Everyone has a brother with a friend whose cousin “knows” how to do SEO. Or at least, that cousin thinks he does.
The act of optimizing your website to appear higher in the organic search engine rankings is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. There are approximately 200 technical factors that Google uses to choose those rankings. To be proficient at SEO, you must understand those factors AND stay up-to-date on their frequent changes.
Just in 2016, Google reportedly updated their algorithm 11 times. Each time there is an algorithm update, your rankings may be affected, and you must shift your optimization efforts to fit the new algorithm.
With the constant changes, it is easy to lose track of how you should be spending your valuable time optimizing your site. Here are 10 mistakes you could be making with your SEO right now (and what you should be doing instead).
1. Not having a mobile-friendly site
Have you taken a peek at how your website looks on mobile? Not looking at your site on mobile is a mistake.
About 56% of total web traffic comes from a mobile device, and Google has started penalizing your keyword rankings if your site is not mobile-friendly.
We could write a whole blog on reasons to update your site for mobile. Oh wait, we already did: Why You Need a Mobile Responsive Site.
2. Not doing keyword research
How many keywords are you using to target and track your site’s effectiveness? If you’re not sure, you’re probably making a mistake.
First, take 30 minutes and make a list of keywords you believe are pertinent to your brand. Think about phrases that people may use when searching. Don’t use jargon or words only industry insiders would know. Searches also tend to be very casual phrases or questions like “How can I make my teeth whiter?”
Next, take this list and look at how much search volume and competition there is for each keyword. If you’re finding a lot of competition for the keywords on your list, try creating long-tail keywords. For example: your keyword might be “dentist” but a long tail keyword would be “best cosmetic dentist in Wilmington.”
This list is going to become the basis for your other optimization efforts. Your website’s content should revolve around this list. Your reporting on how your SEO is doing should revolve around this list. This list is gold.
3. Not paying attention to how people are searching for you
Who is your client? Are they one of the millions of Americans who aren’t searching on a desktop, but instead are asking their device for help?
“Siri, where is the closest emergency dental provider?”
“Okay Google, is there somewhere I can get my teeth whitened near me?”
“Alexa, who is the best pediatric dentist near me?”
More searches are spoken instead of typed.
Forgetting your client might be asking a device for help
instead of typing it is a mistake. tweet this
Revisit the keyword list you made for item #2 and add new keyword phrases for questions that potential clients might be using. Use these questions and, more importantly, answers to these questions in your site’s content.
4. Not practicing quality over quantity with your keywords
The practice of repeatedly jamming a keyword into your website’s content in hopes that you will rank higher for that keyword is referred to as keyword stuffing. Stuffing keywords into your website content is a big mistake.
I know after reading #2 you stopped reading this blog and made your list right away (and added more to it after reading #3). Your list is fantastic. Really. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Sacrificing the readability and flow of your website’s content to repeat that keyword is not going to improve your rankings. In fact, Google can sense when a word or phrase is being stuffed, and it will lower your rankings.
With the release of the Panda algorithm, Google began flagging “low quality content” on websites and lowering those websites’ rankings on the search engine results pages. This effected websites that were not providing users with actual quality content, but were using tactics like keyword stuffing to achieve higher rankings.
Keyword stuffing is pretty easy to recognize (so easy, even a Google bot can do it). If your sentence sounds unnatural because you’ve used your keyword phrase in it more than once, it’s probably stuffed. For example:
We are the best dentist in Wilmington, NC. Our clients in Wilmington, NC really like our services. If you’re looking for a dentist in Wilmington, NC, call our dentist office in Wilmington, NC.
Instead of stuffing that target keyword phrase into your site unnecessarily, place the keyword phrase in a more prominent position on the page, like in the header and URL.
5. Not adding content to your site
Not only should you have a blog, but you should have a blog ON your website. I’m talking to you Mr. “ThisIsNotMyWebsite.Wordpress” dot com. All of the content you’re slaving over and posting on another website is not benefiting YOUR website’s rankings, and it is difficult for readers to find. It’s a mistake.
