Marketers who are new to search engine marketing often make a few common mistakes. The following article looks at the top 10 most common search engine marketing mistakes and how to avoid them.
#1: Not Doing SEO on the Website Itself
One of the first – and easiest – methods of gaining traffic from search engines is by optimizing your website for search engines, so they can better understand what your site is all about. You’ll want to use meta tags, including an appropriate title tag and the description meta tag, as well as a keyword-optimized copy on each page of your site. Make sure that a majority of the pages contain a minimum of 300 words worth of text content if possible, or at least some form of rich media such as images, video, or links to other pages on your site. Search engines are not just looking for keywords anymore, but rather a well-rounded website that is informative and engaging for visitors.
#2: Keyword Stuffing & Irrelevant Keywords
Another common mistake businesses make when they first start out in search engine marketing is going after irrelevant keywords or repeating the same keyword over and over throughout their page content. Your website’s navigation, titles, headlines, images alt tags, even copy can be optimized with relevant keywords. However, you should never sacrifice the quality of your writing in order to stuff in more keywords – having too many unnecessary words on your page will cause your bounce rate to go up and Google may punish you by dropping you in the SERPs for that term.
#3: Poor Design & Layout
The days of keyword stuffing and irrelevant keywords are gone. Today, it’s all about creating a website people love to visit and use – because the better visitors like your site, the more they will link to you naturally. The design and layout of your website is so important in fact, that many companies have actually broken their bad habits by hiring agencies or individuals with search engine optimization experience to optimize their websites from scratch. It can be a very expensive proposition but if you’re serious about getting traffic from search engines then you should seriously consider making this investment. First impressions do matter!
#4: Not Using Appropriate Keywords Targeting Your Audience
In order for search engines to understand what your site is about, you need to use the appropriate keywords in all of your content. If you’re trying to target too many different types of people, though, then it will be difficult for search engines to pick up on any particular keyword or topic – and at this point, your money may be better spent elsewhere. Choose specific audiences with their own sets of keywords and niches and you’ll see more targeted and relevant traffic than ever before!
#5: Thinking Paid Search Ads Are All You Need
Paid ads such as Adwords are a great way to get started when you first want to begin testing the market or when speed is important; however paid ads should never be your only source of getting traffic from search engines. When you advertise, you need to make sure that your website is keeping up with the demands of your advertising campaigns and should ideally be factoring in things like relevancy, conversions, and even mobile readiness.
#6: Not Conducting Market Research
When it first comes time to start marketing online or planning a new campaign, one should always first conduct market research. The first step here is to understand who your audience is, where they live (geographically speaking) as well as what other websites they visit and why. Do not forget about competitors – either those relevant websites already ranking well in search engines or those who may pop up as you start getting more involved with search engine marketing. You should also do research on the keywords people are using when searching for your products and services.
#7: Not Optimizing Using On-Site Methods
On-site optimization is about leveraging the keywords and content that search engines already know about and like. The first step here is to make sure you’ve plugged all of your website copy and images with relevant keywords; follow up by making sure those same keywords are now part of your titles, headings, headlines, images alt tags as well as descriptions (including meta tags). Don’t forget about URI/URL paths as these can tell search engines a lot more than people give them credit for! You should also ensure that everything on your site is reachable – if someone copies and pastes a URL from your site into another browser window it should still take them where they want to go.
#8: Not Optimizing Using Off-Site Methods
Off-site optimization is about leveraging your web presence and visibility through social media channels, affiliate marketing programs, and even industry-specific directories. You can use these same search engines that you would when targeting on-site optimization – just be sure to remember that the more different types of websites and organizations in which you’re listed will increase your chances of being seen by both humans and machines. The more human interest in your brand the better!
#9: Thinking Google Is Your Only Option
Although Google is still an extremely relevant source of traffic for any website, it’s important to remember that there are literally hundreds ( if not thousands ) of search engines out there. A good rule of thumb is to do some research at Webmaster Tools and see where your site is currently ranking – this will help you determine how many potential customers are searching for your products and services. I like to keep an eye on Bing as well as Yahoo!
#10: Not Optimizing Your Mobile Pages
This one is really easy to forget about but it’s still extremely important. Think of the last time you went onto a website using a mobile device – chances are it wasn’t easy to navigate, was difficult to read and overall just didn’t give you what you came there for. The same goes for search engine spiders and crawlers – if they can’t easily access the information on your site then they’re far less likely to include you in their index. I already wrote a blog post about this topic you can check it out here.
Although search engine optimization is constantly evolving and changing, these 10 mistakes are at the top of my list as some of the most common and important to avoid (or correct) as your business grows and evolves online. What other items would make your list? Feel free to share!
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