Here at SilverTech, we spend a lot of time looking into search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, optimization, and trends. As part of our SEO work we also do our fair share of audits for clients and make recommendations on how they can improve. After quite a few audits, patterns start to emerge and we have noticed five distinct areas that show up time after time. Here are the five most common SEO mistakes that we have noticed from our audits.
1. Page Speed
Page speed is something that not a lot of people think of when they think SEO optimization. Usually everyone is focused on keywords, and they let the performance of their website fall by the wayside. The reality is that having a website that loads quickly and performs efficiently is going to help with your rankings. We have seen a lot of brand new websites that are mobile friendly and look great that have ended up failing the speed test because their images were too big or they weren’t optimizing other areas during development. Page speed can end up being a bit of a silent killer when it comes to SEO. A lot of sites might be doing everything else right and not even realize that their website performance is negatively affecting their search engine rankings.
A helpful tool to check your page speed is the Google PageSpeed Insights application. Just plug your URL in and you will get a breakdown of your desktop and mobile speeds and some recommendations on how to improve.
Backlinks are sneakily one of the most important ways to optimize your website for search engines and they are areas we constantly see needing improvement when we do audits. It makes sense, since this is one of the most difficult areas to optimize for and the details of how to do so are murky at best. The mystery of backlinks can be summarized like this: The more backlinks you get to your site from reputable sources (more on this in number 3), the better your site looks to Google. Simple as that. More links alerts Google that your site has good content that people want to read, thus raising your search engine ranks.
Achieving this is a whole other situation, though. The best advice to start tackling this area of SEO is to create truly great content and start to promote across a wide variety of channels so that you can start to get others to link back your site.
3. Quality Scores
The second piece of the backlinks puzzle is making sure that they are quality links. We have seen sites that are getting a lot of backlinks, but they aren’t always from the best sources. Something that we look at for the health of backlinks and the website as a whole is called "quality score." This score is an indicator of how well your site is perceived by search engines and if it is safe, relevant, and a good source of information. The lower the score, the less likely Google will be to recognize you as a trustworthy source, leading to lower search rankings. The thing to remember with backlinks is that they are not all created equal and non-trustworthy websites that are linking back to yours may be doing more harm than good.
4. Missing or Duplicate Meta Descriptions
Yes, this is a really basic SEO best practice, but it is one that shows up all the time in SEO audits as an area that gets ignored. Either websites have the same meta description for multiple pages, or there aren’t any present at all. This is a really simple first step that marketers can take to start to boost their click-through rates from search engine results pages. Keep these descriptions to around 160 characters and summarize what visitors will find on the page they are clicking through to for best results.
5. Social Media
This is another often overlooked piece of SEO that not a lot of organizations are thinking about, but can provide some major benefits. Whenever we do an audit, one of the barometers of success is social presence and activity. Is there a lot of traffic to the site from social? Are they sharing and linking back to their site? Interacting with influencers? If the answer to those is yes, the site is probably in a much better position than those who are neglecting their social channels. The benefits of an active social presence are one of the ways you can start to build quality backlinks. Getting your content in front of more eyes, especially the eyes of influencers and thought leaders, can go a long way in developing those strong backlinks.