Every single element of your website has a part to play when it comes to SEO. With so much work to be done in other parts of the business, mistakes are often made with the website. Some SEO mistakes are so common that you’ll find them on almost every website. Maybe even yours.*
*Unless you’ve already purchased one of my SEO audits.
SEO Mistake #1 – Not implementing SEO from the start
The first and most common SEO mistake is not taking SEO into consideration from the very beginning. SEO planning should be in the works before you even purchase your first domain name. Unfortunately, I know that this is rarely the case. This leads many businesses to choose a domain that matches their business name exactly.
In doing so however, they often miss an important opportunity: The chance to have a target keyword in all of their URLs.
If your website sells second-hand books for example, then you should try to have the word ‘books’ in your domain. Even if you want to call your business ‘Peter Pitt’s Poetry and Prose’, I would recommend at least considering a different domain to peterpittspoetryandprose.co.nz.
I’d suggest a shorter, easier to read domain that includes a keyword, like petersbooks.co.nz.
Note: Feel free to purchase the brand name version of your domain name as well, if you wish to protect it. Simply redirect it to your primary SEO-friendly domain.
Having your target keyword in the domain isn’t the be-all and end-all of SEO, but every little bit helps. Just be aware that changing domain once established may cause difficulties.
Always speak to an SEO professional before considering a change of domain.
Implementing SEO from the get-go is essential for any modern businesses starting out. Nike and Adidas don’t need the keyword ‘shoe’ or ‘sneaker’ in their URL, but that’s because they already had name-brand recognition and a crushing grip on their market before the internet even existed.
A business just starting out needs to do everything it can to be noticed. You need to stand out instantly with a legible, professional, trustworthy search result. Like so:
After an SEO-friendly domain has been settled on, be sure to include this type of SEO-thinking across similar decision-making processes.
Build a business with SEO in mind by asking yourself questions like:
- What website platform will be best for SEO?
- What social networks will help boost my SEO?
- What blog content can I start writing now to kick-start my SEO?
SEO Mistake #2 – Not focusing on website load speed
Think about how often you get pissed off waiting for something to load. Don’t put your users through the same thing. 47% of visitors expect your site to load in two seconds or less. Even more concerning, is the fact that 40% will just close a page that takes more than three seconds to load. 60% when you look solely at mobile users.
We live in an age of instant satisfaction. It’s rare that we wait for anything anymore. Even a 10-minute wait at the doctor feels like hell. Your audience doesn’t have the patience for slow websites either. If your website isn’t fast enough, they’ll find one that is.
Site speed is one of the only factors that Google have publicly stated directly affects their rankings. Google wants to do everything possible to make sure they are giving users what they are searching for. Slow websites aren’t one of those things.
Compress your code and fix those images, then test your speed at Google PageSpeed Insights.
Slow websites use more crawl budget. Crawl budget is a measurement of how much time a search engine will spend ‘reading’ your website and deciding its ranking. A slower website uses more crawl budget, restricting the search engine and losing its favour.
In the age of 5G and fibre internet, the future is only getting faster. You have to run faster than the competition.
SEO Mistake #3 – Not having a link strategy
An internal linking strategy should be set into the website build from the start. Look for opportunities to link every single page on your website to each other in a web of hyperlinks.
Do it in a way that improves the experience for the user.
- Don’t cram links in where they don’t belong.
- Don’t turn every second word into a link.
- Don’t turn headings into links.
Backlinks are a core part of SEO and still one of the strongest ranking signals to search engines (like Google). It’s a vote of confidence from other parts of the internet, and it gets noticed. It’s a well known metric and one known to be abused. Google often updates its algorithm in an attempt to track down paid links and punish websites that try to ‘outsmart’ the machine.
My advice is to let them come naturally, at least at first. Hundreds of new backlinks all pointing at a brand new website is going to raise some red flags for search engines.
Instead, let everyone at the company know how important backlinks are to the website. Encourage them to look for opportunities when they deal with external colleagues. Guest blogging is common, but again, don’t overdo it. It’s best to share links with websites that align with your own.
SEO Mistake #4 – Failing to publish new and relevant content
Can a website succeed without a blog? Yes, I’ve seen it before.
Is a website far more likely to succeed with a blog? Yes, I see it every day.
SEO Mistake #5 – Unoptimised meta-data
If you haven’t used ScreamingFrog or a similar tool to inspect your meta-data in the last 6-months, then this may be your fifth mistake.
Meta-data is what appears in search results. Here’s a Google result as an example:
It’s common for a brand new website to have about five pages. Choosing careful page titles and meta descriptions is easy at the start. As a website grows it becomes more difficult to manage.
Your appearance in search results is your reason for implementing SEO in the first place. This is your first contact with your audience. Your impression.
Make it count.
Meta-data character limits
Page title character limit: 50 – 60 (max)
Meta description character limit: 150 – 160 (max)
Recommended URL character limit: 75 characters
An often forgotten piece of meta-data, the alt-text of your images are likely to be ripe for optimisation. Ensure that every image on your site has alt-text of no more than 125 characters. Keep them shorter if possible.
Alt-text is one factor used by Google to determine image result rankings. It’s also used by screen readers for users with visual impairments. When writing these, describe exactly what you see in the image in a few short words. Use keywords where possible, but don’t force them in if they aren’t relevant.
Hopefully, you got through this list having dodged a few traps for new players. If you need help with ongoing SEO, or to fix any SEO mistakes that may have been made on your website, please get in touch.
Read about more fixing SEO mistakes in my article, ‘5 Common SEO Issues You Can Fix Right Now’.