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I’ve Answered Over 10k Questions On Google Webmaster Forums And Here’s What People Struggle With The Most

Matt Storms
Matt Storms is a Technical Search Engine Optimization Expert and growth hacker on issues related to SEO, he actually works on court cases in regards to SEO. He is one of Google’s Top Contributors on the Google Search Forum and has been recognized by Google as a Top Contributor for providing outstanding support to Google Searchers worldwide. He is currently at Crimson Marketing working on all aspects of SEO.

    Over the last 5 years the questions have changed a lot for Google Webmaster Central Forum.

    When I started there was no Panda, Penguin or any other Animals. Mostly it was how to get a site indexed, how to get a site ranked and what did I screw up on.

    There was the occasional issue where a site was hacked and people asked for help. I first went to the Webmaster Forum when I had an issue with sitemap encoding myself.

    Now we are seeing people with the same issues but also backlinks issues, which people care more about than they did 3 years ago.

    People still struggle with the same problems, but they are facing new issues today as well.

    We see many issues where people buy a site from someone, then receive various warnings and that is a big issue. Never buy a site unless you know the history of the site. (I use Ahrefs as a reference point)

    Here are a few of the most common web issues and how to resolve them:

    Issue: Your website is not mobile

    How to solve: hire a local developer; you can sit down face to face with them if needed. This will help get what you want done faster.

    Issue: Google says my site is not mobile but it is.

    Usually a site will use a m.domain.com but will not set up the proper scripting to let a device know they have a mobile site. I am in favor of responsive sites as they do not have m.domain.com issues to worry about.

    Issue: Why do my competitors rank better?

    How to solve: analyze their backlink profile using Ahrefs, Google Webmaster Tools or any other available tools.

    Issue: Why does Google say my site is hacked, it’s not!

    Well I bet is is. Google does not say that unless they find an issue and most likely you will not know what to look for unless you are a developer. Go look at your backlinks. Look at site:domain.com and look at your pages. Also check out this hacked tool to confirm if your site has been hacked or not.

    Issue: How do I verify my site for Google Webmaster Tools?

    Try the Meta Tag option. It never fails unless you do not have the ability to edit meta tags. Then you have bigger issues and I strongly recommend looking into fixing this.

    Issue: I have a lot of links I’ve never built, what should I do about them?

    Well this is where I use Google Webmaster Tools > Search Traffic > Links To Your Site. Pull that list and then pull the list from Ahrefs and start digging. One of my favorite tools from ahrefs is looking up by IP address.

    For example, if you are a local business in San Jose, I would not expect to see links from Russia or India. If you are a publishing site then yes you will see them.

    Start on this route and then go through the disavow process if you want. Keep in mind that the disavow process is an advanced tool and you can harm your site if you don’t understand how to use it properly.

    Issue: I am hosting my site on Google, using blogspot, how do I add a sitemap?

    Google actually does this for you. If you look at domain.blogspot.com/robots.txt you will see it there and then you can submit it to Google Webmaster Tools.

    Do I think people can/should fix all these issues on their own?

    I do to a point.

    If it is a small site it might be a good idea to get a little help in understanding the issues that need to be mitigated for small to large sites.

    Even the large sites use SEO’s. Every business should obtain one to three opinions. If you are going to get fit or you are sick you go to the doctor for advice. Websites should be no different when it comes to expert advice.

    Or maybe it makes sense to hire professionals?

    I like to hire a professional to work on my truck. I could do it but it will take me three times as long.

    Yes there is a sense of pride when you do it yourself but remember that time = money.

    Is your time worth doing it yourself? I hire people to work on my truck and change my oil. I am not lazy, I just know that it will take me 3X as long as it will take the guy who does it all day long.

    When it comes to SEO, I think that anyone can do it. I spent the first year reading and testing 18 hours a day till my eyes hurt so bad I was in pain. So you can do it yourself, just keep in mind it might hurt a little more than you want it to.

    Shows how many different websites are linking to this piece of content. As a general rule, the more websites link to you, the higher you rank in Google.

    Shows estimated monthly search traffic to this article according to Ahrefs data. The actual search traffic (as reported in Google Analytics) is usually 3-5 times bigger.