Anyone tasked with handling search engine optimization (SEO) and visibility for a Web property will tell you just how fickle and complicated algorithms responsible for parsing information can be. And with search engines designed to provide the most relevant content to users among a seemingly endless stream of interconnected pages on the Web, the competition for the highest rankings is intense.
For just about any company today with a Web presence, improving visibility of a website or a Web page for search engines is a priority. Unfortunately, many businesses lack the resources to outsource the job to SEO experts and results are often mixed at best.
If you can’t find your website on the first few pages even after entering one of your own product names on Google, Bing or Yahoo!, chances are you have some sizable holes in your SEO plan that need addressing.
However, many of these holes are self-induced and fixes are available if you are willing to put in a bit more effort. The following seven SEO missteps are among the most common reasons seemingly well-laid SEO plans fail, but they are correctable, and addressing even just one of these issues is fast way to beef up your search engine rankings.
1. Ignoring social media
Google finally came to embrace social media and so should you, especially if your are trying to leverage SEO tactics. When the search giant in 2009 tweaked its algorithms to adoptsocial media into the search mix, you could almost hear the clattering of keyboards ramping up Facebook business profiles and launching Twitter campaigns.
However, plunking down an intern to operate your company’s social media efforts isn’t likely going to improve rankings or your ROI.
Social media is no longer an optional element in a SEO plan and success can’t be fully achieved unless social media tools ─ Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, YouTube, ect. ─ are continuously used to attract the attention of search algorithms. After all, much of the Web’s content is shared through these social media sources.
Integrating these platforms into the marketing mix will provide significant benefits. Failing to do this on a regular basis will deflate your rankings and undermine other SEO efforts.
2. Vanity marketing
You can spend a good deal of time and resources building a sharp landing page with cool images and a slew of strategically worded content, but it won’t mean a thing for SEO if it doesn’t have any relevance.
Peppering your homepage and landing pages full of company content often misses the SEO point, and chances are that relevance for your consumers as well as search engines will be lost in the deluge of irrelevant information. Many companies make the mistake of adding too much about themselves on a landing page, without explaining to the user what they do and how they will benefit. Make content relevant and straight-forward.
Just because you know your products or services under a certain name does not mean that Google users employ the same words to describe them when searching.
You will lose out on a lot of traffic and have a lower conversion rate if you use industry-only terms.
3. URL structure
A lot of websites have URL problems, but one mistake that must be avoided at all times is long and irrelevant URL structures. Why are you making it harder for crawlers and users to see your information? Short URLs within Google Search Engine Results Pages get clicked twice as often as long ones, and by sticking to short URLs you get both better rankings and better click-through rates, according to a recent study. Avoid underscores, capital letters, spam words, and digits. Use static URLs, and 301 redirects for permanently moved pages.
Also, the website should have unique URLs for each article, which do not change. If the URL of the same content is changed, it is considered duplicate content which Google removes from its index.
4. Content quality control
The idea behind creating content is to provide something of value for readers. All too often marketing efforts get hung up on creating content for the sole purpose of luring readers and enticing search engines to their websites. Ultimately the practice of loading pages with targeted keywords gave rise to Content Farms. Google has worked hard to adjust algorithms to avoid ranking this type of shoddy content.
Your priority shouldn't just be ranking in the top spot on Google. Instead focus on getting people to engage with your company through your website. Keep in mind that an interactive experience that is boring and frustrating will drive your potential customers away and will hurt your search results in the long run.
5. Weak linking efforts
Building links through social media channels will increase page rankings and traffic, as well as help grow your circle of influence and trust. Figuring out the best ways to get your links recognized is imperative. However, generating a ton of inbound links doesn't necessarily mean that they are relevant. Google’s goal is to provide the most relevant information available and loading links from questionable sources will raise a red flag and could get your website penalized by Google.
Too many links of poor quality in a short period of time is considered link spamming and can dramatically decrease your page rank and even get you banned from the search engines.It is best to allow link building to occur organically as a result of creating relevant and interesting content, combined with your social media efforts.
6. Failure to monitor keyword trends
The process of ranking high on search engines is not a static one. You can’t just set your keywords and get back to work on selling widgets. SEO is an evolving practice; one that takes careful monitoring and attention to detail. If you started with an SEO strategy that garnered much success only to find months later you’re buried pages behind competitors, than you’ve probably not stayed current with Keyword trends. Just like the news of the day, keyword trends shift with new events.
Also, be wary of stuffing content with keywords. Keyword densities should never exceed 3 percent to 4 percent of your total content.
7. No clearly defined goals
Perhaps the most glaring reason SEO strategies fail is because goals aren’t set to help monitor progress. If you don’t create timelines for yourself and develop certain benchmarks you want to achieve then you’ll end up wondering around in the wild wondering how to exit this vast digital forest.