Is Wix and Squarespace Bad for SEO?

Is Wix and Squarespace Bad for SEO?

Website builders like Wix or Squarespace are very convenient.

You can get a website in minutes, they’re mostly easy to use, and many of the templates available are good looking.

But beneath the convenience, there are other factors that, as a business owner, you have to consider.

You can have a nice looking website, but if it doesn’t help you get traffic, what’s the point?

So for this article, we are going to discuss whether Wix and Squarespace can actually help you get traffic.

In other words, is Wix good for SEO? Is Squarespace good for SEO?

Is Wix and Squarespace Good For SEO?

Spoiler Alert!

We’ll just come out and say it upfront.

We won’t work with a client unless they get off Wix or Squarespace.

It’s just not fair for anyone.

SEO is hard. And as convenient as Wix or Squarespace can be, trying to rank a website and win the battle of SEO is like bringing a twig to a gunfight.

So now that we got that out of the way let’s begin.

Why are Wix and Squarespace not recommended for SEO purposes?

There a few reasons why these website builders are not ideal to try to rank a website. Some of them are a bit technical, but we’ll try to be as clear as possible. We will focus mostly on Wix.

Site Speed

One of Google’s ranking factors is site speed.

It’s official, and there is no way around it.

But even if it wasn’t, a website that loads fast is good for business.

People will leave if they have to wait more than one or two seconds for your website to load.

The faster your website is, the easier it is to rank a website.

There are three reasons a slow website can hinder your chances of success in ranking your website:

  • Site speed is a Ranking Factor for Google.
  • Poor User Experience. People will leave your website if it doesn’t load fast.
  • Index Problems. Google needs to “read” your website. And with billions of websites to read every day, Google will not waste resources trying to read a slow website. So even if you have a great website, you will go down in the priority list simply for not having a fast loading site.

So, are Wix websites slow?

There are some forum threads where Wix users complain about their sites being slow, especially on mobile versions. You can find more threads here, here, and here.

And here’s a full case study to test how Wix performs in simple SEO metrics.

In short, Wix makes too many server calls to load a website. That means that Wix generates too many files to load a website. So it has to retrieve each file from the server, and every call takes time. Think of it as a checkout line. It’s faster to checkout (load) one big item, instead of ten small items.

That said, is Wix terrible?

No. In fact, they’ve improved a lot recently, BUT if you are serious about getting better ranking for your website, you should NOT use Wix.

Heading Tags

Heading tags are important for SEO because they tell Google how your articles are broken down. It provides the search engine additional information that helps them index your website properly.

So you can imagine how important it is to have full control of your heading tags.

The problem is that Wix makes it difficult to setup heading tags on some templates.

Structured Data Problems

Structured Data is the language that search engines speak.

While you publish content on your site, your website has to translate your content into something that Google understands. That’s what structured Data is for.

This way, Google can give you what’s called Rich Results, which are things like video thumbnails, recipes, lyrics, and things that don’t look like a regular link on the search results page.

The issue is that Wix has a problem with pushing out Structured Data.

In short, the options are limited. It’s not built-in intuitively, so it can get tricky.

The biggest issue with Structured Data is that whenever Google updates its algorithm, Wix has to update its engine, and while that happens, you are left hanging.

Sitemap Customization

A sitemap is a blueprint of your website. The sitemap tells Google where every page is located, and what sections should have priority over others.

A sitemap is the most basic tool for SEO. And you need control over it.

But Wix does not let you customize it. Wix decides what’s important and what’s not. And that is not good

So what’s the bottom line?

We will always recommend using WordPress for your website. So the comparison here is Wix vs. WordPress.

We’ll give you the cliff notes here.

According to ahrefs, they studied 6.4 million websites and found that 46.1% of WordPress websites got at least some monthly search traffic, compared with only 1.4% of Wix sites.

wordpress vs wix traffic

What should you do?

We will ALWAYS recommend having a WordPress website. Not only do you get full control of your website, WordPress sites simply rank better and get more organic traffic than Wix websites.

Besides, Wix can get costly with its monthly payments, and its platform is closed. That means that if you ever want to leave Wix, you cannot transfer your website anywhere else. On the flip side, WordPress powers 35% of all websites on the internet. So transferring your content is easy, and you will have no problem finding a developer who can help you.

SEO vs SEM:Which One Should You Use?

SEO vs SEM:Which One Should You Use?

There are two ways to get traffic to your website from Google. Paid and organic. Also known as SEO vs SEM.

Paid Traffic happens when you pay the search engine, Google or other search engines, basically, so they show your website whenever someone does a relevant search. This is also known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Organic Traffic happens when your website gets clicks for free because you have a piece of content so good that Google shows your website. This is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

So which one is better? SEM or SEO?

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Obviously, both require an investment.

You cannot expect to launch your new website, publish a couple of blog posts, and see hundreds of visitors pouring into your site. That’s not how it works. You need SEO to see organic traffic.

You have probably seen proof of this on your own website. It’s been up for a while, but it’s not getting any leads. If you’re a local business, you can use our free SEO audit tool to see what your local business could be doing to get more traffic.

On the other hand, paying for traffic can get costly and get zero ROI if you don’t do it right.

So the question is not which is better.

The question between SEO and SEM is which one is right for you?

The Difference between SEO and SEM

To understand the difference between SEO and SEM you have to know what’s in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Don’t worry, I know it’s a lot of acronyms to keep track of, but I promise that’s the last one.

The SERP has basically three parts:

  • Paid Results
  • Organic Results
  • Knowledge Graph Box (though this one doesn’t always show up)

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Now that you understand that, we can see where everything goes.

What does SEM look like?

Think of a Google search you’ve done recently. Do you recall noticing how some of the results had the word “Ad” next to it?

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That’s Search Engine Marketing for you.

Paying a search engine means you get to show up before the organic results on a search engine results page.

Remember the three parts of the Search Engine Results Page? Paid Ads go at least on top of everything else, and sometimes at the bottom of the list and even to the right.

Visually they’re almost exactly the same. The difference is that because those paid ads are the first thing people saw as a result of their search, it’s more likely that they’ll click on it.

How much does it cost me to run paid Google Ads?

There are a few ad campaign models you can test, but there it boils down to two ways:

  • Pay per click
  • Pay per impressions

We won’t go into detail with this, because we could write a book about this. But you can check out the Google Ads homepage for more info.

But essentially, Pay Per Click means you pay Google only whenever someone clicks on your ad.

Pay per Impressions means you pay Google for every 1,000 times they show your ad, regardless if they click on it or not.

Most recommendations go with Pay Per Click as the best bang for your buck.

Search Engine Marketing is very sophisticated, and I wouldn’t recommend you go in without some training or professional help. You can burn a decent amount of money very quickly and get no results.

When is SEM recommended?

Search Engine Marketing is the best at getting results quickly. You set up your campaign, put your credit card info in, and you can be running a campaign within minutes.

So if you need traffic to your website quickly, paid ads are the way to go.

SEM can be useful for basically anything time-sensitive. Think of products like events, limited-time sales, seasonal events, and things like that.

Paying to get quick traffic can work for you, especially in situations like that.

