No matter what your company does, there will be hundreds of companies that do a similar thing. So how do you stand out from the competition and drive traffic to your exact website? The answer is simple: SEO. Search engine optimization is a complex issue that can either make it or break it in terms of your site’s visibility and traffic inflow. By fine-tuning the SEO part, you can enjoy a significant rise of the website visitors – but at the same time, even basic SEO mistakes hurt your website a lot.
Top 10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid
If you feel like your site can do better, or you are not satisfied with the users’ engagement, time to go through our list of the biggest SEO mistakes that most websites make and see if anything rings a bell.
1. Low site speed
You want your site to be ranked in top search results by Google so users can easily find it. Google, in turn, wants the users to be happy – and this is the primary reason behind its decision to include site speed in the search ranking algorithms.
There are many things that can impact the speed of your site, including a poorly written code, lots of useless plugins, or heavy images. While you may not even suspect it, some of these things can drag your site down in terms of performance.
The first step for you to take would be analyzing your site with PageSpeed Insights by Google. It is an immensely helpful tool that detects the biggest problems with your site and provides suggestions on how to fix them.
Another thing that you can do is request an SEO audit from a reliable SEO company to get an in-depth analysis of the existing problems and recommendations on how to resolve them.
The next steps will depend on the audit results. If there are a few minor issues, you will be able to fix them yourself. But if the problem is more serious, you might need to reach out for help.
In e-commerce, for example, it is a common practice to hire developers that work with the specific e-commerce platform, especially if it’s a complex one like Magento. In this case, store owners will need a knowledgeable Magento 2 developer who can get the store back on track and speed it up to stop losing conversions.
2. Poor site structure
A well-organized site structure is essential. It helps users easily navigate through the site, and this, in turn, leads to better user experience. At the same time, it also helps search bots “understand” your site, see which content is the most important and index the pages correspondingly.
So what makes a good site structure? It implies:
- Easy and clear navigation
- Proper categorization
- Internal Linking
- No duplicate pages
- Breadcrumbs (recommended)
Unfortunately, many websites have complicated and confusing navigation, broken links, duplicate content, and other SEO issues that prevent Google from proper indexing.
Think of a good site structure as of a pyramid where the homepage is a cornerstone, and then the user gradually moves to categories, subcategories, etc. As well, check out this guide on setting up a site structure with a detailed explanation of each step.
One more thing to consider is an XML sitemap. The XML sitemap is basically a list of the most essential pages of your site, and it helps Google see and index these pages.
It is highly recommended for any website to have an XML sitemap. To make it visible for Google, you’ll need to add your map to the Google Search Console (a “Sitemaps” section).
3. Broken links
You may not even remember a newsletter that you sent to your customers a few months ago, but they may still click on the links in it. And it may happen that these links are broken and lead to a 404 page.
There are a few reasons for 404 error. The user may incorrectly type the URL, the page was deleted, or a site structure was changed. As well, the broken links may be both internal and external, meaning, the other site might have a broken link that supposedly leads to your site.
How do you keep an eye on all your links and ensure none of them result in a 404 error?
For that, there are many available tools that will help you track your links and identify the broken ones.
First, there are crawl tools that analyze the internal links on your site and report about the broken ones. Then, there are backlink tools that, as you might have guessed, analyze the external sources that may contain a broken link to your site. As well, you can track the 404 error with Google Analytics.
Broken links are a serious issue. They harm the ranking of your site and decrease the user’s experience significantly. But before rushing to fix them, estimate how many users (or conversions) you are losing due to 404 error and then prioritize your tasks correspondingly.
4. Non-optimized images
When people hear SEO, they immediately think of keywords, links, XML sitemaps, and other “technical” stuff. What many site owners tend to ignore is the issue of image optimization, which often remains overlooked.
Images are an essential part of your SEO optimization strategy. They help your site get noticed and draw users to it. After all, people do lots of image search, and you want your website to appear in these search results.
An e-commerce store is an excellent example of a site that demands proper image optimization. With a variety of product images, such a store wants to be noticed among the competition and let the users know that it has the needed products.
Naming the image
Every image needs an informative and keyword-filled name so Google can understand what the image is about.
Describe its key features and think what keywords users may search for. Then, add one or two keywords in the image description, so it looks something like “white-flat-shoes-women.jpg”. But don’t try to fill in the image’s name with keywords only – make the name descriptive and useful.
You can see the alt attribute text when the browser does not display the image and shows text instead.
Alt attributes help both users and search bots understand what the hidden image is about, so you need to write these attributes for every image on your site. Same as with image name, alt attributes have to contain keywords and describe the image in a clear and neat manner.
