4 Biggest SEO Mistakes

Avoid these errors to win at search
Stephen Heitz, Chief Innovation Officer

Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re not ranking high in searches. You’re in good company. Most companies are challenged with winning meaningful keyword searches, as well as generating and converting leads.

Let’s commiserate. We’ll all feel better. Here are the four biggest search mistakes you’re probably making.

1. You’re measuring the wrong thing

Most companies are hyper-focused on winning the keyword ranking war. They want to see their content and company website high on page one of search results. But that’s a mistake.

There’s nothing wrong with appearing high on a Google search. It’s important to do so. But as a key performance indicator (KPI), you’re missing the boat. Landing an above-the-fold spot on Google means only that. You’re there. That’s good, yes, but so what. Is that what will drive your business? 

Here are things you should be measuring instead:

  • Visits—quantity and quality—to your content and website
  • Leads generated and converted
  • Increased foot traffic and revenue traced directly from search

In other words, measure what matters most—the activity and dollars that will help you grow.

When you’re ready to take the next step, dive deeper with LAVIDGE’s proprietary Visibility Impact Index™, a proprietary analytics method that can help maximize organic traffic by truly understanding the conversion potential of selected keyword phrases.

For example, the Visibility Impact Index can reveal that although you might be ranking #1 on Google for a specific keyword, it may not receive a high volume of searches and, therefore, is unlikely to provide significant lift and impact for you.

2. You’re competing with yourself

If you must blame someone for poor search results, you might want to look in the mirror. You won’t be the first person to have had the (terrible) idea to establish several different websites that feature the same content. Or you might run a company that allows your many franchisees to create and promote their own websites. Either way, the result is that you’re competing with yourself.

Multiple websites for the same company, even if they promote different locations, will work against you. Customers will be confused. And search engines, which are also puzzled, might think you’re trying to pull a fast one and are likely to penalize you by ranking your company lower. Search engine ranking is all about popularity. It’s much better to have one great, content-rich website than several domains.

If you operate a company with many locations, you’d be smart not to allow them to create and host their own websites. Consumers won’t know which represents your company correctly. A single website helps prevent brand dilution and makes sure search engines won’t ding you for duplicate language.

3. You’re not investing in local content creation

Consumers need a reason to visit your website. Along with your business hours and address, customers are looking for additional information. They want to know what you do and how you do it. They need reasons to patronize you and have confidence in your products and services. More and more, consumers expect to find useful articles that present you as an authority in your industry. And if they visit more than once, they want to discover something new. If consumers are impressed and have confidence in what they see on your website, there’s a good chance they’ll patronize you and tell their friends.

Google (or Bing and Yahoo) operate much the same way. Fresh and relevant content on your website tells search engines that you are an authority in your industry, and that you’re real. You provide great service. You have awesome products. It seems clear that your company is exactly what people are searching for. Google responds with telling its “friends” by ranking you high.

If your business is a fitness club, your content should work to establish you as an expert in exercise machines, cardio workouts and strength training. Provide tips on how to track your exercise with wearables. Present reviews of the latest in fitness apparel. Help your customers learn how to modify their fitness regimens as the seasons change.

Hire a copywriter who is knowledgeable about your industry and who understands how to write content optimized for search.

4. You’re not getting reviewed or listed

Search engines look for user-generated reviews because they are (hopefully) authentic. A review is independent—someone other than you saying how great you are. Google’s algorithm places a premium on reviews. When a customer gives you five stars and says, “The best vitamin and supplement store,” Google may rank you high when someone searches for nutritionals.

If your site doesn’t allow for reviews, then you should get started. There are several software providers that can provide review tools, such as Grade.us, which will survey customers and ask for reviews.

You’re missing out if you haven’t taken advantage of getting listed on the many free online directories in the communities where your business resides. This is mostly free, so this is a no-brainer. Getting listed sends a message to Google: You’re a real company and others think highly enough of you to include you in their directory. It’s true that this can take some effort, but it’s worth it.

9 motivating SEO stats 

Courtesy of Hubspot, here’s a look at how consumers are searching for brand information.

  • 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases.

  • 44% of people go directly to Amazon to start their product searches, compared to 34% who use search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo to search for products.

  • 72% of consumers who conducted a local search visited a store within five miles.

  • 30% of mobile searches are related to a location.

  • 51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product when conducting a search on their smartphone.

  • 78% of local mobile searches result in offline purchases.

  • 50% of search queries are four words or longer.

  • 60% of smartphone users who use voice search (such as Siri) have begun using it within the past year.

  • 65% of smartphone users agree that when conducting a search on their smartphones, they look for the most relevant information regardless of the company providing the information.

(Source: Hubspot, Retailing Today, Marketing Land, WordStream, Google, Search Engine Land)

 

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