The downside is that the moment you stop paying, the ads stop, and the traffic stops.

What does SEO look like?

Back to our SERP (the results page, just a quick reminder) anatomy class.

SEO looks like organic results. The organic results section has far more variety and richness of content than SEM.


organic results example

We may be biased but look at it.

Look at all those beautiful organic results.

When you invest in getting organic traffic, you can rank content like:

  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Maps
  • Reviews
  • Calls to Action
  • Tools
  • FAQ
  • Images
  • Charts
  • Catalogs

How long does it take to see results from an SEO campaign?

Yes, investing in SEO takes time. Usually, 3 to 6 months is the ideal scenario to start seeing results, but it all depends on your industry, who you’re competing against.

But the advantage of SEO is that once you rank something, whether it’s a blog post or a video or whatever excellent piece of content you produced, it’s going to be up there, generating juicy organic traffic for months, even years. For free.

When it works, it works.

And it only gets better.

Once you rank one thing, it’s easier to rank the second. And the third after that, and so on. The more content you rank, the more traffic you get, the more website authority you get, which leads to other sections being able to rank easier, which leads to more traffic and, well, you get the idea.

SEO has the advantage of having the potential for exponential growth. SEM doesn’t.

The only way to grow an SEM campaign is to put in more money.

The mindset of SEO vs. SEM

Because SEM costs you money every time someone clicks on your ad, you want that wherever that person lands after the click, converts into a potential customer.

So this is the part where we talk about your landing page.

How to Setup Your SEM Landing Pages

Another difference between SEO and SEM is where your visitors land. This is called Landing Page.

When you are paying for ads, the landing page is meant to convert. So the elements in it should be different. It’s supposed to be a bit more aggressive so to speak.

For this, you need great copy, clear calls to action, a fast loading page, content that generates trust so that your visitor does what you want them to do.

Something interesting to point out is that usually, a Landing Page of this type does not have a menu. This is so that whoever lands on this page literally can’t do anything but click on the button or leave.

The goal of an SEM Landing Page is for your visitor to convert.

How to Setup your SEO Landing Pages

SEO landing pages are different in that the primary goal is not to convert them to customers. SEO landing pages are there to build trust and convert leads.

You do this by providing free, useful, easy to read information.

You do this with well-researched articles.

You do this with awesome graphics and videos.

You do this by building useful tools they can use.

There are many things you can do to improve your local website ranking. Everything counts, and everything adds to the winning strategy.

So that when they decide to contact you, half of the sales process is done because you already gave them the information they need to make a purchase with you.

SEO vs. SEM, the Bottomline

There is space for both SEO and SEM strategies for any business. Most times, the best results happen when you are doing the two things at once.

But you need to understand what each strategy will give you.

SEO will give you:

  • Loyal Customers. They trust your brand. They didn’t just click your ad because you were offering the most attractive solution. Whoever offers something cheaper, bigger, flashier, will take your sale.
  • Build Authority. Since you’ve already given free information and displayed your knowledge in your field, you’re going to be viewed as an authority.
  • Continual ROI. Invest in SEO and whatever growth you get will continue to deliver for months or even years.
  • Easier Sales Process. Websites that invest in SEO have websites that give people useful information so that when they do call you, half of the questions they had were already answered on your website.

SEO takes time, a lot of research, and content creation. If you can afford to be patient, SEO is a long-term high reward strategy that lasts for a long time.

SEM will give you:

  • Fast Results. You put in the money, you get visitors. Your SEM specialist will handle optimization and making sure you are getting the right traffic.

SEM is faster to set up, but it needs a lot of testing and optimization. You can spend a lot of money just to get the campaign right. SEM is a strategy that can be profitable but can get expensive. And of course, the moment you stop the campaign, the traffic stops.

Ask These 5 SEO Questions Before You Hire One

Ask These 5 SEO Questions Before You Hire One

Ask These 5 SEO Questions Before You Hire One

Remember making your first hire for your company? You were probably a bit nervous and lost about what questions to ask.

More than a little if you were hiring for a task that you’ve never done yourself.

We’ve all been there, and it shouldn’t paralyze your effort.

While I can’t help you hire your next CFO, I can help you hire an SEO agency or employee by asking the right SEO questions.

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To help you out I’m going to arm you with 5 questions and their answers:

  • What is your SEO philosophy?
  • How will the SEO and Content Marketing Strategy Integrate Your Brand?
  • What are your SEO goals?
  • How long should it take to get results?
  • How will your SEO keep you up to date on your campaign?
  • Plus one bonus question

As much as it seems SEO is black magic, it really is a science with a hint of art.

Let’s dive into it.

1: What Is Your SEO Philosophy?

The first question is pretty straight forward; What is their SEO philosophy.

There are three types of approaches to SEO:

 

  1. Technical – Handling the smaller details on your website like organizing pages titles, interlinking pages, handling backend code like schemas, and more.
  2. Offsite SEO – Acquiring backlinks (citations to your website), distributing your content off of your website, and listing your business various directories if you’re a local business.
  3. User Experience (UX) – Focusing on how delightful it is to be on your website and ensuring that your content is engaging.

Any of these approaches will certainly help improve your success with Google, but alone they won’t help you compete against strong competitors.

What you are looking to hear is someone that includes all three of these approaches when they propose working on their website.

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Think of it like a football team, it’s not the team with the best offense, defense, or special teams that win the SuperBowl. It’s the team that does all three good.

Not a sports fan? Then think of it like this…

Your website is your storefront. Technical SEO will make sure that your storefront (website) is maintained and running well so that it’s efficient for Google to navigate it.

The offsite SEO is your marketing team that’s telling the world about your website. The offsite SEO is getting backlinks, citations, and promoting your content off your website to create authority in Google’s eyes.

The User Experience is delighting your new visitors, making them stay on your website or what an SEO would call dwell time.

A user experience approach will reduce the number of people leaving your site quickly (bounce rate) by improving your site’s speed, design, mobile appearance, and relevance to the search.

About relevance to searches, imagine a building labeled as a grocery store, and you walk in to only realize it’s actually a shoe store?

You’d walk out right away because it’s not what you were expecting. That’s why it’s essential to have content your ideal client is looking for.

If you hit all three of these marks well, then you’re going to be in excellent shape.

If you want to see how these three pillars of SEO impact your local business? Moz interviewed several SEOs to what were the most important factors for rankings.

2: How Will The SEO Strategy Integrate My Brand

Picture this, you see a burger king commercial while watching your favorite show, and at the end of the commercial you hear “ba da ba ba ba I’m loving it.”

You’re going to instantly know that something is very off because that’s McDonald’s jingle.

Well, a good SEO should have a plan in place to make sure the content they produce for your website (they are creating content, right) is congruent with your brand.

Aligning with your brand will be a challenge, especially in the beginning, and they should have a plan in place to minimize the growing pains.

According to Bop Design, 45% of a brand’s image is created by what you say and how you say it.

2: How Will The SEO Strategy Integrate My Brand

Picture this, you see a burger king commercial while watching your favorite show, and at the end of the commercial you hear “ba da ba ba ba I’m loving it.”

