All businesses seem to acknowledge that SEO is vitally important. However, very few engage in the process correctly.
I generally abide by two very simple SEO rules. The first is “do no harm” and the second is “fix what’s broken”.
By “do no harm” I am referring to avoiding black hat tactics that actively damage your SEO, as well as avoiding less malicious (but simple) oversights that plague your overall SEO health and serve as a detriment to your rankings.
The second rule, “fix what’s broken”, refers to focusing your immediate attention on the optimization of everything that already exists and is already available to you, as opposed to adding new and advanced layers on top of a shaky foundation.
So – what pieces of SEO are most commonly broken? Let’s take a look at the three most common SEO mistakes that I frequently see on business websites that are also easy/quick fixes.
1. Missing and Duplicate Meta Data
Meta titles are vitally important to your rankings, while meta descriptions are vitally important to your click-through-rates within each SERP. However, these are frequently under-optimized, over-optimized, or missing altogether.
Meta titles should be exceptionally concise (no more than 55 total characters) descriptive, and should always contain the most important keyword or keyword phrase for each particular page.
Meta descriptions should be limited to 155 total characters, and should utilize enticing language that encourages a user to click the page.
To use duplicate meta titles and meta descriptions across pages, or none at all, is a tremendous mistake. Doing so essentially tells Google that your page is not unique and/or inconsequential.
2. Under-Optimization of Images
Images should always be compressed to their smallest possible size, which helps to significantly increase average page load time (which Google has stated is a prominent factor in determining rankings).
Furthermore, there are both “title tag” and “alt tag” functions for every image, and both should be properly optimized.
The “title tag” is often called “hover text” – this is the white box of text that appears when you hover your mouse over an image. This should be user-friendly text as opposed to “search engine text”, although it behooves one to include an important keyword here if possible.
The “alt tag” is more important from an SEO perspective. Because Google cannot “see” and interpret an image, it relies on alt text to determine what each image represents. Your alt-tag literally tells Google what your image is about, therefore this is the perfect opportunity to add several extra keywords to your page. Because alt tags exists behind the scenes and are not visible to visitors, many SEO specialist succumb to the temptation of keyword-stuffing their alt-tags. This is a tremendous mistake that can result in a penalty. Keep your alt tags simple, short, and descriptive with only one or two keywords included.
3. Freshness of Content
If the content of your website has not changed in several years, Google may begin to consider you a “dead website” and consequently penalize you in the rankings. Performing small updates like, content refreshes, image swaps, etc., shows Google that you are relevant and engaged.
It is important to note that “deeper” pages within the website require less frequent updating than the homepage and other primary pages. However, a quick refresh every 5-6 months of EVERY page certainly cannot hurt your cause.
For assistance with combatting the three most common SEO mistakes, as well as help with identifying other common SEO errors, please contact Businesstastic.