Understanding SEO is the ultimate marketing discipline, especially in today’s highly digital world. If you want to drive traffic to your site and increase sales, you have to keep up with the ever-changing search engine algorithms.
Of course, in the process of trying to keep up with SEO demands, businesses make some critical blunders that hurt rather than help their search rankings. So, we asked a panel of Forbes Agency Council members to share SEO errors they often come across. Here are 15 common mistakes to avoid.
1. Ignoring Your ‘Google My Business’ Listing
One critical SEO error is not claiming or properly managing Google My Business listings. With Google continuing to place importance on “near me” searches, the single biggest opportunity for small businesses is to claim their location, provide all info and answer questions that come in. – Brian Sullivan, Sullivan Branding
2. Only Focusing On On-Site SEO
Most businesses still believe that SEO is just done on-site. Optimizing your website is a major component to ranking but you cannot overlook off-site strategies. It is essential that all businesses create engaging content for other websites. You need to allocate some time every month to having content placed on other websites that is keyword rich and has links pointing to your website. – Scott Darrohn, fishbat Media, LLC.
3. Overlooking Page Titles And Meta Descriptions
Too many times, I see websites with “Home” as the page title. Fixing your page titles and adding meta descriptions are such an easy thing to correct and so important to SEO. Most website CMS systems have the ability to change this by default but are normally overlooked when a small business owner is building their own website. – Thomas Brodbeck, Site Strategics
4. Not Running Regular Website Audits
An audit reviews your website’s performance from the client’s point of view and from the view of a search engine. Is site navigation user-friendly? Is relevant information easy to find? How quickly does the mobile version launch? Careful examination reveals ways to improve the site. An audit looks at search engine optimization, loading speed, the checkout process, content quality and so much more. – Jason Hall, FiveChannels Marketing
5. Leaving Old URL Structures In Place When Redesigning A Site
A common mistake that has a huge impact on SEO comes from revamping a website without redirecting traffic from old URLs to new ones. We use a 301 map that maps old URLs to new URLs. Then, we set up redirects in a staging environment, pre-launch. If you change the URL of a highly trafficked page, Google won’t know where to send that web searcher and you will lose that SEO traffic. – Ben LeDonni, CreativeMMS
6. Placing Important Text In Images Rather Than On The Page
It is easy to make something look nice in an image instead of actually coding the effects around the text. The problem here is that search algorithms look for text and can’t read the text inside images. Content is king, and you need to have words on your page to get indexed. – Omar Jenblat, BusySeed
7. Not Adding Fresh, High-Quality Content
Some businesses either don’t have a blog on their website or they do and the content isn’t providing any real value to the website visitors (customers). Make sure that you’re covering blog post topics on a healthy balance of keyword opportunities and FAQs from your audience to attain your goals of higher rankings and more conversions. – Matt Bowman, Thrive Internet Marketing Agency
8. Buying Backlinks
I sadly still see small businesses buying backlinks. What people don’t realize is that you’re typically buying banks of backlinks from flagged sites. Google doesn’t like that. Today, you need to earn them. Your link needs to appear on websites with high authority that have quality traffic. – Darian Kovacs, Jelly Digital Marketing & PR
9. Building Content Specifically For Algorithms
Discovering errors requires focused attention on what is working and involves removing one’s ego. Stop building for algorithms. Put together a big-picture content strategy that will give you a significant competitive advantage and drive the targeted interest you desire. – Michaela Dempsey, Scout RFP
10. Falling Behind On SEO Trends
Search engine optimization is not going to become obsolete anytime soon. Being that the SEO world is ever-changing, the No. 1 error small businesses make is sticking to the same SEO marketing strategies. With trends, such as voice search, taking over the digital marketing game, it is important to continuously make sure your business is being found through every channel online. – Arya Bina, Kobe Digital
11. Skimping On Your Website
Despite ever-changing algorithms, a website fully optimized for search will always remain a priority. Hiring that cousin who is “good with computers” to build a quick and cheap website may seem like a good idea, but it could cost you dearly in SEO rankings. Web content, metadata, page names and navigation are all critical to SEO. Small businesses should think twice before skimping on a website. – Keri Witman, Cleriti
12. Treating SEO As A One-Time Task
Many small businesses treat SEO as a “set it and forget it” tactic. Many have the impression that with the right amount of technical optimizations, their websites can achieve perpetual SEO-friendliness. Small businesses should continually expand the breadth of their websites to accommodate highly relevant content about their products and services, while also leveraging user feedback and reviews. – Joshua Slodki, PACIFIC Digital Group
13. Cramming Keywords Into Your Copy
Don’t write content or copy for SEO; write it for your target audiences. Too often, businesses try to cram keywords and phrases into web pages or content marketing pieces, and it looks like they’re trying too hard (because they are). Your focus should be addressing your customers’ needs by crafting thoughtful and relevant content, and the SEO should take care of itself. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications
14. Not Researching Customer Questions
Don’t forget to address important questions: What types of questions trigger a search for your keywords? What answers do visitors need before they feel comfortable buying from you? Look at the “People Also Ask” and “related searches” in search results related to your keywords, and use tools like Answer The Public. This can improve not only SEO but user experience and conversion rates as well. – Jamey Bainer, PACIFIC Digital Group, Inc.
15. Lack Of Unique Keyword Targeting
Proper keyword targeting on a page-by-page basis is one thing that seems to be consistently missed. Each page should have certain keyword targets in mind and they should come across naturally in the URL, title, content, etc. Beautiful websites are great, but if you want people to find your site, you cannot ignore the content. Simple content adjustments can have big impacts on ranking and traffic. – Michael Weinhouse, Logical Position