You’re going to instantly know that something is very off because that’s McDonald’s jingle.

Well, a good SEO should have a plan in place to make sure the content they produce for your website (they are creating content, right) is congruent with your brand.

Aligning with your brand will be a challenge, especially in the beginning, and they should have a plan in place to minimize the growing pains.

According to Bop Design, 45% of a brand’s image is created by what you say and how you say it.

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This isn’t a part of the strategy you want to gloss over.

Don’t have a brand? A good SEO should be able to iron out with you on the tone and feel of your content.

There’s no one right answer for a question like this. The important part is there’s a process to avoid going off-brand.

Our process is to generate topics based on Keyword research, propose the topics for approval, and finally request a call or voice recording of your perspective on the topics.

We then expand on our short conversation or recording to turn into a blog post. It later gets submitted to you for final approval before we let it fly.

3: What Are Your Success Metrics (Your SEO Should Be Asking)

If you’ve ever talked to an SEO and had a nickel for every time they mentioned “increased traffic,” then you’d be rich enough to retire.

Unless you’re running display ads, traffic is a vanity metric just like getting a bunch of young professionals visiting your website that’s meant for farmers only. That won’t do you any good.

That’s why your potential SEO should ASK YOU what your goals are.

SEO’s are borderline fortune tellers when it comes to keyword research, but your business is unique and has its own unique goals.

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To drive the point home, let’s dive into two examples.

If we’re doing SEO for mortgage brokers, then your success lives and dies on the number of qualified leads you can get. To do that, you’re going to have to get a lot of the right traffic.

By right traffic, we mean you want people who are looking for mortgage services finding you. Having people contacting you looking to rent somewhere to live won’t do a Mortgage broker much good.

Another example is if you’re an author preparing to release a book about sales.

Unless you’re writing the book for a specific niche, you’re going to want to attract everyone interested in improving their sales.

On your site, you’re going to want to have a strong call-to-action to sign up for the newsletter so that you can email blast everyone who showed interest in sales that your book is released.

Notice how one person needed leads to contact right away while the other captured leads to contact when the time was right?

On the surface, they both need leads, but their use for the leads is very different.

Although your SEO should be asking questions relating to your goals, it is wise to come into the interview with goals in mind.

Here are some ideas from Moz:

  1. Getting E-commerce sales
  2. Getting as much traffic as possible
  3. Creating a brand
  4. Reputation management
  5. Become an authority or influencer

My goal is to capture leads of potential clients for my SEO agency.

4: How Long Does It Take For SEO To Work

Remember the first time you went to the gym, and you left with a cover model physique, neither do I.

The analogy may sound silly, but in reality, it has a lot of similarities with SEO. Content Marketing and SEO are a long term play that can pay off big if you stick to it.

There is a huge list of factors that go into how fast your website can rank. Ahrefs did a great job of breaking it down.

You’ll see based on their study of 2 million random pages from their database that only 5.7% of website rank in the top 10.

Ask These 5 SEO Questions Before You Hire One 9

The more authoritative websites clearly show Google has a biased towards them, but…

When you look a bit deeper into the timing of their rankings, you’ll notice in the graph below that in the 180-day range (roughly 6 months), the lower authority websites managed to make it to the top 10.

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Although there many factors that go into how fast your website will rank in Google, a good rule of thumb is to expect to wait at least six months.

The timing also varies with industries and competition, so it will be a good idea to get a second opinion.

A red flag to avoid is an SEO that won’t provide you with an estimate.

I can promise you the SEO won’t hit it right on the nose, but they shouldn’t be too far off.

Being wrong is ok as long as they can show the progress being made, which brings us to the next point…

5: How Will You Report My Results

When you’re interviewing your potential SEO, it’s important to understand how they’re going to deliver reports.

Just as important as delivering reports, it’s important to understand how they provide it.

You can give me a book written in Japanese, and I wouldn’t be able to gain any value from it because I don’t speak or read Japanese.

You’re not an SEO, and if an SEO report were to hit your inbox right now, you wouldn’t understand it.

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Your SEO should interpret what the data means and what actions it will be driving the following month.

The first few months of these reports will be dense for you.

After month three, it will begin to be less dense, and the meetings will be more efficient.

The real value you’re trying to uncover here is transparency. Any SEO that is vague or cryptic is likely hiding something.

BONUS: What Do You Need From Me?

This is a bonus question for that isn’t intended to qualify your SEO but to ensure a smooth start.

Ask your SEO what they will need from you to get started. If their answer is your money, run for the hills.

Some items they’re likely to ask for, and you should be ok with is the following:

  • Raw files of logos, designs, and brand books to ensure they’re creating graphics congruent with your brand.
  • Access to Google analytics, search console, and Google My Business. Do not give them your password but provide them with access by following these instructions.
  • Access to the backend of your website or contact information of your developer.
  • Meetings dates to go over the Keyword research, content strategy, and topics.
  • Access to social media accounts to integrate them with your website and Google assets.

It’s important to note that you should not be giving them any of your personal login information.

In the first month or two, your SEO will likely be borderline annoying because they will be asking a lot of you. It’s required to do their job well.

Bear with them because once it’s ironed out, a good SEO can be treated like a rotisserie chicken, set it, but don’t forget it.

From there, you should be hearing from them about once a week or every two weeks with updates or questions.

Conclusion?

Hiring is hard, especially when you’ve never done the task yourself.

Knowing the right questions to ask is critical to cutting down the learning curve significantly.

You want to make sure you ask the following SEO questions and receive relative answers:

Q: What is your SEO philosophy
A: We handle the technical, offsite SEO, and user experience.

Q: How will your SEO strategy integrate my brand
A: Specific plan and process that handles this hurdle. Interviews and recordings is an example.

Q: Your SEO should ask what your goals are
A: You’re looking for them to ask you this question and help you establish them.

Q: How long does it take to see results from SEO
A: Generally, 6 months, but many factors could cause it to vary. It’s important to get a timeline, and it’s ok if they’re off as long as they can prove progress.

Q: How will you deliver my report
A: You’re looking for a regular schedule and willingness to walk you through the metrics. The report should also include the next steps to improve them.

Q: What do you need from me
A: They’re going to need details about your brand, access to your Google tools, social media, and lastly, a meeting date to review the strategy.

Are there any practical questions I may have missed that would be useful to ask an SEO? Let me know in the comments.

 

The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Optimization For Your Website for

The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Optimization For Your Website for

How addicted are we to our phones?

Well, for starters, recent research reveals that 50% of smartphone users check their mobile phones first thing in the morning. And another study showed that as of 2018, 52.2% of all global website traffic was generated via mobile devices.

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This is great news for your brand and website. Consumer love for mobile devices makes it easier for your prospective and current customers to access your website.

But if you want to make the most out of this global love for smartphone usage, you’ll need to optimize your content and website for mobile traffic.

Without optimization, you’ll be losing out on massive traffic. Google has stated severally that it wants to serve its users mobile-friendly websites.

This makes optimization a must, as not only will it help your SEO but it will also boost user experience on your site, which will ultimately reduce your bounce rate.

With that said, let’s see some quick definitions and then how you can optimize your website for mobile.

