When you’re getting ready to launch a new website, good search engine optimization is one of the most important ingredients for success. Unfortunately, in their rush to get online and start attracting visitors, many people make mistakes that, in the long run, cause their efforts to backfire.
Here are some of the most common mistakes that people make with SEO and how you can avoid them:
1. Not Using Keywords
To create a “user-friendly” site, some website designers will bury their keywords in the text or even omit words that could help Google find their content more easily.
You should sprinkle your keywords throughout your copy without making it look like keyword stuffing. If you include important information about a product or service, use the words that would be best for someone looking for just those things online.
2. Using Low-Quality Photos and Video on Your Pages
You may want to think big when planning your website, but don’t let yourself get carried away with pictures and other content that could hurt your SEO efforts in the long run.
While it’s OK to offer visitors a few high-quality, large photos and videos of you and your product line, don’t let those elements take over your pages. Keep them to a minimum or Google may cut them out completely (and send you fewer visitors).
3. Not Creating Unique Content for Each Page
If all of your web pages read like they were cut from the same cloth, search engines will see right through it and stop sending traffic to your site pretty quickly. You need unique content on each page if you want people (and Googlebot) to keep coming back again and again.
While the copy only needs to be only slightly different throughout the site, that difference will translate into more visitors and healthier search results.
4. Not Including Social Media Links
People use social media sites like Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and LinkedIn to share things online with their friends and colleagues, and these links can help them (and you) stay connected in a way that’s fun and easy — if you make it easy for them.
Your site should include links to your profiles on the most popular social sites, so people know where to connect with you online. In addition, including a sign-up page that allows visitors to add their own profile information will encourage even more visitors because they know that other people have already joined the conversation.
5. Not Hiring Professionals
An amateur site design can “turn off” professional search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. You may think that you know all you need to know about SEO, but it’s never a good idea to go at it alone.
A professional web designer can help with keyword research, link-building strategies, and other ways to improve your site — including providing some useful guidance on how to make mistakes like these less likely in the first place.
6. Not Paying Attention to Details
Little things like adding keywords across the entire site (not just in titles or meta tags), updating your content frequently, and removing broken links are important for getting better rankings over time.
Unfortunately, many people overlook them because they’re too difficult or time-consuming. However, you aren’t likely to get very far without them, so be sure to work these details into every part of your search engine optimization efforts.
7. Not Including a Blog
Even if you have keywords and recommendations for other sites in mind for every page of your website, it will take a long time for you to “own” any particular keyword phrase with Google.
In the meantime, consider starting a blog that can help you build backlinks from other high-quality sites as well as provide lots of new content that Google can pick up on. This is especially effective if your posts are related to the products or services offered by the business behind the website.
8. Not Having a Plan for Handling Bad Reviews
If someone posts a negative review about your business or products on a popular website like Yelp, Angie’s List, or even Google+ Local — do you know what will happen?
Unfortunately, if you don’t have a plan in place for managing bad reviews online, the only thing most customers will see is an address or phone number — assuming those details are even included. This will look bad to search engines, so you need to have a system for responding to negative reviews immediately or risk losing referrals, customers, and potential clients.
As you can see, there’s a lot more involved in SEO than just adding some keywords and hoping for the best. However, avoiding these seven mistakes can help you focus on what needs to be done to ensure your site gets the traffic it deserves over time.