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Fixing Common SEO mistakesSearch Engine Optim­isa­tion (SEO) is vital for the suc­cess of small firms on the web. That has been an estab­lished fact of busi­ness life for years. There’s no point hav­ing a won­der­ful web­site if no-one can actu­ally find it. SEO draws vis­it­ors to your site, gen­er­ates leads, and can ulti­mately be the dif­fer­ence between your company’s suc­cess and fail­ure. Yet, des­pite the import­ance of get­ting this right, many small busi­nesses still make these 5 com­mon SEO mis­takes.

Are any of them hold­ing your busi­ness web­site back?

#1 — Not Taking SEO Seriously

Okay, so SEO can be obscure. If you try the DIY approach, it can be com­plex, time-con­sum­ing and tech­nic­al, too. If you own a busi­ness, you’re prob­ably bom­barded by “Guar­an­teed Google Top Spot” spam from self-pro­claimed SEO “gurus” every day. Yet, as you may have heard, any­one who guar­an­tees that is almost cer­tain to be a fake. A lot of them even offer out­dated or just plain bad advice in their emails.

Does any of that jus­ti­fy ignor­ing SEO? No. It explains why many busi­ness own­ers do so, but if you want to com­pete online, you have to get over these hurdles.

“…but how?” — I’m glad you asked…

Suc­cess is built on stats. You’re leav­ing money on the table if you aren’t basing decisions on the best stats you can get. Google Ana­lyt­ics is great for mon­it­or­ing traffic that reaches your site — but what gets traffic to your site? That’s what an SEO and Com­pet­it­ive Ana­lys­is tool like SEO­Pro­filer will tell you.

If you’re look­ing for cheap SEO, DIY using a tool like that really is your only option. Wheth­er that’s actu­ally cheap or not depends on how highly you value your own time, though. The learn­ing curve can be pretty steep, too — and search engines ban sites that use quick-fix (“black hat”) tac­tics to gain fast res­ults. Safe (“white hat”) SEO takes time. That’s why no-one offer­ing cheap or fast SEO can be trus­ted.

If that seems a bit over­whelm­ing — well yes, it can be. That’s why I also offer hands-on help with your loc­al and nation­al SEO Cam­paigns.

#2 — Weak Content

Con­tent is, and prob­ably always will be, king. The bet­ter the con­tent of a web­site, the more likely it is to rise through the search rank­ings. Con­tent should be well-writ­ten, easy to read — and above all, help­ful to the user. Google prefers con­tent that is genu­inely bene­fi­cial to the read­er, rather than just pro­mot­ing a busi­ness.

Con­trary to com­mon (out­dated) beliefs, longer con­tent is more pop­u­lar and effect­ive, too. Google prefers pages with at least 300 to 500 words of (ori­gin­al) text con­tent. More is bet­ter, but any­thing else risks a “thin con­tent” pen­alty.

Why? Because research has shown that’s what audi­ences prefer.

Your vis­it­ors are more likely to read, share and link to a single, highly inform­at­ive art­icle than a bunch of short ones. This is the essence of con­tent mar­ket­ing — wheth­er it’s text and images, or an enga­ging video, good con­tent builds trust and links, both of which help with SEO. As long as your art­icle has plenty of struc­ture to keep it read­able, deliv­er­ing value to your audi­ence is what really mat­ters.

#3 — Duplicate Content

Copyright and SEOIntel­lec­tu­al prop­erty and copy­right laws aren’t very well under­stood online. Sadly, many people think that they can copy images or oth­er con­tent from anoth­er source and use it on their own site, as long as they provide a link to the ori­gin­al source. This isn’t the case. Unless you have licensed the con­tent prop­erly, it’s a copy­right infringe­ment.

It is also likely to lead to the site being pen­al­ized for duplic­ate con­tent, which can eas­ily kill off all aspir­a­tions of SEO suc­cess. If con­tent is king, then duplic­ate con­tent is the court jester.

There are, thank­fully, plenty of excel­lent stock media lib­rar­ies from which illus­tra­tions, pho­tos and videos can be prop­erly licensed. Some, like Unsplash, even offer free images.

Search engines are now smarter than most people think, so such genu­ine stock media isn’t likely to incur duplic­ate con­tent pen­al­ties. Simply copy­ing images and blocks of text from oth­er web­sites is, how­ever.

In fact, one of the simplest, yet most com­mon SEO mis­takes is to use the same title tag for every page. Duplic­ate title tags look lazy, and tell search engines that all the pages are about the same thing. So, it’s hardly sur­pris­ing that this res­ults in poor search engine rank­ings.

