3 Biggest SEO Mistakes You Can Make in 2017 – 2018

With somewhere around 500 algorithm changes per year, and much of Google’s algorithm driven by AI, it’s easy to see why you could make SEO mistakes.

You don’t have to worry about having 1000 lines of code in your website, mistakenly forgetting a semicolon somewhere, and having your rankings trashed as a result. Google’s got some common sense.

At the same time, you can still make mistakes in SEO.

And here’s the biggest ones you can make, which can absolutely ruin your rankings if you don’t change your approach:

  1. Shifting Your Focus from Delivering the Most Value to Technical SEO Only

Technical SEO is necessary to rank well. You can’t succeed without it. However, even more important is your ability to deliver the best value in your niche.

Let’s say you offer HVAC services in DFW. Then, your blog should offer the most in-depth solutions to common consumer HVAC questions. You should be better than any other blog available, or at least aiming to do that.

Why?

More value means you attract more attention. That means you get more links and social shares, without necessarily having to work for each one.

It’s easy to dupe yourself into focusing too much on technical SEO. Just like any other aspect of your business, there’s a psychological mindset to it. And it’s one you have to constantly check yourself on so you stay on-course.

  1. Ignoring User Experience

What do people think and feel as they use your website?

That’s “user experience.” Of course, you want them to be happy and to get what they want quickly.

…But many websites, especially at the SMB level, don’t do this well. Some even have outdated designs that cause consumers to wonder if the company is even in business anymore.

Others focus too much on what the company does (versus why you should choose that company). Slow load times, awkward checkout experiences, and disruptive, irritating pop-ups and advertising drive your visitors nuts!

Google takes into account user experience metrics when ranking your site. Factors like bounce rate, on-page time, page load time, and many, many more assist in determining where you rank.

You can use these 14 tools to help with user experience testing. You can also just ask friends and family members to use your website and give you their honest opinion of what they like most, and least.

  1. Forgetting content Promotion

If you want serious links, you have to write amazing content and promote it. Gone are the days when you could simply create content, let it index in search, and do no more. That worked several years ago before most niches became saturated.

It’s absolutely possible to write the best content in your niche…and not have it do you any good in search because no one knows about it.

2017-2017 SEO is Simple, But It’s Not Easy

SEO isn’t hard to understand or do. But it’s a lot of good ol’ fashioned hard work. It takes a small team to do well locally, and a much larger one to rank nationally.

Keep these 3 top mistakes in mind…and ask how the SEO companies you’re talking to address each as you chat with them.

Top 3 Tips for Companies Brand New to SEO

Just starting your venture into ranking in online search?

Don’t worry! You’re not as far behind as you might fear, even though some companies have been working on their search presence for 10 years.

You can compete with anyone. You just have to know where to spend your time so you get the best results from your efforts.

Here’s what you can do to make yourself competitive in search, even if you’ve only just started, and perhaps don’t even know a ton about SEO yet:

  1. Take Your SEO Efforts Offline

What? Offline? Isn’t SEO online only?

Yes.

But let me explain a little more.

If you have industry connections and can sponsor an event or become a speaker, take full advantage of it. It can boost your SEO too.

If you’re going to speak at a local Chamber of Commerce event, make sure you get a link on their website. That’s a potent link right there. And, other SMBs or reputable websites may link to you as well.

Whenever you participate in an offline event, consider how you can work your real-world relationships to boost your SEO.

  1. Prepare for Constant Change and Challenges

Google cares first and foremost about offering searchers an amazing search experience. They want to deliver the results searchers demand.

If they falter in doing this, they risk their market-leading position (and billions of dollars).

So, Google has a couple choices:

  1. Stay the same, and risk a competitor overtaking them
  2. Constantly change and update their algorithm to improve the results searchers get

Right now, they focus on the latter.

For you, that means you’ll continue to experience frequent changes. You’ll have the challenge of keeping up.

Understand it’s simply the reality. Will Google make dramatic changes? Perhaps. But, most of those may already be done. Regardless, they’ll continue to adapt and improve to some extent.

You’ll have to spend time learning, or working with your SEO in staying on top of what’s happening.

