When it comes to explain why your SEO campaign failed, there are hundreds of things you can mention. This is due to the fact that major Search Engines use hundreds of signals to determine both the authority of a site and the rankings.
Within the following weeks we will try to list some of the common mistakes that take place during the planning and the implementation of an SEO campaign. By using this list in all the stages of development, you will be able to achieve better rankings and to eliminate the reasons of failure.
In this article we will focus on the common mistakes that occur during the on-page optimization. Please note that issues related to links will be covered in a next blog post.
1) Optimize your pages for the wrong keywords
It’s a common mistake to target for keywords that are very generic or that they do not describe the main idea of the page. You can avoid falling into this trap by creating a list of keywords for every page and by selecting the ones that describe better the main idea. A good practice is to start by creating the list of keywords and then write the text.
Additionally have in mind that even if you want to rank first for a very competitive keyword such as “hotel”, you probably can’t due to the huge competition. So make sure you also include targeted keywords that usually bring more targeted traffic to your site.
2) Over optimize each page for tons of keywords
In most of the cases, the best practice is to have one page to describe a particular topic. Thus your keywords should be closely related to each other.
Trying to optimize the same page for unrelated keywords is usually a bad practice. Keep the number of the important keywords low and have your page targeted for a particular idea.
Additionally do not over optimize your text and avoid at all cost the keyword stuffing. Have in mind that repeating 100 times the same term won’t help you much. At WebSEOAnalytics we introduced a special metric called KeywordRank. This metric is calculated by taking into account the optimization and the usage of a particular keyword within a page. Keep the KeywordRank high (within the green area) for the important keywords of your page and low for the non important. Finally make sure you check you landing pages by using the Keyword Analyzer Tool. Confirm that you optimize the correct terms and make sure you don’t do get many spam signals.
3) Don’t optimize your SEO copy (titles, Metatags, h1-6, alts, etc)
Make sure that you include your important keywords in the title, the Meta description, the H1-6 tags and the alts of images. Use the Keyword Analyzer Tool to ensure that the relevance of Title, Meta description and HTML headings is high. Don’t use the same titles and meta description in every page of your site. It is advised to use H1 once per page (even though Matt Cutts stated in a video that you are able to use it twice in some cases). Have in mind that the longer your titles are the less weight each term receives. To read more about how to optimize your SEO copy, make sure you check Tina’s article about The 5 basic rules of SEO copywriting.
4) Misuse the Metatags and the HTML tags
Basic knowledge of HTML is essential. Make sure you know what you are doing when you modify the Metatags of your Page. Keep in mind that incorrect usage of the meta-robots values (noindex and nofollow) could lead to a disaster. Ensure that you allow your landing pages to be indexed and their links are followed to make sure that you don’t evaporate their PageRank juice.
Be extra careful when you use HTML attributes like rel=”nofollow”. Finally make sure that your HTML code is proper and that you don’t have broken HTML tags. Even though validating the HTML code of your page will have no effects on SEO, it is a good practice and it can ensure that your pages are able to be parsed by search engines.
5) Have tons of duplicate content
First of all let’s make it clear: Duplicate content won’t lead to bans from Google. On the other hand pages that are considered duplicates do not appear in search results (even though they are in Google index). Another problem with duplicate pages is that they consume valuable PageRank juice that could be used from the important pages of your site.
Lot’s of videos and blog articles have been published by Matt Cutts and by Google about this issue. Try to avoid duplicates by reorganizing your link structure, by using 301 redirections and by specifying your Canonical URLs.
One issue that is not always taken in to account is that some parts of the page are supposed to be the same (menus, headers and footers). It’s a natural thing to have similar structure across your website. On the other hand having the same long text (such as recent news and announcements) included in all the pages of the site could lead to an increased similarity percentage and this should be avoided. Try to eliminate those cases by using the Duplicate Content Tool. This tool will give you the exact similarity percentage of 2 pages. Even if it’s not easy to define a good percentage, usually 30-35% is acceptable. Play it safe and try to keep it as low as possible.
6) Have multiple pages optimized for the exact keywords
In a previous article we have examined what happens when a website has multiple pages optimized for exactly the same terms. Such practices could lead to internal competition among the pages and affect the rankings. Make sure you have targeted pages that are optimized for a small number of keywords and try to avoid situations that are described in the above article.
That was the 1st part of the “Why my SEO campaign failed?” guide. Feel free to add you comments and propose your ideas about the subject. The best suggestions will be added in the list.
Stay tuned, because in the next article we will discuss about the Common Web Development mistakes.