Everyone wants their website to come up top when people search Google for whatever it is their business does, but few business owners ever achieve that lofty goal. However, with some consistent, hard graft there’s no reason why your website shouldn’t rank highly for a wide variety of search terms and keywords, and maybe even reach that elusive top spot!
So to maximize your chances of success, one of the best things you can do is make sure your website is fully optimised so that Google (and other search engines) will find your site and rank it highly. How do you do that? Start by considering these 5 common problems and making sure your website doesn’t suffer from any of them.
1. Your Website… Loads… Sl…ow…wly
A slow website will frustrate, bore and turn off not just your real-life human visitors but search engines too. Search engines like Google run their businesses by providing their customers with what they want, and it therefore follows that they don’t want to be giving poor-quality search results to them because they’ll soon go elsewhere. Google didn’t become the dominant force in the world of search by putting slow websites in the Number 1 spot!
So, because Google knows that real humans get turned off by websites which take ages to load, it demotes them in the rankings. This means that your website needs to be FAST. If it doesn’t load quickly on all devices, at all screen sizes, and on all speeds of Internet connection, then it doesn’t matter how beautiful it looks or how compelling your sales copy is – no-one’ll ever see it.
The easiest way to check this out anecdotally is of course to go to your website yourself. You’ll get a fairly good idea if the homepage and other pages on the site load quickly, but for a more scientific approach you should look at these two tools:
- Google PageSpeed Insights
- Pingdom Website Speed Test
Both tools are completely free and very easy to use – just enter your website address and they’ll give you a good idea if it is loading nice and quickly for others, or if poor speed is letting you down and harming your SEO prospects. If you get a poor score and you need some assistance improving things, get in touch for a completely free review of your website, and we can help you going forward.
2. You’re Reaching for the Stars… And Missing!
Props for ambition, but if you’re hoping to rank highly for a very popular and über-generic one-word search term then you may need to adjust your expectations a little bit .
For example, if you’re a relatively new small business working in a local area repairing double-glazed windows, then a world-wide top-spot ranking for “double glazing” would be a wholly unrealistic pipe dream! To be blunt, you don’t stand a chance and any attempts to rank for that would be a complete waste of time and money.
What you need to be aiming for is longer, more specific and less generic search terms – known in the industry as “long-tail keywords”. So instead of just “double glazing”, you may want to try to rank highly for “double glazing repair in South Liverpool”, “liverpool double glazing maintenance” or something similar.
By being more specific with your keywords, you stand a far greater chance of ranking highly and actually getting found on Google by customers who are looking for precisely the products and services you offer. They have a specific problem, you have the solution to their problem.
To find out what your potential customers are ACTUALLY searching for, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner tool. However, it will benefit you to do some reading up before you jump in and use it right away. That’s outside the scope of this post, so have a read of this blog which gives a deep-dive into the topic: https://ahrefs.com/blog/google-keyword-planner/
3. You’re Repeating Repeating Yourself Yourself
Google HATES duplicated content. I know, I get it – you want to make sure that regardless of which page your visitors land on, they’ll hear your awesome sales pitch. However, if you double up on content and/or appear to target the exact same keywords on multiple pages then this can seriously harm your ranking prospects. Plus, if you “take the proverbial…”, so to speak, then Google can even issue a penalty to your site, which depending on the size of your business could cut off your revenue altogether and even cause bankruptcy. So don’t do it!
Take a look at your website and all its pages. If you have more than one page that’s vying for Google’s attention for the same keyword then go ahead and shake things up a little. If you’ve got longer bits of content that are repetitive, then completely re-write it so that it’s 100% unique and one-of-a-kind.
If you look at a page and decide, “y’know what… I don’t need this page at all, let’s bin it” then you should set up something called a 301 Redirect so that firstly, any visitors who land on it will be automatically redirected to the other page you haven’t binned, and secondly so that you can signal to search engines to forget about that page and focus on the one that you’re redirecting to instead.
If that’s all double dutch and you don’t have a clue how to set up a 301 Redirect, then don’t fret! Give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you manage your existing website and sort out your duplicated content.
4. Your Website has Broken Links
Websites change over time and old pages may no longer be required, or they may change so significantly that a new URL is required. That’s OK, but make sure that every time you do this you set up – just as in the previous point – a 301 Redirect so that both users and search engines are aware of the change.
If you don’t do this, then anyone clicking on a link on another website pointing to yours (of which there are hopefully lots!) or an out-of-date listing in a search engine will be presented with an ugly 404 error page. Not a great experience for your users, which means that search engines like Google will start to look less favourably on your website as a whole.
Backlinks are one of your most valuable assets when it comes to SEO, so be sure not to squander them by allowing them to point to an error page. Plus, because users’ activity is monitored down to a tee by search engines, if they notice people clicking on your site in search results but then returning to those results within seconds, that’s a huge indication that your website doesn’t please visitors and answer their burning questions, so it tells Google not to bother recommending your site in future!
Yes, mistakes do still happen and of course someone might mistype a URL on your website or even bodge-up a link when linking to you. The most important thing is to make your 404 error page look appealing, in the hope that people might stick around on your site after all. A link to your home page, a good menu and even some humour might allow you to make the best of a bad situation. We can also help you set up a live chat widget on your website, so users might choose to ask a question via that instead of leaving straight away. Get in touch to learn more!
You can also use free tools like Google Webmaster Tools (https://www.google.com/webmasters/) to detect what 404 errors people are generating and (especially if it’s for a page that never existed in the first place!) you can set up a 301 Redirect to point them where you’d like them to go.
Again, if this is something your website is suffering from and you need urgent help fixing it then please do get in touch – we’d love to help you out!
5. Sparse Content
Content is King!
If there’s one major takeaway from this blog post, it’s that all of the previous 4 points will count for absolutely nothing if the content on your website is lacking.
If you’re serious about ranking highly on search engines, then your website needs to be an attractive and compelling destination for potential visitors! Think about a real-world attraction – if it’s rubbish, no-one’ll want to visit. The same goes for your website; it should include lots of high-quality, interesting, unique and helpful information. It should be attractive, not overbearing, use high quality images and video, and make your visitors stop in their tracks and think “wow!”
Spend time on this. No-one knows your industry better than you, so whilst a web design and video production agency like us can certainly help, it’s not something you can completely hand over to us. However, it can be a joy to work together and build a really strong client relationship when putting heads together to create compelling content on a website.
Build it, and Google will come.
So those are my Top 5 SEO issues that you should be looking for this year. If you can make sure that your website isn’t losing marks for any of these key points then you will be well on the way to climbing those search rankings and getting more leads, more inquiries, more customers and more profits!