A Brief Description of Mobile-friendly

A mobile-friendly website simply means a site that appears well not just on personal computers but also on mobile phones. That means users can easily click the navigation elements and links on the website, and the text on each page is visible enough to be read.

“Mobile friendliness ensures that visitors can properly consume your site’s content when using mobile devices.”

To know if your site is mobile friendly you can use Google’s free mobile-friendly test tool, which will show you what aspects of your website you should optimize for adequate mobile compatibility.

To do this type in your site’s URL and hit run test

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View the results:

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or:

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Next, click on “page load issues” and scroll down for more details:

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A Short Definition of Responsive Design

You may have probably come across the term “responsive design”. It is generally used to mean a mobile-friendly design; however, that’s a misconception.

There are numerous ways to create mobile-optimized websites, and utilizing a responsive design is just one of them. Responsive designs simply adjust the content of a webpage to the

10 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Mobile

 

1. Improve Site Speed

Studies have shown that 53% of visitors will leave a website that takes over 3 seconds to load. That means you can lose more than half of your traffic if your webpage loads slowly.

Check out the visual below, the bounce rates rise as the page load time increases:

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To avoid this and try to keep your page loading time below 3 seconds, you can simplify your design by eliminating heavy images and unnecessary design elements. The first step, however, is to test your site’s mobile speed and Google has the best tool to help you with that, the mobile speed test tool.

All you’d need to do is type in your site’s URL and then click the arrow button:

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The tool will then scan your website and analyze how fast it loads on mobile devices:

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If you want more information, you can scroll down and see how well your site’s speed does against your competitors, and the number of seconds you could take off your loading times.

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Here are a few ways to optimize your site load performance based on the results of the mobile load test:

Use Caching: When you implement caching, most of your website files will be saved on each user’s device, which ensures your pages don’t have to be downloaded every time visitors access a new page.

Go with a Content Delivery Network (CDN): A CDN allows you to store copies of your files in a series of servers that are in different geographical locations instead of delivering them from a single central server. The effect of using a CDN is that your load time would be the same for all users regardless of their location, while cutting down on your bandwidth usage.

Compress Images: Most times large image files are behind slow loading times, so you’d want to reduce their size by compression. By compressing them, you can decrease image size without hampering on quality.

Minify Your Site’s Code: By optimizing your websites Javascript, CSS and HTML code you can shave off seconds from you load times.

2. Use Simple Menus

When designing your sites menu options, keep in mind that mobile screens are smaller than desktop or laptop screens. Your desktop website can have extensive menus with many options but on a smaller screen, such elaborate menus can complicate things.

You wouldn’t want your visitors to have to zoom in and out or scroll just to see the navigation options. It needs to fit into their screens.

Check out this example from shareaholic:

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That’s how the brand’s website menu looked before optimization. Navigation would be near impossible to the user, as they’ll have to zoom out to see their choices clearly or zoom in to see the menu properly.

If this is how your website appears on mobile devices your bounce rate would probably skyrocket and you’ll lose prospects.

Now look at the menu optimized for mobile:

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The brand was able to cut down the complexity of the previous menu to a simple menu option. The options fit properly on the screen and the user can easily navigate to their desired page.

Evaluate your website and optimize it’s menu options for mobile visitors. Also, except if you’re using the kind of sidebars in the image below:

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3. Use Short Forms

Check all the forms on your site for irrelevant lines. If you’re asking mobile users for too much information, it’ll hurt your conversion rates. Rather, ensure your forms are as concise as possible.

When desktop visitors are filling out forms on your website, long forms won’t be an issue, because they’re using larger screens and can navigate smoothly. But with tablets and smartphones, this won’t be the case.

For instance, if you have a form on your webpage asking visitors to subscribe to a newsletter, you don’t need lines on the form asking for their phone numbers and street address.

Forms for sales conversion should not include lines for irrelevant questions. Just ask for shipping and billing address. Data even shows that complex checkout processes initiate shopping cart abandonment:

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To avoid frustrated users hitting the back button, optimize your forms for mobile.

4. Have Clear Call to Actions

53% of websites use a call to action that takes users 3 seconds to identify. That’s way too much time.

For your mobile design to be effective, your call to action buttons needs to visible. Since mobile visitors are on smaller screens, you don’t want to overwhelm the user with numerous CTAs on the screen.

Whatever the primary goal of your landing page is, that’s what you should focus your CTA on. Are you gunning for new subscribers? Sale conversions? New downloads? or a boost in your social media following?

The exact goal is what your CTA should be about and has to be visible to the user in one or max two seconds.

5. Add a Search Bar

Remember the bit about menu optimization?

This relates to it.

If the desktop version of your website has a menu with many options, it may seem difficult to make it concise enough to fit into a single page on mobile devices. But it can be done, by including a search bar to the mobile version of your site.

Motivating users to search for their queries eliminates the need for you to depend on a complex menu. When you give visitors too many options, it could negatively affect your conversions because you’ll end up confusing them.

Take, for example, retail giant Amazon, they offer users more than 12 million products but don’t use complex menus because it’ll be impossible to display all those products on a single screen, so they use a search bar.

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Use a search bar to break down complex menus and boost user experience on mobile devices.

6. Resize

For desktop visitors, browsing through your website can easily be done by controlling the cursor with a keypad or mouse but for users on smartphone devices, navigating with their thumbs it isn’t as easy.

Screen size is something you must keep in mind when placing different elements for your mobile page. Icons need to be big enough, so visitors can tap them with their thumbs. Also, ensure you leave enough space between each icon or button so people don’t accidentally tap the wrong one.

The right placement of buttons on the screen will increase the quality user experience. You need to place clickable elements where their thumbs can quickly access as 75% of smartphone users tap the phone screens with their thumbs.

Here is an image that shows the right to place clickable buttons:

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Try to avoid placing them at the corners of the screen because it’ll be difficult for people to access those areas with their thumbs when holding a phone. The best place to put icons is close to the center of the screen.

 

 7. Use a Responsive Theme

 

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If you’re looking for a quick fix then changing your theme to a responsive one entirely will be an excellent option. For an established website, this may not be the best step but if you’re just getting started or still getting low traffic, then changing your theme to a responsive one is an easy solution.

If you use WordPress, you can easily change your theme by navigating to your WordPress dashboard and click on ‘themes’ under ‘appearance’ and then click ‘install themes’.

Type in responsive and search, the search results will show you all the responsive themes in the WordPress database, pick the one most relevant to your website and install it.

8. Get Rid of Pop-ups

Eliminate pop-ups on the mobile version of your site. Most web users do not like pop-ups, as they are annoying and negatively affect user experience. A major issue with pop-ups on smartphones and tablets is how hard they are to close.

Keep in mind that people would be clicking with their thumbs to tap a tiny “X” button to cancel a pop up on a small screen which can be frustrating.

Visitors may even end up clicking on the ad while trying to cancel it, which will take them to another landing page and ultimately make you lose potential leads.

Users may sometimes try to zoom in on the “X” to tap cancel but then the dimensions of the screen may not adjust properly, making for horrible user experience.

The best approach to handling pop-ups is to remove them altogether. Try out other methods to promote whatever it is your pop-up is showing users.

