Your business has had a website for a while, but traffic is rather low and you feel you are not getting enough value for the money you have spent?
One of the most common website failure causes is lack of proper search engine optimisation or SEO.
Many small business owners think that a website will automatically increase company revenue and promote its products and services to a large number of prospects. This is not necessarily true. Without optimising your website technically, you cannot achieve your web traffic objective. Before discovering the most common SEO mistakes that businesses make, let’s see what SEO is.
What is SEO?
According to a definition published on the MOZ website, search engine optimisation (SEO) is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” There are three key terms in this definition that you need to understand:
- Quality of traffic – attracting visitors who are genuinely interested in your products and services
- Quantity of traffic – more traffic is a good thing on condition that you have the right people clicking on search engine results links
- Organic results – traffic that you don’t have to pay for – advertisements are excluded
Now that you know the very basics of search engine optimisation, let’s see what SEO mistakes you need to avoid:
Not optimising Meta tags and data
Meta tags and data are represented by the information and text displayed next to your website links in search engine results. If you don’t edit your Meta data, the text appearing under your website links will be the first sentences from that page, which may not be the most representative or informative ones.
Optimising Meta tags can help improve your search ranking. Here are four major types of Meta tags that you must optimize:
- Meta title
- Meta description
- Focus Keyword
- Meta Robots
All these tags can be easily edited within your content management system and it is recommended to do so for every page of your website.
Not optimising website speed
If a site takes more than 3-5 seconds to load, users will leave. There is simply no excuse for having a website whose pages load slowly – think of what you do whenever you bump into a webpage that takes ages to load completely. Unless you are very interested in the information posted there, you probably hit the “Back” button after several seconds and you look for a similar product or service on a competitor’s website. Potential customers do the same if they notice your website speed is not optimised.
- Speed is a ranking factor now
Aside from putting off your website visitors, a website loading slowly will also be penalised by Google. Speed has already been a ranking factor for desktop computer searches for a while, and in July 2018 it also became a ranking factor for mobile searches, leaving behind websites that have failed to function properly and provide a good user experience in terms of speed.
- Tips to improve speed on site
Some of the most important things you can do in order to improve speed on site are to optimise images, enable browser caching, and minimise HTTP requests. More advice on how to increase website speed can be found here.
Duplicated content is one of the very common SEO mistakes we see. When your website is new and you don’t have too much content written for it, it may be tempting to re-use content and have it published on more than one webpage within the same domain. This will bother your visitors if they discover you are recycling content, but it will also confuse search engines, which will not be able to decide which content to index; eventually, they may not show the webpage in search results at all. What you need to do is to minimise similar content and to delete duplicate page versions of your content without the smallest regret.
Recycling content across multiple channels is a different thing, and it can be a very useful and legitimate strategy – for instance, taking content from your blog posts and including it into your eBooks, or using texts from your email marketing to create social media posts.
Poor website structure
This must be one of the most overlooked SEO mistakes, because many developers are not SEO experts and fail to integrate best SEO practices into the website structure. The way pages connect to each other matters more than you think, and the general advice is to have web pages as closer as possible to the home page. This is because the home page of your website has the most authority, and the further away a page is from the home page, the worse it will rank. You need to flatten your site architecture and make sure no page is further than 3 clicks from homepage.
Not having a mobile-friendly website
Mobile searches are more common than desktop searches. Currently there are approximately 20 million smartphone users in Australia, and the introduction of these devices almost a decade ago has caused a shift in the behaviour of Australian consumers. For instance:
- Australians are connecting to more devices per person at the same time. Almost 50% of users are using 3 screens (computer, smartphone and tablet) with an average of 4 devices connected per person;
- 60% of Australians watch internet videos daily and 36% of those are on smartphones;
- 78% of consumers say that personally relevant content increases their purchase intent.
Moreover, Google has started indexing sites based on the mobile versions. The Mobile-First Index was introduced in March 2018, after a year and a half of experimentation and testing; this means that Google’s crawling, indexing, and ranking systems are no longer using the desktop version of a page’s content. Instead, Google is now using the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, which will benefit primarily mobile users and help them find what they’re looking for faster.
Since the mobile-first indexing is finally implemented after first being announced several years ago, here is what you should do with your website:
- Don’t panic. If you only have desktop content, you will continue to be represented in Google’s index. Your SEO efforts so far will not become useless, but you do need to take measures to stay up-to-date.
- Use a responsive design. This will make your website accessible and optimised for any kind of device your visitors might be using, but it will also mean that your content will continue to be gathered by Google after the introduction of mobile-first indexing.
- Use AMPs (Accelerated Mobile Pages). AMP is a way to build web pages for static content that load fast. This solution enhances both user experience and mobile reading by search engines.
Not redirecting errors
A less-known SEO mistake is the lack of error redirects. You should make sure that all the redirects are properly done. Faulty redirects not only affect traffic but also affect your website SEO severely.
The problem can be easily solved – a simple solution is using one of the plugins for WordPress which can handle 404 error pages by using 301 redirect. Another option is provided on this page, and it implies adding a line to your .htaccess file.
Not doing link analysis
Last, but not the least of the most common SEO mistakes, it is imperative that you should follow Google’s guidelines for Link Scheme and avoid:
- Buying or selling links
- Excessive link exchange
- Large-scale keyword rich guest posting
- Low-quality directory and bookmark site links
The whole aim of this guideline is to reduce unnatural links to your website – or links intended to manipulate Page Ranks or a site’s ranking in Google.
To put in other words, SEO is not anymore about tricks and fooling Google to include you in their search results, or it never was.
The SEO mistakes presented in this article show us is that Google loves you when website visitors love you. Google’s page ranks reflect the quality and relevance of those pages to human readers, not to computers. So, using automated programs to create links to your site or doing excessive cross-linking will never help; on the contrary, it will lower your rank and push your website away from the first page of search results.
Implementing the best SEO practices into your website takes time and effort, because results are not visible overnight. The best way to do things right is to have a website designed with SEO in mind from the very beginning, but SEO mistakes can also be corrected when you didn’t start well. In both cases, Visual Marketing Australia can help by providing a variety of digital marketing services, all SEO-oriented and promising to make your website visible through organic search to potential customers.