Over and over we are bombarded with articles containing tips and tricks that can be used to improve search engine results. Many written with the best intentions in mind, however for the majority of website owners these recommendations are simply too technical to understand. Here is a different approach to search engine optimization education: A scavenger hunt for poor seo that is sucking the life out of your ranking potential.
1. Dead Links
Here’s the thing. You want your pages to be indexed with Google (or any other search engine). That’s how search works. Once you post content to your website and Google crawls it, it’s tucked away in its coffers waiting for someone to search for it. If you move, delete, or change the URL to that page then Google can tell its users where to go and that looks bad. Make sure your site handles ALL requests to it with proper 301 redirects.
Check your website pages with the W3C Link Checker tool.
2. Anchor Links with No Keywords
There is nothing more annoying to a user and lame to a search engine bot than an anchor link applied to a click here type of action. They are non-descriptive and wasted opportunities to tell Google what the page you are linking to is all about. Instead of telling people where to click, entice them by offering a more intuitive link to the content you would like them to see. You also don’t want to use exact match anchor links, but that’s an entirely separate blog post.
3. Bad Headlines
H1, H2, H3, H4 etc. tags are designed with purpose, and they are not for design. Heading tags are used by search engines to determine the hierarchy of a webpage starting with the H1 tag as the main headline. If you’re using the heading tags to format your typography, stop. YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.
Make sure your webpages have the main headline wrapped in H1 tags and sub-headlines in H2 tags at a minimum and ensure that the keyword(s) you want your page found for live in the headline.
4. Not Enough Copy
A huge culprit for poor SEO is not having enough copy on your webpages for search engines to index. Make sure that your pages contain enough content to tell Google what the page is about. Images and videos help to keep users interested, but search engines need text in order to determine your webpage relevancy when it comes to search.
The optimal length of a blog article should keep the reader engaged between 3 and 7 minutes according to a data study prepared by Medium. That’s around 800 to 1600 words.
5. Horrible Page Titles
Page titles ARE NOT the same as page headlines. They are the first part of what you see in search engine results that link to the pages on your website. Each page of your site should have a unique title to that page and it should not include your business name (unless it’s your homepage or about page) or any words other than what it is about.
6. No Page Descriptions
The second part of what you see in search results listings are called page descriptions. These by default will grab the first text that appears on your web page if not properly set. Page descriptions are not for keyword stuffing or for comma separated lists of keywords you want to be found for. If used properly, accurately written page titles and page descriptions can greatly improve your overall SEO performance.
7. Images Without Alt Tags
Alt tags tell search engines what the image placed on your web page is about. Be descriptive and be accurate as Google will index your images as part of your overall website search index and provide a huge boost to your ranking. Alt tags are especially important when it comes to website accessibility, as visually impaired individuals that rely on screen readers use Alt tags to help navigate websites.
The proper format for an img tag is:
<img src="*image url*" alt="*description of image"/>
8. Ugly URLs
Your website URL is an extension of your brand. You want to make sure that all of your web pages have proper, human readable URLs to them, both for ease of use by your visitors and for ease of indexing by search engines. This is another opportunity to apply keywords specific to those pages.
Sometimes when using content management platforms (such as WordPress), URLs are written with GET variables. In simple terms, the URL has variables in it that tell the CMS what content to deliver to the browser. With proper URL rewriting (in WordPress see setting permalinks) your URLs can hide these variables and make them more user and search engine friendly.
Normal WordPress page URL
WordPress page URL with permalinks on
9. Irrelevant Content
The best investment you can make into your website after it is built is content. The worst investment you can make into your website is irrelevant content. Make sure what you are posting to your website is authentic, original, and targeted to your business and your audience. Take the time to establish regular blogging practices and work with professionals to setup a content schedule and brainstorm interesting topics and delivery ideas.
10. Missing Sitemap
The fastest way to get your website indexed in Google is to tell it what pages your website contains and how to find them. This is called a sitemap and it is usually an XML format. You can check to see if your website has a sitemap by entering YOUR_URL/sitemap_index.xml or YOUR_URL/sitemap.xml. These are the most common two paths.
In order to submit a sitemap to Google you’ll need to register for a webmaster account and verify your website.
Or better yet, work with a professional team that can assist you with getting setup and submitted and making sure that your poor SEO becomes a thing of the past.