Today, I bring you a guest post written by William Steward.
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There are some SEO mistakes made time and time again by small businesses that I come across.
In this article I cover five of the biggest, all of which can have a huge, negative impact on a business’ search engine rankings.
1. Duplicate content throughout your website
Lots of businesses are guilty of this, are you? Duplicate content is a big issue for search engines — it makes it difficult for a search engine to determine which page to show in their rankings, and in extreme examples, it can raise spam flags, which can devastate your search engine rankings.
Some things to watch out for are the following:
- Avoid creating lots of pages with the same content for different locations, or products. For example, having pages for “plastic widgets” and “wooden widgets” which are exactly the same in every way, except for replacing the word “plastic” with “wooden” or having a “New York web design” and “San Francisco web design” page which are exactly the same other than changing the location. If you want to do this, make sure that each page contains thoroughly different content. Re-write the page in its entirety, and try to tailor the page to the specific topic as much as possible, rather than using general, low value content.
- Avoid having lots of different ways to find the same piece of content which are indexed by search engines. For example, if you own a blog, don’t have it index your archives, categories and blog posts. Set the archives to no-index, to minimise duplicate content in Google’s indexes. There’s a good guide for doing this with WordPress here.
- Don’t syndicate content across your blog from other sources. There’s lots of good reasons not to do this, in addition to the SEO problems that arise.
2. Keyword stuffing
This is a big one that used to work back in the day, however with modern search engines and improvements in their algorithms — keyword stuffing is more likely to destroy rather than improve your search rankings.
Generally, you cannot go wrong if you write all of your content with your visitors in mind first, and search engines second. Read your articles out loud. If they feel at all unnatural, then adjust them. Fit keywords into articles only where they fit naturally.
3. Too Many Links On A Page
How often do you see business websites full of links, often making them hard to use? This is usually done by web designers or business owners who have a basic knowledge of SEO, and realise that internal links are important — however it’s important that you do not sacrifice user experience.
Internal links should focus your users to the most important pages. The more important a page is, the easier it should be to get to from your other website pages.
We recommend drawing your website structure on a whiteboard, and then determining which pages should be easily accessed from other areas of your website based on their content, to come up with a good internal link structure. Do not add an internal link when it’s of no value to a user. Adding hundreds of internal links to every page will not help you to rank better in the search engines.
4. Having a splash page
A splash page is a page which typically has an image on it and a button that says “enter website” or something along those lines. These are terrible for many reasons — for one thing these pages contain minimal content, so rank very badly in search results, and this is the page that most of your external links likely come through to, which dilutes your homepage’s ability to rank in search engines.
Secondly, they are awful from a user experience point of view. You force your website visitor to click an extra link, completely unnecessarily, just to enter your website. You want to make it as easy as possible for a visitor to find what they are looking for when arriving at your website, so don’t make it harder for them by using a splash page!
5. Using lots of images containing text
When possible, any text on your website should not be built into images. The reason for this is that search engines like Google cannot detect text within images, or therefore index it. If all your content is contained in a few images, you will not appear in search results for those keywords.
Content is a big factor in ranking highly in search engine results. The more textual content your website has, the more keywords it is likely to show up in search results — so don’t hide text in images where possible.
That’s it for our 5 biggest SEO mistakes that we see small businesses making. There’s many more out there — if you have any questions or contributions of your own, let me know in the comments!
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Image credit: Stuart Miles