There is certainly no shortage of information available to give you great SEO tips and tricks for boosting your search ranking on Google and other top search engines. Sometimes, however, what web designers, marketers, and business professionals want to know is not what they need to be doing right, but what they are doing wrong. There are several things you could be doing with your search engine optimization efforts that are dramatically hindering the ability of your online content to achieve optimal rankings, or even any ranking at all.
Like tips for good SEO, you can also find plenty of tips relating to bad SEO. Rather than giving you a list of every single thing you could possibly be doing wrong with your optimization efforts, only the top SEO mistakes will be provided here. These are the six most significant mistakes you could be doing with your SEO that will cripple your search rankings:
1. Not being active on social media. Being active does not mean that you post a new item to each of your social media feeds on a regular basis. It also means that you are engaging with your community on social media, as well. Search engines have begun paying attention to social signals when it comes to raising or lowering the page rank of online content, so it is very important that you build a strong group of social followers and develop an active relationship with them. In addition to the benefit of better page rank for influential and engaging social content, you will also reap the benefits of the numerous social network users who turn to their peers for advice and guidance when making consumer decisions.
2. Not using title tags and meta descriptions effectively, or not using them at all. When someone sees your web page listed in a search result, the first piece of information displayed is the title tag. This is then followed by the meta description. If you have left your title tags generic (such as ‘Home Page’) or uniform across all your site’s individual pages, you are severely limiting the ability of in-demand content to be visibly appealing to those who are seeking it. Each page should have a unique title tag that is short and concise, relating to the content to be found on the page, if possible. The meta description, which should consist of a short and descriptive sentence, should also be provided for each page and let potential visitors know what to expect when they click your link.
3. Not auditing your links periodically to ensure they are accurate and functional (internal links) as well as from reputable and authoritative sources (external links). Links are one of the top three ranking factors used by Google. It is quite possible that other search engines also place it rather high as a ranking factor, too. If your site’s internal links provide redirected content, dead link errors, or otherwise do not take a user to the intended destination when clicked on, they need to be revised. When it comes to your inbound links from other locations on the internet, you should make sure you are receiving backlinks that are higher in quality than quantity. A small number of links pointing to your content from well-ranked and reputable sites will provide you with a great deal more influence in terms of where you rank than thousands of backlinks from sources that are considered spammy or of extremely low quality.
4. Not using the tools provided by the search engines themselves to receive feedback on the effectiveness of your SEO efforts. Both Bing and Google provide a suite of webmaster tools, completely free, for those who wish to register for them. These tools are literally indispensable for webmasters, site designers, and marketers in terms of giving guidance on how well a site or page is performing, what may be causing it to perform in a less than optimal way, and what could be done to help it perform better. If you are not using these tools for your own online content, you are literally taking a shot in the dark with your SEO efforts.
5. Not using keyword research, selection, and placement – and the tools to help you do so – in the most effective ways. Some people don’t believe they need to perform keyword research at all, while others pick the keywords that they like best, regardless of how successful the words or phrases may be at ranking well on search results. When you put forth a diligent effort toward selecting the most relevant and effective keywords and phrases, you are giving your content a significantly better chance at being ranked well and being seen (and clicked on) by searchers. The most effective keywords are no longer short, concise, and technical. Search engines have evolved to the point where they are able to interpret ‘natural language queries,’ which are those provided by users in a conversational, casual, and informal format. Don’t forget to include local search parameters for your keywords, as well. Mobile users are often looking for resources in their geographic area, so geo-targeted keywords are extremely beneficial for businesses that have a physical location for searchers to visit.
6. Not publishing the best quality content possible. In addition to being able to decipher a lot of data about searcher intentions and web page content, search engines are now moving toward a more accurate interpretation of the quality of content on a web page as well. Two of the factors that tell a search engine the apparent quality of your content are the click-through-rate (CTR) and dwell time of searchers that visit your content. The CTR is how fast they click away from a link and back to search results (or away from the content), and the dwell time is how much time they spend looking at a web page. To keep visitors on your page longer, your content should be rich in information, original, engaging, and highly relevant to the significant keywords located within the page itself. That will increase the dwell time for your web pages, and you should make sure to use relevant and compelling headlines and headers within the content to reduce the click-through-rate, as well.
By making sure you are not committing any of the six SEO mistakes listed here, you are giving your content a proactive push toward more effective ranking on search results. Keep in mind, however, that SEO – like any technology – is always changing. It may not be a here today, gone tomorrow aspect of web design and online marketing, but it certainly is a here today, probably different tomorrow realm. Stay on top of changes to SEO as well as industry-related factors that could have a negative impact on your search rank, so you can be ready to make changes to your online presence as needed. This will ensure that you stay visible and competitive in today’s over-saturated digital marketing arena.