Originally Published on Forbes on June 27, 2015 by Jayson DeMers
Websites are no longer a luxury; they’re now a necessity for businesses in nearly all industries in order to remain competitive. In perhaps misguided competitive spirit, website owners are increasingly adopting aggressive marketing tactics that are more likely to harm their website visibility in search engines rather than help it. Are you making any of the mistakes listed below?
1. Keyword Over-Optimization
Prior to the release of Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithms, overuse of keywords (commonly referred to as “keyword stuffing”) was a common practice, yet website owners rarely experienced any adverse ramifications. Those days are now over. Search engines have become increasingly complex, and Google, in particular, is continually tweaking its algorithms to reward high-quality content while penalizing low-quality content as well as attempts at manipulating the algorithm.
It’s no longer acceptable to stuff a page with keywords in an attempt to make it rank higher for those phrases. Not only is this an example of an ineffective tactic, but it could actually have negative consequences. This particular tactic would be identified by Google’s Panda algorithm, and the website may be subsequently removed from Google’s search results.
While it’s important that a page contains the keyword for which you want it to rank, as well as related keywords (known as LSI keywords and long-tail keywords), over-use of them is easily apparent and can backfire if Google feels they’ve been applied unnaturally.
2. Insufficient & Infrequent Content
For years, there was a focus on making website content short and sweet. Recently, however, there has been a trend among search engines to prefer pages with long-form, in-depth, informative content. When a search engine encounters a page without much content, it might conclude that the page is of lower quality or that the content is “thin,” causing it to have less visibility in search results.
In order to ensure that your website is competitive today, ensure that you publish only valuable, relevant, and informative content. Generally, long-form articles that include images, proper text formatting, and even video embeds tend to rank better in search engines, get more social media shares, and higher engagement with readers. Google wants to display content in its search results that people will love. So, take a close look at your website content and ask if anyone would really love it. Be honest. If not, remove it or combine it with other content to create new content that’s valuable and shareable.
Aside from sufficient, in-depth content, many website owners don’t quite understand how important frequency and consistency is when it comes to content publication. In my article “Why An Active Blog is Necessary for a Successful SEO Initiative,” I explain the relationship between content publication frequency and search engine rankings. In summary, it comes down to a mix between algorithmic factors as well as user behavior patterns; but there’s a definitive link between publication frequency and search engine rankings.
3. Unnatural Link Building
Many website owners often make the mistake of thinking that buying links is a quick and effective way to boost their site’s search engine rankings. While quantity and quality of inbound links are a major factor in the search engine ranking algorithm, unnatural inbound links can trigger devastating penalties on your website. Google, in particular, has been clear regarding their stance when it comes to buying links. Simply put, they don’t like it and are swift to penalize any site found to be building unnatural links. So, how do you build links naturally? I covered some of my favorite tactics in the following articles:
- The Ultimate, Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Business by Guest Blogging
- 8 Ways to Build Links When Guest Blogging isn’t Possible
4. No Plan
One of the most surprising mistakes made by many website owners is simply not having a marketing plan for their website at all. A successful website, business, or brand should continually evolve, and among the best ways to do that is through a strategic content marketing campaign. Content marketing has been heralded as the “New SEO” by experts, and for good reason.
Fresh, quality content has been shown to help achieve higher search engine rankings, while also building brand authority, credibility, and awareness, along with a targeted audience. One my predicted content marketing trends of 2014 is the rise of content marketing across all industries. So if you don’t have a content marketing plan yet, there’s a significant risk of falling behind what the competition is doing. Consider it a chance to establish your brand and differentiate it from that of your competitors.
5. No Social Media Presence
As social media has become more prominent in the online marketing sphere, it has become even more vital for businesses to ensure that they have a social media presence. As I stated in my article, “The Top 7 Social Media Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2014,” social media is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity.
Furthermore, in addition to simply having a presence on social media channels, you need to have those platforms linked to your website, and vice versa. Business owners are often hesitant to use social media because they aren’t sure what to do with it, or are even fearful of receiving negative feedback. The truth is that today’s technology-savvy consumers rely on the Internet when searching for businesses of nearly all types. So, if you don’t have a social media presence, you could be losing customers; especially if your competitors are engaging on social media.
Social media offers a unique, scalable way to create buzz about your business and grow and engage your audience. While the potential for negative feedback is always present both online and offline, social media gives the opportunity to combat such problems and effectively manage your business’s reputation.
6. Duplicate Content
We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘content is king,’ and this is no less true today than it was 10 years ago. With the rise of content marketing, content has become even more important to boosting search engine rankings, along with a host of other benefits such as branding and audience building. When it comes to good SEO, there’s no substitute for good content.
With that said, it’s imperative to publish only unique content that has not been published elsewhere. Not only is copying someone else’s content unethical and illegal, it can harm your site’s search engine rankings. Even if you have royalty-free or private label rights-content, or your own content that’s already been published elsewhere, publishing duplicate content is a risky tactic that has little upside, and significant potential downsides. I wrote an extensive article on the topic which I’d invite you to read if you’d like more information on this subject: “Duplicate Content: All Evidence Considered, All Questions Answered.”
7. Ignoring Local Search Trends
With approximately 30 percent of searches conducted on Google focused on a specific geographic location, local search is a crucial element of any SEO plan for businesses with physical locations to which customers go. However, many website owners overlook local search, instead preferring to focus on national search results, which are more competitive. For specific tactics on how to improve your local SEO, see my article, “The Definitive Guide to Local SEO.”
Managing a website, along with a business, is time-consuming. With the added responsibility of keeping up with changes in the SEO industry, it’s difficult for business owners to have a clear idea of what to do when it comes to implementing an SEO campaign. It’s easy to understand why business owners commit these mistakes, considering the amount of bad information floating around the Internet. Hopefully this article sheds some light on what things not to do, as well as what tactics will be beneficial.
Originally posted on Forbes