SEO, like the web, is constantly evolving. As search engines strive to improve both the quality of results as well as overall user experience, we need to keep these evolutions top of mind in order to stay relevant and ultimately, successful. Gone are the days of black hat SEO, shortcuts and quick fixes- thanks to Google’s persistence.
I know- change is tough. Yet, as the SEO landscape continues to shift, companies unwilling to change their ways risk losing whatever SEO equity they’ve created. The good news is that we’re here to help and there’s no time to take advantage of SEO’s best practices like the present. In order to get you started we’ve outlined 4 common SEO slip-ups. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Seriously, content first. Good content. Not keyword-stuffed content developed by an offshore contractor that charged $1 per 250 words. Yuck. Consider this: your website’s content is like a good meal. If you order off the dollar menu, you’re going to get dollar menu quality food. On the flip side, if you spring for a 22-day dry aged bone in rib eye, you’re getting a much higher quality meal and product. You can’t feed your website visitors a flimsy meat patty and expect them to believe it’s a steak, it’s just that simple.
Value is everything, and you want to give your loyal patrons something substantial to chew on (pun intended). What’s more, poorly written (and executed) content with little value will not entice your visitors to share what you’re providing. Just like a good meal, you want them to walk away satisfied and telling all their friends that they “need to check this place out.” Your content needs to be organized, fresh and easy to read in order to be valuable and shareable.
Duplicate Titles, Tags & Meta Descriptions
Every page within your website should have its own unique title and meta description. These are extremely important SEO elements because they represent vital pieces of information that are utilized on Search Engine Results Pages’ (SERP) preview snippets. Specifically, a snippet is a page’s title, coupled with a short description, which is what shows up when a specific term is searched and results are returned. The title tag accurately defines a page, letting Google’s crawlers understand that the page is distinct from another. The description gives a brief overview and describes your page to search engines. Both elements will immediately tell a user whether that page is going to be relevant to them. An optimal length for your title tag will be between 50-60 characters, since that’s the amount Google typically displays.
If a page has no title, or it’s named “Untitled,” Google will use their best judgment to pull the best title for the page. Additionally, if you have duplicate title tags and/or meta descriptions across multiple pages, Google will try to figure out a better web page title and description. Now, while they may show a different title or description to the user, these duplicate title tags and descriptions have a negative effect on your page’s scoring. Google is willing to help but only to a certain point but it’s on you to control your titles, tags and meta description destiny.
One reason Google is so forthcoming with information on how to help your website’s SEO (albeit they’re still a bit shrouded in mystery) is because they want to provide users with the best experience possible. Happy users return again and again to search for other topics that are top of mind. Your rankings are going to be negatively effected if you’re linking to content that no longer exists (404’s) or are improperly redirecting (302’s). Spiders are constantly crawling pages trying to index and rank them. When a page is broken, the spider can’t read it and subsequently that page is not indexed. Basically, it’s a missed opportunity for you and a nuisance to your users. Just imagine you’re searching online for a getaway package to Fiji and you’re certain you’ve found the right one. You click on the link. It’s broken- just like your dreams. How frustrating! Instead of lounging on a beach or flying over the Mamanuca Islands, you’re stuck searching for a new deal.
Failing to Optimize Images or PDFs
Search engines are incredibly smart but they crawl and understand data differently than we do. They speak a different language, and we’re the translators. Images and PDF’s, for example, aren’t read or “seen” by search engines like we see them. Providing appropriate and descriptive content for each image gives search engines more information about them. You’re essentially translating what they can’t understand and in doing so you’re making images or PDFs crawlable. To facilitate this, images also need to be saved using short but descriptive file names. For example, saving and uploading an image as “IMG0123.jpg” as opposed to “common-seo-slipups.jpg” gives spiders a whole lot less to go on. Finally, the “alt” attribute option on image assets should be utilized to specify alternative text for each uploaded image, which will also show if the image isn’t loading properly.
If you’re ready for more information, or you think you could use a little help with your website’s SEO you can visit our SEO Audit page and fill out the contact form. We’d love to hear from you!