Whether you’re in charge of your company’s website or are just getting into digital marketing, you probably know search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial tool to getting found online. While SEO isn’t the only tool in a digital marketer’s toolbelt, it is essential to your company’s digital marketing goals.
However, when auditing new clients or prospects, we often find a pattern of SEO mistakes that are killing rankings and results.
1. Google Search Console Is Not Set Up
Google Search Console, sometimes known as Google Webmaster Tools, is a free tool offered by Google that allows you and Google to communicate with one another. Search Console consists of many different tabs and tools to help your website get crawled and indexed by its crawlers.
One of the most important features is its messaging system. Hopefully, your website will never get penalized by Google. However, it can unfortunately happen if you are not following proper protocol. If this does happen, Google uses Search Console to communicate the penalty and what the next steps are to remove the errors. Messages that may come through aren’t always negative; much of the time, Google will message you to communicate updates, new features, small tweaks to keep improving.
Search Console offers so many other useful tools to help websites get found, including directly submitting your XML sitemap, review inbound links, viewing your index status, and much more. If you don’t have Google Search Console setup for your website, we definitely recommend doing so as soon as possible. Once your dashboard is set up, we recommend completing these three tasks:
- Check your messages
- Ensure Google can index your website under Robots.txt section.
- Test and submit your XML sitemap
- Check back every 2-3 weeks for any new messages or errors
2. Your Website Contains Duplicate Content
So you have a content marketing strategy – that’s awesome! Content marketing is a great way to drive traffic to your website. However, content marketing can actually hurt your SEO if it’s done incorrectly.
Whether you’re writing 1 blog a month or 5 blogs a month, you are bound to come across topics that are similar and have already been talked about in a previous blog. When this happens, it’s extremely easy to copy sections from previously written articles and paste it in your newest article.
Sounds innocent, right? Wrong. In fact, if you do this often, you could run into penalties from Google. While this may sound like an extreme rule, it’s all to protect your content you work hard on. Imagine if websites could have duplicate content. Everyone would be copying and pasting content left and write (even if it does break the law).
To prevent this, Google notates what they have crawled before. If it is the same as another page (whether it is on your website or not), they could remove that page from its index or penalize the entire site.
While you’re writing an article or a landing page and you come across a topic you have written about before, link back to that previous article. This helps avoid there being duplicate content and helps internal linking (which is a good thing!) You could also paraphrase or switch up the content so it is not identical.
3. A Google My Business Profile Isn’t Claimed or Verified
We often get asked the question, “How do I appear in the maps of Google?”
The businesses in the map, also known as the local pack, is made up of business profiles called Google My Business pages. These pages are where customers can leave reviews, upload photos, and where customers can see your hours, get directions, and learn more about your business without ever visiting your website.
Often times, your business has a Google My Business page without you ever creating it. Google can pull data from Yellow Pages, Facebook, or your raving fans can create one for you. If you’re unsure if you have a page, simply Google your name. If you don’t see it at first, add on your location. For example, I searched, “PHOS Creative Gainesville, FL” to find our own page.
If you do have a page created and it says, “Own this Business?”, this means your page is not claimed nor verified. If you see this for your business, click on that link and follow the steps to get it verified.
4. There Are Broken Links throughout Your Site
If you have a website more than 50 pages, it becomes very easy for pages to become lost and/or broken. When we onboard a new client, we often find their website has links that are broken. Some may be very hard to find and could be linked in old blog posts. Some, however, may be linked in more prominent places (the homepage, footer, sidebar, etc.)
If your website does have broken links, it’s important to remove those and redirect that link to a URL that works properly. One great way to see any broken links on your site is through Google Search Console.
5. SEO Is Your Only Strategy
As we said above, SEO is just one tool in a digital marketer’s toolbelt; however, it is not the only tool. SEO experts suggest that you can actually improve your SEO through other forms of digital marketing such as paid ads and social media postings. Paid ads through Google AdWords is one way to help get head start on your SEO campaigns and to help been seen for specific keywords.
Social media, such as Facebook, release what is known as “social signals” (likes, shares, retweets), which are shared and seen with search engines. These signals can help boost your SEO results and is just another way to help potential customers find you online.
Optimizing your site for search is a big undertaking. While there are some simple steps that can get you set up in the right direction, there are 200+ ranking factors search engines like Google consider.
Before you can think about that coveted spot on page 1, you need to make sure you’re not hurting yourself. Contact us for an SEO audit and a strategy to sustainably optimize your website for search.