Asad Kausar is CEO at Dabaran, a Chicago-based SEO agency that focuses on enhancing online visibility by improving search engine rankings.
If you want more website visitors, you have to get your website to the top of the search engine results page (SERP). According to Brightedge research, 68% of all trackable website traffic came from organic and paid search in 2019. According to HubSpot, Google processes an estimated 5.6 billion searches every day; that’s an incredible number of potential customers who could be seeing your website and, therefore, your business.
Of course, Google and other search engines won’t simply put your website at the top because you ask nicely. You need to use search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to climb the results. To help you rank higher on Google, here are five common SEO mistakes to avoid.
1. Keyword Stuffing
In the early days of search engines, rankings were determined largely based on keyword density. Logic would say that the more a website mentions a specific keyword or phrase, the better and more in-depth the information.
Naturally, many marketers caught onto this and started cramming as many keywords into their copy as they possibly could. This strategy worked for a while, but Google got smart and does not currently reward keyword stuffing.
Today, Google algorithms are incredibly complex. They know when your website has robust, quality content and when you’re just stuffing keywords. If they do catch you stuffing keywords, your SERP rankings will generally decrease.
If you want to rank higher on Google, write quality content. Keywords are still important, but they’re not as important as they used to be. Don’t stuff them throughout your website. Write naturally, answer your users’ questions, and Google will likely reward you.
2. Improper Use Of H Tags
Google scans your webpages to “learn” what they’re about. The easier you make it for search engines to scan your pages, the quicker they’ll find your outstanding content and the higher they’re likely to rank your website. To help search engines scan your webpages, make sure you’re using H tags properly.
H tags are the different headings in your content. For example, the title of a page should be in H1, and subheadings should be H2. If there’s a subheading within one of your H2s, it should be in H3, and so on.
These H tags are more than just aesthetic formatting. They’re coded differently from your body text, which can help Google and other search engines understand what the different sections of your page are about.
If you want to rank on Google SERPs, you should use proper H tags. Don’t just swap the size and color the font to make your headings. Google will read it as body text. Actually change the heading style to H1, H2, H3 and so on to update the coding and boost your website’s SEO.
As an added bonus, H tags also help readers scan your content, which creates a better user experience. This is a win-win.
3. Having A Desktop-Only Website Design
The purpose of search engines is to provide the best information in a user-friendly format. Having great information on your website helps with the first part of that goal, but your website also needs to be user-friendly.
Statista reported that in 2021, over 90% of the world’s internet population used a mobile device to go online. In fact, over half (55%) of all online traffic was from mobile devices.
Google knows most people are surfing the web from their smartphones. So, to provide a better user experience, they reward websites with a mobile-friendly design.
If you built your website to look great on a desktop, it might be time to revisit your design. Building a site that seamlessly works on mobile is one of the best ways to help you rank higher on Google SERPs.
4. Broken Links
Links are more than just a way to show your sources or lead potential customers to the next stage of the buyer’s journey (though they’re good for that, too). They’re also a crucial part of SEO.
Google follows links in your copy for two reasons:
1. To determine SEO equity.
2. To find related content.
SEO equity is your website’s credibility with search engines. If you continuously provide high-quality content, your equity will likely increase. Links from other high-equity websites will help boost the SEO of your site. Think of it like using a Wikipedia source for your research project versus a peer-reviewed paper from the Harvard archives. One gives you more SEO “cred” than the other.
Google also follows your links to find new related content. That’s why it’s a good idea to include internal links to your own related website pages.
Unfortunately, links change. Sometimes pages are deleted or moved, which changes their link and makes the link on your page inoperable (broken), typically indicated by a “404 error.” If Google sees a link but can’t follow it, it can hurt your SEO. Don’t forget to set a 301 redirect if you find broken links to your site.
Keep an eye on your links over time to make sure none of them are broken. This is an easy thing to keep up with that can make a big difference with SEO and help you reach the top of Google SERPs.
5. Saying ‘Good Enough’
Search engine optimization isn’t something you can just implement and forget. It’s an ongoing process that requires constant attention.
While the word “optimization” might be in the name, there’s no such thing as 100% optimal. SEO rules are always changing, and if you want to rank highly in Google results, you should constantly make improvements to your website based on current SEO trends. You shouldn’t just say “good enough.” Keep watching and improving to boost your rankings.
Therefore, it’s vital for anyone who wants to be visible on the web to avoid keyword stuffing, use H tags appropriately, build a responsive site with great UI/UX, fix broken links and be consistent with their SEO strategy. Addressing these issues can help you rank higher in search engine results.
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