Avoid These SEO Pitfalls and Watch Your ROI Grow
by Matt Chamberlin
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical staple of digital marketing, and when done right, it can attract a consistent stream of highly targeted visitors to your website. There are dozens of factors that go into a successful SEO campaign, but a large part of achieving high search engine rankings is knowing what practices to avoid. Below are some common pitfalls that can derail your SEO efforts, as well as some tips to help you avoid these traps.
1. Sparse or poor quality content.
The oft-repeated mantra that “content is king” is still very much the case, and without offering high-quality content that’s relevant to your target keywords, you won’t give the search engines the information they need to properly index and rank your site. Google has taken great strides to disregard web pages that provide a poor user experience, which in most cases means content is either too sparse or irrelevant to user queries.
Be sure to always keep the needs, interests, questions, and pain points of your audience in mind when creating and publishing your content, so that search engines will view your web pages as highly relevant to what users are searching for.
2. Poor on-page optimization.
On-page optimization refers to the various details of constructing a search engine-friendly web page, or one that can be easily crawled by search engine spiders. The bottom line is that if your page is difficult for search engine spiders to crawl, it will more than likely not be properly indexed, which basically means being stuck in a virtual no man’s land as far as search engine rankings go. Common on-page optimization mistakes include:
- Missing or mismatched title tags–e.g., the page’s title tag is either missing or has nothing to do with the content of the page
- Blocked pages due to robots.txt (https://moz.com/learn/seo/robotstxt)
- Missing or mismatched H1 and H2 headings–e.g., the main headings of your page are either missing or do not match the content
- Broken links
- Missing images
- Missing or inaccurate meta descriptions for your pages (this is the blurb of text that shows up under your website’s listing in the search engines)
- Image files do not have “alt” descriptions within the “img” tag
- Not including any of your target keywords or keyphrases within the page content
- Content that is primarily comprised of Flash animation, which cannot be read by search engine spiders
One of the best ways to identify these types of on-page optimization problems is to go into the “Crawl Errors” section of Google Webmaster Tools and generate a report for your particular web page, which will include Site Errors and URL Errors. This report will show you any issues that may be preventing Google’s spiders from accessing or crawling your web pages.
3. Poor off-page optimization.
For most websites, poor off-page optimization boils down to one thing: A lack of quality backlinks pointing to your pages. As Google’s algorithm has evolved throughout the years, the search engine has almost incessantly had to combat the underhanded techniques of spammers and “black hat” SEO practitioners who would commonly employ backlink spamming as a means to achieve a high search engine ranking.
Techniques would include fetching thousands of links from blog networks, mass article marketing, automated social bookmarking, etc., in an attempt to artificially inflate the “importance” of the web page in the eyes of the search engine. Google’s algorithm has since wised up to these kinds of techniques, and now more emphasis is being placed on garnering high-quality backlinks from relevant, authoritative pages.
Bear in mind that your search engine rankings can be negatively impacted by having links pointing to your pages from spammy or sketchy websites. Use Open Site Explorer or Majestic SEO to discover any links pointing to your site that may come from “bad neighborhoods,” and then remedy the situation by using Google’s link disavow tool, which basically notifies Google not to take those low-quality links into account when assessing your website.
4. Slow page load time.
Page load time is one of the more than 200 different criteria Google uses to determine your search engine rankings. If you have a lot of heavy scripts, plugins or high-resolution images on your page, it can bog down your page load time, which can hurt usability. This will not only affect your search engine rankings, but it can also increase your bounce rates, because users won’t stick around if they have to wait 10 seconds for your page to fully load.
As simple as these SEO pitfalls are to fix, you’d be surprised at how many websites fall victim to one or more of these detrimental practices. Use the list above as a guide to help you tighten up your site’s SEO viability, and watch your ROI grow as a result!