If you work in the SEO industry, you see it all the time: a web page that should convert really well just isn’t getting love from the search engines. Many times, it’s not simply the fault of the product or service, but rather a misguided, or non-existent, SEO strategy.
SEO-based optimizations can be a tricky prospect, even though it seems pretty straightforward. But, when an outside individual becomes involved, it can get muddy really quick.
Most small businesses have at least some copy to rely on before they initially add it to their website. The most common being brochures, ad copy, or articles. If your business is brand new, you may not have anything at all. In that case, you’ll want to get some fresh, incredible copy hammered out for your new website.
It’s during this process that several SEO mistakes occur.
Now to be fair, many of these errors aren’t the content writer’s fault alone; there are many working parts to an SEO-optimized website that may not even be obvious. These tips will help you avoid mistakes that can hurt your initial public offering.
Not Performing Initial Keyword Research
Most business owners are aware that you need to focus on specific keywords in your content. What many don’t know, however, is that keywords alone won’t always return the desired results.
Keyword research is an integral part of designing your initial SEO strategy, yet plenty of people gloss over it. However, lots of keyword research tools out there will give you accurate results.
Keyword research is crucial for determining your ad budget and which keywords to focus on. Do your research; your rankings will reflect the effort.
One of the major issues that we regularly see is keyword stuffing. Oftentimes, websites advertise a business location, and the physical location is a key component in the rankings.
Immediately, on the front page, give a good description of where your store’s location, and after that, leave the location alone. More often than not, sites stack the location in every other sentence. Not only is this practice cumbersome but can hurt the integrity of the page.
The same is true with keywords. Somebody long ago determined that keyword stuffing could get a site ranked higher on the SERP. With this tactic, content clarity suffered and much of it was unreadable. Fortunately, those days are gone, and keyword stuffing won’t help your site at all. In fact, it could overshadow your content.
Additionally, keyword stuffing not only affects the readability of the content but can also cause Google to rank your site lower in the SERP.
Resorting to Cut and Paste
Any writer worth his salt can expunge for hours about the evils of plagiarism. In the online world, it’s much harder to regulate content, and now, cut and paste bandits are much more prevalent.
It’s critical that you resist appropriating content for your own website, regardless of whether it’s being used for page content or blogs.
This should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at the amount of cut and pasted content out there. The best policy is to not do it.
Incomplete Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
Title tags and meta descriptions are an essential part of your page identity. They direct potential clients and search engines to where they need to go and can offer information in the SERP to attract visitors.
A while back, Google imposed limits on the number of characters that could be involved in a meta description. Since that time, Google pretty much does whatever it wants, but you shouldn’t neglect coherent title tags and meta descriptions.
Also, consider the keywords on your page. Do your title tags and metas reflect your keyword focus? We often see title tags created from keywords not found anywhere on the page — not a good plan.
Page Speed Issues
Content is rarely the reason that a page loads slowly. But, page speed is definitely something that you want to consider, both for user experience and SEO value. Page loading speed may not seem like much, but remember, you only have three seconds to catch the attention of your visitors.
It’s natural to want a spectacular website, but many times those dynamic images, slider menus, and jumbotrons slow down a page.
One of the first rules of web design is to keep it simple. Resist the urge to add too many images, keep your videos on YouTube, and make sure the design isn’t complex. All of these can cause the site speed to drop.
Not Optimizing for Mobile
Quite often, a new site will look great on a desktop but completely tank on a mobile device. Regardless of which format you’re receiving the most page views from, mobile optimization is essential.
A vast majority of online traffic is projected to originate from a mobile source in the next few years. Ensuring your site performs well on both desktop and mobile will allow you to capitalize on both platforms.
Pay attention to image sizes, lengthy calls to action, and the size of your videos. Overall, don’t neglect to optimize your entire site to be mobile friendly; it may result in more conversions.
Pushing the Site Through
It can be excruciating waiting for a site to go live. This unfortunate fact can cause a site to be released too soon before all of the SEO tasks are completed.
While all of the SEO can be rectified soon after the site’s live, it’s best to push through the initial edits and thrust a polished website out into the world. After all, your site’s the only contact some clients may ever have with you, and it’s important to consider its impact.
Rushed sites may make it out into the market first, but many times they’re riddled with mistakes that harm the SEO value. Practice patience.
Lack of Image Optimization
Yes, even images need to be optimized. Images provide exceptional SEO value and get neglected more often than not.
Alt image tags are the language that allows the image to “talk” to the SERPs. Without an alt image tag, the image is essentially invisible to search engines.
Optimized images are also a big step toward creating a site accessible to those with special needs. When writing an alt image tag, describe the image as you would to someone who can’t see it.
It’s extremely important to connect (both internally and externally) to relevant content through linking. It’s also an easy step to forget.
A relatively new SEO concept, known as topic cluster content, is touted among the community as the way SEO is going. The premise is fairly simple: add a page of content centered on a main keyword. This is called the pillar content. Integrate different pages of content with a more refined focus based on the original keyword. Each page is linked together, ultimately ending back at the pillar content.
In order for this incredible strategy to work, strategic linking is one of the initial optimizations to perform on your new site.
Maybe your brother’s girlfriend’s sister knows a thing or two about SEO, or at least watched a few YouTube videos about the topic. Take our advice and don’t listen to her.
Content isn’t as easy to quantify as design. A site can look gorgeous and be highly convertible, but if the content’s incoherent, it won’t keep guests on your page.
A site scattered with typos, misspellings, and general bad writing isn’t what you want when introducing your concept to the world.
At the end of the day, your website may be the only introduction that your customers will get directly from you. Whether you’re an eCommerce business, a brick and mortar, or service-based, pay attention to these common SEO mistakes.
Overall, don’t be intimidated by SEO. Sure, it may seem like a daunting task, but with some planning, preparation, and attention to detail, your SEO can be ready right out of the gate.
At Marketing 360, we put together a checklist of 4 Important Ideas To Get You Started With SEO if you need a starting point.