A good SEO campaign can help you to dominate search rankings, keep you at the forefront of customer’s minds, and help you be thought of as a thought-leader in your industry.
It’s a lot of hard work to make the most of SEO campaigns, but the potential benefits are too big to pass over.
For example, did you know that achieving the number one spot in search for a target keyword means you’ll get about 33% of the click-share from that search term? That’s huge for your business!
But for each thing that you must do right, there’s at least one other thing that you should not get wrong.
Search engine ‘crawlers’ are the robots that map out the web. They’ll come back to your site every so often to see if anything has changed, for better or worse.
They’re not human. If they find something that doesn’t seem quite right, they can’t give you the benefit of the doubt – and will punish your site in its search listings accordingly.
Steering clear of making the mistakes in the first place is important, because recovering from a search engine smack down can take a long time.
Here are some of the most common SEO campaign mistakes that you must avoid.
Publishing non-original content
This is the number one no-no. Search engines like original content, and actively punish copycats. SEO campaigns based on re-using old or ‘borrowed’ content won’t go far at all.
Duplicating some content from page to page within your site is OK, but you should really try to keep that to an absolute minimum. Try to find another way to say things while keeping up your keyword ratios.
Make the most of sitemaps
If you don’t have a good sitemap, you are missing out on a key opportunity to improve your website’s SEO.
Beyond enhancing usability, menus are where you should be making your internal link structure really clear. This will help crawlers to map your site, understand what it’s about, and push your site up the rankings.
Forgetting about mobile users
When typing up copy or code for a website, it’s easy to forget about users who will visit your site on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
Designing a separate mobile site is probably the best approach from a user experience point of view. If a mobile site is really well designed, it should get good organic traffic and users will return because they found it easier to use than your competitors’ websites.
While that’s the ideal, it might be too expensive right now. So we’ll suggest that your site should be responsive at the very least, so that it ‘reacts’ to the presents better on a mobile screen.
There’s nothing worse than loading a page on your cellphone to find a ‘normal’ looking web page. You can’t navigate that easily with just your thumbs!
Search engines have been looking out for, and rewarding, mobile sites and responsive design for a while. Soon, search engines will be putting more emphasis on the speed at which the page loads.
You can optimise mobile page load speeds using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs), a new online publishing format.
In fact, Google is already starting to move sites that use AMPs up the listings. Talk to your web developer today to get this built into your SEO campaign – before you get left behind by the crowd!
You have pages that are just links
You have probably devised some way of categorizing your products or services on your business’ website. That’s good, because it helps both your customers and search engine crawlers find their way around your site.
However, don’t fall into the trap where you create category pages which are literally a list of links. Crawlers like text. If you supply them with a page full of links, it won’t have much of a clue of what the page is about.
And if it doesn’t know what the page is about, it won’t be able to rank it in its listings.
Black hat link building
What we mean by ‘black hat’ is basically ‘naughty’ behavior. If you’re paying someone to host a link on their website along with hundreds of other links, and there’s barely any content on the site… well.
Let’s just say it won’t get you very far.
In fact, it’ll probably do quite the opposite of what you hoped.
A white hat link building regime is a totally legitimate way to push your site up the rankings. Strategic partnerships with companies in your field, but who aren’t direct competitors, can work wonders.
You can exchange links in blog posts, for example, or push customers in each other’s direction where their needs don’t quite fit what you’re offering (this has obvious lead generation benefits too!).
Whatever you do, make sure the content you’re swapping is high quality. Treat it as an opportunity to share useful knowledge with a new audience and gain brand exposure. Google has explicitly warned recently that publishers risk having their hard work penalized if the obvious and over-riding objective is to build links
Getting press coverage, while a challenge in itself, can also gain great results. A site with lots of hits (like a national news site) linking to your site gives far more weight to your SEO campaign than a less busy site.
If you want to take it a step further, professional SEO companies can help to boost your backlinks to make your content more authoritative.
Try to keep redirects to a minimum
If customers are redirected when loading pages, this can slow down load times and confuse search engines. This can push you down the rankings, as their bots might have trouble crawling your site to map it out.
If you want to create, say, a new front page for your website, use the same URL as the old page – don’t tell it to redirect to www.mysite.com/newpage.
Don’t be tempted to set up www.mynewsite.com either – site migration is likely to destroy any authority that your old site had built up. And if there were external inbound links targeting www.mysite.com, you’ve just broken all of those.
Even if a redirect is set up, the new URL won’t have half the clout the old one did, as it’ll lose the authority those links gave it.
Besides being of concern to the quality and success of your SEO campaign, redirects can also directly frustrate users. 47% of visitors to your site will expect pages to load in less than two seconds. 40% will leave if it takes more than three seconds.
So it’s vital you keep things as fast as possible – people just aren’t that patient!
You let the bounce rate creep up
This ties in with the last point – as slow load times and multiple redirects can cause people to come into the site and then leave quickly – a ‘bounce’, in web lingo.
But a slow site is only one potential cause of a high bounce rate. This doesn’t affect your SEO campaign directly, as search engines don’t actually use this statistic to rank your web page. However, it’s a sign of other things going wrong.
Maybe you’ve lured people in with ‘clickbait’ links where the content doesn’t reflect the link text or title. Maybe the content isn’t that interesting. Or maybe parts of your site are broken, and people can’t get to what they need!
You can’t talk to every user to find out what’s wrong. So if you notice a drop-off rate from your site, or a specific page, it’s worth digging to see what might be winding your users up. Analytics tools can be helpful to identify troublesome pages.
There are lots of broken link checkers out there, and most will run checks on smaller sites (hundreds to low thousands of pages) for free.
Never stop producing (great) content
If you’re blogging or writing editorial content for your SEO campaign, you need to keep it up. Because the chances are that you’re not the only company in your sector chasing after the same keywords.
Producing fresh content is the equivalent of telling a search engine, “Yep, we’re still here,” when they examine your site. And if they know you’re active, you’re more likely to be pushed up the list.
26% of consumer-facing marketers reckon that blogging is the most important type of content used as part of an SEO strategy. While there are other types of content that can really help you out – for example, video and images – text really helps crawlers understand your page and react to that.
If you don’t have the time to write content yourself, then consider outsourcing it to a business specialising in SEO campaigns. The pros can help you create awesome blog content and guest posts, as well as helping out with things like link building and keyword research.
A final word…
Remember, an SEO campaign has the power to make your business – or break it.
Make sure you’re making the right decisions. Pulling a website back from the brink is a lot harder than building up an online search reputation from scratch.