We spend a great deal of time focusing on how and what we can do to increase site traffic, leads and revenue through online channels. Much of what we do is centered around search engine optimization.
But with over 500 updates a year to Google’s algorithm, on-going penalties focusing on practices outside of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and a broad understanding of strategies (and tactics) that actually work it is important to understand what not to do so as not to affect your online marketing and the performance of your web site. Here are a list of the Top 5 mistakes that will hurt your performance:
1. No Content or Updates to your Site
Just having a web site presence is not enough to rank for search queries in your industry. A thin web site with only a few dozen pages is a poor representation (to major search engines) of your expertise in your space. Many business owners are reluctant to put the time into developing their blog, deploying a resource/FAQ section and staying on top of news related to their core business. Mainly because their is not an immediate (or direct) return on the time spent. But, given time, this is one of the most critical elements to gaining fresh traffic, leads and sales.
In fact, web sites that have large blogs, articles and resource sections qualify as the main source of their traffic and customers. This is due to the flexibility of publishing content related to specific keyword strategies, trending topics and customer feedback. Having the search engines look at your site as a trusted resource in your industry is a key identifier in ranking higher and for more terms.
2. Bad Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
First off, the top signal to Google as to what your page is about (and a proven element within the algorithm itself) is the Page Title. Pages that don’t have the specific keyword in them are losing out on valuable weight for the sites overall success. But there is more to this than just the keyword in the title. Google wants to serve up the most relevant and useful results in its SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) for a users search query. The practice of Page Titling has evolved in recent years.
Bad Page Titles are those that just have keywords, have a list of keywords, are short (or long) and those don’t mention the keyword related to the content of the page. The Page Title should say exactly what the page is about with a keyword modifier in it. Meaning, a sensible statement and not just a “stuffed” key phrase.
The Meta Description however is another mindset unto itself. While the Meta Description is not directly weighted within the algorithm it is equally as important. The Meta Descriptions effect on SEO “indirectly” affects rankings through dwell time (Click through rate, session duration, time on site) and can be optimized with a Meta Description that has a call to action or entices a user to click your result over another. Optimizing your click through rate (in organic) will indirectly increase the SEO value of it’s pages.
Missing, long or short descriptions will only hurt your site. Use Google Webmaster Tools to evaluate both your Page Titles and Meta Descriptions and optimize from there.
3. Poor Link Building Practices
One of the most valuable elements of an SEO campaign is the practice of Link Building. It was the original SEO site ranker in the golden era of SEO. As digital marketers, web sites would create, buy or sculpt backlinks to point to there web site from other web sites in an effort to “game the system”. This practice is so old at this point it has lead to numerous Google Penalties, such as the Penguin Update, and loss of site rank for business owners. Not only is this practice against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines it is also a sure fire way to get your web site penalized.
SEO’s no longer “build links”, they earn them. We can no longer consider reaching out to other sites just to ask for links. Even more recent Link Building practices have come under scrutiny. Such as Guest Blogging and Private Blog Networks. There are a few good ways to earn links at this point. If you or your employees are considered influencers and can produce magnificent content for your site and use social channels to amplify your content you can expect to get picked up buy other sites that reference your content with a link (or citation). Also, the use of digital PR is valuable in gaining traction on major media.
4. Lack of Evolutionary Web Site
If you haven’t paid attention to Google’s Official Webmaster Central Blog or other publications then most likely you are unaware of some of the following technical opportunities. First thing is first, mobile is a must for your web site. Your site must be responsive and be mobile friendly. Test your site here. Most recently Google is labeling result listings with “Mobile Friendly” directly in SERPs. This tells us (along with other posts directly from Google) as to the importance of Mobile in ranking well.
Markup on a site is important to tell bots (search engines) what your site is and the structure of the site. While schema.org and rich snippets are still relatively new they are being experimented upon and some have reported even increases in rankings/traffics due to implementing newer markup. Wether directly with schema.org or indirectly through Rich Snippets it is important to implement these tactics.
Social protocols such as OGP (Facebooks’ Open Graph Protocol) and Twitter Card Markup allow a site to be digested and referenced properly within social platforms. These protocols also allow for a site to be understood within either an overall link graph or knowledge graph hierarchy.
5. Doing Nothing
This is too easy. Obviously if you don’t do anything you won’t see results. But more importantly, many business owners think they can, “Do some SEO on the site and get customers and thats it”. SEO is an ongoing marketing practice. Most all blue chip companies and mid to large size businesses employ full time SEO’s and content developers to keep the work moving. Activity is important for a site to keep up with competitors and trends. Just make sure it’s the right type of activity.
So these are the Top 5 Mistakes we have seen recently. There are many more to avoid along the way. Too many to list in one post. What are some of the mistakes you have come up against? It’s best to make certain you know what you are doing with your web site when updating or optimizing. Keep up to date by subscribing to our blog and we will post more helpful pieces soon.