Maximize Your SEO Strategy By Eliminating Harmful Habits

When it comes to SEO, wanting to outsmart your competition is always a factor in making decisions. While it is usually a good idea to try new, inventive ways to help boost your page ranking on Google’s SERPs, it can be a fine line between something beneficial and something that can hurt your site. Unfortunately, we often encounter businesses who unwittingly make some of the mistakes on this list in their SEO attempts. In the long run, however, you may be doing more harm than good – but that’s OK! We are here to help you navigate the complex spectrum of SEO practices.

Using Keywords in Business Listings

Let’s clarify something before we get into this one: if your business name includes keywords already, this doesn’t apply. It is an excellent practice to do keyword research before choosing a business name, as this can help you figure out what works best for your company. However, if your business name does not already include those keywords, adding them after the fact to things like your Google My Business listings can put you in direct violation of their terms of use.

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This means that if you tack on phrases like “dental office” or “legal attorney” when your Business name is “Sage Dental Services” or “Manson & Manson, PA” you may be considered a spammer by Google’s business description guidelines.

Giving false information of any sort – including UPS addresses, incorrect employee numbers, or posting fake reviews – is considered spam by Google, and can put you at risk. Competitors and everyday users have the option to report your site for spam, and if it is deemed so by Google themselves, your website or listing can be suspended or permanently removed. The best way to avoid getting in trouble for something as silly as a keyword is to prevent putting them in the wrong places. Instead, focus on tactfully implementing your keywords and optimizing elements on your website through “on-site SEO”.

Using a Site that is Not Secure

Back in 2014, Google announced the importance of a secured site. When you type in a URL or click a link on Google or Bing’s results page, you will be taken to a website, when you land on that site, you may see something in the top left of the URL box that will – on most browsers – show a padlock. On some websites, this may appear as green and in the locked position, while on others it is red and unlocked. You may also see the word secured or not secured, depending on the host’s server.

Back in 2014, Google announced the importance of a secured site – which is what this little sign means. It’s also in your URL! Secured sites begin with https, while unsecured sites are http. However, it wasn’t until recently that they started to actively alert Google Chrome users when they enter a place online that will potentially collect their information.

Also known as an SSL certificate, this marks the security of your site and helps to establish you as a reliable source. If you are collecting any information, even if it is just an email address, you should invest in an SSL server to protect sensitive information. Not only can it establish you as a trustworthy resource, but it can also help boost your page ranking and put you ahead of the competition!

The process of obtaining, installing, and redirecting any old pages on your server to your new-and-improved https address can be slightly complicated, especially if you are not well-versed in computer lingo and technical terms, like “301 redirects”, it might be in your best interest to find a developer or SEO consultant who can help you.

Long Load Times

Ugh – what is more frustrating than having to wait for what feels like ages for a simple landing page to load? Well, in the eyes of your potential customers, not much. Studies show that over 50% of sites that take longer than three seconds to load are abandoned. Now, that may not seem like much, but in internet time, anything more than a second can feel eternal.

This is less of an intentional mistake and more of a common issue that even well-established sites can have from time to time. Unfortunately, in Google’s eyes, slow page times are a colossal blunder. Part of your page rank is based on this metric, as Google conclude your site’s quality based on how long users stay on a page.

Thankfully, you can monitor your site’s speed. If you use Google’s nifty PageSpeed Insights Tool, they will even give you tips on what could be slowing your site down and how you can fix it, so users have better experience. There are many free options online to check your page speed, as well, like Pingdom or GTmetrix.

Not Using Anchor Text

Once upon a time, it was common practice to finish a call-to-action with a phrase along the lines of “click here for more information!” While this might still get the point across, since the ever-booming popularity of SEO implementation, it has phased out.

Except, of course, for those behind-on-the-times bloggers and business owners who still insist on hyperlinking back to their site with a generic phrase or word. If you are still doing this, you are missing out on an excellent opportunity to generate SEO points by linking relevant text to the hyperlink. Whether you are asking a customer to contact you via a form or redirect them to a sales page so they can spend money on your website, anchor text is an excellent way to help boost your page on their SERPs. (See what we did there?)

The trick to anchor text is to make sure the content you use is relevant to the site you are linking back to, and it is providing valuable information to the audience who will be clicking on it. Google also takes into consideration the words surrounding the anchor text to help determine if the link is credible and helpful. Both of these things will help to boost your page’s ranking on SERPs. Be sure not to overdo it! Too many links within the text can are spammy(there is that word again), and Google may penalize you for it.

Did you know? A nifty way to boost SEO and help clients find you is by linking to Google Maps directions and creating anchor text that references your address or directions. To do so, look up google map directions to your place of business – assuming you have a brick and motor storefront – and link it using anchor text that reads “Driving Directions to Manson & Manson, PA”. This way, if any potential customers enter “directions Manson & Manson” or a similar combination of those keywords into a search engine box, your Contact Us landing page has a higher chance of being one of the first results.

Not Using a Google Map on Their Site

Speaking of Google Maps, not including a small interactive window that shows the exact location of your business on a Google Map is a big mistake! If you are using another type of map generator (like Yahoo! Maps), a simple screenshot of your location, or nothing at all – you are not getting the most out of your site’s SEO potential!

So why is this a helpful practice? Well, for starters, it can help your clients find you faster. Believe it or not, Google considers this. Additionally, it can also make it easier to the Google servers to find your address – just in case someone searches for it – and populate the answer box with a definite answer. This will help to drive traffic to your site as well, as a relevant link will likely appear with the answer. All in all, it is an excellent way to increase your visibility on SERPs like Google.

Ignoring the Alt Text for Images

So maybe you read about how images are a great way to keep your reader’s interest. A great rule of thumb is typically to include one picture for every 75 – 100 words of text that you use. That’s great! But are you sure you are making the most out of those images, SEO-wise? If you are not correctly using the alt-text area when hosting visual content on your blog or website, then you are not. But, thankfully, it’s an easy fix.

First of all, what is the alt-text? Known as the alt attribute, and sometimes called the alt-tag, this is the alternative attribution given to the image so that search engines can crawl it. Instead of leaving whatever generic text the photo delivers, or leaving it blank, use a short phrase or keyword that can describe the picture. Be sure not to use keywords you are trying to rank for if they aren’t relevant, as this is another form of spamming.

Another nifty tip is to change the image’s actual file name before putting it on your site or blog. Instead of saving birdpic1.jpg – or worse IMG-00043.jpg – take the time to rename your pictures to something that has to do with the image! Use dashes in between the words, like bird-flying.jpg or picnic-table-birthday-lunch.png. This will help with SEO, and it will also help you discern which file is which in your hard drive!

Help – I’ve Made So Many Mistakes!

Don’t worry, making mistakes is part of learning! Navigating what isn’t successful will help you understand what is. Have you figured out some tips or tricks that may be helpful? Let us know in the comments below. Or maybe you have encountered (or are guilty of) other SEO mistakes not mentioned here! Let us know – and remember, it can be hard work, though, so don’t be afraid to ask for help!

With Google’s algorithms continually changing, it can be hard to keep up, and that might impact your site’s page ranking. Contact us today to learn more about how we can enhance your SEO campaign and help you get your website adequately recognized on SERPs.

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