If you do decide to keep popups on your website then you need to do a lot of testing to ensure that mobile visitors can easily navigate away from it if they choose not to engage with it.

Other than eliminating popups from your mobile site, here are other alternatives to handling the popup problem for phone users:

 

  • Make them Simple: The first alternative is to simplify the popup form (assuming it’s an opt-in form) and ensure that it’s easy to cancel.

 

  • Only Use Onclick Popups: This is the best alternative solution of the two. The idea with this is that the popups come up only after the user clicks on a certain CTA. To achieve this you offer visitors a lead magnet and ask them to click it if they want to get it. Once they do, a pop-up will appear and request their details.
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Web users are a lot more receptive to these kinds of pop-ups because they asked for it.

9. Use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

 

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Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) was created by a collaborative effort of Google and other major brands to boost user experience for mobile users. These are still HTML/javascript pages but they load fast for mobile users, which is why Google encourages website owners to implement them.

AMP is a method for developing mobile-friendly versions of your website’s pages. It involves stripping down the site’s content and eliminating irrelevant media files and elaborate layouts. When users access your site with a mobile device these AMP versions will be served to them.

Is it compulsory that you make AMP?

There’s no definite answer because on one side it’ll help you attract new visitors and give your mobile visitors a great experience, but on the other, you’ll need to have two versions of your site.

If you’re using WordPress, it’s a lot easier because you can just install a plugin to enable it.

10. Don’t use Large Blocks of Text

While you’ll need to use words to effectively pass your message across to your visitors, try to keep them as concise as possible. Large text blocks can easily overwhelm the reader, and remember that if a paragraph is 4 lines long on your site’s desktop version, it could be 8 or 9 lines long a phone.

Focus on user comprehension and the ultimate goal of the page when creating your text to ensure users don’t have to stare at large chunks of text.

 

Conclusion

If you haven’t optimized your website for mobile users you’re missing out on a lot of traffic and potential leads.

You should properly optimize your website for smartphone and tablet visitors and to do this effectively you need to follow certain guidelines such as improving load speed, resizing images, enabling AMP pages and using a responsive theme, etc.

You must also keep in mind that people using mobile devices use their thumbs to tap on icons and buttons, so your placement needs to be where they can easily reach with their thumbs. Just follow the tips in this guide and you’ll effectively optimize your site for mobile.

If you have any experience or tip about mobile optimization, you’ll like to share with us comment below!

13 Small Business Search Engine Optimization Tips For 2019

13 Small Business Search Engine Optimization Tips For 2019

13 Small Business Search Engine Optimization Tips For 2019

As a small business owner, you know that that the top SEO tips can greatly impact your search rankings, but more importantly, your overall business in 2019 and beyond!

You begin to ask yourself, “Where do I start, who do I believe, and where will I find the time to learn this ‘wizardry?’”

You’re right to give SEO attention because it can increase your business, help to create a brand, and help take in warm leads who are 13% more likely to close than cold leads.

Now that you’re giving it attention and doing research, you might be overwhelmed with technical jargon and conflicting strategies.

On one end of the spectrum, you’ve heard that content is king and that once you start making a lot of content the backlinks will start rolling in like thrifty shoppers to a Black Friday sale.

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve likely read that content doesn’t matter and that you should focus on getting backlinks by any means necessary.

The two statements above are not wrong… but they’re also not completely accurate.

There’s a lot to explore in between those two ends of the spectrum; strategies that are pretty easy to implement and don’t require you to have hacker-like coding skills.

All the while this is happening, you have the added pressure of your competition outranking you in all the search terms you want to rank for.

This adds to the frustration because you can’t put your finger on what they’re doing differently from you and how they are getting the results.

You know they’re successful because of their SEO edge. Your business would progress to the next level if you could achieve their rankings.

First, relax. When you started your business, you didn’t do so in order to become an SEO expert.

You focused on perfecting your craft or creating a smooth operating business that helps those it serves but also adds to the bottom line.

What we are going to do today is go through the top 13 small business SEO tips that I have used for local clients, software clients, and mobile app companies.

We’ve spent years practicing, trialing, and tweaking our SEO practices so that you can get the success

without the heartache or the tears.

After implementing these you’re going to start getting more traffic, warm leads, and more importantly,

more paying customers from your higher rankings.

These tips are useful whether your industry is competitive or easy to compete in.

1. Start using Google Analytics

Let’s go driving with a blindfold on. Sound like a good idea?

You wouldn’t agree to do that, but if you’re not using analytics you’re driving your business with a blindfold.

There’s a reason why 6 million websites use it.

Analytics will help you determine if the efforts you make based on this post help your business or not. You wouldn’t know otherwise.

Analytics can provide a bunch of great insights into your business, like what’s working on your site and which pages are the worst-performing.

You can get this info pretty effortlessly in analytics by going to behavior in the left-hand menu, then content, and finally select exit pages.

2. Set Up Google Search Console

Google Search Console is like the heart monitor of your website’s health in the eyes of Google.

First, when you sign up, it will ask you to claim your website by placing HTML code on to your site or by logging into your hosting account.

You can gain a lot of information on your website… info that isn’t available on Analytics or anywhere else.

For example, you can check your site’s HTML to figure out what is slowing things down on your site.

Backlinko found that the faster your site, the more successful it is.

 

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Another great feature of Google Search Console is the rich snippet tool.

We will discuss this later, but in a nutshell, it helps search engines understand the information your website is presenting.

Lastly, you can figure out what users are searching the most in order to land on your website.

You’re not going to get this information anywhere else in the world and this data is worth gold to you.

Now you know exactly what kind of content to produce to bring in new traffic. Or if you’re not getting leads, you know what topics are not converting.

3. Run An On-Site SEO Audit

It’s embarrassing when you’re out and you have a piece of food in your teeth or you’re caught with your fly open.

Aside from the momentary blushing caused by the person helping you, overall you’re happy they decided to say something instead of allowing you to walk around like that.

An onsite SEO audit is a bit like that, except this time you and most of the people on the internet are walking around with their metaphorical fly open or food in their teeth.

We’ve seen plenty and carried out plenty of onsite SEO audits, and trust us when we say you’re not the only person with this problem.

SEO Audit

We could talk about this more in-depth (and we probably will in a later post) but we will give you three of the basics right now.

Make sure you only have only one H1 or title tag per page.

Bonus Tip: The closer your keyword is to the beginning of the title the better. If you need help with keyword research, Mangools has a great keyword research guide.

The title tag tells Google what the page they’re crawling is about, so having more than one would likely confuse them.

Spend time on your meta tags title and description to encourage clicks!

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When you take the time and put thought into your meta, you reap a lot of benefits.

The main benefit is you can signal to the searcher that you understand what they’re looking for because of the words in bold in the description, and which encourage clicks.

Lastly, check for broken links.

If your site was a railroad, and Google spiders (also known as crawlers) were the train, then a link on your site represents a connection to a new track.

If you have a broken link on your site, the crawler stops in its tracks because it does not know where to go from there.

This is especially bad if the link is an internal link.

4. Set-up your Google My Business account (GMB)

If you run a local business or service that is area-specific, this tip is non-negotiable.

