Yesterday, we talked about the reasons why your website might not be getting the traffic you expected when you launched it. One of the most important factors to that equation is SEO. Learning how to identify and fix common SEO mistakes should become a top priority if you have a site that needs better organic traffic sooner than later.
The biggest frustration for many business owners is Googling their business name and not finding it indexed properly, or even at all (incidentally, we covered that latter scenario last week). While basic optimization of your site can at least get you indexed, Google takes poor SEO seriously and your ranking can plummet as a result.
With the holiday season approaching, you don't want to get lost in the dust of your competitors. It’s possible that you’ve made some subtle SEO mistakes on your site, which can pull you back just enough to hurt your traffic, and thus your conversions and sales.
The good news is, you don’t have to be an SEO savant to fix this. Many problems require simple awareness and perhaps an hour or two to fix. Of course, with a dedicated web team working with you, these can get scoped out faster and fixed without you having to ask.
Let's delve into some SEO mistakes you may be making. When solved, you can start to see better search engine results by the first quarter of the new year.
Page Title Problems
Something as simple as your page titles could have serious implications in your SEO strategy. The most common issue is a page title that's too long. If you’ve wondered why so many businesses use one word or simple catchphrases for their titles, it’s as simple as this: they know a long sentence throws a monkey wrench into effective SEO principles.
The way to fix this is to create a page title under 70 characters. This is the first thing users will see when searching for certain keywords (or your business itself), so brevity is important. Even so, think of specific keywords that uniquely relate to your business and place them in your title.
Another major thing to scope out in regard to page titles is whether your keywords are realistic enough or not. Google's keyword search tool helps you determine what people are most apt to use to search for your business or relevant topics. You want to pick keywords that are being searched for, but you might not want to compete with millions of other sites for a spot on the first page of a Google search. It requires a delicate balance between being unique, yet not overly general either.
Other Keyword Problems
As you can see, using the right keywords matters in all of your SEO. It matters just as much with internal keywords on each page of your website. Be sure to create a list of keywords pertaining to each page and use them there. This helps visitors instantly find a specific page on your site if they search for that term.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should stuff a page with nothing but keywords in a hope to rank for all of them. That’s just bad SEO, and a pretty crappy approach to content in general.
What, you may ask, if the page that someone lands on isn’t exactly where you want them to go? No matter—as long as your navigation is clear and user-friendly, they can find their way to your home page or other relevant pages easily.
ALT Tags on Your Images
You've perhaps forgotten that optimizing for search on your images helps considerably with a higher search placement. By associating all of your images with alt text, you create a more powerful SEO combination.
Making your site more user-friendly is already an important design concept for both desktop and mobile. By adding alt text to all your images, this helps in appearance as well as SEO. If you have a WordPress website or a well-constructed custom CMS, adding ALT tags takes a matter of seconds.
Missing Meta Data
Adding meta data to your site is essential to keep your SEO in order. Experts note, though, that meta tags don't always get defined as meta data. It pays to know the difference between what an attribute of a tag is in comparison to other meta tags.
Check your title tags, your meta description tags, and your meta keyword tags to make sure they're fully optimized. Another tag to look out for is your robots tag, a code indicating whether a search engine should index specific material or not. By using this, you enhance your SEO for only certain content on your site.
Checking Formatting Issues
You've perhaps heard of the H1 and H2 tags, yet felt mystified over their roles. The H1 tag itself plays a vital role in your rankings since it visually formats the headings on your website for human visitors and indicates the importance of said headings to search engines. (HINT: This is also a good place for your keywords.)
Experts note that your page titles are usually given H1, and all other header tags descend based on how you'd structure a book full of chapters. This makes your site more user-friendly, plus helps your SEO formula.
Balancing all of the elements of a good website—great design, solid code, optimized pages, etc.—can feel labyrinthine at times, we know. But if your business depends on your site to drive awareness and sales, simple fixes like those outlined above can make a world of difference between you and your competitors. Plus, with your ducks in a row content- and SEO-wise, you can create a solid foundation for your site to evolve and grow along with your business.