Sometimes you just gotta go back to basics

It’s surprisingly easy to complicate SEO.

Sometimes we think that small sites are easy and require no thought whilst larger sites are an excuse to bring in the brains trust.

Not the case. Or at least, not always anyway.

Here’s an example of something so simple that didn’t have to be.

Someone from Saudi Arabia got in touch with me about an issue they were having with the XML sitemap on their site.

They were getting errors in Google Search Console and didn’t know how to fix it.

Basically, their XML sitemap was not in the correct format and it was in fact an HTML file with a heap of URLs they didn’t know were even on their site.

So they threw their hands in the air wondering WHY.

I had a look at the website.

And what I found was amazing.

The site is just 4 pages, including the homepage.

That’s it.

Clearly, there’s absolutely no need for an XML sitemap at all.

In fact, you could legit get away without one for many kinds of website so long as your internal linking is SOLID.

So here we had someone making a fuss over the XML sitemap when it’s clear they didn’t need one.

This is purely a lack of understanding – a classic case of not seeing the forest for the trees.

My advice to them was remove the XML sitemap from Google Search Console and to Request Indexing of the homepage, then leave it at that.

It seems the site was either hacked or was pointing to another different site because the site: command brought up some very different content (thankfully it wasn’t anything dodgy).

But it’s not the right content. And they didn’t bother doing a site: check either.

I’m sure they’ll get it sorted but it’s evidently hurting their app downloads which is terrible (you can imagine the C-suite getting antsy because of poor download numbers). My App Store SEO can help (in case you’re in a similar boat).

If they had taken care to look at SEO basics when launching their website, they wouldn’t be in this situation.

I recently did that for my own site and discovered a few things I needed to fix as a priority – much to my embarrassment.


It just goes to show, it’s easy to overlook the basics. But sometimes you can make gains by simply going back to basics.

Here’s a few things you should probably do for your own site as part of a regular hygiene check:

  • run page speed tests and try your best to get a better grade
  • check robots.txt (goes without saying really!)
  • check URL rewrites (http and www/non-www redirects in particular)
  • check your XML sitemap (is it up to date? do you even need one?)
  • check Google’s cache of your site (this can be surprising!)
  • run a and see what comes up – fix what you’re not happy with.
  • crawl using Screaming Frog (or your website crawler of choice) – there’s a lot you’ll discover here but remember, you can’t UNLEARN what you find here!
  • ask people to use your site on mobile and get feedback – because mobile is the future and you best believe that.

This is just a start. And it’s the most basic start. You will surprise yourself because trust me, no site is perfect.

See the forest. It is just trees.

You know it makes sense.

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