Creating a new website or redesigning the one you already have can be a huge project. It involves hundreds of creatives, technical, and strategic decisions that will impact the user experience and in the end, your ultimate success or failure.
Beyond what the visitors think about your site, it’s also important to understand what search engines thin. How your website appears to the major search engines (mostly, Google) will affect its rankings.
This is why every website should be designed by keeping in mind, search engine optimization (SEO) as a primary goal. While SEO methods are continuing to evolve, staying on top of this is essential to ensure a flow of traffic to your site and the conversion rates you are looking for.
Some SEO practices are seeing more success over the long-term than others. Knowing this, here are seven SEO mistakes that you should avoid when launching a new site.
1. No Keyword Strategy
Since the entire point of SEO is for your website to be found by your target audience through organic search, it would be a mistake to create a site that doesn’t have a well thought out keyword strategy.
There are plenty of tools to help you choose the right keywords for your industry. Several examples are:
While it’s worthwhile to spend some time using these tools, it’s also important to avoid keywords that are too broad. As it hurts your site’s performance by “stuffing” too many keywords into your content.
A better approach is to target long-tail keywords that are relevant to your business and use them naturally alongside related keywords.
2. Lack of Clear Meta Titles
If the meta title for your website’s home page is “home page,” you have a problem.
Your meta descriptions are your opportunity to tell the search engines and visitors what they’re going to find on your page. (This is also something you should do with alt tags on images).
Caption: Having a clear meta title will help to increase the click-through rate.
Let’s assume you’re a real estate broker for New Delhi residents. When your website shows up on Google, having it say “home page,” tells searchers nothing about who you are, and they are not likely to give you a click.
A better meta title, for example, would be “Real Estate Broker For New Delhi Residents | PropertyWala.com.”
You should also include keywords in the meta titles to help search engines to understand more about your page. Try keeping the meta title within 55 characters for best display in the Search Engine Result Page. You can use the tool word counter for calculating your characters along with space.
3. Slow Loading Pages
Today, people lack patience especially when they are looking for something on the internet. If they have to wait more than a few seconds for the page to load, they’re likely going to give up and try someone else.
Beyond impacting the quality of the user experience, one thing that many people fail to realize is that page load speed is now a ranking factor used by Google. In other words, if your page is slow to load, your rankings are going to suffer.
Having a fast response and reliable web hosting is fundamental to your website. Your goal should be to keep your server response time (TFFB) under 200ms.
Tools such as WebPageTest, GTmetrix or Bitcatcha can give you an overview of your server response time.
4. Duplicate Content
A common SEO mistake is to unintentionally publish duplicate content on your site. Search engines are known to penalize sites that have duplicate content, and even those who swear they don’t do this are violating the rules without realizing it.
First, don’t take content from other sites or publish spin content. It’s lazy, and it doesn’t work. Beyond this, many sites have duplicate URL’s that are creating issues.
For example, you might have your content showing in several places like this
- https://mysite.com/quality-wrenches (main page)
That’s a lot of pages to serve up the exact same thing, and it can be confusing to the search engines. You can fix this by removing pages, redirecting duplicate versions with a 301 redirect, or adding a canonical tag to tell the search engines which is the preferred page.
Caption: Example of implementation (source)
If you wish to add the canonical tag, you should add a rel=canonical link from the non-canonical page to point to the canonical one.
So, if we picked https://mysite.com/quality-wrenches as the canonical page, we should add <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://mysite.com/quality-wrenches/” > in the header of all other pages.
If you are unsure whether to use a 301 redirect or set a canonical, the answer is simple. You should always go for 301 redirect.
5. Redirects and Error Management
If you are re-designing a website or building a rather large site, you’re eventually going to run into issues with redirects and error codes.
Whenever you make a change to a website, it’s vital that you let the search engines know where they can find the new content with redirects. If you don’t do this, you’ll encounter errors, and your site’s rankings will suffer.
Likewise, status or error codes are returned by your site to search engines and which codes are used can impact your rankings.
When you do use a redirect, it should be a 301, or permanent redirect, that passes all the “weight” of the prior page to the new one. A temporary, or 302 redirects, will not accomplish this.
For WordPress users, you can always get help from plugins. As for others, you can also do it from .htaccess – this is the cleanest and search engine friendly way to redirect a URL.
#Redirect a single page:
Redirect 301 /oldpage1.html https://mysite.com/newpage
Redirect 301 /oldpage2.html https://mysite.com/folder/
#Redirect the entire site:
Redirect 301/ http://www.newsite.com/
This is also extremely useful when you need to move to a new domain while maintaining the content from the old website.
6. Poor Linking Strategy
To get the best out of your SEO, you should also have a strong linking strategy from the start. This means that you’ll have both internal and external links on your site. Going overboard with this is likely to backfire, so link relevance is more important than volume.
For both internal and external links, look for sources that are as relevant as possible to the content you’re posting. Use effective anchor text to tell the search engines what the link refers to and use unique links each time to keep it natural and diverse.
7. Not Submitting a Sitemap
Every website should submit a sitemap to the major search engines that provide a list of the valid URLs and outlines the site’s structure. Some common mistakes are submitting an incorrect or incomplete sitemap to a search engine that could hurt your rankings.
Examples are ones that have an old structure, don’t contain new redirects, or doesn’t use the correct protocol (HTTP vs. HTTPS).
There are a few ways to make your sitemap available to Google:
- You can submit the sitemap using the Search Console Sitemaps tool
- Insert the code in your robots.txt file. Ex: Sitemap: https://mysite.com/sitemap.xml
- Use the “ping” functionality to ask Google to crawl your sitemap. Ex: http://www.google.com/ping?sitemap=https://mysite.com/sitemap.xml
Launching a new website is a major project that involves a host of considerations. But letting SEO fall through the cracks could be a huge mistake that derails your rankings and hurts your brand.
Along with having a robust web hosting that will ensure faster page load time, ensure that the other elements of SEO are up to par so that your site’s rankings can climb to the next level.
About the author-
Being a fan of WordPress, Jason Chow loves to blog about online business ideas, SEO and social media marketing. He also handles site administrative task for BuildThis.io