on laying blame SEOs love to blame developers Sometimes rightfully, often not SEO Disasters are caused by developers :(🚫
  20. 20. A note on laying blame SEOs love to blame developers Sometimes rightfully, often not Take responsibility! SEO Disasters are caused by developers :(🚫
  21. 21. Redirects gone wrong Yours truly
  22. 22. What happened Redirects gone wrong
  23. 23. • Multi-lingual site What happened Redirects gone wrong
  24. 24. • Multi-lingual site • HTTP —> HTTPS migration done on Friday afternoon What happened Redirects gone wrong
  25. 25. • Multi-lingual site • HTTP —> HTTPS migration done on Friday afternoon • We redirected the EN and DE versions to NL ¯_(ツ)_/¯ What happened Redirects gone wrong
  26. 26. The result Redirects gone wrong
  27. 27. The result • Everyone freaked out (incl. client) Redirects gone wrong
  28. 28. The result • Everyone freaked out (incl. client) • Fixed it within 3 hours Redirects gone wrong
  29. 29. The result • Everyone freaked out (incl. client) • Fixed it within 3 hours • It didn’t have a noticeable impact 😅 Redirects gone wrong
  30. 30. How could it have been avoided? Redirects gone wrong
  31. 31. • Better test process How could it have been avoided? Redirects gone wrong
  32. 32. • Better test process • Monitoring How could it have been avoided? Redirects gone wrong
  33. 33. • Better test process • Monitoring • Not rushing important updates How could it have been avoided? Redirects gone wrong
  34. 34. • Better test process • Monitoring • Not rushing important updates • Limit release window to Mon - Wed How could it have been avoided? Redirects gone wrong
  35. 35. Canonical to dev environment JLH Marketing Jenny Halasz
  36. 36. What happened Canonical to dev environment
  37. 37. • New “Press” section was added What happened Canonical to dev environment
  38. 38. • New “Press” section was added • Press release sent out, got lots of links! What happened Canonical to dev environment
  39. 39. • New “Press” section was added • Press release sent out, got lots of links! • None of these pages were
 indexed by Google?! What happened Canonical to dev environment
  40. 40. The result Canonical to dev environment
  41. 41. How could it have been avoided? Canonical to dev environment
  42. 42. • Education on best practices How could it have been avoided? Canonical to dev environment
  43. 43. • Education on best practices • Testing How could it have been avoided? Canonical to dev environment
  44. 44. • Education on best practices • Testing • On-page SEO monitoring How could it have been avoided? Canonical to dev environment
  45. 45. Pagination gone wrong Anonymous
  46. 46. What happened Pagination gone wrong
  47. 47. • New JS-driven pagination system was rolled out. What happened Pagination gone wrong
  48. 48. • New JS-driven pagination system was rolled out. • “More user-friendly” What happened Pagination gone wrong
  49. 49. The result Pagination gone wrong
  50. 50. The result Pagination gone wrong • A massive change to internal link structure
  51. 51. The result Pagination gone wrong • A massive change to internal link structure • Indexed pages went down
  52. 52. The result Pagination gone wrong • A massive change to internal link structure • Indexed pages went down
  53. 53. How could it have been avoided? Pagination gone wrong
  54. 54. • Education on best practices How could it have been avoided? Pagination gone wrong
  55. 55. • Education on best practices • Testing How could it have been avoided? Pagination gone wrong
  56. 56. Canonical in body StoxSEO Patrick Stox
  57. 57. What happened? Canonical in body
  58. 58. JavaScript magic was used
 to modify <head> What happened? Canonical in body
  59. 59. The result Canonical in body
  60. 60. The result Canonical in body
  61. 61. • Google ignored the canonical URL The result Canonical in body
  62. 62. • Google ignored the canonical URL • Duplicate content frenzy The result Canonical in body
  63. 63. How could it have been avoided? Canonical in body
  64. 64. • Education on best practices How could it have been avoided? Canonical in body
  65. 65. • Education on best practices • Testing How could it have been avoided? Canonical in body
  66. 66. Disavow like goody two-shoes Anonymous
  67. 67. What happened? Disavow like goody two-shoes
  68. 68. Gullible SEO disavowed all links
 that looked “unnatural”. What happened? Disavow like goody two-shoes
  69. 69. The result Disavow like goody two-shoes
  70. 70. How could it have been avoided? Disavow like goody two-shoes
  71. 71. • Critical thinking How could it have been avoided? Disavow like goody two-shoes
  72. 72. • Critical thinking • Discuss with peers How could it have been avoided? Disavow like goody two-shoes
  73. 73. Minimizing SEO Disasters
  74. 74. Minimizing SEO Disasters 1. Education on best practices
  75. 75. Minimizing SEO Disasters 1. Education on best practices 2. Involve specialists early on
  76. 76. Minimizing SEO Disasters 1. Education on best practices 2. Involve specialists early on 3. Testing
  77. 77. Minimizing SEO Disasters 1. Education on best practices 2. Involve specialists early on 3. Testing 4. On-page SEO monitoring
  78. 78. Keep learning
  79. 79. Keep learning Want to learn more about SEO disasters? • contentkingapp.com/blog/seo-fails/ • contentkingapp.com/blog/seo-fails-bigseo-community/ • contentkingapp.com/blog/five-seo-disasters/
  80. 80. Don’t let SEO Disasters surprise you! contentkingapp.com
  81. 81. Thank you for your attention — let’s keep in touch! Steven van Vessum stevenvvessum linkedin.com/in/stevenvanvessum steven.land
  82. 82. Exclusive offer for SearchNorwich We’d love to help you prevent SEO Disasters First 6 weeks for free Create a trial account and ping me at steven@contentkingapp.com

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