Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a key element of any online marketing strategy. It helps your site rank higher in search engine results pages, increases traffic and ensures that your target audience can find you online.
Google puts a strong emphasis on good quality content that really benefits the user. It has little tolerance for bad practices, which can also be referred to as black hat SEO, which means that errors can end up being costly.
SEO mistakes can result in penalties which lead to poor website rankings. This is the last thing any business wants, so this article will look at common SEO mistakes and how to avoid them.
Link building is the process of getting other websites to link back to another. It’s a great SEO tactic because it drives referral traffic and helps build site authority. Backlinks tell Google that a website is a quality resource and is therefore more likely to reward it with higher rankings.
Businesses should proceed with caution when it comes to their link building strategy as there are a number of mistakes that can be made:
Social media is your best bet when it comes to sending good quality traffic to your website. These platforms are a trusted and reputable source in the eyes of search engines, so you won’t be penalised for utilising them.
Whether you have a product, promotion, landing page or new blog to promote, social media is the perfect place to alert your followers and direct them to your website.
Encouraging customers to leave feedback on review sites is another great way to acquire trusted links. If you look on TripAdvisor for example, there’s a website button which takes users directly to a business’s URL.
Ensure you’re set up on all the popular review sites relevant to your industry. As well as being a great link building tool, it’s important that you’re aware of the feedback you’re receiving and responding to it.
Internal link building can also give you a ranking boost. For instance, you could produce a blog about a product and then link from the blog to the product’s page. Don’t forget to use your keywords in your anchor text for an extra SEO boost.
If you’re new to link building and want to avoid the SEO mistakes that can come with it, these articles can help:
When a user types a query into a search engine, it will only know to display a site if the correct keywords are being used. This means it can be very tempting for businesses to stuff as many keywords into their content as possible.
This is one of the most common SEO mistakes and doing it won’t have the desired effect unfortunately. High keyword density is a sign of poor-quality content and it can therefore harm a site’s rankings. What’s more, it creates a negative user experience which means people are unlikely to visit a site again.
Use Google’s free keyword research tool to identify the words and phrases relevant to your business. Rather than having an endless list of keywords, focus on a few strong phrases which are going to direct high-quality traffic to your site. Moz.com has a great beginner’s guide to keyword research.
Google will always prioritise useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and within context. It’s very important that your keywords flow naturally within your content. A great tip is to go through all your pages and read the text out loud. If it doesn’t sound right, play around with the positioning of your keywords.
Other places you can add keywords include:
Meta data (title tags and descriptions)
Image ALT text
If you need help perfecting your keyword strategy, have a read of:
On Google’s Search Console help page, it clearly states that the single most important thing a website can do for SEO is provide high-quality content.
Unfortunately, business owners are often too busy to produce fresh, informative and engaging content on a regular basis. As a result, one of the most common SEO mistakes is duplicate content.
When companies are short on time or are struggling to know what to say, it might be tempting to copy text from another website or part of their own site. Unfortunately, this won’t do anyone any favours. Search engines will very rarely show multiple versions of the same content which means that companies could be destroying any chance they have of appearing in results pages. It’s also not best practice, is unlikely to help a business produce high-quality, relevant content for their audience and there are copyright laws surrounding online content too.
In most innocent cases, the penalty will be a lower ranking. After all, with so much content out there, it’s almost impossible for the internet to be entirely original. Sometimes it’s even unavoidable – such as if a product is being described for example.
Intentionally or excessively posting duplicate or scraped content could see Google completely remove a site from its indexing which means it won’t appear in its results pages at all.
If your pages contain useful information, your content will attract visitors, other websites will want to link to yours and as a result, search engines will recognise you as a good authority.
Content should be helpful, information-rich and clearly and accurately describe your products or services. Another top tip is to ensure your content is as informative as possible so that readers don’t have to go to another website to find out more.
Produce content that genuinely corresponds to the needs of your target audience. You can determine this by using analytics to identify popular pages, looking at keyword search queries or simply asking customers what they would like to see more of.
Using analytics to track how visitors are engaging with your content is key. Think about the following:
If you don’t have the time to produce good quality content yourself, think about outsourcing the task to a freelancer or hiring an employee. It may be an additional expense, but it could help to generate income you wouldn’t be able to bring in yourself.
Another great tactic is to refresh existing blogs and webpages as this can help you share up-to-date content you know already resonates with your audience and can help give your SEO a boost too.
If you’re stuck for content ideas, here’s some inspiration to help get you started:
Mobile devices account for approximately half of all internet traffic worldwide. This means that if a website isn’t mobile-friendly, it could be alienating half of its visitors.
It’s not just potential customers who will be put off either. Since 2018, Google has been using mobile first indexing which means it favours websites that work better on mobile devices.
To check if a site is responsive, simply use a smartphone to see if it automatically shrinks to fit the smaller screen. The site should be easy to navigate and it’s important that visitors can read all the text without scrolling horizontally (unless the website is set to scroll horizontally). Users should also be able to find and click on calls to action, pop-ups should be easy to close and don’t use flash because most mobile users won’t be able to see this content.
Below is a good example of a mobile-friendly site.
A frustrating user experience will mean that visitors instantly click off your website. As well as making sales almost impossible, this will also hurt your SEO efforts. The good news is that your website can be made mobile-friendly.
If you’ve built your platform on a site like WIX, they have the functionality to make your website responsive. You don’t need any knowledge of coding, it’s simply a case of dragging and dropping to make sure everything’s in the right place.
You can also outsource to a digital marketing agency who can do this for you. If you can’t afford an agency, sites like Fiverr offer a cheaper alternative. Make sure you read reviews and ensure they can provide examples of previous projects.
If you want to learn more about this topic, have a read of this blog – Why having a mobile-friendly website is more important than ever.
Analytics plays an important role in SEO. Among many other things, the data acquired from free platforms such as Google Analytics can tell businesses a lot about their website including:
These insights are incredibly valuable to any business because they enable them to improve their campaigns and correctly identify where they should be investing their time and money.
If you’re still not convinced, have a read of this article which explains why website analytics is important for your business growth.
If you’re ready to get started, the good news is that it’s easier to implement than you may think. It does involve installing a code on your website, but this is something you can copy and paste so even beginners can do it themselves. Google also provides a step-by-step guide to getting started with Analytics. This will provide you with all the information you need.
While it may seem like there’s a lot to get your head around, there’s so much information online explaining everything you need to know about SEO. What’s more, it will soon become second nature and you will naturally start doing things like adding keywords into your blogs.
© Nominet UK 2021