No matter how great your website is, it’s not worth much if nobody sees it. Is your traffic low?
Do you feel like your SEO isn’t working? Listen up: here are 7 factors that could be undermining
your search marketing!
1. Duplicate Content
When you say factors that hurt SEO, people immediately think of duplicate content, so let’s start
there. Here’s the issue: when search engines like Google see more than one place publishing the
exact same information, only one of them can be valuable because, as it states in its webmaster
tools, “Google tries hard to index and show pages with distinct information.” So if you have
duplicate content in places on your site or elsewhere online, you’re going to get penalized for it.
Here are some examples of duplicate content you might not have thought of:
- Multiple URLs Pointing to Same Place:
When about.yoursite.com and yoursite.com/ about both lead to the same place, search engines may read them as duplicate content sources—a common issue with sites using content management systems.
- Syndicating Your Content on Other Sites:
Say I write a post on a client’s blog about welding gloves kevlar, which then also gets picked up by a larger safety company’s site or submitted to some directories online. The exposure is great; the duplicate content, now in more than one place online, is not. Search engines may choose one of the other publications on a more high-ranking site as the authoritative version instead of my client’s, doing more harm than good in the long run.
- Dual Domain:
Here’s one a lot of companies don’t realize—if visitors can access your website through either http://yoursite.com OR http://www.yoursite.com, it’s considered duplicate content. A simple ‘301 direct’ can consolidate the versions for better rankings.
Text in Flash videos does not display to search engines the way that HTML does, so it’s hard for the engines to know what it’s about. The same goes for links in Flash videos—they won’t earn the same rankings in crawlers as HTML links would.
3. Not Optimizing Keywords
If you aren’t optimizing your site for keywords, you’re going to have a hard time achieving higher ranks in search engines and thus, the higher traffic that comes with it. Look at the words or phrases you want to target—how can you work them into the most important parts of your site’s content? Are they in post titles, URLs, content, anchor text and headings?
Why not? This is a quick and easy way to improve your search rankings and site traffic.
Likewise, be sure that the keywords you’re choosing are highly relevant to the pages they’re on—David Reich of Content Marketing Institute suggests making sure “the page you’re targeting is the most relevant page on your site for that keyword phrase” for best results.
4. Choosing Keywords with Too Much Competition
In terms of search engine rankings, there are two types of keywords: fathead and long-tail. Fathead keywords are the super popular, highly common words or phrases that tend to be short, general and highly sought-after.
Think ‘tomato’ or ‘gas station’ or ‘credit card.’ Because of greater competition for these terms, it may be hard to achieve much traffic from them. It would be better to instead focus on long-tail keywords, those longer, more specific phrases that have less competition and more potential for targeted traffic to your site—say the phrase ‘gas station credit card processing company,’ for example.
As an added bonus, long-tail keywords typically bring more relevant traffic to your site, meaning better chances for conversions. According to Stephen Mahaney of Wordtracker, the difference all comes back to this question:
“[W]ould you rather rank for one keyword which sent you 1000 visitors a day or 200 keyphrases, half of which sent you 1 buyer a day?”
5. Overdoing Keywords in Lieu of Good Content
Just as not using enough keywords can harm your SEO, so too can overusing them. The fact is, shallow content that’s not written for readers but just for search engines, saturated with keywords throughout, can actually harm your search results. Google and other search engines are sensitive to keyword manipulation tactics and trained to recognize when content is overly repetitive and not actually helpful for users searching for those terms. The lesson here is that quality is still king, even when it comes to SEO-optimized Web content, and using keywords can in no way detract from that.
6. Broken Links
Broken links, also sometimes called dead links, are website pages that don’t exist anymore and bring up 404 error pages. More common than you might expect, broken links occur when a webmaster deletes pages, changes a URL address without updating links to it and through simple mistakes where a webmaster places the wrong URL in the link. Although common, these pages can be very detrimental. Not only do they annoy your visitors, but they can raise bounce rates and lower site visits, both of which work against SEO rankings.
7. Avoiding Social Media
The fact is, search engines look favorably on brands active in social media. This means that maintaining a Facebook page and a Twitter profile do more than expand your network; they enhance your image for SEO. If you’ve been avoiding these resources due to some personal aversion or doubt about what they would offer, it may be time to rethink that philosophy.
About Author: Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a leader among Chicago marketing agencies. She crafts content for various websites, blogs and media outlets and has been writing professionally since 2004.