Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Five SEO Mistakes--And How to Fix Them

Increasing traffic to your site is a pivotal goal, but true success requires the right traffic: targeted visitors, interested in your product or service. SEO is about refining a website's content and design to attract this targeted audience, the sort of audience most likely to lead to conversions--when a visitor performs a desired action, like purchasing a product or clicking a link.

SEO is not the only digital marketing tool that can help attract the right type of visitors to your site, but it is the best tool for optimizing your site's performance for search engines. Now, any old site can attract traffic--and many do, to no avail. What distinguishes a successful online business is the ability to translate traffic to profits.

When we write about SEO mistakes, then, we're essentially writing about business mistakes--mistakes that cost money. Without SEO, your site may attract traffic. With SEO, traffic leads to conversions.

The mistakes below are typical of websites that do not perform SEO. These are bare minimum practices that should be a part of any website's maintenance. Unfortunately, too many websites make these common mistakes, sacrificing traffic--and worse, conversions.

Broken Links

A scourge of the Internet, broken links are links that no longer point to any destination. It's a universal online experience: the annoyance of expectantly clicking a link only to arrive at the HTTP 404 page.

The HTTP 404 page is one of the Internet's great annoyances.

Any site can have broken links. Bad sites let broken links accumulate. Good sites fix them routinely. And a good website optimization campaign will guarantee: no broken links!

Simply put, Google views broken links as disreputable. Too many broken links can hurt your ranking--and your traffic. Broken links can be easily discovered and fixed with a broken link checker. We like Google's first result for "Broken Link Checker."

Bad Links

Broken links are bad, yet most websites suffer from a broken link or two. Far worse are bad or artificial links. In Google's words, "any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results."

To Google, a good link points one-way, from one site to another. Links, we know, are a key ranking factor for Google--and presumably other search engines. In the SEO world, we define links as "high quality" or "low quality." As we've noted before:

"For a search engine like Google, links offer clues to the relevancy and quality of a website's content. In the SEO world, we often define "backlinks"--links from another website to your own website--as low quality or high quality. High quality links can be defined in different ways, yet most come from trusted, relevant sources that send increased traffic."

In the olden days of the Internet, certain "Black Hat" webmasters created links to sites in exchange for return links. When Google caught onto to this technique, the same webmasters turned to a new tactic: the creation of many websites, ten, twenty, or more, owned by a website, and built for the purpose of creating links to the original website. With an abundance of incoming "bad" links, the original website catapulted to the top of the search results.

To combat link-building abuse, Google created the Penguin algorithm--yet bad links still continue to harm websites. Do you think you have bad links? Contact a reputable link removal service! Or call a quality SEO firm, like Stepman's PC.

Duplicate Content

Search engines and users are not fond of duplicate content--content copied and pasted from your own site or other sites without attribution. Like a broken link, duplicate content fails to satisfy a browser's expectation. Browsers click to discover new information. Duplicate content makes your website redundant and boring.

You might ask: What if the browser hasn't read the original content? Of course, this happens, but Google does its best to penalize websites that post duplicate content. So avoid stealing: copying and pasting from another site is bad business.

Of course, not all duplicate content is equally bad. Avoid stealing: copying and paste text from other sites. This is obvious. Yet many websites believe it is OK to copy and paste certain types of text from other sites. Product descriptions, for example. You often discover duplicate content when searching for popular clothing items or health supplements. Many sites sell the same products with the same descriptions. This form of duplicate content, while not as bad as stealing, is still viewed unfavorably by search engines. Avoid this form of duplicate content, too.

On your own site, as much as possible, vary your content. If you duplicate too much of your own content, you will confuse a search engine, which might not know which page to choose for a certain query.

Of course, again, a good website optimization campaign varies all content, specifically targeting each page to specific keywords.

Not Enough Content

Too many websites do not offer enough content. As President Obama once said, "There's no there there." The more original content you have, the more content the search engines will crawl, index, and rank. And if your content is mistake-free and original, you're ranked content will be more likely to inspire conversions.

Of course, SEO is crucial. Content can come in many forms, of course, like text, images, or videos. A good website optimization campaign will optimize each to attract a targeted audience. If you have a lot of imagery, for example, SEO guarantees that have descriptive tags. Without these tags, the search engines might not know how to categorize the image.

Read: "Three Keys to Writing SEO-Friendly Content that Inspires People to Share."

Too Much Flash

When we write "flash" we mean two things--both mistakes.

First, the excessive use of Adobe Flash may harm a website. Search engines may have a hard time reading Flash. Any page that includes Flash content--like loading page--might not be indexed.

Because of applications like Flash, many browsers have been conditioned to click away from slow-loading pages. This second crucial mistake afflicts many websites, with or without the literal Flash application: the home pages take forever to load. A slow-loading page is not likely to attract too many visitors. The search engines understand this. Browsers desire speed and efficiency over any sort of "flash."

Does your website have too much flash? Talk to a web designer about simplifying the design!

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Fix Your SEO Mistakes with Stepman's PC 

 If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively build and promote websites, we suggest contacting our sponsor, Stepman's PC: 215-900-9398 Stepman's PC combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective content marketing campaigns.

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