I have come across many small business owners who keep asking me for tips on how they can increase the traffic on their business websites. They claim of having deployed the “traditional” SEO strategies but still somehow do not manage to do well. What I am tired of telling them is that using SEO tactics is not “the solution”. And it is only after looking at their websites that I realize the issue is what I thought it would be, a poorly designed and structured website.
This is the reason I decided to take some time out and write a comprehensive guide on the common SEO mistakes to avoid, based on my experiences and the popular questions I have been asked over the time. I really hope these will benefit all those too who have realized their mistakes and are looking into redesigning their websites.
Let’s discuss the 5 most common mistakes that you were most likely to make in your next website redesign. Read on to make sure you avoid them.
1. Duplicate Content
When we are talking about SEO duplicate content, we mean the same content that appears on different pages within the same domain (or worse, a different one). The problem occurs when the search engine cannot decide which page to index, and consequently not showing any of the pages on the in the search results.
There can be various types of duplicate content; we have discussed some of the most common ones below:
Homepage Duplication – If there are several versions of your homepage online, they are classified as duplicate content. Search engines would sometime figure out which page to index, but they can get it wrong too. So, it’s better to have one homepage so that you do not confuse the search engine.
Duplicate URL – we see several cases of duplicate URLs where the text in the URL is inconsistently in upper or lower case. This also confuses the search bots resulting in your URL to devalue and hence does not rank your website highly.
If you are using backlinks, whether external or internal, these need to be consistent with your ‘original’ version of the link. If you are using different versions (different capitalization) of links at different places, you might be splitting the integrity of the original link.
Different Webpages with similar content – this happens when your team either copies content off other websites or uses the same content on different pages of your website. This happens more often when the SEO guideline is not put in place before building the site.
A small company providing website designing services, might make such simple SEO mistakes as they are not experts in SEO.
Resolving the Duplication Issues
One simple way of resolving duplication issues is to reduce similar content. If you have different pages containing almost similar information, either merge them or expand the content on the both of the pages.
2. Neglecting Content Marketing
While your hired website developer might be able to make a responsive website design, they will not be as good at SEO. They cannot make your traffic boost just by on-site optimization and link building but no content strategy.
SEO world has changed drastically over time, and SEO strategy would not be as fruitful without an effective content marketing plan. Now your content plays an important role in determining whether or not your digital marketing or SEO campaign would be successful.
Now the website traffic will not boost just by off-page SEO (link building and social signals). A good combination of pure content production, social seeding, and link building works quite well. You should do all this while avoiding all rest of the on-page SEO mistakes.
3. Poor Website Structure
In the website planning process, your developer might come up with a great design workflow but might fail to integrate the use of good SEO and SEO tools into the project plan. This is a common occurrence since most web developers are not SEO specialists. Therefore the site structure is usually overlooked, especially from an SEO perspective.
Mostly, the homepage is going to have the most authority as it gets the most incoming links. The authority varies around the pages of the website based on links. The further away a particular page is from the homepage, the less authority it will have passed on to it, and hence will rank poorly.
Therefore, in the process of making the design plan, you need to take care to make the website structure easy and intuitive for the visitors.
I have seen instances of companies that moved their pages closer to the homepage in the website redesign process and ended up moving up several spots on Google.
4. Not Having a Mobile Site Designed for Multiple Screen Sizes
Search engines now take into account mobile devices when ranking the websites. Here are some things you need to know about the importance of mobile websites.
- Most mobile visitors jump to a competitor’s website if the website is not responsive enough
- Mobile phone users in US are growing every day and will continue to show an exponential growth
- Mobiles devices constitute more than 20% of the traffic on a particular website, and the number is rising.
- Due to the focus on responsiveness, the desktop dominance has come to an end and mobile devices are on a rise. Google has led many companies to promote website redesign to make it more responsive if they want it in better rankings.
This makes it important for you to redesign your website and make it responsive enough to work across all platforms, including mobiles and tablets.
Mobile versions of the website can be created easily by any popular website design technologies. Research about website builders to know which one of these provides a better multi-platform responsive site.
For the sites that are relatively simple, you should use responsive design. This is more relevant for those who have limited resources for maintenance, a limited budget, and are looking to make their website SEO friendly. Many design tools let you see how your website would look on different devices.
5. Do Not Reply Solely On SEO
SEO is not easy to deploy anymore, neither does it cost as less as it used to, since now you cannot exploit the loopholes in the search engine algorithms. Therefore, having the same expectations from your SEO strategy while using the same old SEO tactics, you would not get anywhere.
Why is that so? While it is said that SEO is all about ranking particular keywords, this might not be totally right anymore. Sometimes the clients want to target the short tail, high search volume and competitive keywords like “car loans”, etc. However, this is not how the users search web; they use long-tail keywords like “lowest markup car financing”.
Most of us do not even have these long tail keywords on our keyword ranking lists. According to Neil Patel, an SEO specialist, the long tail keywords drive way more traffic compared to the short tail ones.
At most instances, the traffic on your website does not convert well as the visitors keep bouncing in and bouncing out. In such cases, the ranking does not matter as much. Or in other words, the ranking is not the only thing that matters.
One of the common SEO mistakes to avoid is to only focus on the rankings and not on other aspects. The other aspects include longer visit times, lower bounce rates, and traffic. These are the factors that search engines also look for, for modern search engine optimization and the rankings.
In addition, if you want your SEO campaign to be successful, these tips are not enough, your website should deserve it. Many website owners assume that their SEO can make up for their poorly structured websites, but they are wrong.
Take a good look at your site, does it seem to deserve SEO success? If yes, SEO would help you achieve it, but if the website is poorly structured, your content is not great, the website has duplications, or the website is not responsive, you might want to fix these issues first before you can get into SEO.
How to go about it? First, perform an SEO audit of your website, which will help you find the discrepancies like those listed above and several others. Then you can list down the steps to redesign the website as relevant. Make a design workflow in a way that lets you incorporate SEO starting from the design phase.
If you are a business owner and you think your business is suffering due to lack of traffic, luckily you live in the digital age where nothing is difficult. Hire a team of good SEO experts and safely redesign your website and see the business grow. With millions of potential customers looking out for your products, nothing should hold you back.
Bill Acholla is a digital entrepreneur helping small business owner’s build their business through content marketing. If you need more actionable content, visit his blog business at Billacholla.com