Moz asked 113 expert SEOs what ranking factor was most important for local businesses, and 19.01% ranked Google My Business (GMB) as the most important factor for local business.

Google also confirms this expert opinion by letting us in on the fact that 76% of local searches via mobile visit the business within a day.

When a searcher is nearby, looking for a solution or a business that fits their needs, the map listings will be the first screen you see.

Local Business Search

You may need to create or claim your listing in Google My Business, but that’s a straightforward guided process.

What is worth noting is that you do not want to rush through the process.

Take the time to use the 750 characters allotted to describe your business and why it’s different.

This is not a place to keyword stuff, to be spammy, or abuse with the caps lock on.

Make sure that the category you pick is not misleading, and be honest about the area you cover, because it may create leads you have no intention of serving or paying a visit to.

Lastly, you need to make sure you…

5. Have A Consistent Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP)

Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) consistency is tedious but important.

“Why is it tedious, Joe?” you might ask.

Well, I’m glad you asked me that. It’s tedious because you need to make sure that wherever your website is listed, it is listed consistently, right down to the punctuation.

It won’t kill you but would be considered inconsistent if you listed your address three different ways:

  • 123 fake st.
  • 123 fake st
  • 123 fake street

Google won’t know if you have three different addresses or if it’s three different businesses; it could impact your rankings.

Pretty petty, I know…

If you’re not using a service like BrightLocal or Moz to push your address out to other directories, your best bet is to use a template to capture how you want your address to look.

Then you can go to each directory to copy and paste the identical business name, address, and phone number.

It’s important because it will help send signals to Google about your location, and help you capture the 76% of people who are searching for businesses like yours in the area.

A best practice would be to do your GMB Name, Address and Phone number first.

Before you submit, copy it and paste into a spreadsheet like this one, so when you go to create other listings you can easily copy and paste.

 

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6. Utilize Schema On Your Website

Schema (semantic vocabulary), also known as rich snippets, takes what you are saying and gives it meaning for search engines.

Without getting too technical, what you’re really doing is adding microdata to the HTML of your website.

Here’s an example in action for the search “steps to starting a business.”

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Here’s what happens, any time you include the words steps, top, list, or any other synonym that signals to Google you’re looking for a list.

Google then attempts to make the user experience better by showing you the answer without leaving the search.

Now that you’re an expert, here’s the simplest way to capitalize on schema as a small business.

First, locate that template you created when making your GMB profile.  

Now you can copy and paste your NAP into your footer and in various places on your website.

Then follow these steps through Google Search Console and add the code to your site.

An alternative way to create structured data is to use a tool that creates the schema code for you to paste into your site’s code also.

Whatever route you choose, always be sure to test it with the structured data test tool.

7. Submit Your Listing To Other Directories

You’ve got your GMB set up and have copied all the NAP from it.

You’ve listed your business address using schema on your website using the identical NAP.

Now it’s time to go out onto the internet and spread your NAP-like Johnny Appleseed.

You don’t have to look for every directory known to man, but according to Moz there are a few that apply to pretty much every business:

  • Acxiom
  • Apple Maps
  • Bing
  • Citygrid
  • Facebook
  • Factual
  • Foursquare
  • Infogroup/ExpressUpdate
  • Localeze
  • Superpages
  • Yellow Pages
  • Yelp

Just remember that you have to keep up with these accounts to ensure they’re accurate and to respond to reviews.

8. Spy On Your Competition

Want to run the competition out of town?

Great! All you have to do is play their game… but better.

You can use tools like Ahref or SEMRush to figure out what your key competitors are doing (if they are doing anything).

They both have limited free use, but for your purposes, you should be able to get enough information out of them to figure out:

Who’s linking to them the most—if someone is linking to your competitor, they’re likely to link to you, and; What kind of content they’re producing and which is getting the most traffic.

You’ll know the hot topics to write about and you can go to your competitor’s linkers to show them the better content you made that is more in-depth and personal.

Lastly, you can see what Adwords your competition is running so you can create content around those words to show up organically under their paid ad.  

It may take a little time to get indexed but when you do, searchers will trust your listing more than a paid ad.

The logic behind this is that you didn’t have to pay Google to get listed, and Google has a good track record of listing the best resources, so searchers trust your organic listing more.

9. Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly

You’re on vacation and start to feel the precursors of being hangry (hungry + angry). What do you do?

Go back to your hotel room to turn on a desktop to search for a restaurant? Or do you take out your smartphone to do a quick search of the area?

If you’re anyone who isn’t stuck in 2006, you’re pulling out your phone and doing a quick search for “tacos near me”.

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You’re not the only person who would have chose the smartphone route, either.

In 2016, mobile traffic outpaced desktop traffic 53% to 47%, a fair split.

In 2017 the scales tipped more towards mobile traffic, showing a 10% swing with a split of 63% to desktop’s 37% share.

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You have to promise yourself not to make the common mistake of focusing only on your desktop version of your website, but also to make sure your website is responsive for mobile devices.

Since mobile devices are often running on 3‒4g broadband, it’s more important than ever to optimize your load speeds by:

You can check the speed of your site by using Google’s official tool, or if you prefer a slightly more straightforward insight, use Pingdom.

10. Get Reviews To Your Google My Business Page

We millennials have a saying: “Pics, or it didn’t happen.”

Your customers have a similar standpoint: reviews or you don’t have any happy customers.

They’re not literally saying that, but before a visit to a business, 90% of searchers read reviews first.

There’s also the psychology of having your star rating next to your business name, along with real reviews.

Studies have shown that customers are willing to spend 31% more money at businesses which have stellar reviews.

Here’s the best way to a lot of honest reviews from past customers.

First, create a review URL by doing the following steps:

  1. Go to Google Places API
  2. Enter the name of your business
  3. Give your business name a click
  4. Your Google Business ID is underneath your name

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Now take this URL and add your place ID:

https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=you_id_here

This causes the page to open like this:

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[Optional Step] If you want to track what mediums are getting you the most leads, use a service like Bitly to track clicks.

Armed with this URL, you can now email customers asking for reviews. Make it part of the checkout process, or place it in your social media profiles.

11. Secure Your website—Correctly

I’ve covered this already in pretty good detail: why you should have a secure website.

Having a secure certificate is now a ranking factor that Google openly admitted to.

Instead of going into depth again about this topic, let’s go over the most common mistake (other than not having it)..

If done improperly, your whole site won’t have the SSL certificate. That can create a situation where you appear to have duplicate content, which will hurt your rankings. 

There are a lot of other accidental duplicate content scenarios, but the easiest fix of them all is the SSL certificate.

If you have just implemented an SSL certificate and you’re using WordPress, it could be as easy as installing the Easy HTTPS Redirect WordPress plugin.

12. Clean Your URLs

You’re casually searching the web and you come across a web URL that looks like this:

“www.somesrandomsite.com/blog/adlkje94sn?=al;iue34asdfhj332a32”

Are you able to guess what the topic of that page is?

Neither can Google, and that will impact your rankings on search engines in general.

The general rule of thumb is that a user (and Google) should be able to guess what your page is about based on the URL.

