There are many SEO mistakes which potentially can harm your website and consequently, your business. However the single most important mistake we repeatedly come across in websites is that they do not talk about the things that matter to their audiences. For many people SEO is a series of technical operations to be performed spot-on, but there is much more about it and the truth is that you can get all your technical steps perfectly right but this will not help, unless your website offer a great experience to your visitors.
It is so hard to be noticed in today’s extremely busy Search Engine Results Pages. Between adverts, featured snippets, “people also ask” boxes, top stories and more, sometimes the space for organic search results is really limited and getting smaller. If you consider that the vast majority of traffic goes to the top three results, you can realise how hard it is to get volumes of visitors from organic searches.
SEO is neither science nor magic; it is a long-term strategy meticulously implemented and you need to find your niche. Maybe you do not need large volumes of traffic but you should try and attract the visitors that really count for your business. It is always a thin line to tread and it is full of traps (not least the speed at which the system changes) but if your strategy is clear and you stick to it, you will find your positions in the search engines.
This is a short description of the most common SEO mistakes which will harm your online presence, and how to avoid them.
Your technical SEO is wrong.
The term “technical SEO” refers to all those actions done on your website and server to make them compatible with search engines guidelines so your website pages can be properly indexed and ranked. Fail to get this right, and search engines will not see your web pages.
Solution: audit your website for technical mistakes.
You need experience, excellent knowledge of how websites and search engines work and skills to operate a few third-party tools. If you are not able to do this yourself, a good digital agency will do it for you; the service is worth every penny.
The tool I prefer is Screaming Frog because it is thorough and you can do almost anything related to technical SEO with it.
Your website is not optimised for UX (especially on mobile)
Google’s focus is increasingly on delivering the best User Experience and the way search engines determine UX is mainly by considering user signals: how long do users spend on your website? How easily do they navigate and find content through your website? How many mobile users abandon your website because it is too slow loading?
Solution: design your website with your user in mind
When it comes to UX, design is essential, so get it right from the start: design for your users, not for yourself. Once your website is up, there are tools you can use to monitor your visitors’ behaviour and understand whether your website is offering them a good experience (heatmaps and scrollmaps, Google Analytics to mention just a few). If you find that something is wrong, fix it, do not tweak it; UX is an important ranking factor and any issues should be taken seriously.
You are targeting the wrong keywords
In the age of Machine Learning, Semantic Search and Voice Search, search engines are capable of understanding the intent behind a search and they will present different result pages accordingly. Therefore, it is essential to try and understand what people want when they search for your type of services or products and their stage on their buying journey when they make the search: are they looking for information, or are they ready to buy?
Solution: optimise for user intent
Make sure your keyword strategy is based on your prospects’ pain points. Have the right mix of short and long-tale keywords and search terms. You don’t want lots of visitors, but qualified traffic (the people who are looking for what you provide).
You are publishing the wrong content
The harsh truth is that your visitors are not interested in you (why should they be?) but in the value you can give them. There is no point being top of search engines, if people do not visit your website. If visitors find value in what you publish, they will visit and return, sending search engines positive signals which will result in higher rankings.
Solution: talk about the things which matter to your audience.
Before you embark on a content strategy, make sure you know your audiences: who are they? What are their pain points? How can you help them? What messages will resonate with them?
20% of your material should talk about you and 80% about your audiences. Produce material for each specific audience segment and pain points; schedule your material so that you are always in control of what is being published. A simple, straightforward content calendar will help you with this.
Your tracking is inaccurate
Successful SEO is also about tracking, and tracking is not just about data; it must give you data with a purpose.
Even if you avoid all mistakes, you will always need to measure visits and behaviour. Things will change (your users’ behaviour due to unpredictable factors -like economic conditions – Google’s new algorithm….) and a correct tracking system will allow you to see the areas which need intervention.
Solution: set up tracking to suit your just purposes.
Set up Google analytics so it tells you just what you need to know; using filtered views and custom reports will save you loads of time. Use third-party tools to monitor ranking, linking and your competition; there are a handful I would spend my money on. Ahrefs, Pro Rank Tracker and Open Site Explorer are among these.