Note: This is a guest post by Duncan Kingori of serpbook, a leading SERP tracking tool. The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of Deepanshu Gahlaut’s Blog.
The recent shift in the Google ranking algorithm means what was yesterday’s great idea, is today’s mistake. With the recent addition of RankBrain, Panda, and Penguin, web ranking is now more focused on the quality of content rather than traditional keyword densities.
That said, optimizing SEO strategy requires two very important practices.
- A keen eye for useful practices
- Familiarity with common mistakes that may hurt your rankings
Let’s focus on common SEO mistakes that may adversely affect your rankings, as well the best ways to avoid them.
Issues with Meta-tags
Most people who develop SEO content don’t pay attention to the title/descriptions, and the best practices regarding the same. Meta title and description are important because they indirectly help in search rankings. Here are a few pointers that might help:
- Maintain your title up to 65 characters. This is not only for the sake of indexing but for it to be easier to read. Titles that are too long tend to make it more difficult for readers to relate. The same applies to descriptions (recommended 160 characters). With the increase in the length of specification snippets by Google, making your site description too long has become ill-advised.
- Another common mistake is the presence of similar title tags on different pages. This makes it difficult for Google to understand which page to attach to which specific keyword set.
- The most important part of your content is the headline. You need to have one main one, then you can have a dozen more sub-headers if you want. DO NOT put multiple <h1> on your content. Having one main title makes it easier to map your content, and it makes semantic mark-ups more effective.
Meta tags make it easier for search engines to figure out what your web page is about. Ensure that you have a clear heading for every page on your site.
It is crucial to ensure that the links you attach to your site lead to the useful resources and to landing pages that add on to the content you have on your site. Having too many redirects on the page makes a user wait too long to get the content which mostly results in bounces.
- Use 301 for redirecting 404s
- Avoid redirect loop
- Use rel=nofollow in case you don’t want to vouch for a link
- Link on the relevant anchor text only
Website Load Time
Website owners rarely evaluate bounce rates on their sites. This is one feature that gives you a clear indication of how resourceful your website actually is. Filling your site with videos, photos, and banners may increase aesthetics, but it might slow down your site, and increases load time.
How to lower load time:
- Get an expert to evaluate code issues. Use GTmetrix or Pingdom to analyze load time and problems with code.
- Compress image sizes.
- Limit plugins.
- Employ the use of caching programs.
- Use Google PageSpeed Insights to know how your website is performing in Desktop and Mobile devices.
- Minify JS and CSS files.
Many people fail to realize that a website requires constant attention. Running a website requires a keen eye. This is mainly due to the fact that problems do tend to creep in over time, so it is important to be able to find and rectify them as quickly and effectively as possible.
Failing to constantly audit your site to improve and differentiate on content leads to several problems including;
- Broken website links. This is usually a result of differentiating content. Replacing content invariably causes broken links, so it is important to take precautions, this can be done by inserting 301 redirects as a counter-measure.
- Lack of audit can also result in duplicate content.
Unlike previous times when you could get away with just about anything, improvements on Google ranking algorithm has now evolved to a point where you will get penalized for shoving keywords where they don’t belong.
Keywords now need to go with the flow of content, which means that the only way to improve your rankings is to invest in unique, relevant material.
Average/Low Quality Content
What many site owners don’t realize is, user-experience is the single most important element in the development of Google SEO metrics.
How useful is the content on your site? Does it solve a problem? Does it answer fundamental questions?
How useful your content is will directly influence your ranking. In equal regard, if people constantly bounce off your site, it means they aren’t getting what they are looking for. It is crucial to ensure you have quality and unique content that is focused on value, and not just on keeping your site alive.
Black Hat tactics
Many sites are susceptible to penalties because they opt for strategies and tactics that are far from legitimate. Trying to cheat your way into a favorable SERPs ranking may work on short time, but it will hurt you and your business in the long run. Some of these techniques include:
- Stuffing keywords on low-quality content.
- Hiding some words on the web page.
- Stealing content (or copyright violations) that has already been put on other sites.
- Showing different content to users and search engines (cloaking).
- Buying or selling links.
Invest in good content. That is the single most effective way to earn your way into the ranks of authoritative websites.
Many site owners have the nasty habit of putting the same content on multiple sites. This adds no value. It will, in the long run, adversely affect your Google ranking once you get flagged. Granted, creating quality content isn’t easy, but if you want to improve your rankings, then you might want to consider outsource content management instead of duplicating what you already have.
Google is not a fan of duplicate content, and although it may be a little difficult to constantly come up with new content, there are ways to counter. Repurpose content. Give it a different angle.
Low Word Count
When it comes to SEO, more really is more!! Google’s focus is not only on high quality web content, but also on the volume of the same. In essence, the more content you have, the easier it is for Google to index and to figure out what your page is about.
Posting snippets and having content that has low word count doesn’t do you any favors. The limit should be anything from 300 words and above. The key is to also ensure that the text is relevant, and not just the sum total of keywords stuffed to make up the numbers.
Recommended Reading: Code To Text Ratio: What You Need To Know
Create unique content, not just text meant to keep your site alive.
Ads are usually an indication that your site is doing well. Good for you. For Google however, the key focus is user gratification. People tend to navigate away from your site much faster, if you have too many ads popping up. Ads tend to direct attention away from your site, which means the user doesn’t get what they came for.
While having ads isn’t entirely a bad thing, having too many of them will negatively affect user experience.
Lack of Web Monitoring Tools
The single most effective way to know how your SEO strategy is performing is to use analytic tools. Most websites fail to differentiate tactics simply because they have no idea of how their site is performing, or how to measure online success.
These resources are not a dab hand at making your site rank better. They are, however, useful because they give you a clear view of what works, and what doesn’t.
- Ahrefs – backlink indexing tool that gives you quality input on rank tracking, web monitoring, keyword performance, backlinks as well as overall content performance research.
- Google Analytics – is the biggest and best resource, if you are looking to optimize your SEO. It provides insights into the website traffic and how users are engaging with your content.
- SEMrush – helps you to research industry trends. You get a break down on keywords, ads, assists in research links among other key roles.
Lack of a Mobile-friendly Site
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly by now, then you’re definitely doing something wrong. With the roll out of mobile-first index and mobilegeddon, the key approach for any SEO strategy in 2019 is creating a site that is multi-device savvy.
Desktop-based sites are typically more complex, so you may need to tone it down a little if you want to improve the user experience for your mobile clientele. How well you respond to mobile-first indexing will directly influence your Google ranking.
So what is required?
- Better content, lesser decorative elements that may affect load-time.
- Easier navigation. Less complicated sign-up forms.
- More responsive website designs.
- Glitch free experience.
Bonus: SEO Techniques You Need To Stop Wasting Your Time On
What do you think about these common SEO mistakes? Would you like to add something? Please share in comments.