GOOD SEO vs. BAD SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn’t going anywhere. It’s just expanding beyond simple fundamental tactics of keywords, metadata, and on-page copy which still exist and are important for website optimization.
SEO mistakes are common with web developers and SEOs, we all have our list of SEO mistakes to avoid and successful SEO strategies to deploy.
These days, your SEO strategy needs to include =”http://vpdm.ca/content-marketing-strategy/”>content marketing, =”http://vpdm.ca/content-marketing-strategy/”>content creation, =”http://vpdm.ca/blog/”>blog writing, and sharing your quality, optimized content through =”http://vpdm.ca/social-media-marketing-strategy/”>social media marketing.
I’ve written much about the convergence of =”http://vpdm.ca/effective-content-marketing-strategy/”>Content, Search, and Social, and how those three pillars of digital marketing are mutually inclusive of each other in order for your company to succeed with digital marketing.
Read this article of you’re looking for the key =”http://vpdm.ca/website-optimization-tips-2014/”>website optimization tips for 2014. The purpose of this post is to discuss 10 SEO mistakes to avoid if you’re refreshing your website optimization. These mistakes are easy to make and often times difficult to fix.
As far as SEO best practices go, you’re better off hiring a reputable SEO consultant or some sort of search expert to help you build new buyer personas, audit your website and recommend a comprehensive action plan, within budget, that will achieve your goals.
There are plenty of SEO mistakes to avoid and if you’re not comfortable or familiar with website code, open source content management systems (CMS), or general SEO principles, you’re better off investing in website optimization services from an expert which will save you any larger costs that you may incur in fixing any SEO mistakes that you inadvertently made.
Google’s Search Algorithm Updates
Google dropped a few updates to their old algorithm earlier this year. Towards the end of the summer, Google announced =”http://vpdm.ca/google-algorithm-update-hummingbird-live/”>Hummingbird, a brand new search algorithm that also came with a Penguin 2.1 algorithm update!
For more information on those changes read this post I wrote, which discusses =”http://vpdm.ca/website-optimization-services-post-humminbird/”>website optimization services after Hummingbird and Penguin 2.1.
My point being, SEO is changing in a big way. Keywords, while still important in many factors from research to deployment, aren’t as important as they once used to be. Continue reading to learn more about these changes and what you need to do to understand which SEO mistakes to avoid and how to overcome any challenges in increasing rankings.
Your search position is vital to your digital marketing. =”https://twitter.com/bfaeth”>Bill Faeth published an informative article this week where he’s listed =”http://www.business2community.com/seo/6-seo-mistakes-killing-google-rankings-0708083″>6 SEO mistakes that are killing your Google rankings. I’m going to borrow a few of those and add some of my own. I’m hoping you’ll be able to add your 2 cents in the comments below.
In this post, Bill let’s us know how vital your position in the SERPs actually is:
“Losing just a couple of spots in the SERPs (search engine result pages) can cost your business more than you think as 62% of traffic is generated from the Top 2 organic search results.
That’s right, just making it to the first page of Google or any other search engine isn’t enough to capture the majority of the traffic your desire.
Being ranked in the Top 2 results should be your goal.”
So let’s get to it. If you’re crafting your SEO strategy looking for search engine optimization tips to boost your website’s search engine ranking, be sure you don’t do any of these!
10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid
1. Duplicate Content
Bill says this is one of the most common oversights made by website developers and beginner SEOs. I believe it. I made this same mistake many years ago when I was trying to figure out SEO.
Duplicate content can hurt your rankings because it devalues the all the links you used in various web pages. Google wants to serve up value to their users, so duplicate content can get you penalized by Google.
I’ve run into issues where I was executing SEO on a client’s website and they couldn’t provide additional information or content for me to write on-page keyword rich copy. So, after much discussion and hesitation on our part, we were forced to use some of the content from the internal pages on the home page. Reason being, we needed to populate the home page with more information via text as Google prefers websites that have thousands of words on a page.
At the very minimum you want 400-500 words on a page – I’d suggest more though. In this case, since the client was using the same content/same copy on the home page that was used in internal pages. This was causing duplicate content issues, which we initially warned would have to be fixed.
It’s important to note that while duplicate content is on of the SEO mistakes to avoid, Google understands that it happens, it’s not viewed as spam, and it’s ok. I don’t recommend keeping duplicate content, but watch this video in my post explaining why Google says duplicate content is ok…sometimes.
