Having a website is only half of the battle when it comes to today’s online world. The other half is getting people to go to your website.
There are quite a few ways to do that, thanks to social media platforms, but what happens when you want to attract people that are outside of your networking circle? That’s where Google comes in.
But there’s over 83,000 blog posts published every hour. How are you supposed to stand out?! Well, by optimizing your website for search engines and ultimately your target audience.
That’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in.
SEO is one of those things that you have to constantly be improving upon and paying attention to on your website, in order to get your efforts to matter. It’s can be a total time-sucker. Now imagine if you’re digging yourself a hole before you even START to implement SEO practices….that would be a nightmare. Let me help you avoid that nightmare.
Here are 3 website mistakes that can harm your SEO ranking:
#1. Having a Bad User Experience:
What good is your content if your readers can’t consume it? If your text is hard to understand, slow loading, visually distracting, unresponsive, & difficult to navigate through….then what you have to say doesn’t really matter, because no one is sticking around to read it.
If you have Google Analytics, or if you’re familiar with Google Analytics, I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “bounce rate.”
Bounce rate is the percentage of people that get to your website & then leave right away. Bounce rate is one of Google’s SEO ranking factors (ya know, just one of them, out of 200+), but basically, having a high bounce rate is an indicator to Google that your website visitors aren’t finding what they need on your website, or that your content didn’t meet their expectations.
One of the major things that make people leave a website, without giving the content a chance, is a bad user experience. Don’t scare your user off before they get the chance to glance at your content!
Fact: “57% of customers say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site and 40 percent have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad experience.” – TheMobilePlaybook.com
6 Factors of User Experience that Affect SEO Ranking:
- Website Speed
- Bounce Rates
- Website Security
- Mobile Responsiveness
- Accessible Navigation
- Internal Linking
(Please Note: These are in no specific order, and there are over 200 factors that make up an SEO ranking, so these are just a few!)
#2. Not Being Social Sharing Friendly:
Social media platforms are wonderful when it comes to SEO. They encourage user’s to not only share content with their friends, family & colleagues, but they encourage people to engage with it. Social signals might not play a direct role in your SEO ranking, but they do allow more people to view your content (which is totally what we want!).
Make sure that you’re making your content EASILY shareable. As much as we love being social, we also don’t like to go too far out of our way to do things. We’re busy humans.
3 Social Sharing Rules to Keep in Mind:
- Have obvious social media sharing buttons: Don’t make your user’s look around for them. They won’t do it, they’ll just move onto the next valuable article.
- Social interaction functionality: Have you ever seen the “Click to Tweet this” boxes? Those are enticing people to spread the content’s message, with one click. I’m sure you’ve seen the “Like This” box on people’s websites. Functionality like that helps your visitors broadcast you to their social circle.
- Keep your content interesting: If your target audience doesn’t find your content interesting, they won’t share it. If you want your content to hit a large amount of people, write content that can easily be spread.
The whole point of using social media to get website views, is that the more people that SEE your content, the more people that might LINK BACK to your content.
#3. Not Having an Updated Sitemap:
Okay, so you not only have to help your visitors navigate through your content, but you also have to help the search engine bots navigate through it. These robots/crawlers are very sophisticated, but they’re robots, not humans. In order for them to report their findings back to the big bad Google, they have to be able to find & digest you’re the information on your website.
These Google bots digest your information by reading your XML Sitemap. It’s basically like a roadmap for search engines. It tells Google bots what content is on your website.
Does your website have a sitemap? Have you submitted it to Google?
This is pretty crucial when it comes to your SEO ranking.
Having a sitemap and submitting it to Google is an easy way to give them the heads up on your website. Without submitting a sitemap, you’re relying on the Google bots to find your website all on their own…..and with the size of the internet, that could take a while.
If you’re unsure if you have a sitemap, go to “www.yourdomainname.com/sitemap_index.xml” and replace the “your domain name” with whatever your website name is.
You should see something like this:
Don’t See A Sitemap?
If you don’t see any sitemaps then you ABSOLUTELY need to generate one. WordPress plugins like Yoast automatically generate a sitemap for you. After it’s generated, you take that URL and submit it to Google Webmaster Tools.
(Sign into your Google Webmaster Tools Account and then follow these steps from Google, starting with #2. No need to create a sitemap, Yoast already did that for you, and that’s the URL that you just copied that ended in sitemap_index.xml)
If you’ve been using the Yoast SEO plugin, read “How to Set Up Yoast” to make sure it’s set up to help benefit your SEO
Why Do Sitemaps Need to be Updated?
Well, since sitemaps are the roadmaps of your website….we can compare it to a GPS system. If a new road is being built, shouldn’t the GPS know about it so it can show you an easier route to your destination? Exactly.
By keeping your sitemaps updated, you get the chance to inform search engines immediately about any changes you make on your website, like a new page or blog post. By letting search engines know that you have a new page, they’ll be able to index it quicker then if they had to find it on their own. It’s like tapping your friend on the shoulder when they don’t see you at first; like “Hey, I’m here!”
Search engines prefer websites that are active and updated. Your sitemaps should be updated as often as your content is.
Want to learn more information like this about SEO?
SEO is that big annoying thing that makes most people want to pull their hair out. It’s tricky, tedious & can be ridiculously complicated.
I’ve recently launched a new ebook The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to WordPress SEO. It’s the DIY non-tech guide to understanding SEO & optimizing WordPress websites for search engines.
(+ checklists, worksheets, tips/tricks, & resource guides)
I’ve highlighted the most crucial & important points of SEO, so you can focus on getting the ground work all set up on your own. I’ve focused on not only making your website better for search engines but making it better for the people that use it.