It’s easy to go awry with Website development – from browser compatibility issues to colors that just don’t work out.
Search engine optimization, an integral part of website – and beyond – is no exception. Often in ignorance, companies cause their own problems or allow issues to endure.
Here are 13 ways you can ruin SEO (but you can avoid these with a little bit of effort):
1. Bring in an SEO specialist after the fact.
It happens all of the time. Someone hears about SEO. And then he decides after a website development project that he could have used SEO all along. If a website takes shape without SEO, the road ahead will be that much tougher – lots of defects to correct (architectural flaws are just the start).
2. Not understanding the difference between keyword research and keyword selection.
I’ve found that too much attention is given to finding potential keywords – relevant phrases that might lead to conversions. Sure, you need to go through those exercises. But keyword selection must be rooted in sound reasoning based on factors like where the website ranks today, how the competition is doing, the website age, nature of inbound links, etc.
3. Picking the wrong domain name.
I shouldn’t be a secret that keywords in a domain help with rankings – a lot. But companies still invent business names – and domains names – with no sense of how that might play out in search engine rankings. Sure, you can get a new domain and go the 301 redirect route, but that’s such a hassle.
4. Having no sense of ranking analysis.
You can’t just do SEO and fail to look at rankings in view of website traffic and conversions. It takes a keen analytical eye to know how to respond to pages (like the home page) that support too many keywords. Keyword relocation can have adverse effects (the new target page may not necessarily perform well).
5. Failure to create compelling content.
Everyone knows that links influence rankings, but it’s tough to attract links if the site lacks content worthy of a link. Make tools that encourage visitor interaction. Write articles worth talking about.
6. Decorating the website with graphic headers.
I like calling them headlines (used to be a journalist). Can you imagine them being graphics? It happens all of the time. Search engines feast on text headers, not graphics.
7. Preoccupation with social media.
Social media should be a part of any online marketing strategy. If you spend too much time in social circles, you can fail to overcome technical and text content challenges.
8. Long-Short Page Syndrome.
Many websites suffer because they lack content or have too much text that lacks a strategic keyword focus. Typically, websites lack text. Or, if they have a page about a keyword phrase, the website may only devote one page to it. Rankings often depend on a series of pages, not three paragraphs (short-sighted).
9. Whacky page titles.
They should emphasize keywords, but often the powerful space is stuffed with long company names and navigational cues.
10. Inbound Link Void.
Link building must be an ongoing endeavor. SEO specialists can do their part, but business executives and marketers should be doing their part too. They should leverage their relationships to get new links from their contacts.
11. Misdiagnosing the competition.
Businesses get the wrong impression of where they stand when they only look at their known competition. Yes, they may have competitors. But it’s a wakeup call for some clients when I explain that their competition is any website that’s ranking above them for any keyword phrase.
12. Unwilling to spend money.
If you have a website with programming and design issues (from an SEO perspective), the fixes may cost some cash. If you update the navigation and dropdown menus to text, that’s bound to help. But companies will literally "save" less than $1,000 and miss out on new leads. It’s such a shame.
13. Terrible Calls to Action.
SEO is supposed to drive quality website traffic. But the effort will fail – or fall way short – if the website doesn’t have clear Calls To Action that draw people in. Burying a white paper deep inside a website just doesn’t make any sense. And then companies invite prospects with humungous forms that basically shout: "Visit another website. We only want to hear from a couple of people who want to fill everything out."