Search engine optimisation (SEO) should be a key player in any digital marketing strategy. There’s a common misconception that SEO is only for market and industry leaders, but it can offer larger benefits to startups and small enterprises by raising their search engine rank and increasing the number of organic visitors.
While investing in SEO can prove to be profitable, many make damaging mistakes. This can lower search engine rank or even result in serious penalties – even some of the biggest names out there like BBC and BMW have been black-listed by Google for bad SEO practices.
What are these common mistakes? Are you committing an SEO faux pas? And how can you avoid them? We’ve put together a list of common SEO mistakes businesses are making, to help you improve your digital marketing strategy.
Hiding and Stuffing
Research SEO and you’ll find an abundance of results relating to keywords. Selecting the right keywords are essential to generate organic traffic – i.e. visitors who find your website by searching for relevant terms, such as cheap holidays in Spain or rose gold watches. After choosing appropriate keywords, it may be tempting to flood or ‘stuff’ your site with them, but this is a major no-no!
Hiding goes one step further than stuffing, by making text white in order to camouflage as part of the background. While your visitors won’t be able to see it, search engines certainly can and as a result, your site may be penalised for containing spam.
Forgetting About Crawl and Index
In order for your time consuming SEO work to be effective, your website must be both crawl-able and index-able. In terms of search engines, this refers to anything you want crawlers (or search engine spiders) to be able to read and requires an XML sitemap for indexing purposes.
In addition to XML, boost the rank of your content by using tags – crawlers are unable to read images so alt tags are required. Tags come in a number of forms, including titles, meta descriptions, alt tags and transcripts for audio and video. It’s also important to provide text with flash, as this can pose a problem to search engines.
Web Only Formats
Streamlining platform optimisation has been a hot topic for a couple of years, ever since Google’s first mobile compatibility SEO update in 2015. If it hasn’t been a central part of your SEO strategy thus far, that should change in 2017 with the introduction of the mobile-first index, which effectively redefines the way sites are evaluated and ranked.
Previously, sites were primarily analysed and indexed from a desktop point of view but this new update puts mobile first. Clearly, it’s never been more important to ensure that your site can work seamlessly on multiple platforms.
Neglecting Local Search
If your business has a local address or physical location, part of your SEO strategy needs to incorporate keywords relevant to the area. This is because search engines treat global and regional searches differently. To boost lead generation and ranking in local results, include regional keywords and terms, claim your physical address on Google, add any opening hours and put your address at the bottom of your website.
Not Updating Strategy
SEO is not a strategy that can be learnt, memorised and then consistently applied. It’s an ever changing marketing tool with rules that are forever being reviewed and updated. Google’s latest update has caused something of a panic. Named ‘Fred’ – the most recent in a long line of tweaks – this update focuses on quality of links. In addition to already assessing keywords, Fred will now analyse the quality and content of the linked site. This means that the websites your site links to, as well as the sites that link to yours, will have a major impact on ranking.
Many SEO mistakes are made innocently, often from lack of knowledge or by neglecting to research new search engine updates. To help your site rise through the ranks and avoid penalties, don’t forget about tags, use relevant keywords correctly and create an XML map.
This guest blog was written by Alexa Cobbold from Ingenuity Digital
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