Now that we know where our blog goes, let’s talk about what to put on it. Choose a blog topic that your potential client might be searching for more information on, like “Why does my jaw hurt when I wake up in the morning?” and expand upon it, try to incorporate 3-4 keywords from your handy dandy list that you made in items #2 and #3.
You can also expand upon your websites content by adding pages for specific services your company provides. For example, instead of having one page that includes information on “teeth whitening”, “veneers” and “crowns”, give each service its own page. Use these pages to include keywords and questions your potential clients might be searching for.
6. Not adding a meta description
You read #5, immediately dropped everything and added new content pages to your website. Way to go, you are on top of it! So you’re done now, right? Wrong. Did you give your new page a meta description? If you didn’t, you’ve made a mistake.
A meta description is what appears under the page title in the Google search engine results page. It’s your opportunity to expand upon the title and explain to a searcher what is on the page and give them a reason why they should visit it.
It is also one of the many items Google looks at before deciding to serve your website on their results page. It is a great place to include a keyword or two.
7. Not link building correctly
Shortly after link building became known as a beneficial SEO practice, companies started offering to sell backlinks to websites. In exchange for purchasing these links, they’ve promised you increased SEO rankings. Unfortunately, the backlinks are often poorly rated and not high quality.
Google quickly picked up on this practice, and once again decided that quality over quantity shall prevail. Buying backlinks is a mistake.
Work on building a network of link-backs to your site through industry publications and bloggers. A few quality backlinks from websites that Google trusts are going to benefit you more than purchasing them in bulk.
Adding links within your content is beneficial, too. These links should go to other pages on your site and to other trusted, applicable websites. Make sure each link is anchored with rich, descriptive text. (bonus tip: “click here” is not rich or descriptive. It’s a mistake.)
8. Not paying attention to local searches
Half of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day. Eighteen percent of local searches lead to a sale within 24 hours. If you’re not showing up in local searches, you are missing out on potential clients and sales. Focus some of your SEO time on gaining real estate in the local pack and knowledge graph on search engine results pages.
Half of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day. tweet this
9. Neglecting your page speed
The high-res image slider on your home page is beautiful. Breathtaking. But is it worth the extra time that it takes your website to load? In a consumer’s eyes, it probably isn’t. In Google’s eyes, it’s a mistake.
Google takes site speed into account when determining search rankings, and a site that is slow because it is pulling large images or videos will suffer.
Wondering if your site’s speed is up to par? Try this site speed test from Pingdom. After you run the test, they will give you a summary that includes a grade for your website’s speed and a ranking that compares you to other websites.
10. Not tracking your results
Anecdotal data is just that: anecdotal.
Judging the success of your SEO efforts based on how you feel like it is doing is a mistake. tweet this
The list of keywords you made in item #2 should become your basis for reporting your optimization efforts’ success. There are several software platforms that can give you information on where you’re ranking for certain keywords in search engines. Google’s Search Console can show you what keywords people are typing to reach your site, and Google Analytics can help you track how many of your website visitors are coming from search.
11. Not hiring a professional
So I told you there were 10 items, but I’m giving you 11. Why? Because at Proclaim we always give 110%.
Our team of experienced marketing professionals are proficient in the ins and outs of SEO, and we work tirelessly to keep our clients’ websites continuously optimized. We stay ahead of the curve on Google’s algorithm changes to ensure our clients stay at the top results pages.
If you’re ready to boost your rankings in search, give us a call!
If you want to know more, check out our other articles:
Established in 2000, Proclaim Interactive is an award-winning, think-out-of-the-box digital marketing agency located in Wilmington, NC. Proclaim Interactive provides website design, social media management, SEO and general marketing services designed to amplify clients’ messages. For more information call 910.795.4143.