Are you making these 11 SEO mistakes?
SEO is so much more than metadata and tags. It’s not a short-term fix, but a long-term marketing strategy which includes writing content of value and compelling headings, along with formatting, metadata and more.
Although Google’s algorithms use over 200 signals, you can actually take simple, straightforward SEO measures to vastly improve your search engine ranking.
Google’s #1 mission statement is to “Focus on the user and all else will follow” – they’re looking for “relevant content” with “the best user experience possible”.
So, you can stop inadvertently hurting your potential web traffic - it’s easier than you think.
SEO Mistake #1
You’re not attracting the right audience
You can use the same process to come up with the keywords, as you would to develop your services, programs, and products – thinking deeply about your ideal clients:
- Dig further into your customers’ pain points, frustrations, goals.
- How problem-aware and solution-aware are they?
- How does your ideal client think? What search terms would they use?
- Use these answers to develop a list of 10 – 15 keyword phrases you’d like search engines to rank you on.
SEO Mistake #2
You’re distracting readers from your own content
I’m sure you’d prefer to keep your audience on your website, interacting with your brand, for as long as possible. Filling your sidebar with ads and links, especially slideshows, gifs or moving adverts, are a big distraction for the eye and will take your readers away from your website. How else can you reduce distractions?
- Minimize the number of outbound links – citations and references are important for both quality content and SEO, but don’t pack outbound links into every sentence.
- Make sure all your outbound links open in a new tab, so readers can easily go back to your original post.
- Consider this: Are those paid links/ads really worth it or could you generate revenue in other ways, such as selling your own services &/or digital products?
SEO Mistake #3
You don’t know how to improve your site loading time
We’re used to finding, and receiving our online content fast.
And search engines take site loading times into account too, because slow-loading content is not a good user experience.
The great news is you don’t have to be a coding wizard to reduce your page speed.
- Check your main web pages (Home, Services, Contact, etc.) and one or two blog posts with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
- You may find recommendations involving caching, compression and coding – but if your site is loading in under 5 seconds, then you’re doing pretty well (and you don’t want to attempt that advanced-level SEO if you don’t know how). But less than 2 seconds is the desired goal.
- The easiest way to improve your page speed? More often than not, you simply need to optimize your images – see #4 below.
- Don’t forget to remove those distracting PPC adverts.
SEO Mistake #4
You can’t be bothered to optimize your images
You’ve taken the time to create stellar images, now you need to optimize them.
Getting your images SEO-friendly isn’t just about page speed, there are 5 to 6 simple actions you can take which have a serious positive impact on your SEO.
Yes, it means factoring in a few more steps to your publishing workflow, but I can’t stress how vital this is. It’s worth taking the time to optimize your images because very few business owners make time for this (and it’s not that hard).
Going forward, use this process with new images:
- Before uploading each image:
- Resize them in your photo-editing app to fit, for example, the width of your blog in pixels – free apps to help with resizing include PicMonkey or Pixlr.
- Rename the images to include the keyword your post/page content is focused on.
- Compress the files using “Save for Web” in Adobe Photoshop, 72dpi (dots per inch), or this free tool, TinyPNG. Aim for under 100kbs in size.
While uploading an image:
- If you’re a location-based business, you can use Picasa to geo-tag your images.
- Fill out your Alt Tags – the “Alt Text” and “Description” fields in WordPress and Squarespace with descriptive keywords and contextual phrases.
- Consider the text you use as the “Title” of the file – if you’ve already renamed the file with SEO in mind, you can simply use the same name for the file “Title” when you upload it to your website.
SEO Mistake #5
Your content isn’t reader-friendly
Formatting your web content isn’t just about maintaining your brand aesthetic, it’s also important for readability – a wall of text without sub-headings or images just won’t cut it these days.
Keep your blog reader-friendly by:
- Using sub-headings to keep scanners on the page.
- Breaking up content into digestible chunks, with bullet points or numbered lists, short paragraphs, sub-headings, images, etc.
- Making occasional use of italic and bold text for emphasis.
- Helping your CTAs (Calls-To-Action) stand out through use of color.
SEO Mistake #6
You didn’t know about the benefits of using long-tail keywords
If you’re wondering “What are long-tail keywords?”, they’re simply a more specific, longer phrase. For example, “best gel nail salon in Manhattan” or “best nail artist in Manhattan” vs “nail salon”.
Long-tail keywords are great for generating blog content. They’re closer to the kinds of phrases people search, and they have less competition in search rankings.
As you figure out the longer phrases your audience use, you’ll see the quality of your traffic and conversions increase.
SEO Mistake #7
You’ve no idea how to keep people on your site for longer
Keeping a prospective client on your site means they get to experience more of the value you offer and become a warmer lead who’s more likely to convert into a subscriber, social sharer and buyer.
The best way to do this is with internal linking, where you link to other content on your own website to expand upon a topic.
Doing this also tells Google your site is cohesive, and your content is valuable. That’s a lot of benefits for one simple tweak.
SEO Mistake # 8
You’re not taking control of how you appear in search results
Yes, it IS possible to influence how you appear in search results!
For each page/post, fill out the:
- Meta descriptions – they’re not used by search engines; however, meta-descriptions help your ideal client decide whether to click-through to your website. Aim for 140 to 160 characters and use sentences which include the keyword for that page.
- Title Tags – with blog posts you can usually use the blog headline (title). Avoid using the same title tag on more than one page/post, as search engines find this confusing, and aim for 45 to 65 characters.
SEO Mistake #9
You don’t know how to improve your headlines
You don’t have long to persuade your Ideal Client to click-through and stick around - every headline counts, from your title tags to your sub-headings to your CTAs (Calls-To-Action).
Here are the 6 vital ingredients every headline needs:
The simplest way to think of your headlines is to make them solution or result-oriented. For example, instead of saying “You’ve not done your keyword research” for the SEO mistake #1 sub-heading in this post, I wrote: “You’re not attracting the right audience”.
SEO Mistake #10
You’ve not considered the impact of your URLs
If you were presented with:
http://www.noraconrad.com/p=3975rs3 or http:// www.noraconrad.com/blog/seo-mistakes
…which link are you more inclined to click?
With new pages/posts, you can include your desired keyword in each URL (AKA permalink or slub), and you can leave out articles, such as a, and, the, to, as search engines tend to ignore these.
If updating old page URLs, you’ll need to use 301 redirects because links to the old pages won’t automatically change. Too many redirects can slow down your site, but if you decide to do this for some links, I recommend using the Redirection plugin (WordPress) or following Squarespace’s instructions.
SEO Mistake #11
You didn’t realize you could update and reuse your old content
This is one of my favorite SEO strategies.
Seeing as search engines value quality content and you’ll have already poured precious time and energy to pack your posts full of value, then updating previous posts is a great SEO move.
There is a myriad of ways, and reasons, to breathe new life into your old blog posts – you could:
- Include updated industry news or information
- Bring your old posts in-line with your new branding
- Add external or internal links to related content
- Improve or fill out the meta data, descriptions, and image alt text
- Encourage sharing and commenting with call-outs and prompts.
3.2 billion Google searches are made every single day. By investing a bit more time when you add new content, blog posts or images to your website, you can optimize for better search engine results. Your ideal clients are already searching online for the kind of content you’re providing – help them find you by improving your SEO.
By Danielle Zeigler
Danielle Zeigler helps passionate business owners STAND OUT (without selling out) in a crowded online space.
She’s on a mission to help female entrepreneurs harness their strengths, personality, and energy to grow responsive, thriving tribes while staying grounded and focused.
Because it IS possible to tackle marketing with authenticity, grace and ease, and still get results.