May 17, 2016
SEO isn’t very complicated. OK, that’s not strictly true; SEO is quite complicated but at its core are a number of fairly straightforward principles that even the least technically inclined writer or business owner can come to grips with.
That’s why I’m eternally amazed at the poor quality of SEO for some business sites.
These are people who rely on their site to generate revenue, and yet, they are spending money buying Twitter followers and links from a shady guy they met on a blackhat SEO forum instead of taking the time to properly optimize their site.
I’m going to take a look at the three most common SEO mistakes I see on business sites. If the rest of your site is terrible, fixing these won’t help you rank No. 1 for a competitive query, but it will provide you with a clear path to better and more effective optimization.
Google pays particular attention to metadata like that contained in the meta description tag and the title element (but not the keyword tag). What Google pays attention to, you should pay attention to, too. Title tags should be less than 60 characters; Meta description tags less than 160. Both should contain keywords relevant to the page. It’s fine to have your company’s name in the title tag, but it shouldn’t be the only thing in the title tag on every page on your site.
If you’re using WordPress SEO from Yoast, it’ll help you sort out on-page metadata.
When people hear duplicate content, they tend to think about plagiarism, but that’s not really the issue. Duplicate content is generally created when there are different URLs leading to the same content.
There are lots of reasons this might happen, but to Google it looks as if the same content is in lots of places, rather than in the same place with lots of different URLS (a distinction that doesn’t matter to Googlebot). Google doesn’t like finding the same content all over the place and may drop duplicates from its index, which can cause SEO problems.
The second problem with duplicate content of this sort is that other sites will link to it using the different URLS. Because Google thinks it’s all different content, it won’t combine the PageRank for all these links, which isn’t good for ranking well.
The solution? Learn about rel=“canonical.”
Thinking too little about keywords (and thinking too much about them)
When Matt Cutts was asked what he thought the five biggest SEO mistakes were, among them was a lack of focus on keywords. Google is pretty smart, but it still depends on indexing and pattern matching. If your page contains content similar to search queries, you’re more likely to rank when searchers enter those queries.
On the other hand, we all remember what “SEO content” used to look like, so don’t go nuts with the keywords. Always write for humans first and machines a very distant second.
Those are my particular bugbears, but I’m sure you have some great SEO fails to share. Don’t hesitate to drop us a note in the comments below.
Matthew Davis works as an inbound marketer and blogger for Future Hosting, a leading provider of VPS hosting. Follow Future Hosting on Twitter at @fhsales, Like Future Hosting on Facebook and check out its tech/hosting blog, http://www.futurehosting.com/blog.