6 Habits Hurting Your Website and How to Replace Them With These SEO Best Practices
SEO is an excellent way to boost website traffic and generate more leads for your business. Best of all, it’s free!
But as the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” In order to take advantage of the boost SEO can bring to your website your first need to understand how it works. Not only do search engines value and rank websites, awarding those sites who perform SEO “correctly,” but they also punish websites with poor SEO or deliberately spammy practices. In some cases, what was once an SEO best practice in the early days of search engines is now a no-no that sends your site to the bottom of the rankings.
Let’s explore some common SEO bad habits and how you can correct them on your website.
1. Focusing solely on Google
It’s no big surprise that Google is the most popular website—not just the most popular search engine, but the most popular website. The name “Google'' is even used as a verb (e.g., “Let’s Google it.”)! This high amount of market share gives Google a lot of power, so while it’s important to focus on your Google ranking as your website grows, you need to consider other search engines as well.
For example, Bing is another popular search engine. Many people who use PCs with Microsoft Office on their computers have Bing pre-installed as a default search engine. If you’re only worried about optimizing for Google, you could be losing a big chunk of your audience. If your audience is international, you may also want to consider whether your site is optimized for search engines like Baidu (China) and Yandex (Russia).
Additionally, the most popular search engines are no longer traditional search engines. YouTube, Amazon and Facebook are among the most popular destinations for users looking for answers. You should also consider how your content can be easily discovered on these platforms.
Best practice: Diversify your search engine focus and make content that can rank high in multiple engines.
You should assume that at least some of your ideal prospects use search engines other than Google. Additionally, Google constantly tweaks its algorithm, and any changes they make will likely affect your website rank. It’s important to put your search engine eggs in multiple baskets and not rely so heavily on creating all of your digital content for one search engine.
2. Prioritizing the quantity of links over quality
When you’re searching online, you might notice that some articles are full of links, some have links sprinkled throughout and some have none. Which do you think performs the best? Regardless of the answer, it’s really the quality of the links that affects the rank as opposed to the number of links.
When you create content, your main focus should be on the types of links you’re including. Prioritize links from high quality, reputable websites and publications.
Best practice: Include at least one link to another page on your own website and one link to a reputable, external site.
Take time to find quality links with trusted rankings. Quantity is easy, but quality builds value.
3. Ignoring web design best practices
A website redesign might not be a top priority, but when it comes to search engine algorithms (especially Google’s) your website design, responsiveness and performance are crucial to increasing and keeping a high ranking.
Best practice: Enter your domain into a tool like HubSpot’s Website Grader to find areas of improvement on your website.
Here are a few reasons why you might need to redesign your website:
- It’s too slow
- It’s built and coded with old SEO strategies that aren’t as valuable anymore
- It’s broken, has compatibility issues or is not mobile-responsive
- It doesn’t meet accessibility best practices
Search engine algorithms can tell whether your website meets the above criteria, and won’t prioritize your website if it thinks users won’t like what they find. Updating your website not only helps to boost your search engine ranking but will provide a better user experience for maximum lead generation.
4. Forgetting your audience when choosing keywords
Content marketing is incredibly popular now, but many content creators lose sight of the importance of writing content around keywords that reflect the questions, problems, goals, challenges and motivations of their buyers. Writing content for content’s sake may get you some website traffic (out of sheer luck), but without a clear strategy, it’s likely no one will read your content.
Best practice: Design content for your ideal buyer persona, using keywords that answer the questions they’re asking.
Buyers have changed the way they shop for B2B products and services, and your keyword strategy needs to reflect that. Instead of waiting for your sales team to fill them in on the answers, they’re conducting their research online first. When they type in a search query such as, “best industry software,” you want to make sure your content comes up first by using the keywords they’re searching—and then answering the question. This approach is called, “They Ask, You Answer” or TAYA.
5. Not optimizing your images
In the old days of SEO, you could post an image to your blog or website without a proper image file name or alt text and get away with it. Search engines wouldn’t factor your image into how your page ranked. That isn’t the case anymore.
Best practice: Always add alt text and a filename that includes your keyword to help search engines understand what the image is.
As an SEO best practice, when you place an image, give it an appropriate and clear file name along with an appropriate alt text name.
For example, if you were posting this image, the proper SEO protocol would be:
- Image filename: Cat_and_dog_snuggling_on_bed.jpg
- Alt text: Cat and dog snuggling on bed
6. Not monitoring backlinks
A backlink is an external link that directs back to your site. Anyone can post a link to your website anywhere on the web, and encouraging other sites to do so is part of a smart link building strategy.
While backlinks from authoritative sites are helpful, bad backlinks from spammy sites can hurt your SEO ranking.
Monitoring backlinks is crucial, and one way to do this is by using your website design platform to periodically monitor which sites are linking to your website.
Warning signs you want to watch for when determining whether a backlink is harmful include:
- Links from gambling, adult or other illicit sites
- Links from sites in foreign languages
- Links from pages whose sole purpose is for spamming search engines
- Links from pages with more than 50 links included in the body text
- Links from sites that trigger virus or malware warnings in your browser
Take control of your website’s SEO
SEO strategy is a work in progress, and the six best practices outlined in this blog will help you grow that strategy and improve your ranking. If you don’t know where to start, just pick one of the above best practices and try to implement a new idea. This will help you test your efforts and find out what’s working and what’s not.
Remember, SEO algorithms are constantly changing, so make sure to check in with the latest SEO trends regularly to guarantee yourself a top spot on page one rankings.