SEO is a minefield of sorts. Everybody claims to be an expert; advice abounds as does information. To complicate matters, Google's many rules regarding SEO means that even if your intentions are straightforward, you might end up making several technical SEO mistakes, and worse, not even be aware of them.
While there are many resources to understand the stumbling blocks one might encounter in formulating an SEO strategy, there is not much information out there that addresses the mistakes one might make and how to not make them again.
So here are some common SEO mistakes and how to avoid them:
- Keyword (over)use - In the halcyon days before Google’s Penguin and Panda updates, businesses found keyword usage to be an easy-breezy SEO strategy. Keyword stuffing resulted in pages and pages of random content that ended up ranked highly on Google's search results because the algorithm was not strong enough. But no longer. Today, websites can be penalised heavily for improper use of keywords and marketers have to understand that it can be counter-productive. The focus today must be on relevant, strong content that invites feedback, encourages interaction and is shareable -- instead of on how many keywords are used per sentence.
- Take a look at your links - Inbound links are the most crucial factor in ranking algorithms today. But in an effort to create inbound links, many companies build artificial and poor links that can completely have the opposite effect. Google penalties can pull down the website so badly that it might be a tough task to get back up there. Which is why it is important to build credible links that are organic and completely stay away from spammy and paid-for links.
- Focus on the content - Marketers know well that merely providing content will not increase rankings. Quality content has become a vital cog in the SEO wheel but many are clueless about the hows and whys of quality content. Quality content depends on the length of the content, the right inclusion of images and videos, relevant inbound links, proper usage of social media and trusted authorship.
- Conversion should be the goal -Many marketers make the mistake of focussing too much on traffic and too little on conversions. Without one, the other would not matter at all. From reading your content to actually buying your products/service, the customer must be guided along with the right calls for action, use of social media and leveraging of content.
- Is your speed up? - Today, search engines put a lot of emphasis on site speed. If your site is operating in a snail's pace, chances are that you are reducing your user's experience as well as dropping on rankings. Beware of oversized images, overuse of ads, absence of caching tools etc., which can adversely affect the speed of your website.
- Be mobile-friendly - As screen sizes reduce and more customers prefer mobiles to desktops, it is natural that search engines too would take this factor into consideration. In fact with Mobilegeddon, Google has brought mobile-friendly websites into focus. Hence, if you are using a system like WordPress, it makes sense to ensure that your webpages are mobile friendly and are a pleasant experience for your user.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid making SEO mistakes and suffering for it is to follow the straight path. In other words, there are no shortcuts to SEO success. Only high-quality, insightful, relevant and useful websites add value to customers’ lives and bring in the numbers.