Creating a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy is hardly a new challenge for businesses, but many still get the basics wrong at disastrous cost in this digital age.
At the same time SEO demands continue to evolve. Google, for example, recently followed ned user behaviour and changed its search algorithms to favour mobile-friendly sites in its rankings.
So for those keen to avoid the major pitfalls, here are the top ten SEO mistakes made by businesses, according to Amo Sokhi, managing director at SEO specialist agency Polaris...
1. Not thinking about mobile users
Many businesses still conduct SEO without considering mobile traffic as a key component within their strategy. On average, over 40 percent of online visitors browse destination websites through a mobile device during their online journey. With Google releasing mobile specific algorithms to track and monitor mobile specific website performance, businesses need to start thinking about mobile users just as much as traditional desktop users alike.
2. Inefficient website structure
Many businesses naturally develop their website structure over time without any real strategy or SEO logic. After years of adding categories, information pages and product lines, the result is an uneven, bloated site structure that gives little value to key categories and landing pages and stops users from migrating easily around the website. Getting a site -wide audit helps to overcome this natural mistake, which mroe than 80 percent of businesses make as they develop into seasoned online retailers.
3. Poor SEO objective setting
So many SEO stakeholders still set poor objectives for SEO based on simplistic metrics such as Rankings. A good SEO campaign will be broken down into quarterly segments, with objectives set each quarter depending on the maturity of the campaign.
4. Duplicating meta tags across thousands of dynamic product pages
Many database-driven websites all carry duplicate meta data such as title tags and descriptions due to poor content management system (CMS) setup. By installing a plugin or having custom formats for dynamic database-driven pages this mistake can be overcome.
5. Carrying out a site migration without notifying Google
Sites are migrated onto new domains, or re-launched on a new platform (with new URLs), and the relevant notifications and redirects are not carried out. When URL locations change, 301 redirects need to be put in place to ensure users continue to arrive at desired destinations within the website. When a site is migrated to a new domain, Google should be notified using the "change of address" tool within Google Search Console, so that they can update their indexes.
6. Forgetting to integrate Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools)
Many internal dev teams spend thousands of man hours developing cutting edge functionality for destination sites but unfortunately forget to integrate the Search Console tag. Without this, SEO-critical updates cannot be carried out and Google cannot notify webmasters of issues with sites.
7. Not updating Sitemaps
Updating a website sitemap has many benefits. Not only does it provide easier navigation as well as better visibility by search engines when they come to index the site but it also offers the opportunity to inform search engines about any changes on site. Having a dynamic sitemap means it will update itself and also notifies search engines when a page has been added. Should webmasters choose to ignore adding a sitemap, it will take search engines much longer to crawl and index the site which is bad news if you make regular updates.
8. Migrating a website to a new platform without considering SEO
Moving a website will happen from time to time as a business evolves. Always consider the SEO impact of this move, including 301 redirects, database migration and the impact on the user journey. Putting together a migration plan at the earliest possible stage allows for all stakeholders to be aware of the work needed by each party and the timescales associated with this work. Getting a migration wrong can have an ongoing impact on traffic, rankings and overall conversions
9. Only using third party, ‘thin’ or duplicate content on product pages
Many travel sites or affiliate sites pull content via xml feeds but don’t compliment this content with unique content. This is a typical mistake made by many businesses that don’t fully understand the implications of thin content pages within an SEO strategy. User reviews, in-house written descriptions, opinion polls etc are all ways of complimenting third party content that floats across the net on thousands of other sites that Google won’t like on its own.
10. Underestimating what it takes to deliver SEO
Handle SEO internally or externally? There are over 200 signals that Google now considers when considering a destination website for a natural ranking. To measure these signals, report and improve on them, a lot of systems, time, expertise and experience is required. Whilst development teams understand SEO, their roles do not directly account for SEO and therefore many underestimate what it actually takes to deliver an SEO campaign.
Polaris is an SEO agency in London specialising in organic search marketing for clients in the B2B, Travel and E-Commerce sectors.