Matt Cutts, former head of the webspam team at Google, suggests that your URL tail be 3‒5 words or you risk losing weight to those words.

The title of this post is “13 Small Business Search Engine Optimization Tips For 2019”.

By default, WordPress will generate the URL:

/13-Small-Business-Search-Engine-Optimization-Tips-For-2018

But I modified it to read like this

/13-Business-SEO-Tips-2019

Here’s how to change this default option on your site if you’re running WordPress.

When you log into your backend, hover your mouse over the settings tab on the left and click on permalinks on the menu that appears.

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On the next page I like to select the post name option because if I forget to change the URL, the title of the post will have me covered, with a URL the represents what’s on the page.

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Now when you’re posting a new blog post, click the edit button and change the post URL to whatever you want.

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Just don’t use any special characters or underscores.

13. Use Internal Linking

Internal links are the links you use to get users from one place on your website to another.

If you go to tip 11, you notice me referencing one of my old blog posts that connects the user (and Google) to that post.

Why is this important?

It’s important because you’re helping Google to learn the structure of your website, and you’re also passing value from one post to another.

Let’s say you’re in the dental industry. You write a great how-to, step by step guide on how to take care of your teeth after cosmetic dentistry work.

The page gets wildly popular and tons of people link to it.

You’ve linked to your cosmetic dentistry sales page from your post with the anchor text “cosmetic dentistry”.

Here are some of the amazing things that are happening in the background.

The post is getting linked to a lot of backlinks, which communicates to Google “I’m an awesome page”.

While that is being communicated, that “awesome” page is linking to your sales page on your site passing along the “link juice”.

Link juice is an old SEO term that means it would pass some of the page’s value to the pages it linked to internally.

This allows Google to easily crawl your site and easily determine what the page is about, using the anchor text.

Action Steps:

  1. Go to each step and implement one at a time
  2. Measure the results they drove on a weekly/monthly basis
  3. Adjust and tweak because SEO is an ongoing process of learning

Conclusion

There are a lot of facets to SEO to wrap your head around.

With algorithm changes happening daily,  new approaches, conflicting data, and tools being created, it’s easy to see why you probably don’t know where to get started.

Just thinking about it makes me go a little cross-eyed.

A good start is to go over what we covered:

  1. Start by using Google Analytics to make sure your efforts are positively impacting your site.
  2. Get set up in Google Search Console to get the data you can’t get anywhere else.
  3. Run an onsite SEO audit to see where your metaphorical fly is open.
  4. Set up your Google My Business account to get into the local map pack in searches.
  5. Have a consistent NAP based on your Google My Business profile.
  6. Use schema on your website to tell search engines what your information means.
  7. Submit your NAP to the core directory listings on the internet.
  8. Spy on your competition using Ahrefs and/or SEMRush.
  9. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly and loads fast for mobile devices.
  10. Drive reviews to your Google My Business profile to increase the amount people are willing to spend at your business.
  11. Get an SSL certificate for your website and make sure it’s implemented properly to avoid duplicate content.
  12. Clean up your URLs so that they are clear and concise.
  13. Use internal links for your website to pass “link juice” to your other pages and help Google crawl your website.

These may seem simple, but the tips will have a cumulative effect and lead to great rankings and more traffic.

What SEO tips have you used to increase the rankings of a smaller businesses?

8 Mistakes I’ve Made As An SEO [And How To Avoid Them]

8 Mistakes I’ve Made As An SEO [And How To Avoid Them]

8 Mistakes I’ve Made As An SEO [And How To Avoid Them]

We’ve all heard “a wise person learns from their mistakes, while a wiser person learns from the mistakes of others.”

Today I’m hoping that I can make you wiser about SEO by learning from my mistakes.

When I first got into SEO it was because I was looking to promote my iPhone app and was looking to spread the word about it.

I was probably a lot like you, trying to figure out how to use Google to get in front of my ideal customer to create awareness around your business.

If you’re starting from ground zero, you probably can’t tell good information from bad information. It’s not something to be embarrassed about because we all started somewhere when learning a new skill. To be honest it happened to me.

In this article, we are going to try to help you prevent the hardships of being de-indexed by Google or spending a bunch of money with “experts” who don’t get results.

We know that ranking well in Google could take your business to the next level with warm leads who are looking for your products and services. Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do.

These mistakes can be bad but the good news is they are very easy to avoid.

Learning From The Wrong People

 

We touched a little bit on getting malicious and misinformed SEO advice. Avoiding misinformed advice is simple, don’t take advice from people who don’t practice SEO consistently or aren’t in the industry.

To put what I said into perspective, who would you take money advice from, Warren buffet or your uncle Larry who’s living paycheck to paycheck? I trust you know the right answer.

The malicious advice is much harder to avoid because sometimes this advice is spread by “experts” who can show you results and are running their own agency.

This is the trap I fell into when I first got started to learn SEO. You’ll notice that a lot of the early mistakes I made in my career were rooted in this simple mistake.

I don’t want to burden you too much around this because the next three mistakes I talk about later were all learned from these band of characters who taught hundreds of people (maybe thousands) of people these outright unethical tactics.

I put a lot of thought into whether I should mention their names or not and ultimately I decided it’s best I don’t give them any more publicity than they already have.

To help you avoid learning from these band of characters, I will give you the tools to avoid them and provide you with good sources information.

A way to weed out malicious “experts” is to ask yourself the following questions:

Is this person promising instant results?

Do they mention the word shortcut or fastest way to do SEO?

Do they focus only on keywords and promise number one ranking?

Do they oversell the ease of their methods?

Are they teaching an “advance” tactic that very few know about?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions then you’re likely dealing with someone who is selling you snake oil that will likely work in the short term and sink you in the long-term. If it were this easy everyone would be an expert SEO.

The general rule of “if it’s too good to be true then it is” holds true here.

Below is a list of amazing people to learn from but before I introduce you to them, I want you to notice that all of these sources give an abundance of free information that you could use. The snake oil salesmen aren’t willing to do that.

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Brian Dean – Brian from Backlinko is a great resource for those looking to learn how to build backlinks in a safe and organic way.

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Neil Patel (doesn’t always look this serious, sorry Neil) – This is a person I personally invested money into to learn about content marketing and SEO. Neil has a way of simplifying complex topics and making it actionable. He focuses on the broader topic of digital marketing.

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Search engine land – Want to keep up on Google algorithm changes and SEO news? Search Engine Land is usually always first to break the news and how it could impact your website.

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MOZ – Great local SEO resource that will help local businesses navigate SEO if you’re a brick and mortar store looking to get more foot and website traffic.

I’ve spent years reading their articles and implementing their advice for years. The basics rarely change (they evolve) and all four of these resources always keep the basics in mind.

You might go to their websites and feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information (I was) available. You can sign up to get a free SEO checklist that will give you the basics in an organized manner.

Looking For Shortcuts

 

When I first started to learn SEO for myself and my web design agency, I wanted to learn how to show up in Google for searches relating to web design.

I was hungry to get results but not hungry to do the work required to get those results. So I took shortcuts taught to me by the snake oil salesmen under the guise of “everybody” is doing it.

