Search engine optimization. Chances are you’ve heard of it. You probably even know how important it is, but maybe you aren’t sure what it really means or what tactics can help improve it.
To the non-marketer or layman, SEO can be a difficult concept to grasp. Truth is, SEO is not that complicated, and you can improve your site’s ranking by doing several basic things. While there are countless practices for improving SEO, a few things must be made a priority.
Fix these common SEO mistakes and you will be certain to notice improvement in your overall website health and ranking over time.
1. Website can’t be crawled
If your website isn’t indexed properly, it isn’t crawlable—meaning search engines are unable to find and scan its content. Pro tip: Connect your site to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools so you can learn even more about how search engines see your site.
2. Generic homepage title
Imagine your website was a book. The title on the front cover is the first thing people would read. Similarly, the homepage meta title is the single most important piece of SEO real estate. Make sure it contains your business name and the most important keywords describing what your business does or what your site is about. Pro tip: Ideally, every page of your website, but certainly the most important pages, should have unique page titles and meta descriptions.
3. Broad or narrow keyword targeting
Targeting keywords and phrases that are too competitive or that no one is searching for is a huge problem. Think like a user. Ask yourself, “What would I search if I were looking for this page?” Start by writing down all the words and phrases that come to mind. Run those keywords through a traffic estimation tool or perform the searches in Google on your own; see what publishers and content rank well. Pro tip: If other high-ranking, authoritative websites rank well for the keywords you’re going after, chances are you will not beat them. Consider going after more specific terms. MozBar is a wonderful Google Chrome extension to use for checking the domain authority of any website or webpage, as well as other SEO elements.
4. Bad or duplicate content
The catchphrase, “content is king,” became popular because it’s true. Google does not like duplicate content or content that is overstuffed with keywords. Well written website copy that clearly articulates what the page or website is about is crucial in achieving good rankings. Pro tip: Google is smart enough to connect a user query with your content, even if the query does not exactly match the target keyword phrase. Consider how people type and include those phrases in your copy.
5. “Building” links
Links are important. When other websites link to yours, it shows credibility. Google sees highly authoritative links as being more valuable than links from sites with lower domain authority. When thinking about ways to obtain links from other sites, focus on compelling content and marketing rather than link building as a practice. Pro tip: Ask yourself, “Why would someone want to link to my website or this piece of content we developed?”