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10 SEO Practices That Are Actually Killing Your Ranking
Despite rumors of its death, SEO is very much alive in 2016 and equally as vital. In fact, as long as people use the internet to search, getting people to the right pages right away is important. If you have been investing in SEO, you are on the right track. However, if your efforts are not getting you the attention you deserve, chances are that you are making a few SEO mistakes.
To help you pinpoint the issue, here are ten common practices that could be killing your rankings and even be penalizing your site because you broke the commandments set by search engines.
1) Buying Backlinks
What if someone told you that there is a very fast and extremely easy way to build your SEO? Many services offer packages of 500 links to build your site’s ranking. While this may sound tempting, the question you should ask yourself here is: can you really buy links? If yes, will they be reputable?
The answer is: Yes and No respectively.
Basically, site owners tend to buy backlinks for their site to attract traffic to it and improve its ranking quickly. As much as this sounds amazing, it is a bad investment. Why? Because these links come without any consideration as to who you are or what your website is about. As a result, they end up undermining your site’s quality and affecting your ranking further. After all, buying and selling links is against the rules. In fact, Google’s Webmaster Guidelines explicitly states that site owners should avoid participating in any kind of link schemes or risk the wrath of search engines in the form of a penalty that de-indexes your site from search results.
If you think you can trick search engines, think again. Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines are more sophisticated than ever, which is why they have become very good at detecting links that seem irrelevant, suspicious, manipulative, and plain unnatural. So, instead of buying links, you should focus on earning them. Social media sites like Facebook and Reddit offer a brilliant way to create reputable and quality backlinks by building your online presence and linking back to your site. Good content also attracts inbound links solely on merit. All of these practices ensure that your links are natural, improving your site ranking and boosting the growth of your business.
2) Zero (or Little) Internal Linking
Another fatal mistake that most site owners make is ignoring the importance of internal linking and optimizing the internal pages of their sites. Sure, your homepage is important, but having all of your links going to your homepage is unnatural. In fact, it is a poor strategy to build ranking as you sacrifice page views. Because search engines determine the importance of each page with respect to how often a page is linked within your site, it is very important that you build links to your internal pages. Otherwise, you will miss out on the opportunity to create organic growth within your site.
Fortunately, this is one of the easiest issues to fix. All you need to do is to go to your website and analyze its pages based on the information on them. If one page helps or relates to another, then build internal links by incorporating them into texts. All in all, you need to ensure that at least 80% of your links are going to internal pages. That aside, make sure to connect each of your pages to your homepage or contact page. Once you make these vital changes, you will notice that the ranking of your page will start improving and the number of your page views will also start increasing.
3) Poor Content Management
Content is King; this is one rule you should never forget if you want search engines to rank your website highly. Sadly, a majority of webmasters and business owners forget it, causing their ranks to drop and setting up their sites for online death. When creating content for your website, remember that there are a few things you should ensure to guarantee that your content strategy is effective and not working against SEO.
(discussed as a separate point below)
The best thing you can do to satisfy search engines is to provide content that is valuable to your visitors and potential customers. Now this does not mean that ‘mediocre’ content will not be indexed by search engines or displayed on SERPs; sure, it is going to bring traffic if optimized well, but it may not be enough to convert your visitors into paying customers. To ensure conversions, you need to provide users with invaluable content that gets shared.
The content must be related and relevant in order for your site to be seen as credible within your market niche. While current events and trending topics can be great for your business growth, you need to tie and relate these topics back to your business. If you fail to do so, you may find your site pushed down on the ranking list.
To maintain your visitors’ continued interest and regard with respect to your products and services, you need to offer them consistent content. Posting infrequently and on rare occasions is sure to kill your SEO ranking.
Yesterday’s content will not help your site ranking today. Just like any other SEO practices, your content needs to be updated regularly to keep visitors engaged and ensure that they frequent your site.
All of these practices need to be integrated into your content management strategy if you do not wish to risk your site to plummet and sink.
4) Lack of Original Content
One of the most common mistakes made by website developers who are trying to figure out the workings of SEO is copying content from other sites. This act, which is known as plagiarism, is a no-no because Google and other search engines have explicitly stated that they will not tolerate content that violates any potential copyright infringement laws. Whether you republish articles from other sites or borrow content, duplicate content (content which exists on two different URLs) is a serious SEO mistake that devalues your links, ruins your site’s search ranking, and puts you at the risk of potential penalties.
Copying content from other sites, however, is not the only form of copy infringement. Often, SEO experts create duplicate content for their sites because they cannot come up with additional information for their sites. Using content from internal pages for their homepage or copying/pasting paragraphs from different pages of your site will reflect badly on your online reputation and search engine rankings. So, entrust content creation to a creative specialist who will not be running out of ideas too soon.
