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Inbound Marketing Blog

    6 SEO Mistakes That Are Killing Your Google Rankings

    Posted by Bill Faeth

    SEO Tactics for Quick Wins


    SEO mistakes are easy to make, difficult to fix, and can be extremely costly for your business.

    Search engine optimization is not just about keywords anymore.  There is much more to it than these aspects which we will cover in this article. Our goal is to provide some quick wins for your website that don’t require you to be an SEO expert to get your optimization back on track.

    Losing just a couple of spots in the SERPs (search engine result pages) can cost your business more than you think as 62% of traffic is generated from the Top 2 organic search results. That’s right, just making it to the first page of Google or any other search engine isn’t enough to capture the majority of the traffic your desire.  Being ranked in the Top 2 results should be your goal.

    Having a sound (white hat) SEO strategy doesn’t leave a lot of room for error, so without further delay here are the 6 mistakes that are killing your Google rankings.

    1. Duplicate Content

    Creating duplicate content is one of the most common oversights made by website designers and beginner SEO’s.   Duplicating content will not only dilute the value of your links contained within each web page and your site, but can also lead to a penalization by Google.

    There are many ways to create duplicate content within your website without even knowing so be sure you review the following:

    • The first spot to check are your blog Tags. Every Tag you create will duplicate the original blog article and list within the Tag.  Example: If I post this article onto my blog and then Tag it under “SEO” then the article will be duplicated, so be careful of not using too many tags with each article.

    • Do you have printer-friendly pages on your website? We have seen many companies set these pages up with the exact same copy of the standard page creating duplicate content.

    • Your homepage.  That’s right, we have seen a few companies that had multiple homepages and they didn’t even know it.

    Tip: Check the internal links on your pages as well. If you are linking to www.abc123.com then be sure you are not also linking to www.abc123.com/index.html.  This will dilute your link value.

    2. Page Loading Speed

    A one to two second difference in page load time can make a big difference for Google and the user experience.  Since SEO has a lot to do with the user experience think about how long you will actually wait on a new site for a page to load.   Having your pages load in 4 seconds or less should be the goal, but if you can achieve a faster result that is even better.

    A couple of technical aspects to consider is the backend of the website infrastructure.  The back end includes database servers, CDN’s, and any back-end applications attached to your site that could be slowing it down.

    Tip: Try and keep your images smaller than 400x200 pixels for most of your images, excluding larger images above the fold on your homepage.

    Here is an in depth article on How Website Speed Actually Impacts Search Ranking posted on the Moz.com blog. 

    3. Not Updating Old Content

    Performing good SEO on your website is like having a pet.  You need to feed it regularly, nurture it, and you definitely don’t want to forget about it and neglect it. Your website and blog content is in the same boat as your pet.

    Google loves fresh content, so be sure to go back and check on your older content from time to time and update it with new links and even content.  There is nothing wrong with adding content to a blog post that is 6 months old and has fallen in rank a few spots.

    Tip:  Don’t forget about updating your meta description and the ALT text behind your images as well especially if your keyword strategy has changed or need to be updated as well.

    4. Writing for Search Engines

    Your customers or in this case your website visitors should always come first. Never write your content for the search engines and always focus on providing value for the customer.

    Well-optimized content may attract more visitors to your website, but if they don’t translate into sales they have no value to you.

    Optimize the volume or length of your text based on customer feedback.  All to often we see sites that think Google wants between 800-1000 words per page so they create every page to this same spec and even stuff keywords in as filler.

    A great example is Seth Godin’s blog.  The majority of his posts are less than 200 – 300 words, but they are chalk-full of extremely valuable content so both visitors and Google love him.

    5. Bad or No Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

    There isn’t much visual separation for search results aside from the text that is used in the meta description and your Title Tags.

    Here are two results for the search term – inbound marketing.  

    You will see in the first result that the primary keyword phrase in the Title Tag is Content Marketing Agency.

    The second result uses Inbound Marketing Agency as the primary in the Title Tag.

    Keep in mind that people read from left to right on web pages just like reading a book so having your keyword phrase at the beginning of your Title Tag (far left) will benefit the reader.

    The component is in the meta description. You can see that we have clearly used the exact match keyword phrase of inbound marketing where the first result uses inbound and content marketing.  Both of these are good examples for SEO.  The question becomes which one is better optimized for the search query inbound marketing from the searchers perspective?  We believe the second result wins out here.

    seo mistakes

    6. Hiring a Bad SEO

    Hiring an SEO is a tricky process that business owners tend to navigate without being educated.  The lack of education about SEO makes it easy for praying SEO’s to manipulate the sales process and the business owner.

    First and foremost you must understand some of the basics of good SEO and what we call Black hat SEO. You will want to stay as far away from the Black Hat guys as you can.

    Making a bad decision on who you hire can lead to diminishing results and even penalization or being sandboxed by Google.   Being sandboxed means that your website basic falls out of Google ranking altogether, so if you rely on your website to drive revenue which most businesses do nowadays then choose wisely.

    Here are 6 ways to make sure your hire a good SEO:

    1. Don’t purchase based on price alone.  If it sounds too good to be true, than it probably is.

    2. Give a lot of credit to the SEO that is trying to manage your expectations and doesn’t promise immediate results.  There are NO guarantees with SEO.

    3. Check references and case studies prior to signing an agreement.

    4. Make sure they have experience in your industry.  This is critical, as the SEO must know your buyer personas.

    5. Deliverables are clearly articulated. This can be a tough one because good SEO requires a lot of research and id ever changing, but sure to get a documented scope of work.

    6. Learn about SEO.  Do as much research as you can about SEO and how to hire an SEO before you embark on your quest for Google’s Glory.

    Search engine marketing is just that. Marketing. SEO is not just about stuffing as many keywords as you can fit onto your homepage anymore.  Creating valuable content and optimizing for the user experience should always be the top priority.

    As a business owner you need to arm yourself with as much knowledge about SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) as you can so you can diligently evaluate vendors and make the right choice for your business.

    To gets started with your SEO education here a couple of great articles for your first homework assignment:

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    Topics: SEO