The journey to the number one ranking on Google differs across cities, towns and industries. But generally speaking, it’s safe to say that proper keyword placement, quick page load speed and quality content are the best bets for SEO growth. These strategies make it easy for Google to match searchers with results that are most relevant to them.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are a few strategies you need to avoid if your goal is to improve your ranking.
The following are some of the SEO tactics of yesteryear which can unfavorably affect your Website’s ability to turn up well on Google. These tactics range from "outdated" to "straight up bad news" for your Website’s position in search results.
One of the more common SEO blunders that small businesses commit is providing duplicate content. This refers to text that is identical on multiple pages. This puts a strain on search engines, who want to know exactly what content is on each page of a Website. When content exists on multiple pages of your site, search engines can't identify the exact purpose of each page. As a result, any pages with duplicate content take hits in visibility.
Duplicate content can also refer to the use of multiple Websites. If search engines can't figure out what single Website belongs to your business, they may dock your rankings across the board.
Keyword Stuffing (and Other Black Hat SEO Strategies)
If you aren’t familiar, Black Hat SEO refers to strategies that boost your Website’s ranking but violate search engines’ terms of service. These tactics definitely don’t fly now that search engines are getting smarter, and will surely tank your ranking if you don’t get rid of them.
More often than not, businesses with Websites that use Black Hat tactics are unaware of these violations; they likely trusted an SEO “expert” (intentional air quotes) to get their Website on Page One as quickly as possible. The following are the most common Black Hat Strategies:
- Keyword stuffing – Website pages with a chunk of keywords that lack any context (they usually appear in lists or a group of terms, rather than in an actual sentence or paragraph)
- Link farming – A network of Websites that automatically link to each other, regardless of the quality or relevance of the other sites. Often, these Websites have no substance or purpose, other than to link to hundreds of other Websites.
If your Website is guilty of either of these, you’ll want to clean up ASAP to improve your ranking.
Slow Page Load Speed
We aren’t accusing anyone of purposefully slowing their Website Page Load Speed (the speed it takes for every part of your Website to load on computers and mobile devices), but your Website may feature some content that is doing just that. No one likes to wait for a site to load, which is why search engines favor faster-loading sites in search results.
If your Home Page features large photos, videos that play automatically and third-party widgets like YouTube videos or Twitter feeds – chances are it’s taking too long to load. Your Home Page load time is critical, so make sure to keep things simple when adding content. Optimize your photos so that they are still detailed, while not taking up a large file size. As for video, we recommend only adding one embedded YouTube video – any more would be overkill.
To get a get a free, detailed look at your Website’s Page Load Speed, enter your URL on Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Part of keeping your Website fresh according to Google is checking in and consistently updating different aspects. We often see broken links on Websites, due to YouTube videos that have since been removed, links to associations that no longer exist, or just incorrectly formatted links. Broken links are a clear signal to Google that your page is outdated and in need of an update.
Another thing to look out for is pages with low word counts. It’s recommended that each page on your Website have at least 300 words, per Google. The more detail you provide in your content, the easier it is for search engines to match your Website with related search terms.
Summing it Up:
For every good SEO practice, there’s an equally harmful tactic that can tank your rankings. While it may seem difficult at first, the main idea of a good SEO strategy is simple: keep your content updated and relevant to people searching for it. The more you stay on top of your SEO strategies, the easier it is for search engines to notice you and put your Website in front of the people that should see it.