You’ve heard of SEO, know it’s important to a website, but aren’t sure where to begin. We’ve created an extensive list of the most common SEO mistakes that end up negatively affecting your rankings and organic traffic.
Mistakes that affect organic traffic and rankings
- Poor load time – Having a site that loads slowly can mainly discourage users from staying on a site, but how doe their interaction affect SEO? A user does a query through the search engines and clicks on a site’s listing, then lands on the site’s page. If the user stays on the page search engines realize the page is related to the query. This will help search engines determine where the page should rank for that term. If a site loads slowly and the user clicks back to leave the page, the search engines understand the query is not related to the page, and will move the page down in the rankings.
- Not mobile friendly – Recently Google released an update that would penalize sites that were not mobile friendly. Although the update did not have drastic changes to site’s rankings, sites can expect to slowly see rankings decrease as mobile becomes more dominant. Just about 60% of searches are done on mobile devices and each year that number increases. This means a site could be missing out on a significant amount of traffic if the site is not optimized for mobile.
- Poor backlink building – If you’ve heard of SEO you know backlinks play a huge role in your rankings which affect your organic traffic. However, bringing in new backlinks that are beneficial to a site’s linking profile can be difficult for some people. Always remember ‘quality over quantity’. Avoid sites that are not related to your industry, sites that have a poor back link profile, sites that have paid links, link farms, etc. Sometimes it’s ok to deny a backlink, in the end it could end up helping your site rank better.
- Keyword rich anchor text links – When creating a backlink campaign it is important to create variations in your anchor text links. In the past SEO marketers would create hundreds of backlinks that used anchor text to one specific landing pages. Today, this is an outdated tactic and should be avoided. Search engines now correlate content with links to specific pages. The best practice by today’s standards are to create content around specific keywords a site would like to rank for. Having too many anchor text links to just one page can throw up red flags to search engines.
- Duplicate content – Don’t copy content! That means from your own site and other sites. Your content should be unique thoughts and ideas of your own, avoid copying and pasting other people’s ideas. If you do find content you would like to share on your site make sure to use canonical tags to pass link juice to the original source.
- Site not optimized – When creating a new page, or even a new site, make sure every page is properly optimized. This means filling in all your meta information, header tags, image tags, etc. Don’t over stuff your tags with keywords, this looks bad in the eyes of the search engines. Before starting a backlink building campaign it’s important to show the search engines you can optimize a site to their standards.
- No schema markup – Schema markup allows marketers to provide additional code to a page which in return allows search engines to provide more informative search results. What this means for a site is the search results for their page show more information for the landing page. This gives users more incentive to click on that search result.
- Broken links – Part of the site optimization process, ensuring your site has no broken links shows the site is optimized. It’s also important to research your backlinks for broken links as well. Don’t let a backlink go to a bad URL, this can limit users from clicking through to your site and limit where search engines can crawl.
- No internal linking – There’s two great reasons to have internal links within your site, both influence SEO. By giving users links to click through to additional pages helps the user stay on the site longer, this shows search engines the query they made is related to your site. Second it gives robots ways to crawl more of your pages faster. Also, it gives site owners a way to add in anchor text linking to different pages within the site.
- Missing sitemap – When your site goes live, make sure there’s an active XML sitemap and it has been submitted to Google Search Console. A sitemap gives search engines a quick way to crawl the pages to a site. The sitemap should update whenever new pages are added to the site.
- No robots.txt file – Now that your sitemap is created you may have some pages that you would like search engines to avoid. This includes pages that may be duplicate content, for internal use only, or pages with advertisements.
- Lack of keyword research – Before creating any content for a site it’s important to research potential keywords. Often there are keywords that do not receive the search volume you may think, or a keyword may be extremely competitive making it difficult to rank. It’s important to research keywords and determine if they are beneficial to your site. There are multiple tools available online that will help marketers research keywords, however at the end of the day it’s important to make a decision on your finding. Keywords often change throughout the SEO campaign and it’s vital to continue to research keywords along with track the progress of your rankings.
- Lack of patience – SEO does not render results overnight and it’s important to understand this. Often it may take months before a site begins to see changes in rankings and organic traffic. Stick to your campaign and continue to track your progress. Don’t be afraid to try new things, just track the results. If you do things correctly, play by the rules, and are consistent positive results will follow.
- Not tracking – It’s important to track your campaign. Take notes on what works and what hasn’t, there are many tools available that can help this process. Google Analytics is an excellent way to monitor your traffic, conversions, bounce rate, and much more. Tools like Agency Analytics helps sites monitor the rankings of a site. Plug in the terms you want to track and receive daily results of how the rankings are fluctuating.
Mistakes that affect user experience
- Poor loading time – Mentioned above, having a site that loads slow can affect how the user visits a site. 50% of users expect a site to load within 2 seconds or less. Users can find a product or information elsewhere, and they know this. Don’t lose potential sales because of a few second delay.