An incor­rect web­site setup can lead to duplic­ate pages on your own site, too. You may not see them, but search engines can — and even duplic­at­ing your own con­tent can under­mine your SEO. Whilst this may not seem that smart, it deters some “black hat” SEO tac­tics and rewards the effort put in to build­ing a site prop­erly.

In short, it pays to avoid copy­ing oth­ers and to get things done prop­erly.

#4 — Low-value Backlinks

Some com­mon SEO mis­takes hap­pen when you’re try­ing to do the right thing, but have just been sold on bad advice by a dodgy SEO “guru”. Selling links in bulk is the clas­sic scam of the fake SEO spe­cial­ist. It’s a quick way to waste your money and risk search engine pen­al­ties into the bar­gain. It’s easy for a “link farm” to deliv­er lots of links if their qual­ity isn’t a con­cern — but it is.

Low-value back­links are worth very little to your site. It’s far bet­ter to secure one high-qual­ity back­link than 10 low-value links. Qual­ity will always be more import­ant than quant­ity in the eyes of search engines.

Google used to act­ively pen­al­ise sites for hav­ing too many incom­ing links from low-qual­ity sites. Recov­er­ing from such pen­al­ties required site own­ers to either get the link­ing sites to remove the links, or — as that wasn’t always pos­sible — to “dis­avow” those links to Google. Now, Google largely ignores such links, so that they simply don’t offer any bene­fit. How­ever, pen­al­ties may still apply if Google thinks your site’s “link pro­file” looks unnat­ur­al — for instance, as though you have been try­ing to rig your rank­ings with bought links.

So, it’s really quite simple — don’t buy links to rig your SEO rank­ings. Espe­cially not in bulk.

When Paid Links Are Safe

…and the next ques­tion is usu­ally, “…but what about paid adverts? Or ‘guest blog­ging’?”

Well, pay­ing for an ad, or com­mis­sion­ing or writ­ing an art­icle on anoth­er site, to drive traffic back to your own site through a link is legit­im­ate mar­ket­ing. Press releases — and most tra­di­tion­al advert­ising — work that way, so relax; these tac­tics aren’t ever likely to become inval­id.

But how can search engines tell what a link was inten­ded to achieve?

Well, links that have a (hid­den) “nofol­low” tag won’t affect your search rank­ings dir­ectly. So, as long as your ad car­ries that tag, Google will know that you’re just try­ing to gain traffic, not to affect your SEO, and won’t pen­al­ise you for buy­ing it.

#5 — Keyword Stuffing

Once upon a time, keyword stuff­ing worked. Web­site own­ers would use as many keywords as pos­sible in their copy, and then a few extra in the foot­er sec­tion of their web­site just for good meas­ure. Some of those keywords might be hid­den in the code. Search engines even trus­ted what site own­ers put into the “keywords” tag.

None of those tech­niques have worked for many years. Search engines are now more likely to treat a page that tries any of them as spam rather than send­ing vis­it­ors to it.

Still, those who don’t know much about SEO are often unaware of how much it has changed over the years, let alone how much it changes almost every month. So, out­dated advice and inef­fect­ive tech­niques linger on and small busi­nesses keep mak­ing these com­mon SEO mis­takes. At best, they reveal a lack of expert­ise. At worst, they can make your site look spammy and attract SEO pen­al­ties.

When it comes to SEO then, old advice is not neces­sar­ily good advice. If you can’t afford the time to keep up, get help from someone who can.

What To Do About Common SEO Mistakes

As import­ant as SEO is, keep­ing up with it is hard work. So, it’s per­haps inev­it­able that small firms tend to make these com­mon SEO mis­takes. What really mat­ters, though, is how you respond when you learn of prob­lems like this that could be hold­ing back your web­site from reach­ing its full poten­tial.

If you want to com­pete, you can’t just ignore SEO, or be com­pla­cent about mak­ing com­mon SEO mis­takes. You need to fix them — or get someone trust­worthy to fix them for you.

How do you know who to trust? Well, testi­mo­ni­als can help, but at least look for an estab­lished busi­ness. Scam­mers tend to be fly-by nights, dis­ap­pear­ing when Google’s pen­al­ties start catch­ing up with their cli­ents. Oh, and ser­i­ous SEO experts rarely call them­selves “gurus”. SEO is not magic, just hard work. So, we may be spe­cial­ists, but we’re tech­ni­cians and mar­keters, not mys­tics!

Of course, if you’re look­ing for SEO ser­vices in South Wales or the South­w­est, espe­cially around the Cardiff — New­port — Bris­tol area, I’ll be happy to help!

Is your site suf­fer­ing from any of these com­mon SEO mis­takes?

Get in touch today