Where to Start with SEO When Flipping a Website
It’s no secret that flipping a website can be a great investment—you already have a reader base or a little bit of traffic, the structure of the website is usually there, it can be less expensive than starting new, you could make a profit, etc. However, without proper SEO you won’t get very far. In fact, oftentimes the reason that a website is failing is that the SEO for that domain is so poor. It takes a lot of time to fix the SEO of a site, and contrary to what many believe, this needs to be your first course of action if you want to be successful.
Where to Start Improving SEO When Flipping a Website
The first thing you should always do is check the SEO of a domain before you buy. Ask the owner if any SEO strategies were used in the past and whether or not Panda or Penguin updates have affected the site, and then do a full SEO audit on your own. You can visit the following related blog post for more detailed information:
Why Your Website Needs an SEO Audit Regularly
If you bought something spontaneously and didn’t bother to look into the SEO or you saw the problem is fixable, you’re still bound to have a few issues. Knowing where to start is key, but unfortunately, this can be confusing. Where is the best place to start and SEO flip? Consider some of the best places to start below:
- Remove duplicate content.
This is a great place to start because it’s easy. Use tools like CopyScape and find all of the duplicate content on your website. Keep in mind that there is a chance that the majority of the site is duplicate content—you are not reading your tool wrong. Sites have been scraping content for years, and Google has buckled down. Get rid of this content and start new. It’s better to have nothing than have duplicate content.
- Get rid of spam links and backlinks.
This should also be a priority. Google has cracked down on links pointing to websites lately because they want all links to be natural and not the product of link building. This means building relationships with authoritative sites and earning links naturally. If you just bought a domain, I can almost guarantee it was not following these best practices when it comes to backlinks. You’ll surely find links on spammy websites, and they need to be removed immediately.
You can use tools such as Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs to find a list of links that are questionable and then reach out to those websites to try and get the links removed. This should be your first course of action. After you’ve removed all you can on your own, use the Google Disavow Links tool to report the rest. When Google updates their algorithm again (most likely a Penguin Update), you should see an improvement in your rankings because the links that were bringing you down will be gone.
- Improve your navigation and load times.
Not only can Google penalize you for poor navigation and load times, but this isn’t going to make readers want to stop at your website. Improve your page load times by optimizing your images and videos (the big one), decreasing HTTP requests, using a Content Delivery Network, or even housing your CSS files externally for more space on your website. Improve your navigation by using breadcrumbs and linking internally.
- Check out your local SEO and where your business is listed online.
Local SEO is incredibly important for e-commerce businesses and businesses with different locations. Regardless of how crucial local SEO might be to you, make sure that your NAP information (name, address, phone number) is identical to all of your different local accounts such as Yahoo, Bing, Google, and Yelp. You also want to make sure your business is categorized properly (your most important step) and make sure all information is filled out correctly.
If you’re flipping a site, there is a big change that different local accounts haven’t even been claimed yet. Visit all of the local search options mentioned above and claim your business as soon as possible so you have control.
- Extra Tip: Google Analytics can help you gather data and find other issues quickly and easily.
Don’t forget to take Google Analytics seriously. Gain control of this account and if the site does not already have an account, get started right away to get data that could give you insights into where your site might be failing when it comes to SEO (and of course traffic). There are many advanced things you can do with analytics, but having even the basics is a good place to start if you’re flipping a website.
Analytics is a favorite topic of ours, so type Google Analytics into the search bar and find many more articles about how to use different features to your advantage.
The Takeaway and an Extra Reminder
Once again, all of your SEO work should be completed before you spend time on the look of the site as well as any PPC advertising or social promotion. You want to have solid content on your website, something with great navigation, functionality, and load times, then you want to improve your rankings with great SEO, and then it’s time to promote the site in other ways. Moral of the story: Have your major problems fixed before pushing forward.
Do you have experience flipping a website with SEO issues? Where did you start your cleanup and what did you find difficult? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comment section below.