You have a website and you want people to see it. The trouble is, you have an awful lot of competition. If the world wide web is a beach, the websites on it are grains of sand.
So how do you make sure your grain is the one your target audience finds? Avoiding these ten SEO mistakes is a great start…
1. Focusing too little on your content
Think about your search habits. When you run a search, how often do you look at the second or third page of results? Exactly. That’s why SEO — and the content you put on your website — is so important.
2. Focusing too much on SEO
Back in the day, getting to the top of the search rankings was as simple as having the right keyword combos in your content. And the more you mentioned those keywords, the better. It made for pretty stilted content. Flash forward to today and keyword stuffing will get you kicked down the rankings, rather than up. Google has learnt context — and rewards sites that produce quality content that answers users’ search queries.
3. Not thinking about your reader
It’s essential to think about the type of reader who will be visiting your website. What do they want? What are they searching for? What problem do they need to solve? What are their fears and desires? Their ambitions and needs?
Google and all the rest of them are phenomenally good at making sense of your content and matching it to relevant searches. So think about what your reader is searching for and frame your content accordingly.
4. Plagiarising content
Pilfering content from another website without their permission is illegal. And you will sink down the search rankings like an anchor to the seabed. In extreme cases your entire site may be de-indexed, making it impossible to find through search.
5. Duplicated content
By this we mean having identical content on different pages of your website. Google doesn’t like it. It wants you to be original, so get your creative cap on.
6. Ignoring the <title> tag
Your <title> tag tells search engines – and readers – what your page is about. It will be displayed on the search results pages, and in your visitor’s browser tab, so make sure it’s clear to incentivise those clicks.
7. Making the navigation too complicated
It goes without saying that web users want websites that are clear, logical and easy to click around. But did you know Google prefers simple navigation too? It makes it easier for its search bots to crawl and index your content – so there’s more chance of your website being returned in the search results.
8. Not optimising for mobile
Google recently rolled out one of the single biggest changes to its algorithm ever. In a nutshell, it now favours websites that are optimised for mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. Put it this way: if your competitor’s website is mobile-ready and yours isn’t, it probably won’t be you that gets the clicks.
9. Forgetting about SEO optimisation for your images
Google’s search bots are pretty clever, but they don’t have eyes. Give your images descriptive file names — for example, leather-chair.jpg rather than img201752 — and use alt-text to explain what your image portrays. Sure, a picture says a thousand words. But a short sentence to explain it will go a long way.
10. Getting obsessed with traffic volume
If you run a high street shoe shop, you don’t want it to be full of people who have no intention of buying shoes. The same applies online. Attracting oodles of visitors shouldn’t be your goal. The aim of the game is to attract the right type of visitors – i.e. your target audience. Keep your content relevant to your products, services and the problems of your audience.
Keep up the good work…
All done? Good. Now you just need to stay on top of your SEO housekeeping. Monitor those broken links. Keep your content fresh and updated. Track your analytics to see which pages are performing and which aren’t doing so well. SEO isn’t complicated, you just need to commit to staying on top of it. And when you do, you should be rewarded with a better search ranking, a more engaged audience and an increased bottom line.
Over to you.