10+ Common MSP SEO Mistakes

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    Before every sales call I am looking at an MSP’s website in SEMRush and glancing at their sitemap and a few other things just to get a high level feel for where they are at before talking to them. I see the same handful of MSP SEO mistakes over and over again that are detrimental to their ability to generate traffic and therefore new leads for the brand. In this post we’ll dive into some of the most common SEO mistakes I see on MSP websites.

    Selfish Writing

    The number one SEO mistake I see IT companies make is writing selfishly.  Thinking of your website content as a resource for your site visitors and focusing your content on them and their needs will lead to higher visit durations, lower bounce rates, higher rankings, and more leads generated. There’s a time to get a little bit more salsey and self-centered and it’s after you’ve provided some value.

    No SEO Strategy Or Focus

    Too many MSP blogs are likely a product of a local agency who has little to no idea what an MSP really does. They just write a monthly post or two that’s just tangentially related to IT without much thought given to focus keywords, who they are trying to reach, what they want the takeaways to be, etc. Most of the content just sounds like “spend money with us and we make all your problems go away, trust us!” It’s just blogging for the sake of blogging without much of an SEO strategy or focus.

    Poor Mobile Experiences

    I get it, it’s much easier to think about your website in it’s desktop form, but Google uses mobile first indexing. Your website’s mobile experience is critically important for how your site is ranked both on mobile and desktop.  Prioritize your mobile experience over your desktop one and get rid of the distracting popups, screen blocking headers, and other elements that make mobile browsing frustrating.

    screen blocking header that degrades mobile experience and is bad for seo
    MSP With A Screen Blocking Header That Takes Over More Than 30% Of The ViewPort On Mobile – Creating A Poor Mobile Experience

    Painfully Slow Websites

    Related to the point above, slow websites are a huge barrier to SEO success.  Your website probably loads within an ok timeframe on desktop over a fiber internet connection, but what about on mobile over 3G? This is where most MSP websites start to load painfully slow. You can test your MSP website’s page speed scores at the Google Page Speed Insights tool.

    Posting Duplicate Content

    Too many MSPs are scraping RSS feeds and auto posting them to their blog or using white label content providers and copy pasting their content onto the blog.  This is duplicate content and won’t do much to help you build your base of traffic. Note – there’s nothing wrong with pre-built campaigns, but use them as a starting point and tweak them to fit your brand so they are unique in the eyes of search engines.

    Low Quality Or Thin Content

    Next on the list is low quality or thin content.  Again, think of your site’s web pages as resources for your visitors and stop checking the box of 1,000 word blog posts with exactly 5 rigidly structured 200 word paragraphs. This is writing for SEO and not writing for user experience and user experience is both good for SEO and 10x better for generating leads from SEO. Start making it easy on your visitors by incorporating videos, and branded graphics to help consume information more easily.

    No External Links

    The web is a place that’s meant to share and collaborate, and that means linking externally to other relevant resources and content. Don’t be afraid to link to competitors or other relevant resources.  Many MSP websites have few to no external links in their content and even those that do have external links haven’t thought carefully about how to use them.  A page or post that’s seen as a benefit to searchers by providing links to supporting resources that are actually clicked will be prioritized in rankings.

    Poor Internal Linking

    Linking internally to other related content on your website is also important for SEO and is probably the most under-utilized aspect of SEO across industries. Anchor text of links among pages is an important ranking signal and internal linking is one of the best ways to tell Google exactly what keywords you want a page to rank for. For instance I want the following linked page to rank for MSP SEO Case Study. It’s fair game to use anchor text for internally linked pages that is exact match anchor text. When building backlinks to your site, you don’t want sites to link to your content with exact match anchor text because this signals over optimization and can penalize your site, again with internal links this is perfectly OK and in a lot of cases foolish not to take advantage of!

