Avoid These 5 Mistakes to Boost Your SEO – and Bottom Line
Strong SEO is like having the corner-lot storefront on a busy street. Your product or service could be the best money can buy, but if no one sees your company, how will you improve your bottom line?
SEO, short for search engine optimization, is the ultimate billboard for your business in the digital age, and we have identified the top five mistakes that people make when optimizing their websites for search engines.
1. HTTP Status
HTTP status issues are prevalent on almost every website and can range from 404 errors to redirects. HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In more common terms, this is the transfer of data between the server and the client. If your website has HTTP issues, the number (i.e., 404, 301, 302) will tell you what the issue is. Then, you can begin to address the issue.
The most-common error code that can affect your domain is the 404 error. This is letting you know that the page is broken and needs to be fixed or redirected immediately.
Issue: 404 Error Page
- Redirect the page
- Correct the link
- Restore deleted pages
There are a number of reasons that your website displays a 404 error and these can be damaging to your search ranking and user experience. If you are not able to fix this issue on your own, you must reach out to your web developer immediately to address the matter quickly.
2. Meta Tags
Meta tags are used by search-engine crawlers to better understand the subject matter of individual pages and match this content to a user’s search query. Using the correct application of keywords within your meta tags will increase the likelihood of reaching your target audience.
Meta tags should be tailored specifically to the content on the page not the website as a whole. This is where you will run into duplicate content, as we will discuss later. To optimize meta tags, pick keywords that are appropriate and reflect the on-page content. Do not overuse keywords. This act, called keywords stuffing, can be frowned upon by the search-engine crawlers. Write naturally and to your audience – not to the search-engine crawlers.
Most Common Meta Tag Issues:
- Duplicate title tags and meta descriptions
- Missing H1 tags
- Missing meta descriptions
- Missing ALT attributes
There are a number of free tools available that will provide you with information regarding your meta tag health. One of my favorites is Screaming Frog. This software will crawl your website in a similar manner to search-engine crawlers and provide you with the information needed to optimize meta tags.
3. Duplicate Content
Duplicate content will be flagged when there is a duplicate URL or content issues. This can also be attributed to any duplicate meta tags, as mentioned above. Depending on your business structure and offerings, duplicate content can be prevalent whether it be multiple events or classes. The easiest way to overcome duplicate content is to use a rel=”canonical” tag, linking back to the original content page or a 301 redirect.
These options will provide the search-engine crawlers with the information needed to index the content properly and remove any internal page competition or ranking complications.
4. Linking Issues
Links and an appropriate linking strategy play an important role in the user experience and journey. Although these facts are not directly related to your search performance, they can have an impact on a domain’s overall search performance.
URLs can be a complicated issue, there are a number of variables that will affect your search ranking, from URL structure to internal linking. Below we will review the top linking issues that are found on modern domains.
- HTTP to HTTPS
Linking to older versions of your domain that are not HTTPS URLs can create an unsafe dialog between the user and the server. In some instances, it will trigger an unsecure pop-up.
- URLs that contain underscores
This may not seem like a big issue, but URL best practices reflect that all URLs should be separated by hyphens. Using underscores can once again cause user/server errors and potential incorrectly index your domain.
If you have any URLs with incorrect structure or linking directly, they can be easily rectified within the website builder. Simply modify the URL or direct to a secure page.
Crawlability is the ability for a search-engine crawler to access and crawl the content on your website. If your website has crawlability issues, the web crawlers will not be able to access all of the content on your domain. This will result in lower ranking, traffic and traffic quality issues.
Crawlability is a key factor in search ranking and overall domain health. Providing search-engine crawlers with a smooth path through your website will aid them in properly indexing your website and driving the appropriate traffic.
Most Common Crawlability Issues:
- Nofollow attributes to outgoing internal links
Internal links that contain nofollow attributes will block crawlers from following the link, reducing the link equity on your domain. Within the website builder, ensure that all links are using follow attributes.
- Incorrect pages found in sitemap.xml
Any broken pages within your sitemap.xml will render as a page not found. This can cause crawling issues when comparing your sitemap and viewer-facing website.
- Sitemap.xml not found
Sitemaps are used by crawlers to better understand the structure of your domain. If the sitemap is not found, crawlers will have difficulty exploring and indexing the website.
Search-engine optimization can be an overwhelming task to begin. Looking for the issues listed above will help position your website and domain to be properly crawled, indexed and searched.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about SEO, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org