Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a facet of marketing that focuses on increasing your company’s visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. In a time when 81% of consumers turn to a search engine before making a purchase (MineWhat.com, 2014), it’s essential to have an SEO strategy in place. The goal of an SEO strategy is to make your website attractive to search engines so it appears in search results when users seek out information that’s relevant to your company.

In reality, a lot of organizations struggle with effectively implementing SEO basics, which can negatively impact an entire marketing initiative. Common SEO mistakes include:

You don’t have a content strategy.

Whether you create monthly, quarterly, or annual content calendars and strategies, the planning process will ensure you provide valuable information for your readers rather than scrambling to come up with lackluster topics at the last minute.

One way to determine the topics you should cover is to use Google’s suggestions to see what people are searching for. Use keywords like “best,” “cost,” “reviews,” and comparisons with keywords related to your industry or products, and look at what results Google suggests. You may find a topic that you hadn’t thought to cover.

Another way to beef up your content calendar is to ask your employees what questions they get asked frequently. Salespeople and customer service employees will likely be able to provide you with a few points that could be built into a longer blog post.

A solid content strategy is not only valuable for readers, but it is also valuable to search engines. They recognize quality content and reward you by suggesting it to users.

Your content has long paragraphs.

According to Buffer, more than half of website visitors spend 15 seconds or less reading web content. Your content should be formatted for easy skimming – separate large chunks of text using headers, subheads, images and bulleted lists. Doing these things will also make your content more attractive to search engines.

 You focus too much on paid search.

If your organization doesn’t devote a substantial budget to paid search, don’t worry. It turns out that about 95% of buyers only click on organic search results (SimilarWeb, 2016). Paid search can be a great addition to an integrated communications campaign, but for most, organic search dominates.

Your pages have too many URLs.

Many websites—especially blogs—have multiple URLs that lead to the same content, which can confuse search engines. You can mistakenly create multiple URLs when you choose a variety of categories or tags for a blog post. The search engine doesn’t know which URL or category is the right one, and may not include your content in a user’s search results.

This fix for this issue? Be choosy when it comes to tags.

Your pages don’t load quickly.

Internet users are impatient—your page should load in two seconds or less on a desktop and even faster on a mobile device. Large images and video files can have a negative effect on your page load times, so be sure to optimize them by reducing their file size and naming them with relevant keywords.

Tools like Google Page Speed Insights, GTmetrix and Pingdom test your page load times.

Your page isn’t mobile friendly.

Nowadays more than half of Google searches are conducted on mobile devices (Google, 2016). Your website should be responsively designed, meaning that it automatically adjusts to fit the screens of smaller devices like smartphones and tablets for easy navigation.

Google created Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP Pages) to help mobile sites load faster in search results and on social media. Faster load times are intended to lower your site’s bounce rate—the rate at which users abandon your page—and improve visitors’ experience on the mobile web as a whole.

You don’t utilize backlinks and internal links effectively.

Backlinks are links that direct back to your website from third party sources, such as media coverage or blogs written by other companies in your industry. In the early days of SEO, some organizations would purchase backlinks to “trick” search engines into increasing their search ranking. Google has caught onto this practice and will penalize your site if you purchase backlinks or rely on irrelevant backlinks. The best way to increase your backlinks? Create quality content that others want to share!

Internal links are a great way to increase users’ time on your website, but most companies don’t take advantage of them. By linking to other relevant blog posts or content from your website in newer posts, you will lead readers down a path that increases your SEO while also providing readers with the content they are seeking.

If you implement these practices correctly, you’ll be well on your way to building a robust SEO strategy that can make an impact on your website’s performance.

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