SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a vital cog in the digital marketing world and it’s not going anywhere. In terms of determining ROI, SEO is possibly one of the most powerful marketing tools available. While PPC advertising puts you in front of your customers much faster, it can be an expensive process and doesn’t always yield the desired results.
Search Engine Optimisation may take longer but the quality of leads you generate is well worth the effort. Remember, SEO is all about building brand awareness and online reputation organically using a variety of ranking factors. This includes quality content with relevant keywords or phrases, inbound and outbound links, page structure and overall website performance.
What Happens When SEO Goes Wrong?
If you’ve experienced a major drop in search engine rankings, perhaps your website has not been properly optimised. There are a few factors to take into consideration which we refer to as the 7 Deadly Sins Of SEO.
1. Incorrect Or Broken Links And Redirects
A website containing links is a good thing but only if it goes to relevant and quality sites and if it actually works. Broken or poor quality links can seriously affect your online portfolio and search rankings. According to a recent SEMrush study looking at 100,000 websites, the most common SEO issues in terms of links include the following:
- Temporary redirects
- External links with ‘nofollow’ attributes
- Internal links with ‘nofollow’ attributes
- Broken internal and external links (which is totally unacceptable)
- Incorrectly configured www domains
- 4XX (bad syntax) errors
- 5XX server errors
Getting the combination of ‘dofollow’ and ‘nofollow’ links right will give you a natural link profile that search engines will reward. After all, inbound links are the lifeblood of a successful SEO strategy and combining it with high-quality and engaging content will further encourage people to link to you and share your content across social media.
Related article: ‘Beginner’s Guide To Search Engine Optimisation’
2. Slow Loading Speed And SEO
In today’s digital marketing world with better technology and software, a slow-loading website is simply unacceptable. Fact is, websites that take an age to load is a major contributing factor to webpage abandonment and bounce rates. In addition to poor quality images and content, slow web response times will result in your visitors ending their search and going elsewhere.
To add more perspective, here’s a basic breakdown of load time versus the probability of an increase in bounce rate. This data was collected in 2017 from a Google Page Load Time Study.
- 1-3 seconds: 32%
- 1-5 seconds: 90%
- 1-6 seconds: 106%
- 1-10 seconds: 126
If you want to maintain a good click-through rate and search engine rankings, it’s best to keep your site load speed to a minimum.
3. Failing To Include A Sitemap
Another cardinal SEO sin is not including an XML sitemap and, surprisingly, many companies forget the importance thereof. Without a sitemap, you effectively block search engine bots from properly indexing your unlinked pages and rank your site in search engine results. Sitemaps are essential for SEO because they make it easier for search engines, like Google, to find your web pages.
There is literally no downside of including a sitemap and really should consider it especially in the following circumstances:
- If you have dynamically created web pages on your site which is often the case with some e-commerce sites
- When your website is not well-structured or contains several bad internal links
- A newly designed website or a site with few external links
- Large websites with loads of archived content that may not be linked properly
Remember to verify your sitemap once you’ve uploaded it to your server which you easily do through Google Webmaster Tools. Be sure that your XML Sitemap follows the specific Sitemap Protocol 0.9 and that you use UTF-8 encoding.
4. Poor URL Structure
Using appropriate URLs for your web pages is essential if you want visitors to easily find you and for social sharing. If human visitors can’t easily read or identify with your URL, search engines may also struggle.
Maximise your online visibility and search engine rankings by doing the following:
- Keep URL’s simple and easy to understand and avoid long URL’s with irrelevant information
- Include your primary keyword or phrase
- Use hyphens between words (‘ecommerce-marketing-tips’)
- Avoid keyword stuffing at all costs and only use words that describe the content of the page
- Avoid capital letters in URL’s as they are case sensitive
- Use robots.txt to tell search engines to ignore dynamic URL’s pointing to your canonical URL
- Remove stop words such as “the”, “a”, “an”, “in” which search engines actually ignore when indexing search queries
5. Using Plagiarised Or Poor Quality Content
As mentioned earlier, content not only plays a huge role in building a good online brand but also for search engine rankings. Don’t think for a second that you can use plagiarised content or irrelevant data and still come out on top. In many cases, the biggest issues include duplicate content, low word count and low text-to-HTML ratio.
Every page on your website should contain valuable information that will educate visitors and encourage them to click on a call to action or read more. Always keep your content fresh and relevant in terms of your targeted keywords and the time of month or year. If your products or services are seasonal, be sure to include the right type of content at the right time. This includes pictures, images, infographics and videos appearing across your website.
6. Missing Meta Description And Tags
It’s important that you understand the impact that Meta titles, descriptions and tags have on SEO. The Meta title and description is what search engines show in the results pages and actually act as organic ad text. This can help boost traffic and click-through rates of your website’s organic search results.
Considering that Google typically uses blog post headlines and some of your text, if you don’t personalise your Meta title and description, your headlines may become truncated with long descriptions nobody wants to click. Each page, post or product on your website should have unique descriptions limited to 140-150 characters.
While header tags (H1) may not be a major ranking factor, they still play an important role. We recommend adding your primary keyword to at least 25% of your headings and remember to use proper formatting. This includes header tags, BOLD, Italics and also shorter paragraphs of 20 words or less. Some white space is good as it improves overall readability and user experience which also affects search results.
Top Tip: Never use too many keywords and don’t repeat the title!
7. Ignoring Social Media Affects SEO
As briefly mentioned earlier, social sharing of content is becoming even more important for all brands with an online presence. Fact is, social sharing carries considerable weight when it comes to search engine rankings.
If more people choose to share your content on social media, the better your engagement rate will be. As a result, search engines like Google will view your site in a much more positive light. Being more active on social media will help you grow a loyal follower base and increase your reach and engagement. You can make it even easier for visitors to share your content by simply adding social buttons on your site.
One final piece of advice is to always have a mobile-friendly website. Considering that more people are searching on mobile, ignoring responsive design and mobile SEO is a mistake. If you avoid these SEO sins and adhere to a few basic principles, you will reap the rewards in more organic traffic and revenue.
If you need help marketing your business online, please get in touch for a free consultation. WSI eMarketing specialises in SEO, PPC, social media management and Marketing Automation among others. We’d love to hear your thoughts on SEO mistakes you’ve come across or perhaps made yourself at some point. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest.