If you own a website, your search engine ranking is incredibly important to increasing your sales. Even if you think that you get all of your new business via networking and word of mouth, most new prospects won’t remember your domain name exactly and instead “Google” you. If you’re not important enough for Google to find you, they’ll also mentally file you under “not that important”.

(NOTE: This was a Special request from Dianna T: Sorry for the wait, but this two-parter will make up for it!)

 

This is a DIY on the top priorities of your on-page SEO

Most people who know a little about SEO will tell you that backlinks (or off-page links, inbound links) are the #1 important thing in search engine rankings. They are very important, but if your basics aren’t in order, you’re largely wasting your time with trying to acquire backlinks. I thoroughly explain this in this video.

First and foremost – make sure your site structure is clean

What I mean by “clean”: If you’ve been posting content just for the sake of posting content, without following best practices, you very well may be penalizing your SEO rather than helping it — what a colossal waste of effort!

Take a couple minutes to learn the basics of what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do. I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for being “Fix-it Guy” when it comes to websites and their content.

 

Here are the 7 most common mistakes that I encounter:

1. Duplicate content stolen from other sites (huge penalty!)

 

2. Repetitive content for the sake of making more pages

 

3. Pasted content from PDFs, Word or other documents, resulting in custom code being added to text unknowingly

 

4. Not formatting text correctly utilizing H1, H2 and H3 tags

 

5. Not adding “alt” metadata to pictures and artwork

 

6.Not knowing and utilizing SEO basics for blog posting

 

7. Posting short PR announcements (under 300 words) just for the sake of posting something

There are some other minor ones as well, such as not adding outbound links of credible sites to your post to document your research, and not adding links from your own site which helps “spiders” crawl and index your site. But the above 7 Most Common Mistakes are the top priority.

 

Here are some quick fixes to the above problems

1. Duplicate content:

Maybe you hired someone on the cheap to create content for you. How do you know if it’s original content or scraped off other sites? Copy a couple random sentences from select areas of the post and Google them to see if they come up verbatim. If they do, either re-write them, or scrap them entirely. But, if you scrap them entirely, make sure that you re-direct them to another page on your site to avoid an additional SEO hit.

2. Repetitive content for the sake of making more pages:

I had a client with a massive site. With the council of their former developer, they decided that making a new page for everything possible would be best for their SEO. The result was using the exact same verbiage for all the like services and only changing a few keywords on each page. Some people duplicate their pages and just customize the neighboring cities in an effort to cheat Local SEO. Google caught onto these tactics years ago. It’s best to consolidate them and redirect the deleted pages appropriately.

3. Pasted content from PDFs, Word or other documents, resulting in custom code being added to text unknowingly:

You will have to look at your post’s text in “source” view. WordPress used to call this “html”, now they call it “Text”. If you’re not comfortable with deleting the extraneous code yourself, find someone locally to do it cheaply. It isn’t difficult, but your code should be simple and clean. This isn’t 2004 anymore. Google will downgrade your site’s “authority” for this sloppiness.

4. Not formatting text correctly utilizing H1, H2 and H3 tags:

A lot of people new to blogging will use one heading (such as H1) and that’s it. Forever. On everything. Think of H1 as your main heading or title. H2 as a slightly smaller (lower in hierarchy) header, H3 as subhead one, h4 as subhead two… While you’re at it, learn how to bullet out items correctly as well (I’m using H1s thru H4s in this post). Proper formatting like this tells Google that this is a quality post and website.

image metadata - title, alt and description, by Barry Edwards 5. Not adding “alt” metadata to pictures and artwork:

This is probably the most common and easily fixable SEO omission. WordPress makes it soooo easy to re-name your picture (img_12345.jpg isn’t doing a thing for your SEO), so name it something that has to do with your subject matter/title (hint: keywords). Make things easy on yourself and copy/paste this into your Alt text box and Description.

6. Not knowing and utilizing SEO basics for blog posting

I’ll expound on this in the near future, but this is somewhat related to #4 – formatting. First, you must use good long tail keywords for your subject matter/title. These must be reiterated in an H2 heading and your body copy.  The fact that these elements relate to each other proves to Google that it is relevant copy for that subject matter.

Use the Yoast SEO plugin. It will prompt you for these essential elements.

7. Posting short PR announcements (under 300 words) just for the sake of posting something

Having a website chock full of short posts announcing that you went to a conference (and didn’t bother to write an original review of it) tells Google that your site is full of information of little value. You’re better off posting less often, but with more substantial posts.

Google considers posts of less than 300 words to be insignificant. There is a handy word counter in the bottom left hand corner of the WordPress Content Editor. For instance, I’m currently at 1093 words.

I want to leave you with two mantras that Google lives and breathes:

Don’t try to outsmart Google (#1, 2 and 7, for example)

Google changes its algorithms all day every day and has gotten very sophisticated. When a trend starts catching on to cheat up in the rankings, Google creates a new algorithm that will penalize you for it. Getting out of Google Jail is a long arduous process.

Write valuable content

Google’s mission is to serve up the very best content in its search engine results pages (SERPs). None of us outside of Google know their real algorithms. We simply all share our findings on forums and draw our conclusions. In fact, there’s speculation that they rotate their algorithms regularly, so we can’t nail down specifics. This is to prevent cheating the system and ensuring that only valuable content gets rewarded.

Knowing how to structure that content professionally is a huge step in the right direction.

 

NEXT:  SEO. Getting friendly with Google

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