In this article, Victoria Olsina: SEO consultant and speaker, explores the most common SEO errors in the blockchain industry.
I have a personal theory that many developers in the blockchain and crypto space dislike Google’s centralized omnipotent power so much, that they have simply abandoned the task of having their website ranking on it. While I respect committed political views, I wonder how are we going to drive the blockchain revolution and enable my mom, Marina, living a lost town in Argentina to pay for her groceries in Ether, if all the promising startups which pledge to make the decentralization odyssey mainstream, don’t show up on Google. Or any other search engines.
I’ve worked in digital marketing and SEO industry for almost 10 years. After 6 months of optimizing dozens of websites in the blockchain and crypto space, I’ve come across 5 common SEO errors. Here they are:
Hubris: I’m too special to use a CMS.
Hubris in Greek tragedy represents excessive pride toward or in defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis. In modern times, we refer to the generation that embodies hubris as millennials, and they are the opposite of practical.
Most Web3 developers feel as if their project or service is too unique to be displayed in a pre-packaged CMS website solution like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. These platforms are used by more than 40% of the websites on this planet and are proven to be modular, scalable, functional and a strong choice for small and medium-sized companies. In the eyes of the Web3 advocates, these CMS platforms are the ancient foundational technologies of Web 2.0 and apparently, the blockchain revolution can’t run on WordPress. So they try to reinvent the Web because of a tiny project.
Reality check: If TechCrunch and The New Yorker use Wordpress, your barely MVP can too.
Most of the websites I have seen so far correspond to very early stage projects. These light-weight landing pages are made up of one long page in the worst case scenario (see One-Pagers below), or three to five HTML pages in the best case scenario. Scarce lines of text, lean Scandinavian-looking silhouette icons, an animation video embedded from YouTube and a sign-up form for their newsletter. Those are the basic components of the average Dapp-in-the-making website, which is likely to have a Greek name such as Avocadium and that aims to fix the broken economic system and promote financial inclusion by delivering avo on toast o every starving child worldwide.
I honestly don’t think you need to reinvent the web for Avocadium.io, and you won’t. The most likely outcome is a custom-built HTML website, which requires the assistance of a front-end designer to make any painstaking and insignificant changes such as correcting a typo, changing the metadata, or creating a new page because the core value proposition has just changed for the second time in the same week. These changes will be sitting on your front end designer’s backlog for the quarter. Or you could use a CMS.. unless you use a CMS.
How does the lack of CMS affect SEO? Hubris unravels the next three items of the SEO apocalypse.
Avocadium.io doesn’t have MVP yet and is looking for investors. The plan is to build the simplest possible website without a CMS (because WordPress and Joomla are so Web2.0), containing the following items:
- The two products it offers: avocado blockchain for the people (p2p) and avocado enterprise.
- One page for social impact showing how Avocadium.io is helping to solve hunger in Africa.
- Team: one veteran from the avocado industry who decided to quit the greedy bonus fuelled big corporation to make the world right (we still don’t actually know his true motives),three 18 year old developers, all white males, with one token woman designer, and a token Asian guy in business development for good measure.
- Documentation/white paper.
- Contact form.
The SEO friendly way to approach this project is to create a homepage that describes the main value proposition with links to a new page for each topic addressed. Why? Because each page gets optimized for a particular set of keywords.
For example, in this case:
- Homepage targeting keywords “avocado blockchain solutions”
- Enterprise value proposition page targeting “enterprise avocado blockchain”
- Developer documentation page targeting “how to build on Avocadium,” and “Avocadium development”
Instead, there is usually a skimpy one-pager with less than 400 words that jams all of the information from all of the sections. With this, you can only expect to rank for only one keyword, and certainly not drive the decentralized revolution of Web3. Google, your mum’s version of the Internet, doesn’t like it.
The golden rule is one keyword per page and one page per topic.
If you offer 3 products or services, then have one dedicated page for each of them. Unless you are only trying to rank for one keyword. For example, if your sole keyword is “avocado blockchain,” I wouldn’t recommend using a one pager. So far, I had never seen any blockchain startup that only needs one page. More examples of this in the next point.
Future proofing: sooner rather than later, your one-pager will need to scale from 1 to 5, to 10, to 25, to 100 pages. This simply cannot be achieved in a sustainable way without a CMS or a proper front-end developer team. The first option is the most practical and cost-effective until the Avocadium tokens hit the USD 300 value, which may never happen.
3. No keywords in title, just the brand.
Another evidence of hubris (or SEO cluelessness). Unless you are Coca Cola, you have to tell Google and your audience what you do, what you are selling, and you have to do this with the keywords your target audience is using. Avocadium is not Coca Cola yet, sad trombone.
Keywords are the foundation of the Web. People use keywords to verbalize a problem to Google. How to find your keywords? Start by verbalizing your product/service value proposition, i.e., how would people search for you on Google without using your brand name? In our case, for Avocadium the keywords would be something like “blockchain avocado.”
