One of the most impactful strategies for business success is search engine optimization (SEO). Every day, there are 3.4 million searches conducted on Google alone. Since you’re competing with around 1.8 billion other websites to attract viewers’ attention, it’s critical that you do everything you can to stand out from the crowd. Part of that strategy is knowing what bad SEO practices can kill your search engine ranking placements (SERPs) and avoiding them at all costs.
When done well, SEO increases brand visibility, drives traffic to your site, and boosts conversion rates. Good SEO is a powerful tool for attracting the right audience and generating revenue for your small business. By avoiding SEO killers, you can ensure you’re taking the necessary steps to provide a positive user experience and catch the eye of consumers and search engines alike. This can help secure you higher SEO rankings and drive overall business success.
To maximize your business opportunities, it’s essential to understand how SEO works, and it’s essentially achieved through five main steps.
You must first create tailored content that users will find beneficial. Through research, you can understand who your audience is—this includes their needs, pain points, expectations, and what kinds of words and phrases they’re using to search for products and services like yours. You also ensure your website delivers a positive user experience with fast load times and intuitive navigation.
Search engines use bots and spiders to “crawl” your web pages when you post your content. This scanning process helps them gain an understanding of your pages’ content. They’ll start with web pages, then explore links to other material. Content could include blog articles, downloadable files, PDFs, and social media posts.
Backlinks are a powerful tool for SEO, but there’s a right and wrong way to do link building. When another reputable site in your field links to your site—thus broadening your reach, expanding your audience, and helping to build credibility—you’ve established a quality link. Backlinks can be obtained through various means, from guest posting on another site to contacting commenters and working out a link exchange.
It takes a lot of time and effort to ‘win’ a backlink, so hiring an experienced SEO agency you can trust is the safest way to build quality links to your website’s pages. The key here is that these backlinks must be authentic.
Another reason why having your SEO agency acquire links for you is that, because of their experience, they know exactly which kinds of links will be most beneficial to your ROI. Non-spammy, quality links will keep you from being penalized by Google’s webspam team.
Even the best-written posts need to be updated over time. Viewers look to your website for current, accurate information, and research and data are constantly changing. Third-party websites continually update their content, which means your links to their sites may have changed. To ensure you’re providing the most beneficial information and the best user experience possible, it’s critical that you avoid hosting outdated content.
Technical errors like broken internal links or pages not found are frustrating for web users, and if left uncorrected, they can cause other issues to accumulate, signaling to search engines that you aren’t providing valuable content. Take time to review your older content marketing efforts and ensure it still contains the most up-to-date information possible. This will help build trust among your audience and set you apart from businesses that aren’t maintaining this key aspect of their SEO strategy.
Before the main focus of SEO turned to content and user experience, keywords were huge in matching with the right searches. As a result, people would try to cram as many specific keywords into their content as possible to boost their chances of aligning with more queries. Known as keyword stuffing, this practice is now highly frowned upon in the world of SEO, qualifying it as an SEO killer in 2022.
Two things happen when too many keywords are stuffed into one piece of content. First, the content often doesn’t make sense as the keywords take over the focus of the material. Quality is jeopardized, and the information no longer aims to solve the user’s problems but rather to trick the search engine algorithms. This leads to reader frustration, damaging the business’s credibility and reputation.
Second, search engines pick up on this tactic and see how little value this content brings to readers. Therefore, those sites are penalized with low rankings and fewer indexes. This reduces visibility, damages confidence, and dissuades people from conducting business with those companies. Today’s web content must be written for the reader, not the search engine.
When users click on a link, they visit a site expecting to find specific content. Cloaking is when a company intentionally shows one kind of content to search engines and something entirely different to human visitors. This tactic is used to disguise or hide information so search engine crawlers won’t discover things like excessive ads, generated content, or paid links.
Cloaking is highly frustrating to online users and typically deters them from visiting that site again. While it might help increase click-through rates (while people try to locate the information they thought they would see), it definitely reduces customer loyalty and damages any chance of building a lasting relationship for future purchases.
Search engines don’t just dislike this SEO mistake; it’s in direct violation of Google’s SEO guidelines. Search engines want to deliver results that meet expectations. If they recommend a site for clothing that actually sells automobiles, users will be dissatisfied and blame the search engine for the poor result match. Cloaking is an SEO killer that creates a bad experience for everyone involved.
A website’s intuitive navigation is essential because so much of today’s successful SEO is all about providing a positive user experience. When a shopper walks into a brick-and-mortar store and sees products strewn around the floor, no signage to guide them, and no clerks to ask for help, chances are they’ll leave pretty quickly. A business website is very much the same. Jumbled products, incorrect information, and hard-to-read text can be a huge turn-off for potential customers.
Make sure your website uses a clean layout with an overarching theme to help an audience identify crucial information. Prominent clearly labeled call-to-action (CTA) buttons direct people where to go. A chat feature or customer service contact information instills confidence in getting the answers they need before committing to a purchase.
Webmasters should break up content into brief paragraphs that are easy to digest. All links should direct people to the right place and deliver current information. By making your site intuitive and easy to navigate, your audience will feel comfortable browsing, shopping, and converting to customers.
SEO is a crucial part of any business’s digital marketing strategy. Visual Rankings offers expert digital marketing and SEO consulting to help you understand how SEO works and what bad SEO practices to avoid. Let us help you maximize your SEO efforts by providing a top-notch user experience, driving quality traffic to your site, and boosting revenue.
Contact us today for a free SEO audit.