5) Relying on Article Marketing
Article marketing is an inbound marketing practice where brand write articles, upload them to article directories, and rely on their bio boxes and bylines to send traffic their way. While this may have worked a few years ago, it seems to be a dying trend today. One of the reasons behind this is that article directories themselves have lost their high rankings. After search engines discovered how ineffective directories are when it comes to offering unique, quality content, they decided to index their posts much lower on SERPs.
Another reason for the fall of article marketing is the rise of spun posts. Marketers or site owners would
only have to write one article and then make adjustments manually or through software to create three different versions of that original article. As this practice offers no real value for online users, search engines have further driven article directories to the bottom and taken measures against old article marketing practices. Therefore, eliminate this strategy from your marketing plan altogether to get better SEO rankings.
6) Resorting to Keyword Stuffing
Keywords and key terms have always been an important part of online searches, which is why website developers and content marketers alike use them. While keywords do carry some importance, there is a world of difference between being ‘keywords focused’ and ‘keyword stuffing’. For the sake of SEO and your site, you need to avoid inundating your readers with too many keywords. SEO is all about improving the user experience of your site. Unfortunately, cramming keywords in your content will go against this basic rule since it lowers the quality of your content, further killing your website ranking.
If you must have keywords, keep them between 1-2% of your content. However, most importantly, ensure that they flow nicely with your content. In other words, write naturally and do not let the keywords stick out. Today’s readers are smart, so they will detect any keywords you stuff, abandon your site, and lower your SEO ranking.
7) Using Vague Keywords
Just like overwhelming your readers with keyword stuffing can affect your ranking, inaccurate keyword research can very well undo your groundwork and send your SEO campaign crashing. Using vague keywords (i.e. those that do not perform well when targeting a specific audience) will waste your time, effort, and SEO investment. In order to ensure that you are targeting your intended audience, you need to be as specific with your keywords as you can.
As challenging as this was before, using specific keywords and key terms is easier now thanks to the rising popularity of long-tail keywords. Devices are more advanced now and voice search is gaining momentum. Therefore, users are more likely to make long-tail search queries. Because they are better targeted, they tend to result in better ranking and better conversion rates.
8) Slow Site Loading Speed
Despite the importance of site loading speed and its effect on website ranking as well as conversions, many website owners fail to put effort into optimizing their sites’ loading speed. You only have a few seconds to ensure that your site loads before visitors get tired of waiting and give-up on your site. As your bounce rates increase due to this issue, expect your rankings to suffer.
Fortunately, you only have to make a few changes to your web design to optimize the loading speed. Avoiding heavy media files and uploading smaller images are some of the ways you can reduce your page load time. Consult with a specialist in this regard as you may need to give your website a full makeover.
9) Missing Mobile Site
Another way you may be sabotaging your ranking is by failing to have a mobile site running and inherently neglecting potential mobile users. If you think that this is not an issue, here are some reasons why a missing mobile site can have serious ramifications for your business:
- Mobile searches have exceeded PC searches.
- Half of the mobile searches lead to successful purchases
- Approximately 65% of customers read product information on their smartphones
The best way to serve mobile users is to create a responsive website which tends to adjust according to the dimensions and screen size of the devices they use while visiting your site. To further add value to your new mobile website, you should employ a well thought out mobile SEO strategy.
10) Forgoing Hiring a Professional
Business owners assume that they can handle SEO easily by themselves without consulting with a seasoned professional. While you may be tempted to handle SEO on your own, especially with many tools and online guides available, it is not a smart decision. Not only are you prone to making the mistakes listed on this page, you will risk losing your site’s ‘unique’ personality. Besides, you may end up missing out on important SEO techniques that could offer more value for money.
To avoid appearing forceful, or worse, pretentious, you need to hire a reputable SEO company to help you soar your ranking. However, make sure to select carefully to avoid choosing a black hat SEO company. Here are some tips to consider:
- Do not fall for claims of quick, cheap SEO. If it sounds too good to be true, chances are that it may be.
- If your potential SEO provider seems to be on the right track but is stuck practicing old practices, they will only hurt your site further. So, drop them.
- Check for references and ask the company about its experience. Especially ask whether the SEO specialist has worked for other companies in your industry.
- Do your own research to understand the intricacies of SEO before starting your search. This will give you a better idea of what to expect and allow you to select the right people.
Regardless of the SEO strategies you implement, avoiding the aforementioned ten tactics has the power to lift your (website) rankings out of the abyss. So, start auditing your site’s SEO and weed out the issues damaging your rankings on SERPs.