I work for ConsenSys, an Ethereum-based company, and the keywords that best describe us are “Blockchain Technology Solutions” and “Ethereum Solutions.” Therefore, the title of our homepage is: “Blockchain Technology Solutions | Ethereum Solutions | ConsenSys.”
Each of our pages targets unique keywords which represent our product offering such as:
“Blockchain Venture Capital and Token Sale Advisory,” “Blockchain Social Impact,” “Smart Contract Audit,” “Enterprise Blockchain Solutions,” etc.
Avodium.oi has just one long page and the team lacks the ability to easily create new pages due to not having a CMS. Therefore, the ever-expanding functionality of this website will now sit on a subdomain. That means developer documentation, APIs, blogs, and anything that needs to live outside of the homepage, will now sit on a subdomain.
Many popular services such as Github, HubSpot, Medium, etc., offer a paid subscription to customize a URL on their platform. Avocadium’s blog hosted on “medium.com/avocadium” could be now part of the “Avocadium.io” website if purchased, like this:
However, this approach is problematic for SEO. Every time you create a subdomain, you split the SEO equity of the original domain. Why so? Because Google treats each subdomain as a new website, so the backlinks juice you have worked hard to acquire with sweat and tears will not be passed into the new subdomain.
The SEO equity dilutes, the dream is over.
As Google sees it, “avocadium.io” and “dev.avocadium.io” are two different websites.
On the other hand, if you had “avocadium.io/blog” (instead of “blog.avocadium.io”), you consolidate every page into one domain. This is good for SEO.
Bad SEO, waste of time, and splitting the SEO equity of your website looks like this:
Good SEO, time well spent, consolidation of SEO equity, and happiness forever looks like this:
A modular CMS with plugins and extensions makes it quite easy to expand the functionality of Avocadium.io. WordPress, for example, has many free documentation plugins.
Now please note that Google has stated that they treat subfolders and subdomains instinctively, however, many SEO experts disagree (and fight on Twitter over this). In my personal experience, by moving a subdomain into a subfolder in my previous job at the second biggest bank in the UK, traffic increased by 47%. (yes, I’m among those who have been converted from banking into crypto). All it took was changing:
and the traffic started rolling in.
Beyond the SEO drawbacks, tracking across subdomains means a duplicated effort on the various health-measuring and analytics platforms such as: Google Analytics, Semrush, Google Search Console, etc.
5. Medium as a blogging platform.
This is the cherry on top of the non-cms-patching-experiment.
Web3 devs despise centralized big tech giants like Facebook and Google, because they misuse people’s data and privacy to add money into their own pockets. Medium does the same with your content. It might not have been their original intent, we all begin with good intentions, just as Facebook in 2007 whose purpose was to connect friends and family. But what originally began as a practical open, friendly and hassle-free platform for writers, has now become the Facebook of content.
All the time-consuming articles your development team publishes on Medium belongs to Medium just as if it were a Facebook page (unless you have a custom domain, which is a feature Medium grandfathered in 2017). If your content belongs to Medium, all the SEO equity you could get from it with backlinks and mentions does too.
Hackernoon has been flagging these issues for a while and has already decided to move to another platform.
The only way to avoid the Medium trap is to use the “import story” feature which adds a canonical tag from the article to your website. Note: this feature has been reported on Twitter as currently not working.
The canonical tag tells Google which of the several versions of your content is the one that they should rank and send all the SEO equity to. To beat Medium at it’s game, publish the article, “How Will Avocadium Will Change The Map Of World Hunger.” on your website first. “Then import the story on Medium. This way the canonical tag on Medium will point into your website. All the backlinks are yours.
For example, original URL:
Canonical pointing to original URL:
With the canonical tag method, Medium doesn’t get credit for your content, your website receives the SEO juice for your hard earned work, and you get the Medium claps which is the a form of validation within the blockchain ecosystem.
You can read more about canonicals on these wonderful Moz’s article from where I borrowed this image.
Other unexplainable SEO limitations offered by Medium include:
- The title tag and H1 are the same (the name of the article) they can’t be customized.
- The title tag can’t be changed after publishing.
- Can’t write a custom meta description, it’s always the first two lines of the article.
- URLs append ugly alphanumeric codes as a default suffix.
- Beyond screwing up your SEO, how annoying is it to be offered to download the app every time you open a Medium article on a mobile phone, or just simply not being able to read anything at all on your desktop without being logged in to Medium? Cross platforming affects UX and a poor experience can lead to lower rankings.
The lesson here is: don’t use Medium. Have a blog instead, it will be yours forever. Obviously, to do this, you need a website that allows you to have more than one page, where you can have blog functionality. Good luck building this from scratch without a CMS.
Crafting the perfect website is more than simply understanding and excelling at the industry work in: blockchain. There are many technical elements outlined above that can make or break your success with organic search. Consider all of these simple SEO tips when you think about producing a website. The blockchain world domination, Avocadium.io solving hunger in Africa, and my mom paying for her groceries on Eth depend on it.
Top 5 SEO mistakes (and fixes) in the blockchain and crypto industry was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.