In the world of search engine optimization, or SEO, things are changing every day—multiple times a day! Google updates its algorithm a reported 500 to 600 times per year. Given such a fast-paced and fluctuating environment, it can be tough to know which practices are helping your search visibility and which practices are hurting it.
Watch out for these six common SEO mistakes people are still making in 2018.
1. You Don’t Have a Mobile-Friendly Site
More than 57% of search traffic is now mobile, but are you?
Google switched to mobile-first indexing in 2018, so our first SEO mistake is one of the most important to address.
Mobile-first indexing means Google looks at the mobile version of your site to determine your search visibility, instead of your desktop site. Even if a non-mobile version of your site is search engine optimized, you’re missing out on a world of opportunity if you don’t make it mobile-friendly.
To quickly test how mobile-friendly your website is, search for it yourself on a mobile device. Click on every button and try to read every page. Do the pages display correctly? Do links go where they are supposed to? A more formal method is Google’s mobile-friendly test. This will give you an indication of how well your site functions on mobile devices so that you can make improvements and increase your search visibility.
2. Your Site Is “Not Secure”
For several years now, having a secure website was a positive ranking factor on Google, meaning a secure site will help you rank better in search results. But in 2018, Google upped the stakes by adding a feature to its popular Chrome browser that shows users if a site is secure or not. For sites that are not secure, Google now shows a “Not Secure” button in the URL.
Think about it: Would you feel comfortable using a website that isn’t secure? Would you enter your credit card number or personal information on it? Both Google and your users lose trust in your website if it’s not secure, meaning you’ll lose conversions in addition to search result rankings.
3. Your Website Takes Longer Than 3 Seconds to Load
Google wants users to have a good experience when they visit your website. If your website takes a long time to load, your search visibility will likely drop. Google doesn’t say what’s too slow, but it does say that 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if the website takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
That’s not much time! You can test your site’s load speed using Google’s Site Speed Test. The best part? Google will offer suggestions for how to make your site faster.
4. You’re Telling People to Click Here
A call to action (CTA) can be a great marketing technique when you’re writing content for your website! But when you tell users to “click here,” you’re wasting a valuable opportunity to boost your website’s SEO.
Instead, your anchor text should give users and Google relevant and specific information about the link. For example, if your website offers dog grooming services and you’re linking to vets in the area, consider “find vets in your area” for the anchor text, not “click here to find vets in your area.”
5. You Don’t Use Image Alt Tags
Alt tags are the pieces of text you can write to describe the images on your website. If you’re not writing alt tags, you’re not fully optimizing your site. The same can be said if you’re filling your alt tags with keywords that don’t describe the image they’re attached to. That’s an SEO no-no.
Instead, describe exactly what’s happening in your image with great detail when you write alt tags. Don’t put dashes between words, and don’t cram keywords where they don’t belong. Write the alt tags just like you would write a short sentence fragment.
Alt tags aren’t just a Google best practice—they’re practically required by law! A lack of alt tags could be considered a violation of ADA accessibility requirements. To help avoid a lawsuit, optimize your site’s images using alt tags.
6. You’re Ignoring Pages that Don’t Get Page One
If your current pages aren’t ranking on page one of Google, don’t lose hope! Pages that rank on page two or even page three for your target keywords might have high potential and could reach page one with a little help. We like to call these “almost there pages.”
Here are some tips that could improve the rank of existing pages:
- Add more content—aim for 1,500 to 2,000 words.
- Place links from websites on page one to your pages.
- Write better headings using keywords.
- Include external links to highly-authoritative sites.
- Add new images, and optimize them with alt tags.
- Use infographics.
Google is always changing, and sometimes its hard to keep up when you don’t have enough team members, information, or time. Not sure how the SEO health of your site stacks up against the competition? Worried you might be making some of these common SEO mistakes of 2018? Contact GPO. We’re happy to provide you with a free SEO audit.