- Poor content – People are much more likely to link and share content they find entertaining and helpful. When creating content don’t create it for bots, create it for your readers. Content people like and read will help search engines determine where a page ranks. Great content gives users a reason to come back to a site or share with a friend.
- Lack of images/video – When you create new content, make it visually stimulating. Adding images and video to your content pieces can help get your ideas across to users. Once a user watches a video they are 64% more likely to make a purchase.
- Scraped content – Content taken from other sources and posted to your site is scraped content. Now if you decide to use scraped content make sure to use a canonical tag as mentioned above. From a user’s perspective scraped content does not add any value, they have likely seen it elsewhere, probably from the original source. This discredits your site and shows users you cannot come up with original ideas of your own. Take the time to create your own, original content.
- Not mobile friendly – Yes this also affects UX. With more and more people using mobile for searches it’s important to not let these people slip through. Each month more and more searches are done on mobile, yet there are still sites that are not utilizing mobile. This means more than just having your site mobile ready. Make sure the site is navigable through mobile, buttons are easy to click, and the site loads properly (and fast).
- No social presence – Having a social presence is important in showing users you have a well-established company. Social media gives companies the ability to share products and content with past and future customers. Let followers see what’s new with the company, ask questions, and share their feedback.
- Grammar and spelling errors – Want to show you are a reputable company? Review your content before posting it. Make sure your site does not have any grammar or spelling errors, this shows users the company lacks attention. These are simple fixes that should not go overlooked.
- Poor URL structure – Having your URLs structured properly can help users determine if the page they are about to click on is what they want. The URL shows in the search engine result pages and if this URL does not have the keywords within the URL it may scare users from clicking the link. Properly structured URLs can also help both users and bots crawl a website.
- No reviews – 90% of users use reviews to influence their purchase. Let users see what people are saying about a product or service you offer. It is time worthy for marketers to take the time to get new reviews for a site.
- Poor web design – A site that is difficult to navigate can frustrate users and give them a reasons to leave. If it is difficult to navigate and locate what they are searching for, a user may leave. Having a well designed website can also reinforce brand awareness, giving users another reason to remember your company.
Mistakes that affect conversions
- Lack of focused landing pages – Now you’ve gotten the user to the site, now it’s important to show them what they are looking for. Creating a landing page with a detailed process can help users convert faster and easier.
- Hiding prices – Make prices upfront to your customers, don’t make them search for it.
- Site sign up required – Users are more likely to leave a site if they have to sign up or give any personal information. Make it an option, not a requirement.
- Over designed – Although it’s important to have a well designed website, it’s possible to over-design a website as well. Look at websites such as Craigslist or Amazon, the site is simple and easy to use. Make information readily available to users and ensure that the page gets your story across to the users.
- No Unique Selling Proposition – Let people know what you offer. This can include the best price, or it may be the highest quality on the market. Each company will be different, but it’s important to let users know what it is you do. Don’t just be a widget company, be the ‘Widget Company with Highest Client Retention’..
- Lack of images – Images help SEO, user experience, and conversion, now why are you not using them? High quality images of products and items can help give buyers a great look at what they are purchasing. Quality images also help influence the branding of a company by giving it a professional look.
- Bad call to action – Make it easy for users to click buy, don’t make them search all over a page to find it. Avoid a call to action that blends into a site and is below the fold. Make it easy for users to get your product or service.
- Lack of trust – Customers want to know the site they are giving personal information to is a secure site they can trust. Having a https secure site will give customers the assurance that where they are buying is a safe and trustworthy website. Trust certificates are handed out by a few different sites and clients feel safer when these icons are placed on a site.
- Complicated entry forms/shopping cart – Having an easy to use shopping cart can make the buying process easy and quick for customers. WIth complex shopping carts and forms users are more likely to leave before making a purchase. Remember, to keep it simple for your users.
- Ignoring cart abandonment – Have you noticed users adding items to the cart, but never entering their information? Implement surveys on why users are not completing the process. Create A/B testing to find if a certain cart setup has a higher conversion rate. Don’t let potential customers leave your site.
- Complicated error messages in cart – When a user inputs information incorrectly and tries to move to the next step make sure the messages are easy to understand. If too many errors pop up and a user cannot determine what went wrong they will quickly give up and purchase the item elsewhere.
Mobile searches on Google – http://marketingland.com/mobile-top-sites-165725
Schema Markup – https://blog.kissmetrics.com/get-started-using-schema/
Site load time – https://blog.kissmetrics.com/speed-is-a-killer/
Making a purchase after watching a video – http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/consumers-64-more-likely-purchase-product-after-watching-online-video-infographic
Customers want reviews before making a purchase – http://marketingland.com/survey-customers-more-frustrated-by-how-long-it-takes-to-resolve-a-customer-service-issue-than-the-resolution-38756