    Few Or No Backlinks

    Backlinks are links from 3rd party websites that point to your MSPs domain. Think links from business directories Clutch, CloudTango, Expertise.com, Google Business Profiles etc. These are the most common links and are known as directory citations. There’s also links from sites with blogs like ChannelFutures, CRN, Pax8, ConnectWise etc that can drive a lot of value. If no one’s linking to your site, your blogging and content efforts face a long tough road – since your site won’t be visible enough to even get enough trust with Google rank content initially.

    For instance we got an email opt-in recently from an MSP, when I looked at their domain they had 126 blog posts listed in their sitemap. However when I looked at their domain statistics in SEMRush this is what I saw:

    msp with no backlinks
    This MSP probably thinks they are doing things right with their SEO but they are getting NOTHING out of it due to a lack of backlinks.
    • 15 unique referring domains, usually you need at least 100 to start seeing results
    • 0 organic traffic!

    Creating 126 blog posts and not getting any traffic from it due to their website being invisible on search engines is just a crying shame.

    No Structured Data

    Google and other search engines allow you to provide what’s known as structured data. This can help search engines understand more about what your website and it’s content is about without them having to guess based on context. For instance we tell Google that this website is for a corporation and is related to our company social media pages via structured data. You should too!

    You can test your website for structured data at Google’s Rich Snippet testing tool. Learn more about structured data for SEO at Schema.org

    3rd Party CTA Pages

    I see a lot of MSPs using Calendly, HubSpot, Microsoft Bookings, and other scheduling tools to have people book directly. They are usually sending people directly to a scheduling page post click instead of embedding a scheduling module on a page on their website.  This is a big mistake.  You want your call to action pages indexed so people can easily click on them in search engines when searching for your brand terms. You also want to be able to measure how many people are at least viewing your conversion-oriented pages which is tough to piece together on 3rd party domains.

    Blog posts with dates in the URL

    Many WordPress themes will default to having your blog posts organized by date, which is a detriment to SEO.  It makes it harder for evergreen content to continue to rank into the future and makes your content more likely to rank for date-based searches and less likely to rank for more generic search queries.  You’re losing a lot of traffic with dates in your blog URLs.

    Blog posts in the root domain

    One issue I commonly see is MSPs with blog posts with all their blog posts in the root domain.  Move your blog posts into a subdirectory (i.e. under /blog/%postname%).  This won’t necessarily boost your blog content but it will help your site’s landing pages rank better because they won’t be competing directly against blog content for priority in the eyes of search engines. Landing pages are much more likely to rank for commercially driven keywords and they are also more likely to convert that traffic into leads. 

    Lack Of Site Structure

    Similar to the point above, you want to structure your website adequately.  I frequently see MSP websites with 10 industry pages (finance, architects, CPAs, etc) but again, they are all at the root domain level.  Instead structure your website so that there is a navigation page ( /industries-served ) and put your industry pages underneath the navigation page ( /industries-served/architects/ ).  This doesn’t apply to only industry pages.  Think about your site structure carefully and organize your website hierarchy so that only the most important pages are under the root domain and allow people to “drill down” into the content they want to consume.

    msp seo sitemap

    Wrapping Up The Most Common MSP SEO Mistakes

    Don’t make these SEO mistakes that stop you from generating more search engine traffic for your MSP. Structure your website properly, keep good technical fundamentals to keep it from loading slowly, provide value with your content, and make sure to share the love with some more external links. Taking some of these simple steps will help you generate more traffic, convert more traffic, and help your MSP thrive online. SEO is a very deep discipline and requires a lot of thought and care given to many aspects of a websites performance. Optimizing your website for discovery online carries great rewards though. If you need help with SEO consulting for your MSP then reach out today!

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    Hunter Nelson

    Hunter is the founder and president of Tortoise and Hare Software, a digital marketing agency for managed service providers. Hunter has more than 10 years’ experience building web applications and crafting digital strategies for companies ranging from scrappy startups to Fortune 50 household names. When not on the clock, you'll find him spending time with his family and pups, relaxing on the beach, or playing competitive online video games. See for more.

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