The 6 most common website SEO mistakes
One of the most important weapons when it comes to expanding your business is a good website and whilst lots of websites look great to the human eye they may not look so great to major search engines. In fact search engines may struggle to understand what your business even does.
We speak to Worldpay Benefits Club partner Click to Submit, CEO, Andrew Thomas to find out the five most common mistakes businesses make which when fixed can result in a significant uplift in organic traffic visiting your website.
Page title – Home is not where your site lives
Click to Submit, conducted a survey and found that amazingly 23% of home pages had the page title of just the word “home”.
There are over 650 million websites online. This indicates approximately 143 million websites have the page title “home” on their index page, making the word “home” probably the most competitive keyword on Google. Although your home page title or title tag may not be “home” it still may not be descriptive enough. Title tags are part of the Meta tags that appear at the top of your HTML in the <head> area. The title tag is the most crucial single tag in your page because it tells the search engines and the users what the page is about. It appears in bold when your content is published on the search results page, so it needs to be a concise, explanatory description of the pages content. It should be around 6500 characters in length with the most important keywords towards the front, in order to entice users to your site.
When piecing together your website, it’s important to make sure all the most important parts are written in HTML format. This will allow the spiders to see and index the content of your website easily. Too often we see sites that make sense to the human eye but to the search engines make no sense.
A few tips to consider are:
- Image Alt tags: Although search engine crawlers are pretty advanced these days, it’s still not possible for them to recognise images. Make sure any image uploaded on your site has an alt attribute in HTML so that search engines have a written description of it.
- If you have any video or audio content on your website, provide a transcript for it. You don’t have to mirror the content word for word, but select the key sentences you want to be picked up by the search engines.
- When a site is flash or uses java plugins, it’s difficult for the search engines to find any information that would deem your site relevant enough to rank, so supplement them with text.
Keyword usage and targeting
Keyword usage and targeting is still part of the search engines’ ranking algorithms, so it’s key to ensure your keywords are used regularly and implemented strategically. For example, if you want your page to rank in the search results for ‘car sales in London’; you want the phrase ‘Car sales in London’ to be part of the crawlable content of your site. The search engines will measure how, and how often, keywords are used on each page in order to determine the sites relevancy and calculate its rank. It’s not advised to lump all your important keywords in a box at the bottom of your page, as we see so often.
They need to be incorporated in the rest of the text informatively. Don’t worry, this is pretty easy; you can place the phrase in the Title tag, in the URL, two or three times in the content and voila, you’re there!
Site map and crawlable content
Assembling a XML sitemap and ensuring the internal links of your site are easily crawlable for spiders will really help your SEO. An XML sitemap is not to be confused with an HTML site map. The latter is designed for the human and the former plays a significant role in helping search engines read, crawl and know which pages of your website to index.
This doesn’t have to be a list of every page of your website, just include the ones you’d like to appear in search.
URL structures (addresses for files on the web)
Poorly structured URL’s are a common issue for SEO and can negatively impact your ranking if not structured coherently. Search engines look for keywords in URLs to help them determine their rankings, so if your page name matches a keyword/ phrase input by a user, your site will most likely rank higher on the search results. This does not mean you can stuff your URL with as many keywords as possible; it needs to read well and descriptively. This will benefit your SEO and also the user’s experience.
Duplicate content refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. With a number of similar content management systems and template driven sites now available on the Internet, duplicate content is common and a problem for SEO and search engines. This is mainly because search engine spiders aren’t advanced enough to determine which URL they should index and rank. However, there are a few ways to help the search engines and save yourself.
Most commonly used is a 301 redirect, which will forward one URL to another. However, a better and far easier method would be to use a Canonical tag. This can be inserted into the head of the page that contains duplicate content and will point the crawler to the master URL that you want to rank well. By including ‘canonical’ in the URL, it lets them know the page is the copy.
Summary of terminology
Index page: This term refers to the home page of a website.
Meta Tag: This is the code that sits hidden at the top of each page of a website. It contains the page title, page description and keywords.
Title Tag: This is the information that is viewed at the top of the web browser and can be seen at the top of site listings.
Alt attribute: This is to specify alternative text that may need to be used for an example a video or image can not be viewed.
Flash: Flash is a type of technology which shows animations on website.
Java Plugins: You can add additional features to an existing computer program with a plugin.
HTML Sitemap: This is designed for users and helps them navigate around the site easily.
XML Sitemap: An XML sitemap tells the search engine about the pages on the site, how they work together and how often they’ve been updated.
Spiders: These are the automated system that the search engines use to find and then index your site.
Image Alt tags: This is a small bit of code that sits behind each image on a website. It lets the search engines know what your image is of.
Crawlable content: This is content that the search engines look at and then decide how relevant a site is to it’s search terms. It’s made up of text, links and multimedia content.
301 redirect: A 301 redirect is used to forward one URL o another.
Canonical tag: A way of flagging duplicate content on the web page.
Hopefully this has given you an insight into the world of SEO, if you would like to see the benefits of a live trial as part of your Worldpay Benefits Club membership you can get access to the 3 months free services provided by Click to Submit, simply click here to find out more.