Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) works, and millions of businesses are realising the benefits of high search rankings which include:
– High traffic volumes of qualified visitors
– Free traffic that they do not have to pay for
– Increased visitor confidence because of high positions
– High brand awareness for little or no cost
– Greater profitability than other channels like pay per click advertising.
So, SEO traffic cannot be ignored, however many businesses go about it the wrong way.
Here are 10 mistakes that you are likely making in your SEO strategy:
1. Targeting high competition keywords
This is usually a consequence of not carrying out thorough keyword research to identify keywords that have lower competition levels but high or decent traffic volumes to receive many visitors. High competition keywords will often have millions of competing pages on Google and the listings on page one will be well resourced companies with high budgets to maintain those positions. For new websites, or businesses with low financial resources, these keywords should be avoided and instead focus on other keywords.
Examples of high competition keywords include ‘car insurance’ ‘jobs’ and many other one or two word keyword phrases. A search for these keywords in Google reveals that they have over 900 million competing pages, which is an impossible task for many businesses to achieve a page one ranking for.
2. Not studying competitors
Your competitors will be actively updating their sites and optimising their pages to achieve higher organic rankings. So it’s important that you do the same and start by checking how well optimised their sites are and checking:
– How many backlinks they have
– How many visitors they receive
– What their bounce rate is
– What is the average page view on their site
– Which countries they are targeting
There are free tools that can help you find this information like Alexa.com.
3. Creating lazy copy
I define lazy copy as copy that is not targeted or relevant to the needs of the people you want to engage. Achieving high rankings for this type of copy may be possible for a while but it’s likely to lead to a drop in rankings due to a high bounce rate, which is one of the factors Google considers in its algorithm.
So, each piece of content, blog post or article should address specific questions like the needs of visitors, who they are, what benefits are they seeking, how will they access it and so on.
4. Neglecting Bing, Yahoo & other Search Engines
Despite its high traffic volumes and popularity in the online world, Google is not the only substantial search engine and there are many others around the globe depending on where you are. Bing & Yahoo are two well known search engines which go back many years and together they drive over 15% of all search traffic. That’s a significant number and means that you should be optimising your site to appear higher on these search engines.
5. Not targeting long tail keywords
This relates to point number one which is about targeting high competition keywords. Long tail keywords offer many benefits like higher conversion rates, more specific searches and they collectively make up about 80% of search volumes. They are 3 or more keyword phrases and because of that they tend to be more specific and lead to better conversions and lower bounce rates.
Targeting long tail keywords as part of an SEO Strategy requires that each of your landing pages has unique content that is well written and has a high word count (preferably above 500 words per page). That ensures that many related words are included in the content and makes it easier to appear for a higher number of long tail keywords.
6. Not tracking progress
Have a clear plan of what you want to achieve – which keywords you want to rank for each page and by when – and then create a spreadsheet to track the progress. Also, you can use SEO software like SeRanking.com which includes dashboard reports that show how your site is performing on all search engines and targeted countries for your keywords.
7. Site not mobile responsive
A mobile-responsive site is a must nowadays. Because of the increase in mobile traffic over the years, Google and other search engines now rank sites higher that are mobile-responsive and create a great user experience for visitors. Getting your site responsive is easy and cheap and if you are on WordPress.org – there are free plug-ins and themes in WordPress.
Many website owners don’t change the default title tags when they create their website and this is usually the name of the business – without any keywords – and that default tag is applied across the site. The business name in the title is important for sure, but keywords should be added too, and this can be changed manually or you can use a plug-in like SEO Yoast if you are on WordPress.
9. Not submitting a sitemap
You should submit a sitemap to Google and Bing to ensure that all pages are indexed. A sitemap is a file that lists all the pages that you want the search engines to index and it can be created as XML and submitted to Google and Bing. After creating your file, you will need to create a Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools account and then submit it to each of the engines.
When the Googlebot arrives at your site, it will often not find all pages, especially if it’s a large site with many levels, that’s why a sitemap is the easiest way to tell Google and other search engines about all the pages that you want indexed.
This is one of the major reasons why many sites never achieve high organic rankings. A backlink strategy sets out how you will acquire links that will help push your site up the rankings. Sites with more links which are of a higher quality consistently outrank sites with lower quality links and fewer links. However, this does not mean you should buy links because that is likely to get you penalised, but you can acquire quality links from directories and sites that are willing to publish your content and point a link back to it.
And the best way to get links is to create quality content and blog posts that will elicit free links from other sites and your audience. The most important thing is to be consistent in your link building strategy because it will pay off in the end.