1 – Improper Use of Header tags
It’s important to use header tags like h1, h2 and h3 properly if you want search engines like Google to understand your website right.
Header tags need to be used in order of importance.
- First of all, you should only have one h1 on each page (with the exception of one-page websites). The h1 tag is describing what the whole page is about.
- The h2 tag is used to separate the page into sections, such as ‘Our services’, ‘Testimonials’, and other areas you may have on your page.
- The “h3” tag is a title within a section on the page. So within the ‘Services’ section of your page, you may have a service called ‘Web Design’. This is an opportunity for using an h3. It should only be used after an h2 within a section.
- An example of how an h4 tag is used would be if within your ‘Web Design’ service you had different sections like ‘Mobile friendly’, ‘Responsive’, and ‘Fast load speeds’.
- The h5 and h6 are rarely used, but hopefully now you understand the idea.
- In all other cases just use a “p” tag for text.
2 – Incorrect Implementation of Keywords
Using keywords properly takes some knowledge of how search engines work. Some people just add keywords that they think people are searching for without doing any research. They may be wasting their efforts on the wrong phrases and therefore getting little traffic.
Keyword research tools like aHrefs and Mangools will tell you an approximation of how many searches a keyword gets each month.
Its common to see beginners spam keywords on their website with the hopes that it will improve their rankings. However, using a keyword too many times on a page will make search engines think you are trying to manipulate the system and drop your rankings.
Nowadays, professional search engine optimizers know that search engines can understand a website through more than just the specific keywords on the page.
Context is very important for websites nowadays.
Some websites rank on the 1st page of Google for competitive keywords without ever having that exact keyword on their website.
The reason is Latent Semantic Indexing; a search engine’s ability to understand a website based on similar words.
If you had a website about fitness and you wrote about the experiences of being a personal trainer and all of the fitness training you did, then Google could still rank you on the 1st page for ‘fitness trainer’ because it knows a fitness trainer and personal trainer are the same thing.
So use keywords sparingly and only try to do it naturally. People will think your website is weird or spammy if you constantly have keywords popping up that don’t make sense in the sentence.
One more thing to remember with keywords is to not try to rank a single page for too many different keywords.
For example: Instead of trying to rank one page on your website for all types of photography (Family photography, headshots, portraits, newborns, pets, etc.) you should have a separate page for each service.
Some website trends are helpful for SEO, while others can hinder your rankings. User experience is one of the most important factors in having strong SEO, so try to answer their question as best you can with separate pages.
This will be much more effective in ranking your website high on Google for searches for those services compared to having one page for them all.
3 – Forgetting About Technical Errors
There are plenty of technical errors that can plague a website and hurt its SEO rankings. Here are two big ones people forget.
1. No Index
Having a page set to ‘no-index’ means that you are telling search engines not to index it and therefore not to include it in the search engine results.
Having a page on your website set to ‘no-index’ is common for people who don’t understand SEO. Perhaps a web designer set the website to be ‘no-index’ while it was being built and then never removed it from no-index.
NoFollow is a useful Chrome extension that tells you when a page you are on is set to no-index. Having this extension on will allow you to spot any pages that you didn’t take off of no-index easily.
2. 404 Errors
These occur when a user tries to visit a URL on your website but there is no actual page there. So if you got rid of an article at ‘example.com/7-tips-for-plumbers’ and people were still visiting the page from links pointing to it, then a 404 error occurs.
There are a couple of issues with 404 errors.
1. First, for SEO it means that you are losing out on any external links that were pointing to that page. If you don’t redirect users from the 404 page then all of the link juice on that page is gone for good.
2. Second, 404 errors are bad for user experience. If people are trying to navigate your website but are continuously met with 404 error pages then they may get frustrated.
3. Broken links within your website indicate to Google that you are not maintaining your website properly and they may drop your rankings.
4. Your rankings may suffer if you have too many 404 error pages on your website from deleted content or changed URLs. Make sure to run a site analysis using a tool like Screaming Frog which detects any technical issues in your site.
4 – Using Oversized Images
- The use of oversized images means that your image file sizes will be larger than necessary. The larger the file size the slower the image will load for visitors.
- Your images can still look crisp and high-definition as long as you resize them to the biggest that they could appear on your website.
- For example, for the logo on your website, it only ever takes up the corner of the header most of the time. It may be around 300 pixels wide and 150 pixels tall depending on your design. Therefore, if you source an image on your website with measurements any bigger than that you are just wasting file size.
- You can still keep the quality of the image high if you resize it in Photoshop, just adjust it for the largest you know it will get on your website.
- For full-width images like hero images that need to be big and clear then it is up to you to decide on how high the resolution needs to be in order to look good on the majority of visitors’ screens.
- Unless people are viewing your website on a television you likely won’t ever need an image bigger than 3000×3000 pixels.
- Reducing image sizes means that your website will load faster.
- Faster load times are directly correlated to higher search engine rankings; even Google has mentioned this. They have a tool you can use to analyze how fast your website loads that offers tips on how to make it load even faster
5 – Having Duplicate Content
Duplicate content means having the same article or large body of text on more than one page on your website.
Duplicate content is fine in small quantities like info in a footer; however large paragraphs of text should not be identical on multiple pages.
The reason for this is because Google tries to find which page is best to serve for its users. If you have the same content on multiple pages then Google has trouble understanding which page is best to show searchers.
When Google is having trouble deciding which page is best it will assume your website it may split the SEO authority between the duplicate pages and therefore make it tougher for any duplicate pages to rank high on searches.
If a page is almost the exact same as another one and you don’t want to delete it make sure to add a canonical tag
Canonical tags tell Google which page is the preferred version and to index that page over the duplicate versions.
SEO is trickier than a lot of people believe. Many people think they understand SEO but don’t dive into the small details about ranking well.
Every little bit helps, especially since there are over 200 rankings factors that Google uses to decide on who comes up on the first page of search results.
Be sure to read through plenty of articles on Search Engine Land, Moz, aHrefs, and browse communities like /seo on Reddit to learn the ins-and-outs.
Ken Braithwaite is the owner and operator of Ethos Design Co; a website design, SEO, and branding company based in Guelph, Ontario. Ken helps businesses craft an authentic representation of their business or start-up through his branding and logo design skills.
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