As well, keep an eye on the image size and types. Certain image types like JPG or PNG are suitable for different purposes, and image size may impact the site load speed.
5. Non-optimized text
The content of your site serves a few crucial functions: it informs the users about your products/services and, at the same time, impacts your ranking.
If the text does not have enough keywords, is not unique or relevant, does not contain any links, and does not bring value to the user, it can seriously hurt your ranking. The trick is, Google assesses the sites by their value for the users. If a bot sees high bounce rates or identifies a copypasted content on your pages, it will lower your site or even hide it from the search results.
One of the biggest SEO mistakes that many e-commerce marketers do with their text is leaving the product description from manufacturer untouched. That means, they copy and paste it without even the slightest altering.
But think about this. How many stores, in your opinion, are selling the same products and copypasted the same text? Obviously, when seeing several identical texts, Google will rank more “reliable” sites higher than yours.
Try writing a unique product/service description and create a unique copy across your site. And don’t forget the keywords – we will talk about them just in a moment.
6. Issues with keywords
Ah, the keywords. The special words that can draw the traffic to your site and significantly raise its ranking.
However, for some sites, keywords remain a terra incognita. The most popular issues with keywords are:
- Overuse of keywords: the copy seems unnatural
- Misuse of keywords: use of irrelevant keywords, for example
- Missing keywords: there are no or very little keywords across your site.
It is recommended to place the keywords all across the site, including the URLs and H1 tags. But how do you choose the relevant ones?
Google offers an array of tools to search for keywords, including the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and Google Analytics itself. As well, study your competition and see which keywords are used most often. But when choosing keywords, always make sure they are relevant to the content on your site.
7. Duplicate content
Duplicate content means you have the same content on your pages, and this is one of the most common SEO mistakes that can hurt your rankings. The thing is, when Google sees the pages with identical content, it cannot decide which one is canonical. As a result, the overall ranking drops down, and the same happens to site visibility.
There are a few ways how you can fix the issue:
- Use robots.txt to prevent individual pages from crawling
- Apply 301 redirect to redirect one link to another page
- Use no-index, no-follow tags to prevent the page from being indexed/crawled
- Use the rel canonical tag to let the search engine know which page is canonical.
As well, the problem may be that you have identical content. In this case, do a rewrite or create unique content for every page, as we discussed above.
8. Misuse of the H1 tag
The H1 tag is an HTML tag that indicates a heading on a web page. This tag is on top of tag hierarchy on a page and helps search engines understand the content on the page.
When a bot lands on a page, it reads the HTML code and immediately “understands” what the page is about due to proper tag hierarchy. So if your site has a few H1 tags or poor tag organization, it will confuse the bot and, as a result, hurt your ranking.
Some best practices to follow when creating an H1 tag:
- Add keywords to it
- Try not to make it too lengthy
- Do proper hierarchy: h1, h2, h3, etc.
- Keep one H1 tag per page
The use of the H1 tag also contributes to user behavior. It is more pleasant to interact with a well-organized page than do guesswork in an attempt to understand what this whole thing is about.
9. Content with zero value
By now, you may think: how does this relate to SEO mistakes?
But valuable content is actually an essential part of your SEO strategy.
In an attempt to drive traffic to the site, some entrepreneurs may decide to add many irrelevant but popular keywords to the site. While it may work at first, users will soon see that the content mismatches the keywords, and they will simply leave.
The search bot, in turn, will see a high bounce rate on the page and will understand that your site does not offer any value to the users. As a result, your ranking will drastically drop, and you may even get blacklisted.
As well, quality content contributes to link building. If your content is indeed informative and brings value, people will share it – and that means higher ranking.
10. Lack of mobile optimization
This one is really important.
In 2018, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing. That means the mobile version of your site is now the first thing that Google will include in the index.
Because the number of mobile users is growing drastically, website owners need to adapt to this change and transform their websites correspondingly. A mobile-friendly site usually means:
- Light-weight design for faster loading
- Interactive and clickable elements
- Larger fonts
- Mobile-friendly images
- Easy navigation
If the site is not adapted for mobile, users will leave it faster than you’ll notice and it will hit a blow at your conversions.
Search engine optimization is essential for any website. It is responsible for the site’s visibility and hence, building its reputation online.
Invest some time into building a solid SEO strategy and start by fixing the above SEO mistakes. Also, don’t forget to hold regular SEO audits. In return, you will be rewarded with a high ranking, satisfied users, and an inflow of conversions. If you need any help with your website’s SEO, reach out to Wowbix Digital Marketing today!