Sometimes, maintaining a healthy website ranking may feel like an endless struggle. Even a mysterious puzzle. The truth is, you could be missing out on opportunities simply because you are overlooking one or two basic habits in managing your content.

Let me take you through some common search engine optimisation (SEO) mistakes, and what can be done to fix or avoid them.

SEO Mistake #1: Not targeting the right keywords

Sure, you’re putting your all into creating beautifully crafted copy. But possibly, you aren’t including words people are searching for? Are you answering real questions that potential customers would have on their minds?

If you are not providing answers to people’s queries, how are they going to find you?

WHAT TO DO: Know your audience and do a little research.

There are a few avenues to getting some feedback from your ideal target audience:

  • Use a little empathy and imagination: You know your product or service. You know what it does. Why do your customers want it? What are you solving for them?
  • Join online groups: Social networks and forums – go where your customers would go. You may be hanging out with people selling what you sell, but this is about hanging with your customers. Once you are there, ‘listen’ to people. What are their issues? What are their desires? What language are they speaking? Make sure to join in the conversations to get some further truths.
  • Feedback from your existing customers: Collect questions they ask and any direct feedback on what you have done for them. Send them a survey. Ask them if they have any questions.
  • Google’s Keyword Planner: Using the Keyword Planner, you can ‘Search for new keywords’ by entering your keyword ideas and then be presented a list of suggested similar phrases.
    The Adwords Help “About Keyword Planner” page will tell you how to access the tool and provide steps on how to use it.

A solid keyword research process will give you a clear overview of what to talk about on your website and what types of keywords to use so you can rank better and attract more website visitors.

SEO Mistake #2: Poor Content

What do you do when you come across a page crammed with text? No headings. Long paragraphs. Do you think about reading the first few dull sentences, hoping it might actually have something useful to say? Or do you move on?

Don’t fall into the trap of filling your pages with words simply to fill the pages with words! If you’re doing that just to get Google’s attention, or to look meaty to website visitors… believe me, you’re wasting your time.

WHAT TO DO: Get some passion into your copy.

Write well-structured, easy-to-read content that offers value to the reader. Or if you don’t have the time, hire a proficient internet-experienced writer to write great copy for you.

SEO Mistake #3: Broken Links

This is a common issue. You may have a Resources page on your site, or refer to an external website within your content. Though a good idea at the time, your reference may eventually be moved or disappear completely.

Not only can this look a bit unprofessional to your website visitors, but it’s a negative on your website’s search rankings.

WHAT TO DO: Check your site links regularly.

There are free online link checking tools you can use, such as Online Broken Link Checker. And for WordPress users, the free plugin Broken Link Checker can do the trick. It can even email you to fix broken links when it finds them.

SEO Mistake #4: Duplicate Content

For some reason, you may have duplicated a page on your website. Or maybe you have a large block of content repeated on a few pages, such as a form or promotional block. This doesn’t place a penalty on your page, but what you are doing is basically competing with yourself. The ranking potential for your duplicated content is watered down.

As for copying content from another website…. don’t! It’s not legal, and you could suffer penalties to your Google Search placement.

WHAT TO DO: Remove or rewrite.

If you have content that calls for a repetitive block of information, either move that block to its own page and link to it from the other pages. Or make sure the repetitive block takes up only 30% or less of each page.

A great tool for checking content duplication within your pages is Siteliner.

If you have permission to share information from another site, rewrite most of it before including it on your own site.

SEO Mistake #5: Missing image ‘alt’ tags and poor image names

Your images could be spectacular on screen, but that’s not what Google is seeing. It’s seeing something more like this:

<img src=”../images/DSC_0274.jpg” alt=””>

The image tag offers an opportunity to optimise your page a good deal more.

WHAT TO DO: Make image filenames and alt tags relevant.

Give your images meaningful file names and alt tags, and you are giving Google some valuable information in regards to what you are about.

For example:

<img src=”../images/penne-napolitana.jpg” alt=”Handmade Penne Napolitana”>

SEO Mistake #5: Keyword Stuffing

You still need to build your page around a relevant keyword, but there is such a thing as stuffing too many keywords onto your page.

Here’s what it can look like:

“Feeling hungry for some great Italian food? Well, look no further for fresh, authentic Italian food, because our Italian food is the best Italian food in town. Next time you are booking a dinner, check out our Italian food menu and give us a ring!”

It looks ridiculous. And it ticks Google off just like it ticks you off reading it.

WHAT TO DO: Just be natural.

Include your keyword in your main heading and first sentence. Then slight variations in your sub-headings. Overall, a reliable gauge is to use it once every 150 words or so within your copy. That will emphasise the keyword to Google without being penalised, and it will read realistically to your website visitors.

All-in-all, it’s about user experience

Google’s aim is to maintain quality search results for every Google Search user.

When it comes down to it, each point explained above is about delivering great content and a great site. Focus on content that makes visitors fall in love, hang around, and keep coming back.

Meanwhile, give Google a clear picture on what it is you are about. And show that you are genuine and serious about delivering the right goods.

Do that and Google will reward you.

 

Carolyn Wilson

Carolyn is the founder of Think Internet, and has been helping professional companies get more business through the internet since 1997, optimising conversion rates through usability and online marketing.
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