The Most Common SEO Pitfalls – Part 3
This is the third and final installment of my series on common SEO pitfalls. We have to date reviewed 6 common SEO oversights – 3 each in Part 1 and Part 2, In this post we will look at the final 4 top SEO errors of omission from our SEO files. These are common mistakes or oversights that are fundamental best practices and are based on SEO true stories! Please let us know your stories in the comments below!
1. No Thought Given to Page Load Time
Needless to say, it is important to design your site with the user in mind to provide for a good user experience. This impacts design considerations and many other aspects of the site. Since page load time, or site speed, is not visual, it can often escape notice as an issue until late in the game. But it may be the first and most important factor in a visitor’s impulse to stay or leave. And even if the landing page loads quickly, be sure to check the conversion pages, as well. Every page in the path a user will take through your site should be fast, and clean.
There are great tools for checking load speeds and getting recommendations for improvements. One new tool from Google that we recommend is their Mobile Website Speed Testing Tool. It checks speed on mobile, desktop, and while you are at it, mobile friendliness. Google’s older tool, PageSpeed Insights, works great as well. Another well-known speed test tool is Pingdom Website Speed Test. Don’t leave your visitors waiting and wondering. Ensure your site loads. Your users AND Google will penalize you if you don’t.
2. Content not Well-Organized
Just like in a library, content needs a logical framework or taxonomy. Visitors come to a library and search by topic, or author, for example. You need to provide a similar context on your site. Some sites appear like a large sock drawer, with no discernible structure to the content. These sites offer no obvious connections between articles, posts, labels, or tags.
Other sites impose a superstructure that is completely non-intuitive. For example, a WordPress default is to archive blog posts by date. Users can navigate the archive via a sidebar widget with links to content by year and by month. Seriously? When was the last time you visited a website, and wondered, “what did they write about in August 2010?” I think it’s safe to say that most users will rarely start a content search with a date lookup. Also, it’s important to note, when you highlight the date, people avoid posts that look old! So remove that taxonomy and provide a logical search by topic or category instead.
Another common error is to organize content by media type: Posts, Articles, PDFs, Videos, Podcasts, etc. Seems to make sense at first. But if you are trying to learn about a company, a service, or a product, it’s rare to begin with a search by media type. Wouldn’t you prefer to look up a topic and find a landing page with links to ALL related content, of every media type? That would be a powerful landing page, for users, and for Google!
So don’t create a sock drawer mess! Give your content a solid structure that provides context, helps visitors find what they need, and links to related material.
context, helps visitors find what they need, and links to related material.
3. Ignoring the SEO basics – No Meta Descriptions, No Page Titles
It’s surprising how often I see a website with no meta descriptions or no page titles. Or a site with duplicate meta descriptions or page titles. These are still bedrock SEO fundamentals. And they are unlikely to change soon.
A page title must be created with the HTML <title> tag in the <head> of any web page. It will appear to a user as the text in the browser tab for each page. It is also the default text used when creating a browser bookmark or favorite. Lastly, it is usually used by Google as the text in the link for a page in the search engine results page.
This is and should be the title of the page. It should tell the user and Google, what the page is about. And so, every page should have a unique one.
The meta description is usually used by Google to form the short description of a page in the search results. It won’t impact your SEO ranking, but a well-crafted meta description may get more clicks to your site. So, again, make it unique and make sure every page has one.
4. Not optimizing for users – Not optimizing for Google
OK that’s confusing. Which is it? Well, both are flip sides of a single problem. Some sites focus on user interface and design. And some worry more about Google and search engine performance. But if your design and interface team never talks to your SEO team, you will always have a problem. These are two sides of a coin, two key aspects to a great site.
Google really WANTS your site to offer a good user experience. That’s what Google values because it wants to provide the best possible search results. So, user engagement metrics have become important SEO factors for Google.
Something as simple as keyword research will impact both user experience and SEO. Plan the implementation of keywords in meta tags and on-page copy in a way that will reflect user intent for visitors to that page. This will encourage engagement, lower bounce rates, and ultimately improve rankings.
Add breadcrumbs, to enable both users and search engines to see context, where a page fits in the larger picture, and where it makes sense to click next.
With few exceptions, good user-based design will improve your SEO, and vice versa. Be sure you are optimizing for both!
As noted, let us know your stories, or if you’d like an SEO review of your site free.