Published October 25, 2011

The Results Are In, Your Website Has Cancer

By gabriel.gervelis

Today I had to tell someone that their website has cancer. In retrospect, I’m glad we found the cancer because now we can treat it. As you know cancer that is untreated can be life threatening. In the web world, a website with cancer can get you banned from Google, A crippling action for your business.

Some issues are out of your control and can only be found by advanced diagnostic research. This type of diagnostic research is only executed when symptoms are experienced and patients start complaining, or start seeking treatment.

Picture this. Two months into a content publishing campaign the website is experiencing zero gains in traffic. WHAT?!, That’s unreal! How can 2 months of publishing high quality, long tail optimized, content lead to zero gains in traffic? After 40+ optimized blog posts were published….nothing is happening. Most all of our clients report HUGE gains within the 2 month period. Yes we see some social sharing, tweets, and likes; but no increase in search traffic.

Identifying this symptom lead us to dive into the advanced diagnostic testing stage.

The Results Are In, Your Website Has Cancer

To our surprise we identified a broken site map generator, an XML sitemap with errors, and over 2,500 404 error pages (note: the site only has 30 main pages).

Additionally, we identified that an old SEO guy jimmy rigged the content management system to generate over 2,500 keyword optimized tag URLs. But, this was done incorrectly and lead to thousands of 404 errors. This is cancer to a website.


website cancer

Website Cancer


The Good News Is, Your Website Will Live

In this case, the website can be treated. These issues can be fixed. And once Google resumes crawling the site the content that we have been generating will live to see brighter days! However, this was a close call. If this cancer went un detected for too long the website could have been blacklisted from the search engines.

Key Actions

  1. If a campaign is going south, don’t jump to conclusions and start pointing fingers. Make sure you have all the details before you start replacing your team!
  2. Make sure your marketing team is built with experienced experts that have the mind power to trouble shoot critical issues like this.

Special shout out to Eben Design for taking quick action to treat the cancer!


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