When it comes to SEO, it’s all about rankings and conversions. We want our company or name to stand out above the rest and shine so we can get that business! While this is a fine objective, so many of us simply fall short and may be left wondering why. To be successful and stand out, you need to step up your SEO game and be wary of the following mistakes and SEO pitfalls you could be making right now. Read on to see what really works in SEO for a truly successful website.
Failure to Perform a Thorough Keyword Search
Keyword research is the practice of discovering which search terms are more popular or in demand, within your specific market. It seeks out specific keywords that tend to achieve better rankings or are more frequently searched by users. It also includes finding valuable keywords that may not have high competition for them, thus allowing you to rank higher for them. This SEO practice is very important because it is directly related to your rankings and that’s what helps drive business.
With tools like Google AdWord’s Keyword Planner or Wordstream’s Keyword Tool, you can find out what users in your specific industry, network or geographic area might be looking for. Failure to conduct a thorough keyword search can hurt you tremendously. It is important to be fully aware of the keywords that pertain to your market, so you can focus on those. As mentioned before, keyword research will help you to pinpoint keywords that have less competition, but are very relevant, helping you to significantly rise up among the ranks.
Overuse of Keywords
In the much earlier days of SEO, a tactic was widely used to rapidly boost website rankings. It was the dramatic overuse of keywords within content, also known as “keyword stuffing.” Back in the day, it worked wonders but today, no more! Google and other search engines have since picked up on this tactic and have swiftly shut it down. Today, websites can face hefty penalties if they try to stuff an excessive number of keywords and search phrases into their content. Keywords may be used within moderation but too many occurrences will get the attention of search engine bots.
Keywords can be used in valuable places such as H1 and H2 tag, meta title tags and image alt tags. A universally safe keyword density ratio to go by is between two and five percent of your content. Of course this varies with the length of your content. Dependent upon the content management system (CMS) you use, there are some very valuable SEO plugins that can help you keep effective track of your keyword usage and density.
Another area to be especially mindful of is duplicate content. Many businesses may want to take a little tidbit here or reference a piece of content there. It may have even been unintentional—after all it was just a repost of the material or an external source you decided to place on your page. All of this is highly frowned upon by search engines and it could severely damage your website rankings and reputation.
High-quality, original content is always the way to go when it comes to SEO, and search engines reward such content. On the other hand, duplicate content is flagged and can be devastating to your business presence online. It is highly recommended not to utilize another’s content but if you do, there is a correct way to do so, to avoid being flagged for duplicate content. Even if you obtain full permission from the original author to post or republish their content, you still must alert search engines of this authorization by setting up canonical tags that correctly identify the original source.
No Local Landing Pages
Successful business websites tend to have a separate landing page for every location or area they might provide service to. Each of these pages should be specifically targeted on the localized audience there. They should also be upfront and easily visible to the search engine. If you do not have local landing pages set up this way, you could be missing out on the valuable chance to gain more rankings. You can make sure your local landing pages are found by search engines by using the XML sitemap to optimize the title tags for each local page.
If you have many local areas that you might service, you may want to include a FAQ section on your website, addressing the local areas you service. Local testimonials and other unique, local-rich content tailored to the local audience can help to bring attention to these landing pages. Search engines will recognize if the content matches local markets and search queries, allowing these pages to rank more in local search returns. Each page must be specific to that local audience and offer content meaningful to that demographic. Just as external duplicate content is discouraged, so is internal duplicate content, since search engines reward fresh, original, content that is unique to the page.
Not being Mobile Friendly
The Internet is the place where consumers search for products and services, and with the advent of mobile connectivity, people are online through smartphones and tablets now more than ever. Over 50% of local business traffic comes from search engines and online users. The time to fully utilize a strong local search engine optimization plan is right now. Failure to acknowledge this growing volume of mobile users can absolutely hurt your SEO rankings.
Google already crawls sites as a mobile device, giving them a front row seat to how functional or not functional your website is. Plus, page load speed affects rankings too. If your website is not designed to handle mobile users, it’s going to slow down the mobile user’s experience, thus harm your rankings.
It is true that mobile-friendliness is factored in by Google when ranking sites on their search engine, so not addressing this is a big mistake you do not want to make. Remember, if your competitors provide a fast, responsive, satisfactory mobile experience to their customers, search engines are likely to give promote them instead of you! Furthermore, you could also face a site penalty from Google if the responsiveness of your site is lacking in the mobile department.
Algorithm changes, updates, mobile users, and other challenges keep the SEO game on its toes which is why building a strong SEO strategy is paramount to your website’s success. The internet is truly a versatile beast, and you can find just about anything out there. Competition is also fierce and those who don’t have a strong SEO campaign will quickly be pushed to the wayside by those who know which SEO mistakes and pitfalls to avoid.
– Carolyn M. Walker, SEO Copy Editor