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I am here to tell you that everyone who won’t be around for long is doing it. As a matter of fact, a lot of these people are no longer teaching SEO.

First thing I learned from them (and later unlearned) was how to create a personal blog network (PBN).

A PBN is a network of websites that were purchased for the sole purpose of linking to your business website.

I would go out and purchase expired domains who have a history of being indexed by Google only to rebuild them to blog on them. On this blog, I would create content around the web design topic and shamelessly link back to my business.

The results came but they didn’t last long because it didn’t take long for Google to figure out what I was doing and tank my website. Most SEO’s won’t admit they made this mistake but if I never talk about it then you won’t have the chance to learn from it.

Another malicious tactic taught was to go to “link farms” and pay them to put your link on their website. A link farm is a website that has a bunch of links on their site and charges others to place their link on the site.

Why is this really bad for your website you might ask? That’s because one you’re usually charged a lot for link placement and you can’t control where or how your link is placed.

If you’re a dentist who is trying to generate more relevant traffic, it’s not a good idea have your link in a place around spammy links that have to do with prescription drugs, cheap designer stuff, and etc.

Although I never practiced this, it’s important to know it’s wrong.

Now we know how not to get links, let’s talk about how to get them.

The right way to get backlinks is to create great content that is helpful, establishing relationships with people who visit your site and influencers who relate to your niche.

Once you’ve established a relationship with these people you can ask them to link or share your content.

I know this may seem very time intensive (it is) between doing research and reaching out to these influencers or related sites but you automate the outreach if you use a tool like Mailshake.

Mailshake will mass send emails for you and has a lot of great pre-loaded templates to help cut down on emailing for relationship building.

mailshake

Expecting Instant Results

 

Another poor habit I learned was expecting results to happen overnight. I think this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make because it really hurt my drive.

I would try something and not see results right away. The next thing I would do is get discouraged by the lack of results and walk away from SEO only to pick it back up after a few months.

This is a lot like doing one workout and then quitting because you don’t have six-pack abs immediately after.

What I needed to learn was that SEO isn’t an event but a process which means that you need to put in consistent effort day in and day out.

Understand that SEO success can take 6-months to appear and sometimes longer. You wouldn’t plant a sunflower seed and expect a fully bloomed flower the next day.

In the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, he talks about how making 1% improvements daily is what separates the best in the world from the wannabes of the world.

 

Not Tracking My Results

 

When I first started doing SEO all I would track is my search rankings and nothing else. Now I give myself credit for tracking something because it’s better than nothing. But that ’s not good enough.

I was working on wrong assumptions that lead me to chase down tactics and topics that weren’t adding value to my visitors and that means it wasn’t adding value to my business.

To understand if you’re getting 1% better every day you need to be able to track your progress and look at the right metrics then improve them.

Google provides plenty of free tools to get started. Learn how to use Google Analytics and while you’re at it learn how to set goals for your website.

Goals is a very important part of analytics because it puts meaning behind your rankings and traffic. A Google Analytic goal is the last part of the basic analytics triangle of knowing what works.

Google Analytics Triangle

To put it in perspective, You’re the top rank for both the terms “ice cream” and “ice cream shop Troy, Mi”. The short tail word shows 10,000 monthly visitors while the long tail term shows 1,000 monthly visitors.

If you’re able to have 1% of the visitors from the short tail word do a measurable action but 25% of the longtail word, then you know not to waste your time with such broad terms.

 

Being Selfish With My Content

 

I use to view content as a commodity that was a medium to introduce keywords onto my website and nothing else.

I would commonly practice writing on a subject just to signal that my website was relevant to a certain topic and nothing else. This was a really crappy strategy because it made my job a lot harder than it needed to be.

Since my content sucked, it made it extremely difficult to get other sites and influencers to share my content because they do not want to feed crap to their base.

Because my content did not serve my visitors and only myself, it made my site have a terrible bounce rate. Someone would visit my website and instantly not find what they were looking for and leave… that’s not good.

When I did create good content it was usually salesy which also added to my bounce rate because even though we would all love that every visitor is ready to buy, they’re not.

To avoid these woes make sure to focus on the informative content and not just the quantity.

The likelihood of creating evergreen content goes up dramatically when you focus on the quality because your visitors are likely to share your content with people just like them.

Since evergreen content lives forever, it’s more powerful than advertising because it takes minimal work to generate ROI on it whereas ads stop when you stop paying.

Not Doing Proper Keyword Research

Doing keyword research properly is pivotal to doing SEO that gives you an ROI.

When first starting my SEO the extent of my keyword research would start and end at Google keyword planner. From there I would search random terms and make guesses on what to target.

I would usually do this based on volume and my uneducated opinion of what I thought was being searched for.

I would also look at the volume and think “yeah that is worth going after.” Just because a term has a large estimated volume doesn’t mean it’s a good phrase to go after because of competition, relevancy, and many other factors.

That’s like playing the game Guess Who and trying to pick the right person before your first turn. It’s not a good strategy for that game and it isn’t for SEO either.

There is no definitive answer to help you know exact words you need to target but there are ways to make sure your guess is more educated.

You want to use multiple tools to help gather more market insight. Using tools like Google Trends, competitor analysis, and customer personal profile will help you push in the right direction.

Using some of the tools I mentioned above will help you target long tail keywords which are less competitive and usually more profitable. Long tail keywords are usually what your searchers intent is and not just a general phrase or term.

If you want a good overview of keyword research then have a look at what SEO PowerSuite has shared.

 

Ignoring Meta Descriptions

 

I use to think that once I posted my content I was done and didn’t have to worry about it after. This is a very common mistake people make and I was part of the crowd.

Remember when I said that I use to only check rankings and no other metric. I was finding that when I did start to get good rankings, my traffic didn’t improve as much as I thought it would. What gives?

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was being out clicked by others who were spending more time on their metadata. Metadata is the title of your listing and the short description shown under it.

If you are going to get serious about your SEO then you need to start getting serious about your metadata. Not because it’s going to help you improve your rankings but it’s going to help you receive more clicks for the rankings you do have.

In general, you want to accomplish a few things with your metadata. First, you want to make sure your title relates to the search it is showing up for.

Second, you want to put a short summary of what the searcher is going to learn but be careful not to be misleading. If you can naturally fit keywords in the description you will stick out more than those who don’t because the keywords will be bolded.

meta example

There is a lot more that goes into crafting great meta descriptions and if you’re interested in learning more about it check out what Frank Isca has to say about it.

 

Summary

 

Learning SEO doesn’t have to be a mystery and shouldn’t create frustration or bruise your confidence in SEO.

Hopefully learning from my mistakes will help you avoid the stupid mistakes I made when first learning to do SEO.

As long as you make sure that you:

  1. Learn from the right people
  2. Don’t look for shortcuts
  3. Only practice white hat SEO
  4. Allow for results to bloom
  5. Do proper customer research
  6. Create quality content
  7. Put user experience at the forefront of your strategy
  8. Craft mindful meta descriptions

There is no reason why you shouldn’t be successful in search engines and attracting relevant traffic to your website.

What SEO mistakes have you made and how did you fix them?

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