SEO(Search Engine Optimization) as a strategic marketing service has delivered stunning results for years. Many marketers swear by the efficacy of SEO. They make it a point to drive organic web traffic growth through a highly optimized site. The key advantages of SEO include:
- Significant improvement in conversion ratio
- Maximum ROI for clients
- Better website management
- More diversified client base
- Increased visibility and awareness about brand
These reasons are sufficient enough to make SEO the main digital marketing strategy for any marketer. However, SEO needs to be carefully calibrated to align with client businesses and the demographics of the audience being targeted. Otherwise, it will fail to serve its purpose. Many SEO service providers go through an elaborate trial-and-error method before getting the right results for a client. Others present off-the-shelf solutions with the belief that ‘one plan fits all’.
No matter what the approach, there are some definite no-no’s that any SEO company should avoid when planning their SEO strategy. Here we present the “Seven common SEO mistakes ” that need to be prevented at all costs by SEO providers.
- Not optimizing the words customers use in searching for your products or services – When customers want to search for pan fried pizza, they might be searching for ‘how to prepare pan fried pizza’ or ‘order pan fried pizza <local destination>’. In both cases, using just ‘pan fried pizza’ in your website as a keyword/phrase will not land you on the top of search rankings, and it is not relevant to your potential customers.
The solution – In order to make certain you are seen by the right people, you have a few tools at your disposal – such as the Google AdWords keyword tool and Google Insights for Search. These tell you the number of times and frequency your words come up in a search. This allows you to make a decision on using those words or certain terminology that people commonly use. What’s more, both are absolutely free.
- Not permitting search engines to go through your site – Many website developers keep web pages hidden from search engines at the time of developing or testing. This is done by either placing a file called “robots.txt” on the site or using a ‘robots’ meta-tag in the individual web pages. If the developer then neglects to remove these tags later, the ‘searchability’ of your entire site is compromised since indexing by search engines will not be possible for it.
The solution – Check (either yourself or through a web developer) for the presence of a ‘robot tag’ and remove it if it is not needed in the current context of the site. The ‘robots’ tag looks something like this:
<meta name=”robots” content= “noindex”>
Secondly, check if the link “www<sitename>.com/robots.txt” opens a page with the content below:
This command states that all URLs inside the site should be disallowed from Google and other search engines to crawl, index and rank the pages, so it makes sense to remove these. This ensures that your site is discoverable by search engines and this will improve its ranking. You can read up more on robots.txt analysis from Matt Cutts.
- Unnecessary focus on link building – If you focus too much on link building and give it priority over captivating content and other marketing strategies, then you’re on the wrong track. Link building is a good way to appear in numerous websites and thus improve ranking. However, the focus should not completely shift to just this one aspect. Web developers and marketers need to understand that this is just one of the many options available to enhance the visibility of the website.
The solution – Rather than focusing only on search engines, keep a balance of focusing both on people and search engines. Attention should be paid to other critical aspects of SEO such as:
- Creating compelling and sales-persuasive content
- Marketing the website so that it becomes a valuable resource for your target audience
- No clear and assertive call to action – Even if the website has the ability to be discovered, and even if the readers are attracted enough to read through the content, that’s not enough. There will be no further action from them after reading through the site unless you tell them clearly what needs to be done so that they can obtain the service or products that you provide.
The solution – Keep in mind that the end goal is not simply bringing visitors to your site. Rather, it is converting those visitors into customers. For example, if you have a physical store, then include business hours and an easy way to find the address so that local customers can easily find it right away. If you offer a service through a website, add a ‘testimonials’ and a ‘portfolio’ page that gives visitors the confidence that you are indeed the right person for their project(s).
- Not giving Google enough text to crawl and index – A website that contains a lot of images or Flash (I think you are already out of Flash now) or scripting is unlikely to give the necessary ‘meat’ to Google to be able to crawl through the website with any meaningful results. As a result, further steps of indexing and improving the ranking of the website are not possible at all.
The solution – Make sure that you keep your use of text within images to the bare minimum. This way more web page space can be dedicated to creating HTML based text content, which Google can parse and make use of for indexing purposes. It also helps devices with limited processing resources (such as mobiles or tablets) to load the pages faster and thus improve the overall user experience.
- Limited sharing – Over the last decade, Social Media sharing has become a major factor in driving the success of many businesses. In this context, it is a grave mistake to not make full use of this powerful functionality within the website. Sharing over Social Media provides dual benefits of both increasing coverage of your brand and allowing optimization of the site for better SERP ranking.
The solution – Make sure that the following steps are taken for easy sharing of content:
- Ensure that every web page has a distinct and descriptive URL address
- Content shouldn’t come up in pop-ups that don’t have URL
- When utilizing video/image backlinks for sharing, make sure that they link back to a page that has the video embedded within the page rather than a standalone video on another site.
- Not using relevant or descriptive anchor text for internal links – Search engines pick up cues on what the site or page is all about with the help of the words used in the internal links. Adobe’s website was once guilty of making this mistake. They had made all of the site’s internal links buttons with the caption ‘Click Here’. The result – Adobe would come up at the top of the ranking when somebody searched for ‘Click Here’. Obviously, that didn’t help anyone, defeated the purpose of SEO, and just made them look inept. Don’t make the same mistake.
The solution – In the case of Adobe, it would’ve been better if the relevant link was titled something like ‘Download Adobe Reader’ instead of ‘Click Here’. So when visitors searched for ‘Download Adobe Reader’, they would be correctly redirected to this link, which is what the site’s visitors expected.
Every marketer has the goal of always getting the maximum coverage of his or her targeted audience to the client’s websites so that sales can grow the way they should. The mistakes we discussed above should make what you have to do to sabotage your website in terms of SEO.