These 5 Common SEO Mistakes Can Kill Your Ranking
SEO is a touchy subject for many businesses. Not long ago did we see several shady SEO companies inundate the business world with promises of top results in 90 days and expensive contacts to follow. This experience has turned many small businesses off of SEO. Some have focused on buying their way to the top with poorly performing Google Ads. Others have abandoned search engine marketing altogether. I commonly hear, “We hired an SEO guy once, and he didn’t do anything except billing us.”
My approach to SEO is straightforward. Avoid common mistakes, create the best user experience and make technical adjustments as needed. Your site will rank well long term if it is more appealing to the end-user and technically appealing to Google. Trying to fool or game the system into getting top rank may work temporarily, but it isn’t going to be sustainable long term. Worse, your site may be penalized and eventually ignored by Google altogether.
Here are the common mistakes that I see small businesses make with their SEO.
Mistake #1: Ignoring Mobile Search
Most traffic these days is coming from mobile devices. How often are you on your phone versus sitting down on a desktop or laptop? If you said over 50% of the time, you’re right. Every year, more and more people prefer mobile devices. We must give mobile users the absolute best experience possible. That’s why I typically suggest building your site for the mobile browser first and then adapting or scaling this design for the increasingly less used desktop users. This type of design is called responsive, and several frameworks are available that make a responsive site easy to accomplish. It’s also important that all components are easy to use via a mobile browser. This includes your shopping cart and any other interactive part of your site.
Mistake #2: Little to No Content. Bad Content.
Content is like food for the search engines. The more relevant content you have, the more chance you have of Google finding your site and promoting it to the top. Remember, I said “relevant” content. Gone are the days when we can throw many words on a website and expect it to rank. Google uses something call machine learning algorithms to tell if a human is actually creating the content or not. If you are using article spinning software or generating your content via a “get rank quick” type plugin, you’re putting your site at risk. It’s worth spending the money on a professional content person who will write articles that are actually appealing to your end customer.
It’s also important to update and add content regularly to your site so that it doesn’t get stagnant. A site with new and exciting content is way more appealing to the end-user than an article written 10 years ago. Find out ways you can educate your customer by writing high-quality articles that answer their questions.
Mistake #3: Bad Technical SEO
Technical SEO is the art of presenting your site in a way the search engine can understand. It is the optimization of the underlying code that web browsers will translate. Google views this code and looks for content and hints as to what is on the page. Being able to present your page in the best possible way is important.
You don’t need to be an expert to determine what is wrong with your site from a technical SEO perspective. Many of the industry-standard tools such as SEMRush or Ahrefs will let you perform a site-wide technical audit. From this audit, you will find out exactly what is wrong from a technical perspective and work with your development team to fix these errors.
Mistake #4: Using Get Rank Quick Schemes
Everyone wants to be number one. The modern-day equivalent to snake oil salesmen is shady SEO guys that promise you rank. Absolutely NO company will ever be able to promise you will be at the top of the search engines. No one knows Google’s algorithm. We can only make decisions based on prior experience, industry standards, and the information Google makes public. No company or individual can guarantee you rank. If an SEO company is making you promises surrounding rank, run. This is a tell-tale sign of a scam.
In addition to being a waste of money, shady SEO companies often use temporary techniques that will eventually get your site in hot water with Google. Buying backlinks or other Blackhat SEO tactics are often a recipe for disaster. It would be best if you avoid these companies at all costs. They will only hurt your site long-term.
Mistake #5: No Outbound Links. Poor Inbound Links.
Search engines love to follow and spider sites. If they hit a dead-end, it’s often looked at as a problem. Think about it. Would you go down a one-way, dead-end street to get to another part of town? Why would the search engine? Now I understand you don’t want to be linking to a competitor. But what about industry standard sites that could prove your point or the use of your product? Oftentimes, I will link to reviews of our products or news articles that affect our industry. It’s important to help your customer by pointing them in the right direction when they have questions. Google sees this and will often reward you for it.
Your inbound links should also be scrutinized. Getting inbound links from spam sites? You can disavow via Google’s Search Console so that those links don’t count against your ranking. It’s important to look at all points in and out of your site and see if they make sense not only to Google but any potential customer.
Bonus Mistake #6: Slow Site Speed. Faster The Better.
The best sites on the internet are the ones that load fast. Google knows this and has made site speed a ranking factor. If your site has poor, slow hosting, not many people are going to stick around. We only have seconds to grab someone’s attention. Bigger sites like Walmart.com or Target.net find that they can make millions more per day by increasing site speed in just seconds. This is huge. While you’re not on their level, you can certainly learn from their experiences. The faster your site loads, the more money you’re going to make, and the more favorable you’re going to look in Google’s eyes.