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5 website mistakes that can harm your SEO

Website design is about far more than just what it looks like. While it is important to make sure that your website is visually attractive, you must bear in mind that it is a tool first and foremost. If it doesn’t deliver what you need in terms of brand awareness, leads and eventually sales, how nice it looks is irrelevant.

More than two-thirds of all clicks on Google go to the top five results from any search term, meaning that if you want your website to be competitive and attract viewers, you need to prioritise Search Engine Optimisation – or SEO – from the very start and integrate thoroughly across your site.

To help you create a successful website, here are 5 website mistakes which can harm your SEO and stop it from ranking highly on search engines…

Using the wrong search terms

All good website marketing strategies start by looking at data and working out the right keywords to attract customers to your site. A keyword is a word or phrase that matches what people are typing into search engines. By using keywords relevant to what people actually want to find, you will increase the chances that they will visit your website and buy your product.

However, you should make sure to be careful about what words you target and really consider each one. For example, there is little point in targeting the most popular search terms and expecting to get results as it is likely that large, established sites will already rank higher than you for them. It is unlikely you will be able to overtake market leaders for basic search terms, and so you must be more specific.

The key is to ask the following questions:

· Who is your target audience?

· What do they want to do?

· How do you meet their needs?

· What do you want them to do?

By really understanding who your customers are, their needs and how you find highly specific, or ‘long tail’, keywords that will give you the best chance of ranking highly on search engines. In this way, you can make your website work as hard as possible to generate leads, increase engagement and eventually get more sales.

Want help developing a winning keyword strategy? Our Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) team in Wilmslow, Manchester, are experts in making sure that your website is found by customers. Get in touch today to learn more by clicking here

Irrelevant or stale content

Search engines love websites which are regularly updated with quality content. Keeping your site fresh through the publication of new content such as blog posts and in-depth guides is something that every website owner should aim to do.

Your content on each page should be:

· Relevant

· Accurate

· Authoritative

· Up to date

If you can create content like that, you will have already won half the battle. Likewise, it is important to make sure that your older content is updated in order to keep it from growing stale. Refreshing older content with new information, or expanding on what is already there, will keep the quality high and the search engine algorithm happy.

To put it another way, search engines will work out what content is ‘thin’ and doesn’t add any value to a user’s online experience – and then push it down the rankings. Instead, you should publish ‘rich’ content which is targeted to offer real value to people and is kept up to date over time.

It is also worth noting that you should avoid the trap of preferring quantity over quality. 10 small, vague website articles are unlikely to be better than one longer, more authoritative article that shows off expertise and develops trust in your knowledge and product.

By making sure your content is unique, useful, interesting and relevant to your audience, you can improve your SEO ranking and attract more customers. Give people a reason to visit your site and they will do so.

Duplicate content and dead pages

Duplicating content either from another site or within your own site will act as a red flag for google and other search engines. Even if you are targeting the same keywords or themes across separate pages, duplicating content will be bad for your SEO ranking.

Search engine algorithms are only getting smarter and the chances you can get away with duplication are smaller than ever. This includes duplication in behind-the-scenes metadata which can be easy to miss.

The solution is simple: use our aforementioned guide to keeping content fresh to ensure that each page on your site is 100% unique while remaining on target and relevant. In this way, you can improve your SEO ranking and achieve your business goals.

Another strategy to combat duplicate content is to consolidate your content where possible by setting up a 301 redirect. If two pages are serving a similar function, it may be easier to do this than working out a new way to say the same thing and creating pages which compete with each other on search engines. By doing this, anyone who visits the old page will be automatically sent to the main, canonical page which contains all relevant information.

It is also important to find any ‘dead’ or inactive pages on your website and redirect them to the most relevant active pages. You don’t want users landing on broken or dead pages which are no longer relevant as it will end up impacting your SEO ranking and authority, thereby undermining the point of your website and SEO strategy. Setting up redirects to relevant pages with fresher content will serve you well.

Slow load speeds and poor performance

Making a good first impression is all important – and that is especially true when it comes to search engine optimisation. It is generally accepted that users form an impression of a site, and therefore of a business, within half a second of accessing a website on either desktop or mobile.

If your website is poorly designed with heavy graphics which struggle to load then it can badly affect your SEO ranking. Slow load times mean that people will click off rapidly – and the algorithm will take note of this, ranking your site accordingly in future.

Site speed is such an important criterion for Google that the company has made a point of emphasising it in the past, saying: “Speeding up websites is important — not just to site owners, but to all internet users. Faster sites create happy users and we’ve seen in our internal studies that when a site responds slowly, visitors spend less time there.”

Indeed, it is believed that as many as 88% of internet users are unlikely to revisit a site if they’ve had a bad experience in the past, so it is vital to ensure your site runs smoothly.

Ways to do this include using imagery with file sizes that are not too large, cutting out any unnecessary code in the background, and utilising an easily navigable website design which has user experience at the forefront.

Want to get your website reviewed for SEO? Our website design team in Wilmslow, Manchester, would be happy to help. Learn more and get in touch with them today by clicking here

Ignoring technical SEO

Having quality content on a well-designed site is all well and good, but you also need to pay attention to the behind-the-scenes technical aspects of SEO. This is traditionally much less interesting than creating great content, but it is just as important.

Technical SEO is related to many of the above points, but it is worth considering separately. Search engine algorithms work by sending out ‘robots’ to ‘crawl’ your website and evaluate it each day. By taking steps to make the job of these robots as easy as possible, you will increase your chances of a high search engine ranking for your site.

This includes measures discussed previously including removing duplicate content, prioritising fast loading speeds and more – but there are also other things you need to do. For example, you should make sure that all your website links point to the right places in a structured way, and you should provide a robots.txt file telling the robots where everything is. You should also make sure you have an XML sitemap and that your website is secure.

All of these and more come under the banner of technical SEO, and none of them can be ignored if you want your website to rank highly on search engines.

SEO is a multi-faceted world which requires you to consider it alongside every other part of web design. However, the rewards for getting it right are substantial and worth pursuing.

Want to learn more about SEO and discuss your needs with our Manchester search engine optimisation team? Get in touch today to find out more by clicking here


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