Congratulations. Your brand new site is complete and it’s a work of modern art, complete with the latest in HTML5, social media integration and high impact visuals. Pat yourself on the back, you’re winning.
Now, it’s time to start making sales and generating new customers. You’re amped up and ready to go!
But wait. There’s one little problem. No one knows your site exists. Even Google, Bing and Yahoo.
What’s the solution?
Based on your advice from other business owners and what you’ve research, you learn SEO is the way to go for generating traffic. Well, that’s almost the complete answer.
After doing some digging and talking to freelancers, SEO consultants and agencies alike, you realize that can get away with spending hundreds instead of thousands, and get the same results. Right? right…
Mistake #1 – Going Cheap
You get what you pay for. SEO is no exception.
Good SEO Partner: Doesn’t matter if they are a SEO consultant, freelancer or agency, a good partner will actually take the time to understand your business, who your target audience is and how they will articulate results to you. They will structure a plan that’s in line with business’ goals and objectives.
SEO Crooks: You’ll see them in terribly formatted emails or running ads on some random websites. They will offer you standardized packages and here’s the biggest red flag of them all – They Will Guarantee First Page on Google. They will not take the time to understand your website, your business, your goals or your target audience. They will use black hat methods like over-used private blog networks that do nothing but put your site at risk of getting banned.
Other telltale signs:
- Use of Gmail and Yahoo email addresses because they have to frequently change them,
- Horribly formatted or written emails
- The scare tactics that your site is in trouble
SEO is not a fast process and that means it takes time and money to get it right. You want someone with a proven record of success and that will actually care about your business. Focusing on individual keywords, which most unscrupulous companies do, is an outdated tactic. Google cares about the user experience, about the content and its consumption by visitors. The algorithm changes, but you don’t win by chasing the algorithm. You win by executing a methodically planned strategy that aligns with your company and drives a measurable ROI.
There are no shortcuts to modern SEO. Which means more time, and more money to get it done effectively and actually see results that drive ROI. If you’re serious about your business, spend a realistic budget and hire a competent SEO consultant or partner with an agency.
SEO Consultants: How Do I Find The Right Partner?
Probably not from a Google ad. It’s one of those things. You’re more likely to find a great SEO consultant or company in the organic search listings. However, given the competition level, that’s not always the case. You can find great SEO’s:
- That are speakers at industry conferences
- Members (or better yet, moderators) of industry forums like SEO Chat
- Active on social media, the community and their own industry
- That have LinkedIn profiles. Crooks hide. Reputable SEO’s are proud to show off expertise.
- Can demonstrate results through case studies
Mistake #2 – Fail To Do Technical Checks
Just because your web design company said they provided an SEO-ready site, doesn’t make it so. I mean, who sells a non-SEO-friendly site in 2016? No one, that’s who! It’s okay to check up on them. Here’s how.
An .xml sitemap is essential for telling search engines that your site exists and point them to the specific pages to crawl. No sitemap, not indexing of your website’s pages. This is a must have to increase your search engine visibility.
- Do you have a sitemap? (check yoursite.com/sitemap.xml)
- Does the sitemap include all of your indexed pages?
- Does it contain any pages that are deliberately deindexed? Remove any of those pages.
This file gives the search engines instructions on what to do and what not to do.
- Is your robots.txt file configured correctly?
- Remove “Disallow:/” because it tells the search engine NOT to crawl your website.
- Does your file correctly display “Sitemap: http://yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml” to make sure the engines can see the sitemap?
Page Level Robots
This is a way to tell the engines not to index specific pages.
Check this by hitting CTRL-U to view the source code and then CTRL-F to search for “noindex.” You should not have any on regular pages but thank you or confirmation pages should include them. Google can index them and trigger false positives in Google Analytics.
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator – in other words, it’s the technical name for web address.
If you manage an e-commerce site, you’ll likely have additional characters in the URL such as ‘/=’ and ‘/?’ on the end. This is a way to provide the same page content, but in a different format for the visitor’s experience. It could be sorting or some other differentiator. These additional characters are called URL parameters.
- You need to let Google Webmaster know to ignore these by identifying them in the Search Console.
- You can also set your robots.txt not crawl these pages. If your parameter includes /?sort=color you would use this code to stop crawlers:
Canonical tags let the search engines know there are pages with duplicate content.
- If you don’t have duplicate copy and canonical tag are used they need to feature the page itself. If not, you’re incorrectly telling search engines what to do and they may not index the pages as intended. You should remove the tags.
- Do you have pages with the same or similar copy based on a “master” pages? If so, you need to make sure you’re referencing the master pages with canonical tags. Add this code to the duplicated pages by replacing the page url with that of the master url.
Search engines hate duplicate copies of content and 404 error pages.
Examples of duplication are:
These will all be viewed as separate domains, naturally, causing problems and poor SEO performance.
- Identify the preferred domain within Google Search Console
- WordPress should automatically create a 301 (permanent redirect for uppercase instances of your URL, changing them to lowercase. If your CMS doesn’t do this, you can edit your .htacaess file to instruct it to do so.
- Firstly, ensure you have selected a within Google Webmaster Tools.
Most modern Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress will 301 (permanent) redirect uppercase URLs to lowercase automatically. If this isn’t the case with your CMS, you can include code within your .htaccess to address it.
There is no such thing as a quick fix for SEO. Forcing it will only get you into trouble.
Success takes planning and forethought. Rushing into a an SEO engagement without some background planning will only yield lesser results. And if you’re planning a major website design change, be sure to take SEO considerations into account. the right SEO consultant will take time here.
When selecting an SEO agency or freelancer, they should do a thorough analysis of your business, your objectives, goals and key performance metrics. Skipping this step and jumping in a is a huge red flag.
Continue to audit your SEO, at least quarterly. Factors change, staff make updates you were unaware of and Google is always on the move. Not catching issues quickly can end up costing you a lot of time and money in lost revenues you can’t recoup.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community