Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your business is about to get even harder in 2019. Ranking for relevant keywords will take longer, cost your organization more money and, if not executed properly, not give you the same ROI as you’ve had in years past. Fortunately, just a few simple changes to your SEO strategy can help you become a dominant force online.
Discover our 7 bad SEO habits you need to break this coming year:
Leveraging your search engine ranking into a revenue-generating tool means more than just thinking outside the box – you need to stop relying on stale strategies that just don’t cut it anymore.
In fairness, many business professionals don’t even know that their approach to SEO is behind the times. Google and other major search engines are continually changing their algorithms to level the playing field, so trying to keep up with those alterations can feel like you’re swimming upstream.
So how do you know which SEO habits are the ones you need to kick? More importantly, what approaches do you take instead to broaden your reach online and grow your audience over time?
Today, I’m breaking down 7 common mistakes I see organizations of all sizes making, especially when it comes reaching a local audience or niche. Every tip varies in size and scope, but they all play a part in SEO strategies that improve your Google ranking.
Let’s get started!
1. Focusing on Link Quantity Over Quality
Link building is one of the most important parts of a solid SEO game plan. However, the emphasis on link quantity over quality has quickly become an outdated philosophy, especially in the last five years.
Ever since the Penguin 2.0 update that Google released in 2012, having a ton of backlinks means nothing if they’re not from the right places. Prior to this change, Google’s algorithm still targeted sites that had dubious link profiles, poor quality backlinks and anchor text that was overly fine-tuned to focus on a single term.
Now, Google and other search engines use metrics like page rank and domain authority to gauge link quality and deem whether certain webpages or pieces of content are trustworthy. Relevancy of the links to the topic at hand and social media presence also play a role in determining backlink strength.
The bottom line? Less can mean more if your links all connect to quality sources. Cutting corners on this part of your SEO strategy could mean your business’ search engine visibility takes a huge hit.
2. Page Ranking is the Only Important SEO Metric
Link building directly influences your page ranking, another metric that has been at the center of online business approaches for decades now. That said, is getting on Google’s first page of results still the most important part of SEO?
The real answer is yes and no. Having your business gain traction as a first-page search result is indeed a positive, one that can boost both engagement and revenue possibilities. However, you need to balance prime page ranking real estate with good clickthrough rate performance.
If page ranking is the online equivalent to window shopping, then a good clickthrough rate means that person has entered your digital establishment and is one step closer to buying. The best part is that, while impressions largely depend on high search engine results page ranking, clickthrough rates can still generate a ton of organic traffic. Yes, even if you’re not on the first page.
Appearing in one of the top three slots of the second, third and even fourth pages of Google search results can still have an enormous impact on your business if your clickthrough game is strong. How do you get that conversion rate up to par? A lot of it has to do with your page titles and meta descriptions.
Clear, concise and engaging copy in either department usually leads to a spike in organic traffic. Conversely, if you don’t have an enticing meta description or an attention-grabbing headline in your Google search result entry, engagement and clicks will be low no matter what page you’re ranking on.
3. Meta Descriptions Impact Search Engine Visibility
I’ll just be straight up about this one: meta descriptions haven’t been impacting your page ranking or visibility for a while now.
In 2009, Google announced that meta descriptions, meta keywords and meta tags have no impact on how well (or not) you rank. However, that doesn’t mean that those fields have no effect on your overall SEO strategy – in fact, it’s quite the contrary.
Meta descriptions don’t alter your search ranking, but they do have a huge bearing on your clickthrough rate. It’s a great way to separate yourself from the rest of the noise online and demonstrate exactly how valuable your webpage or blog post is, especially after Google expanded their meta description character count in 2017.
Does clickthrough rate impact your search engine page ranking? Well, sort of.
Bing and Yahoo include this metric in their decision-making, but Google hasn’t given a straight answer to this question over the years. Meta descriptions and its meta-themed brethren should be used as an attention-grabber and not as text that you hope will boost your page ranking.
4. Emphasize Ranking for Big Keywords
Ranking high on search results pages for big, high-traffic keywords may sound like a great SEO strategy but, for most businesses, it’s just not feasible.
This comes into greater focus when you consider smaller, local enterprises that pit entrepreneurs against companies with more staff, more money and a larger built-in audience. That David-and-Goliath struggle for a share of 10-20 giant keywords doesn’t make a ton of sense from a resource or financial standpoint.
Instead of turning your tunnel vision towards super-competitive keywords, it’s more advantageous to think more niche. As an SEO metric, impressions don’t carry the same kind of weight as it used to, so don’t be afraid to target more specific audiences that are more likely to engage with your content. In fact, a consistent clickthrough rate from a smaller search volume can be an extremely valuable commodity for your business.
With hundreds of thousands of keyword opportunities on Google and other search engines, there’s plenty of opportunities out there even if you sidestep bigger, high-competition keywords.
5. Keyword Matches Need to be Exact
When anyone types a search query into Google or another search engine, the words usually follow a logical progression. However, even if the keywords groupings don’t make grammatical sense, search engine algorithms are now so advanced that they’ll get the gist of what you’re asking.
The takeaway here is that your potential SEO keyword matches on a webpage or in a blog post don’t have to match exactly with what’s typed into the search bar. Instead, the key to success is to have a headline (4-9 words is ideal) or short description that clearly explains the search result entry.
Do more keywords in a shorter space equal Google page ranking or general SEO success? The short answer is no. “Keyword stuffing” is something I’ve hinted at already and it’s a tactic you want to avoid. Any search terms you’re targeting on your website or in your content must be incorporated organically. If they’re not related to or feel forced, Google can throttle your ranking for a specific term.
6. More Pages Equals Better Search Engine Rankings
Once again, we’ve come back to this idea of quality over quantity. From keyword count to page count, Google and other search engines aren’t looking for more average-to-mediocre content. Instead, they favor pages that are bringing something vital to the table.
First introduced in 2011, Google’s Panda algorithm has come a long way in detecting what content is helpful to users and what is less so. A lot of the factors I’ve discussed already go into determining this, but it’s also important to note that not everything you publish gets indexed by the search giant either.
Additionally, even if certain pages are indexed, there’s no guarantee that they’ll stay there. Therefore, flooding the internet with many landing pages won’t necessarily translate into SEO success – in fact, it could have an adverse effect on the indexing for your site.
7. I Must Appeal to Global Audiences Instead of Local Ones
Contrary to popular belief, local SEO isn’t dead. In fact, when done properly, it can give you a major advantage in your marketplace.
Ever since the release of Google’s Pigeon algorithm in 2014, the search engine has improved the visibility for local businesses, since many consumers are often searching for the best vendors in their neighborhoods as opposed to ones located half a world away.
Local SEO is only going to become more important in the coming years. In 2018, Moz declared that 64% of marketers think that Google is becoming the new business homepage for organizations. Those well-designed search result cards contain more information than ever before and are reaching more people as a result of global SEO shifts. The time to put an emphasis on local search engine marketing is now.
Whether you’re just starting to get your e-commerce sea legs or looking to make strategic adjustments and take your SEO game to the next level, the journey towards sustained growth and increased revenue starts with breaking bad habits. By updating your SEO approach and optimizing that process further down the road, your organization will be set up to thrive in our digitally-connected economy.
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