Search engine optimization (SEO) is the term that defines all methods you can use in helping search engines find and index your website (along with its content).
SEO is an ever-changing world, but one thing remains constant – all website owners, whether an individual or an enterprise, need SEO to improve search engine rankings and increase site traffic. Which is why even in 2017, implementing proper SEO techniques continue to be crucial.
Whether you’re new to SEO or not, here are the top 10 SEO mistakes, and quick fixes to solve these problems:
1. Duplicate Content & Lack of Content Strategy
SEO has been around for two decades and one of the most well-known tricks in the SEO book is to create original content. No matter how big or small your website is, feeding search engines organic and well-written content is still the best way to attract traffic to the site.
This is the reason why even massive companies maintain a blog. It’s to keep their website fresh and updated regularly.
It’s also important to note that having no content strategy goes hand in hand with publishing original content. An effective content strategy includes following SEO-enhancing format guidelines (such as optimized images) consistently and performing regular keyword research, which you’ll use for a long-term content calendar.
2. Not Mobile-friendly
The future of ecommerce and search engines is in mobile devices. Google even announced that searches from mobile devices have surpassed desktop-based searches, which is why you should be keeping up with the times and tweaking your website to make it mobile-friendly. You’ll have to switch to a responsive design, and ensure your website loads quickly.
To begin this process, you’ll have to go to Google’s mobile-friendly tool and check what the search engine recommends fixing. Use your mobile device, either a phone or tablet, to visit your website, so you’ll know which areas need to be more user-friendly. Many of the changes are simple, such as adjusting text size, fixing broken links, adding an easier-to-click navigation, and making pages accessible from the homepage.
3. Poor website design
To know if you have a poorly-designed site, explore your website for an entire day and determine how easy/hard it is to access various pages and read content (bad choice of font could be a culprit). Website color palette also play a role in web design.
One of the most common problems of web design is the use of Flash. This is because Apple devices block Flash completely, so you’ll be leaving all iPod/iPhone site visitors unable to view this content.
4. Lack of Title Tags, Meta Descriptions & Alt Tags
One underused, but very useful SEO technique is to add title tags and meta description, which search engine bots could “see” and help them figure out what your content is all about. Image tags are another often missed SEO potential and are extremely important because search engines can’t see photos (but can read alt tags to determine what that photo means and index them properly).
Note that this also extends to videos. Since search engines can’t view any of the videos you upload, it is recommended that you include transcripts or captions.
5. Wrong Use of Keywords
Keywords are powerful when used correctly. The changes in Google algorithm throughout the years have affected how webmasters should use keywords. Gone are the days of manipulating search engines with keyword stuffing. Today, you’ll need to target keywords that are easier to rank for than general keywords, and find synonyms of those keywords to use in your campaign.
The keywords you use must also be able to attract your target market, so make sure they’re the right set of keywords your audience is using for search engines. An in-depth keyword research could help you identify which ones to use, and which keywords to avoid.
6. Not Secure Website
When a website isn’t secure, it loads with http://. This is important, especially if your website deals with customers’ financial details, such as credit card numbers. Fixing this requires installing a SSL certificate, so visitors will be able to access your site with https://. Google knows which websites are secure (plus which aren’t) and search engines give preference to secured sites.
7. Non-existent or Outdated XML Sitemap
Google can crawl and index sites without XML sitemaps, but having an updated one increases the number of pages indexed on a website. CMS like WordPress has the ability to automatically update XML sitemap whenever you add content.
If your website still doesn’t have one, make sure to add your XML sitemap via Google Search Console.
8. Ignoring User Experience
User experience (UX) should be considered with your SEO efforts because it generally dictates how fast, how accessible, how user-friendly your visitor reaches the site and navigates through it. As such, slow page loads, hidden menu buttons, inaccessible pages and other elements of your site that contributes to a bad surfing experience should all be fixed.
In addition, avoid using frames and iframes for general navigation and any content you want indexed. Google explains that pages that use frames display several URLs within one page, making it hard for search engines to track which one to index (if it even indexes any of them).
Bad formatting, such as the wrong use of subheadings (H1/H2 tags) or bold formatting also affects user experience. Google always state: “Focus on the user and all else will follow,” and webmasters should handle UX elements with care.
9. Neglecting Broken Links
Broken backlinks should be removed or edited to reflect the page you were referring to in the first place. You should conduct broken links check regularly by using tools like SEOPressor Site Audit or certain WordPress plugins that work to identify all links that redirect people to a missing or broken page.
10. Ignoring Social Media
Social media has become a large part of people’s online lives, which is why webmasters should also have a long-term, social media strategy plan. If you’re not doing it yet, you should share blog posts on Quora, Reddit or Digg to promote them naturally. Or build relationships with influencers, who could help share your content across their followers.
BONUS: Don’t forget Analytics. You’ll learn a lot about your site visitors and your site’s performance by checking out the data of your Google Analytics.
The Bottom Line
Search engine optimization is an indispensable part of any online marketing campaign. These top 10 SEO mistakes are only the beginning. You should always be up-to-date with advancements in SEO and adapt to these changes quickly.
Google Webmaster Tools can help with most of these mistakes, so we recommend you include a regular “site checkup” on your calendar.