These common SEO mistakes are based on what I’ve seen in the last few months. Common mistakes made by companies with marketing departments and digital professionals. All of them will affect a website’s ability to rank as each results in a poor user experience. Are you struggling with any of them?
In the great rush to switch to secure domains a lot of companies failed to redirect the http versions of their sites to the new secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In some instances I’ve seen four or five versions of the same site – normally when another subdomain (e.g. www2.example.com) is in use. The following situation is scarily common:
Each site contains the same content. Unless you’re redirecting five of them or using cross domain canonicalization then how is a search engine supposed to tell which version to return? The answer is it won’t, or it’ll likely return the wrong one. This happens all the time. ALL THE TIME. Ironic, as HTTPS is supposed to give a slight ranking boost as it provides a more secure experience for users, but in reality has resulted in loads of duplicate content issues.
Poorly managed migrations
Normally a company will migrate because of HTTPS as mentioned, or because someone will decide a www. subdomain isn’t fashionable anymore, or because the ccTLD doesn’t suit (e.g. an example.co.uk company starts trading worldwide so goes for a .com instead) etc. Whatever the reason there’s a shedload that can go wrong. First off consider that all your old site pages need to be redirected to their new equivalents. This means any PageRank you’ve built through link building doesn’t disappear post migration. You need new sitemaps (HTML and XML), you need a new robots.txt, you need to sort all your meta data, you need to make sure your structured data, canonicalization, Tag Manager code etc. is sorted…the list goes on! Get someone in who knows what they’re doing to avoid these common SEO mistakes and test, test, test – otherwise you may get a very nasty shock when your organic traffic drops off the side of a cliff and your leads go with it.
Site speed is a ranking factor. Site speed is a conversion factor: forty percent of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. If your images are bigger than 100kb you’re in trouble. Make your web pages light, make them fast. Google provides a free of use PageSpeed tool for Pete’s sake – use it!
Having a dedicated m. subdomain for mobile users basically harks back to the time before responsive design. Now websites can easily adapt to device viewport size they’re less common. Google announced last year that its search index would be going mobile first (although didn’t specify a timescale). So, fourth in our list of common SEO mistakes is failing to prepare for this switch if you currently rely on a mobile subdomain.
Most mobile subdomains deliberately contain a lot less content than their desktop equivalents to keep them light and speedy. The downside to this is Google and other search engines like content. Content helps you rank. Therefore companies that have enjoyed good organic performance with their desktop sites may find their mobile equivalents don’t rank anywhere near as well, resulting in huge organic traffic losses. Ready, steady… PANIC NOW.
The solution? Go responsive. Or scrap the mobile subdomain as Google claims it will still return desktop sites if mobile versions aren’t available. Obviously scrapping an m. subdomain as a knee jerk reaction will probably be horrific for you and your customers, so really should only be viewed as a very last short term resort, if at all.
If you’re worried about your website and think you might be missing out on traffic and leads, get in touch!