Many of our prospective clients approach us with the same problem: their websites can’t manage to rank highly on search engines despite their best efforts.
Some of these clients need a complete SEO overhaul – including a full breakdown of their technical SEO and extensive competitor analysis – while others are on the right track but might be making simple mistakes they’re unaware of. Simple mistakes can have significant consequences for SEO.
Here are 5 common SEO mistakes to avoid if you want to improve your search engine results.
1. Avoiding Audits
How do you correct a mistake you don’t know about? You don’t. The first SEO mistake to avoid is avoiding a site health audit.
A site health audit – like the name implies – is a review of everything SEO-related on your website to determine the site’s overall SEO “health.” Health audits are a broad series of observations about aspects of your site that impact its performance and keyword rankings.
Conducting a site health audit is a crucial first step for identifying areas where your site’s SEO could improve. We dive into some specific areas during our audits:
- Technical Health – The best content in the world won’t save your site if search engines can’t find it. First, we start with the Robots.txt and the XML sitemap to make sure everything looks good before moving on to the site’s schema, crawl errors, and backlink profile.
- Content – Not all content is created equal. You’ll see why when we dig deeper into content later in this blog post.
- User Experience and Conversion Rates – Conversions happen more often on easy-to-navigate websites. The last thing we check in our audits is user experience and how user-friendly, and thus convertible, your site is.
Site health audits can be time-consuming, but the mistakes they reveal are well worth the investment.
2. Using the Wrong Keywords
A recurring mistake we see a lot with new clients is trying to rank for generic keywords.
Let’s say your small bakery in Haddon Township, New Jersey is struggling to see the online traffic you know it deserves. We conduct a site health audit and discover that you’re trying to rank for the keywords “chocolate donut.” It’s a good instinct but think about how many bakeries across the world make chocolate donuts. All of them, probably. Think about the countless recipe websites that have multiple variations of chocolate donuts that they’re promoting.
You’re competing against the rest of the world when you use generic keywords for your website’s content. Your small New Jersey bakery has a very slim chance of ranking high for the generic “chocolate donut” keyword. Longer and more specific keywords, however, greatly increase those chances.
Rather than using “chocolate donuts,” try “New Jersey chocolate donuts” or “chocolate donuts near Haddon Township, New Jersey.” Not as many people will search for these more specific keywords, but those who do are more likely to become your actual customers because they’re obviously in the same area as you and want chocolate donuts.
People searching for your product in your area are the people you need to target. This brings us to our next mistake.
3. Ignoring User Intent
Search for “window repair services” on your preferred search engine and you’ll most likely see a long list of window installers in your area waiting to be hired. Search for “DIY window repair,” however, and you’ll get an endless list of helpful blogs and videos from do-it-yourself websites on everything you need to know about repairing a window by yourself.
What’s the difference in those searches? User intent. User intent is the main reason someone is searching for something, and search engines consider this when ranking sites.
A DIY blog targeting “window repair services” would struggle to rank because visitors quickly realize that this website isn’t for hiring local professionals and then leave. Instead, a DIY blog should focus on more specific keywords and phrases like “how to repair your own home windows” or “how to replace window glass by yourself.”
Knowing the why behind your audience’s searches can help you craft valuable content to target their specific questions directly.
4. Writing Weak Content
Curating valuable content is no easy task – it’s time-consuming, requires thorough research, and needs to answer the questions your audience is asking. In an act of shortsightedness, some businesses outsource content creation to content mills that pay random online writers as little as one penny per word, resulting in rushed and sloppy work.
Visitors to your website can tell the difference between genuinely valuable resources and lazily thrown together junk. Lazy content turns people away. They lose trust in your services.
If losing your audience’s trust isn’t enough, search engines also don’t like this type of writing. Search engines look for content that provides valuable information to its readers. Cheap content may be optimized for the proper keywords, but their shoddy construction won’t impress anyone.
If you must outsource content, work with reputable agencies or writers with a reputation for producing quality, custom, and creative content based on your goals and business aspirations. For no particular reason, you can find our data-driven content services page right here.
5. Keeping Default Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
If every page on your website has the company or website name as the title, you’re making a big mistake.
Each and every page on your site should have its own unique and descriptive title. Not only does this help search engines understand what the page is for, but the titles will also be displayed when the page link is shared, making them more likely to be clicked on if they have descriptive tags.
If you’re concerned about branding, include your company name at the end of the title. Take the title tag of this blog, for example – 5 Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid | Perfect Search Media
Meta descriptions should also be unique.
You can think of meta descriptions as 160-character elevator pitches to draw in your audience. If you don’t write a unique description, most content management systems will pull the first paragraph of your content to display as the description on search engines. It may be a solid introduction to the content, but your opening paragraph likely isn’t optimized and explicitly written to catch the attention of someone scrolling.
Title tags and meta descriptions are easy SEO opportunities that many young businesses overlook in their drive to get up and running. Look at every page of your website and make sure each has its own specific title tag and meta description.
Good SEO takes a lot of work. With so many moving parts, rules to remember, and search engines constantly making changes to those moving parts and rules, it can be easy to let SEO slip to the wayside.
Let Perfect Search Media worry about all that for you. From SEO to content to paid search services and more, we’re a full-service digital marketing agency that gets results. Get in touch with our experts and request a comprehensive site health audit today!