2. Page Load Time
Page load speed is a big deal. Especially with today’s users, primarily using their mobile phone to access the web. People want their information fast because their busy our they just need tag information now. You page speed is vital to the user experience and there for an important SEO factor.
Kissmetrics reports that
“According to surveys done by =”http://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/”>Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.
79% of web shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again and around 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online.”
Whoa. So you’re not only losing engagement and possibly conversions from visitors but you’re also possibly going to lose any visits from word of mouth referrals from their friends and family.
3. Not Updating Old Content
I never thought of this one, nice one Bill! I’ll just quote him here as he’s educated on this:
“Performing good SEO on your website is like having a pet. You need to feed it regularly, nurture it, and you definitely don’t want to forget about it and neglect it. Your website and blog content is in the same boat as your pet.
Google loves fresh content, so be sure to go back and check on your older content from time to time and update it with new links and even content. There is nothing wrong with adding content to a blog post that is 6 months old and has fallen in rank a few spots.
Tip: Don’t forget about updating your meta description and the ALT text behind your images as well especially if your keyword strategy has changed or need to be updated as well.”
4. Writing for Search Engines
In today’s world of SEO, the best thing you can do to satisfy the search engines is to create content that provides value for your new visitors, your regular readers, your current customers, and your prospects.
Having said that, if your mediocre content is optimized well, it may still be indexed by search engines and therefore bring you more website traffic, but if these aren’t qualified visitors, or you have content of little to no value, you won’t be converting these visitors into paying customers.
Create invaluable content that will be shared. Along with relevant and optimized text, use images, videos, slideshare decks, and podcasts to create content that your customers and prospects will use and return to you for even more information or services.
5. Incomplete or UnOptimized Meta Data and Title Tags
I see this almost every time I start a new SEO project. Many SEOs feel that keywords in the meta description aren’t a ranking factor. They’d be right, and I’d somewhat agree.
While using keywords in the meta description may not be a search engine ranking factor, it most certainly is a relevancy factor from a user perspective.
Why not include your primary or secondary keyword in the meta description? After all, it’s your keyword isn’t it? The reason it’s your keyword is likely because your SEO has informed you that users are using that search phrase to search for products and services.
We also know that Google bolds the keyword that you use in the meta description of the search results it delivers. This bold text, being the keywords the user searched for, will be bold and will attract attention. It shows the user that link is relevant. Hence keywords in meta descriptions are relevancy factors.
Title Tags are also very important and there are a few key SEO mistakes to avoid with this tag. First and foremost, you must ensure that your primary keyword is at the beginning of the Title tag – not the middle, not the end. Search engines prefer this. Users will as well. Title tags are a major ranking factor and also relate to relevancy as well.
Be sure not to keyword stuff your title tag. This will have adverse affects with your website optimization and possibly lead to penalties from Google. Any keyword stuffing activity is a no no. Your title tags should be no more than 64 characters.
6. Hiring a Bad SEO Company
There comes a time in your marketing when you’re moving more into digital alternatives over traditional methods. It’s usually at this time when you’re looking for a new website or to refresh your existing site’s SEO. Hiring an SEO consultant or SEO company is not an easy task especially when you’re still trying to wrap your head around what SEO actually is.
Some SEO companies are still using =”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization”>black-hat tactics as opposed to =”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization”>white hat SEO. It’s important to understand the difference.
I’m sure you’ve received many emails a week with SEO companies claiming to be able to “increase your search rankings of popular keywords…” or something along those lines. My first question is what popular keywords? How do you even know what keywords I’m targeting and optimizing for?
Be careful of whom you hire to plan and execute your SEO strategy. The last thing you want it to be penalized by Google or even worse, having your website completely fall out of Google’s listings. Yikes!
A few things to watch out for when hiring an SEO Consultant:
1. Anyone that says they can guarantee you search positions or anything at all for that matter is straight up lying to you. Do not work with any SEO who guarantees anything related to search position.
2. An SEO that is all about link building is on the right track but may still be living 5-10 years ago. While link building is important, there are far more important SEO factors to focus on. Focusing only on link building is certainly an SEO mistake to avoid.
3. Be sure you have an agreement with deliverables clearly defined. Keep in mind that the world of SEO is always changing so some of these deliverables should be loose. Focus more on research, timelines, and action steps that the SEO is promising.
4. Ask for references and check them all out. If they have some experience in your industry that will create more trust. I don’t believe industry experience is a must, but it certainly helps with understand buyer personas, etc.
5. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. SEO isn’t cheap. It’s hard work if done correctly. You will get what you paid for.
6. Do your own research and educate yourself, as much as you’re able to, in order to understand what SEO is and what sort of results to expect from what sort of tactics and methodologies.
7. Leaving Your Primary Keywords – Using the Meta Keywords Tag
The meta keywords tag is completely ignored by Google. If you or your SEO consultant is populating this field with your heavily researched, primary keywords, guess what? Google won’t even see it.
But you know who will? ME! As well as any other smart SEO consultants who are doing SEO audit’s on your competitor’s websites. Leaving your primary keywords in the keyword meta tag let’s anyone view what keywords you’re targeting. I like to keep that information between my client and I.
Hear it straight from Google. Watch this short video where Matt Cutts answers the question “Does Google use the ‘keyword’ meta tag?” This is one of the more important SEO mistakes to avoid.
8. No Long Tail Keyword Research
Long tail keywords have become very important for any SEO consultant. Users are increasingly making more and more longer tail search queries particularly when searching on mobile using voice search. If you’re not doing this now, trust me, technology is moving towards all of us using voice search. Keep in mind that long tail keywords are also used heavily without voice search. People type in long search queries. They do!
=”http://vpdm.ca/google-algorithm-change-hummingbird/”>50% of all searches are performed on mobile devices. Google’s latest algorithm, Hummingbird, showed the SEO world that Google wants to understand user search queries much better than it has.
“Optimizing for long tail keywords and understanding that voice search will lead to more complex search queries are key takeaways for digital marketers who want to maintain or increase their client’s website rankings.”
Long tail keywords are also used by people that are in the tail end of their buying cycle. These are the people you want to attract to your site because they’re ready to make a purchase and use specific and longer search queries.
For example, if looking for a home in Toronto, Ontario, a user in the early stages of the home buying process may search for “New homes in Toronto”. Where as someone further along in their buying cycle would search for “New homes near public schools in West Toronto”.
Make sure you use long tail keywords in your SEO strategy.
9. Neglecting Mobile Search
Keeping on the mobile theme, to illustrate how important it is for your website to not only be mobile optimized and responsive to all screens, it also needs a well thought out mobile SEO strategy with Local SEO tactics.
These 5 points should convince you:
1. 65% research/read product information on their phones
2. 50% of mobile searches lead to purchase
3. 57% would not recommend a business with a bad mobile site
4. 61% of users call a business after searching and 59% visit the location
5. 90% of these people act within 24 hours
This one is certainly one of the major SEO mistakes to avoid.
10. Spammy Blog Comments
It’s incredible how many spam blog comments I see every day. Mind you, I manage the content on my own website as well 4 other client sites at the time of writing this post. Each of them has a blog so I’m seeing 4x as much as I should.
You likely are experiencing the same. The last thing you want is for days and days, or worse months and months, or spammy comments are sitting on many of your blog posts. This is a good way to lose credibility to both Google and your customers or prospects.
Use a decent spam blocking plugin. I like =”http://disqus.com/”>Disqus.
I still believe SEO and search engine manipulation to be a science of sorts. For the last couple of years and certainly into 2014 and beyond, SEO is simply one of a 3 major ingredients in your inbound content marketing strategy. It’s not a standalone solution anymore.
The key to improving your website rankings for your targeted keywords is to create content that your readers, customers, and prospects will find delightfully useful. So much so that they will want to share your content with their friends and start priding the word for you!
This content that you create must be unique and relevant to your niche. It should be produced in many forms. These are just a few examples:
- Blog Articles
- Case Studies
- Slideshare Decks
- Power Point Presentations
- Short Form Video (30 seconds-2 minutes)
- Micro Format Short Form Video (Vine & Instagram Video)
SEO is not an easy task and advice or consultation is always a good idea. It’s challenging to keep up with the almost daily changes from search engines and social media sites, so in order to stay away from these SEO mistakes to avoid, do your research and get yourself connected to a solid SEO company or consultant.
If you’d like to talk to VPDM, please contact us today and let’s start the conversation.
I’d be interested to hear what you would add to this list of SEO mistakes to avoid.
Please tell me what I missed. Use the comments below.
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