Optimising your website and blog posts for search engines is crucial to your content marketing strategy. It allows search engines to view your content as relevant to what is being searched, and place it near the top of search results. This helps to drive traffic to your website, and therefore, hopefully, make sales.
Search engine algorithms are constantly changing, so it’s important to stay on top of SEO trends. This is easier said than done, but there are definitely many SEO mistakes to avoid. Let’s take a look at 10 SEO mistakes that are often made, and how to avoid them.
1. Slow Website
A slow website is not a particularly user-friendly one. The longer a website takes to load, the more likely that people will drop off – we’re an impatient bunch these days. As a result, search engines tend to give preference to faster websites. You can check your website speed using Google’s Page Speed Insights. If your website speed is slow, this tool will suggest steps you can take to increase it, such as minifying your HTML and CSS and compressing images.
2. Not Using Meta Titles and Tags
Meta descriptions and title tags can be pretty important for ensuring your content is optimised. Search engine bots will scan this information to understand what the content is about, and how relevant it may be to the user. It also serves as a sort of ad copy in the search engine results. The meta title and description highlight to the reader what the content is going to be about, so you should ensure its enticing enough to click on. You can use the Yoast SEO plugin to easily insert metadata onto all of your website posts and pages.
Search engine bots cannot see images, and instead, read the image alt tags to understand what the image is about. You should write a description of the image in the alt tag box, and of course, it helps if your keyword(s) is included in this description.
3. Not Being Mobile Friendly
If a website is not optimised for mobile devices, it is seen as less favourable by search engines. The use of mobile devices over desktop is rapidly increasing, so if your mobile visitors are met with a website that looks terrible on their screen, they’re likely to simply click off. Ensure your website is responsive, so that it can adapt and adjust to suit screen size. You can check whether your website is mobile friendly using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Another great tool is Website Planet’s Responsive Checker, which allows you to view how your website looks on a range of devices and screen sizes.
4. Keyword Stuffing
Many people are under the impression that the more times you can fit your keyword into your content, the better. This is not the case – Google is smart. Overstuffing your keywords into your content will cause search engines to think you are simply trying to rank, rather than creating quality content. An overstuffed piece of content can read very robotic and not at all genuine. Search engines know that readers do not like content that is unpleasant to read, and so this will cause a drop in your rankings.
5. Bad Quality Backlinks
In the SEO world, the importance of backlinks is talked about a lot. A backlink is a link that points to your website from another source. However, there are good backlinks and bad backlinks. A bad backlink is essentially one that comes from an untrusted or unrelated source, such as a spam or “adult” website. These type of links can actually have a negative effect on your SEO, so it’s important to do an audit every once in a while to ensure your website has only good quality backlinks. You can use a tool like Moz to do this. If you do find you have several bad quality backlinks, you can disavow them, which is essentially telling Google that you don’t want these links to be taken into account.
Many people fall into the trap of paying cheap “SEO experts” to earn them backlinks. What often happens is that these “experts” will build you a shoddy collection of links which may give you a small SEO boost in the short term, but long term will cause negative effects.
6. Using the Wrong Keywords
As a business owner, you may think you know what your ideal customers are searching into Google. However, many people do implement the wrong keywords through lack of research. Keyword research is so important as ranking for the right keywords can make or break the success of your website. Research what your target market is searching and mould your keywords around this. Tools like Keyword Planner or Keywords Everywhere can help you to pinpoint the keywords that will be most beneficial and relevant to you and your customers.
7. Poor Readability
While the readability of your content doesn’t directly affect your SEO, it does play a role. Google’s Gary Illyes tweeted last year that if your content doesn’t read nicely, then it probably won’t rank. This is because poorly written or difficult to read text will cause readers to click off your site. Bouncing quickly off a site tells search engines that the content is not good quality, and consequently, the site will drop in ranking. The Yoast SEO Plugin that I mentioned earlier measures the readability of your content and it also suggests steps you can take to improve it.
8. Not Having a Secure Website
Google representatives have stated that they prefer websites that are secure, with an SSL certificate and using HTTPS. “Making sure your site is secure is imperative” stated SEO expert Thao Tran in October 2016. Websites that are secure and encrypted are favoured in search engine rankings – you can read Google’s guide to securing your site with HTTPS here.
9. Broken Links
Broken links are links which point to a source that no longer exists. This can occur because the page was deleted, or perhaps you misspelt the link in the first place. Either way, broken links not only provide a bad user experience but are also harmful to your SEO. The good thing is, it’s quite easy to find your broken links using free tools such as Dead Link Checker. This tool will scan your website for broken links, which you can then go and fix, either by deleting the link or replacing it with one that works.
10. Not Updating Your Website Often
Search engines are more likely to rank websites that are updated regularly, as this suggests they are more likely to be relevant and on trend. A great way to ensure your website is full of fresh content is by starting a blog. A weekly blog post lets search engines know your website is active and relevant!
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We hope you found this blog post to be useful in helping you to identify some common SEO mistakes you may be making. Do you have any other SEO tips? Leave them in the comments!