Your business website is your virtual storefront where you meet customers. Because of that, it has to be up to standard. That is, you shouldn’t only positively surprise customers that already know you – but also be able to attract new ones too.
THere are many practices on achieving that, but nothing comes too close to seo in terms of long term effectiveness and upfront costs.
That’s because SEO can cost almost nothing if done in-house (you only have to pay a salary), and continues working even long after you’ve stopped investing in it.
With proper SEO, you’re able to attract customers at different stages of their buyer journey – and therefore also improve your brand effectiveness. How? Imagine someone who is just becoming “problem aware” and they are searching for information on their “problem”. By ranking number one for that search query, you’re able to build rapport with them from the very first moment they experience their problem.
But because SEO can be quite complex, businesses often make errors with it. While some of them are not critical, they often add up and can ultimately prevent your website from living up to its potential – more specifically from ranking at the top for relevant search queries.
WIth that, let’s look at the top 4 most common onpage mistakes businesses make when it comes to their SEO. We’ll see what they are, why they are important, and how you can solve them.
Also, we assume that you’re just starting with this subject. Because of that, if you don’t know what these terms mean, we found a great glossary where you can look them up – click here to see it.
1. Missing Or Badly Written Alt Tags
Alt tags are simple HTML attributes that you add to the images on your website. WHen the image cannot be rendered (i.e. displayed), the alt tag is shown on the website.
Alt tags are an important aspect of the images on your website. That’s because Google and other search engines use them to understand what’s on the image. Now, one day in the future, AI algorithms might be smart enough to be able to “see” what’s on an image. But for now, they aren’t. Therefore, by telling them what the image is about, you have a higher chance of ranking at the top because they see that the image is relevant to the content you’ve written.
Additionally, they help blind users who use screen readers understand what’s on the image as well. So you can see that this contributes not only to the search engines but also some end users.
To write better alt tags, you need to include a short and concise description of what’s on the image itself. This text can (and likely will) also include some of your target keywords. Because Google can’t understand what’s on the image, they see the alt tag inserted as the text present on the page. Therefore, it’s a good opportunity for you to insert your target keyword – especially for queries where you can’t really use it comprehensively throughout the text.
2. Missing Or Bad Internal Links
Internal links are hyperlinks that link one of your pages to another one. THe reason they are called internal is specifically for that reason – they only link your own pages. Compared to external links, they still pass value between the pages – however, you’re technically only distributing the value your website already has – and not leveraging value from other websites.
Internal links are a great opportunity to boost your pages’ authroitty if you cannot find external links for it. That is, some product pages are often hard to link to from other websites – and therefore it might be easier for you to link many of your own high-authority pages to your product pages. Just remember that they have to be relevant.
To create internal links, you need to insert a regular <a> tag on your target pages. Now, the critical part here is that Google treats the anchor text on these internal links much better than your inbound links from other sources.
This means that you can safely insert your target keywords in them and Google will not penalize you for it. Because of that, you can make your pages more relevant by being linked by a specific keyword. And doing that will, in terms, help you rank higher.
3. Too Large Images
Image optimization is the practice of reducing the size of your images. It also sometimes includes changing the way the images are rendered. For example, with “progressive scans”, the user is able to see a blurry image almost immediately, which then slowly renders to a better version. This type of images make a website appear ready much faster, which allows the visitor to use it since it appears as if it’s ready.
To learn more about image optimization, check out this guide which includes an infographic.
Image size is very important because it requires the user to load them. This means, the bigger the image is, the harder it is for the user to load it because it takes longer – and uses a lot more data for the transfer to be completed. Google likes smaller images because they are delivered faster and therefore the user is able to understand and interact with the website much faster. All of these factors improve the end-user experience – and therefore they are likely to return and use Google again – since it was able to help them so quickly.
To optimize the size of the images on your website, you need to use a tool. If you’re using WordPress, this could be a plugin that takes care of the optimizations directly upon upload. In fact, this type of plugin (together with many others) is one of hubspot’s recommended wordpress plugins (check them out here).
However, if you’re using another content management system, you can use a third party software. One such tool is tinypng which you can check out here. These tools usually do what is known as a “lossless compression” where redundant pixel data is removed – and the colors used are hashed and re-used. Additionally, these tools also strip metadata from the image – ultimately making it smaller, easier to process and faster to render.
4. Too Long URLs Or Bad URLs Structure
The URL structure on your website represents the final path the user has to access to enter the page they are looking for. For example, if you have a product category about dog food, your URL will look something like this:
Now, where businesses make a mistake is that they make this final URL too complex. THat happens either by negligence or wrong website setup. The end result is that the URL looks very “messy”. But why is that a problem?
Both the end-user and Google need a good final URL. That’s because Google uses the final URL to understand what’s on the page – and the end-user needs a simple and understandable URL they can return to easily. Imagine that a user wants to buy a bag of dog food from your store.
They explore your website on their mobile phone while on the bus – but want to purchase from their personal computer once they are back home from work. Because of that, if you have simple and friendly URLs, they can easily remember them and directly enter them once they are ready to purchase.
But why do you want that? Because then you “limit the opportunities” that your users have to choose one of your competitors. In other words, you increase your chances of turning someone into a customer.
Now, it’s important to mention that this is a very critical step and most businesses need the help of an SEO specialist and/or a developer to properly do this step. That’s because changing your URLs without setting up a redirect to them can really hurt your business because your rankings can drop. If you do not set up a redirect, next time around Google comes to your site, it will see that the URL you had is not non-existent.
Additionally, you might lose all the authority that you’ve received from links from other websites. This means that the very same page you had which now sits on the new URL will be seen by Google as a completely new page – and therefore it will need quite some time to rank high again.
If you want to learn more about good URL structure, we also found this great resource (the website is very user-friendly since it has a dark mode)
Improving your SEO is an important activity that can bring your business long term results if done properly. Many businesses can start with it already today, but it’s important to avoid making these 4 critical mistakes that can make it harder for you to rank.
There are many other things to look out for, and therefore it’s a good idea to consult an SEO specialist if you’re in doubt. That’s because SEO can take a while to work – and the changes you make to it will take some time to be corrected in Google. And therefore, starting off right is important.