Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex topic, and there’s so much information out there about various strategies that it can be difficult to distinguish good advice from bad. And it gets even trickier when you can easily make a mistake by trying to follow recommended digital marketing strategies. Often, the mistakes people make come down to the technicalities. They’re not always easy to spot, so it’s important to check your website frequently to ensure everything is operating properly.
Because the technical side of SEO can require extensive knowledge and a great deal of work, it’s important to hire a technical SEO expert. Someone with a strong background in technical SEO can ensure your website is set up correctly and there are no errors that might cause your website to be ranked lower or even penalized by Google.
Here are the three most common SEO mistakes I see businesses make, and how you can fix them.
- Linking to bad neighborhoods
Link-building is an important part of a digital marketing strategy, so I often say that links are the internet’s currency. Google uses the links both from and to your website to determine how popular and reputable your site is, and therefore how well it should rank. Your website is associated with the websites it is linked to.
Because Google prioritizes user experience, it makes sense that the safety of the user is a top priority. If you use links that route the user to a disreputable site, Google will not want its users to click on those links, so it’s less likely to send them to your website in the first place. It will lower your reputability in the algorithm’s eyes. Broken links that no longer work can have a similar effect.
Have your technical SEO expert check on all of the sites you’re linking to. If any of the links are broken, fix them. If you’re linking to a “bad neighborhood,” sites that might be dangerous or disreputable, find other sites to link to instead.
- Bad internal links
Links of any kind need to be checked and updated on a regular basis to ensure they’re working properly. But it’s surprising how often internal links—links on your website to another page of your own website—don’t work. This might look like getting a 404 page, which often occurs when content has been moved and the link wasn’t updated to reflect that change.Encountering bad links like this can be particularly frustrating for users. And it can be damaging to your business even beyond SEO. It makes your website look like it’s not properly maintained. And if a prospective customer is trying to find your contact information, but the link is broken, they’re going to move right on to the next business that can help them.Bad internal links hurt your SEO partially because the algorithm favors websites that run smoothly and deliver a good user experience. But they can also hurt your SEO in a more technical way: Google’s algorithm indexes your website by sending out “spiders,” pieces of software that read your website. They use the links to create a map of your website and relate pages to one another. If your links are broken, they cannot do this properly, and it will result in poorer SEO.You can use a website crawling tool to find broken links on your website. Your technical SEO expert should check for these and fix any that don’t work.
- Bad page speed
Something that many businesses overlook when it comes to SEO is the speed at which their page loads. With high-speed internet so easily available today, fast loading sites are taken for granted, and it may not even occur to some people to check the loading speed of their site. But with increased internet speeds, people are used to content loading quickly, and any delay can be a major annoyance. We’ve all been there—you pull up a link, and the site takes a while to load, so you leave before it has the chance to finish loading. Or have you ever shopped on a slow-loading website and given up because the products took too long to load?Not only do poor loading speeds create a negative user experience, causing you to lose potential leads, but they also drag down your SEO ranking. Page loading speed is one of the criteria Google’s algorithm takes into account when determining how high a page ranks.Here’s a hint: Just because it’s loading quickly for you doesn’t mean it will load quickly for the user. You’ve likely been accessing your site, and information about the site is stored so it can be pulled up more quickly than if you were accessing it for the first time. There are a number of online tools that will tell you the loading speed of your website—I recommend using Page Speed Insights, Google’s free tool. The general guidelines is that your loading speed should always be under three seconds, but the faster, the better.A technical SEO expert can solve all three of these common SEO mistakes. By learning what to avoid, you put your website ahead of the game—after all, many other businesses are still making these simple mistakes. That’s why the technical side of SEO is so important. Even an excellent digital marketing strategy with incredible content can be dragged down by missing these technical elements. But by fixing these problems, you’ll increase your search results ranking and gain more traffic, leads, and revenue.