  1. Understand SEO Works Differently in Various Contexts

No two websites are the same. You may read about a SEO technique that sent rankings and traffic sky-high at one website.

Then, you may try exactly the same with yours, only to find you fall flat. It does happen.

SEO has so many factors and variable in play at one time, that you have to know your own website and what you can do to improve.

If you have an old website (10 years+), you may have a much easier time ranking than others. It may take you just a few months what takes most websites a year or more to accomplish.

And the reverse could be true too.

Look, SEO isn’t easy. It requires patience, diligence, and hard work over a long time (usually at least a year). So hopefully these tips help you understand how it works and how you can improve the results you get from it.

Is Google’s HTTPS Requirement Providing A Search Rankings Boost?

Google first incorporated your site’s usage of HTTPS way back in 2014. In 2017, they became more forceful and began requiring it.

Their intent has been good. HTTPS, after all, uses an encrypted connection to transfer data between your computer and the website you want to visit. Anything that makes the web more secure and more difficult for the bad guys is a good thing.

It’s not 100% bulletproof. But it’s another step that throws a wrench into the plans of cyber thieves.

So, it’s a good step.

Now, the real questions need answers:

  • Has this made any difference?
  • Do websites using HTTPS see the promised rankings boosts?

Let’s find out.

Does HTTPS Make Any Real Difference to Your Search Rankings?

SEO thought leader Brian Dean, with likely the largest subscriber list of SEO-interested folks online, did a study to learn the difference HTTPS actually makes to your search rankings.

His team found “HTTPS had a reasonably strong correlation” with rankings on page one.

So in this case, Google followed through on its promise.

However, it’s important to note that HTTPS isn’t a cure for poor search rankings. It’s not going to lift you from obscurity to page 1 by itself. The general consensus is that it gives you that extra nudge to beat your competition, assuming everything else is equal.

And How Many Sites Have Actually Adopted HTTPS?

Surprisingly, it appears not too many.

AHREFS, which makes a popular (and good) SEO analysis tool, did their own study to better understand HTTPS adoption. To get their data, they analyzed the 10,000 most popular websites.

They found:

  • Just 10% of websites have a “flawless HTTPS setup”
  • Only 35% of websites use HTTPS
  • 60% have no HTTPS at all
  • 5% have HTTPS, but with significant errors in the setup

By the way, you can read the whole study here.

Setting up HTTPS is not overly complex. But it can cost a noticeable amount of time and money.

For these larger websites, the costs wouldn’t have been prohibitive. But they would be inconvenient.

Smaller and local businesses might take issue with the cost of implementing HTTPS.

Should You Implement HTTPS?

If you haven’t already, you should do it as soon as you can. Google’s confirmed it as a genuine ranking signal.

Research supports their claim.

HTTPS is not astronomically expensive. And much of your competition doesn’t do it.

So why not give your users a more secure experience, dramatically reduce their risk of private data theft, and help them feel more confident in your website, and company as a whole?

With HTTPS, the sooner, the better.

Top 3 Tips for Companies Brand New to SEO

Just starting your venture into ranking in online search?

Don’t worry! You’re not as far behind as you might fear, even though some companies have been working on their search presence for 10 years.

You can compete with anyone. You just have to know where to spend your time so you get the best results from your efforts.

Here’s what you can do to make yourself competitive in search, even if you’ve only just started, and perhaps don’t even know a ton about SEO yet:

  1. Take Your SEO Efforts Offline

What? Offline? Isn’t SEO online only?

Yes.

But let me explain a little more.

If you have industry connections and can sponsor an event or become a speaker, take full advantage of it. It can boost your SEO too.

If you’re going to speak at a local Chamber of Commerce event, make sure you get a link on their website. That’s a potent link right there. And, other SMBs or reputable websites may link to you as well.

Whenever you participate in an offline event, consider how you can work your real-world relationships to boost your SEO.

  1. Prepare for Constant Change and Challenges

Google cares first and foremost about offering searchers an amazing search experience. They want to deliver the results searchers demand.

If they falter in doing this, they risk their market-leading position (and billions of dollars).

So, Google has a couple choices:

  1. Stay the same, and risk a competitor overtaking them
  2. Constantly change and update their algorithm to improve the results searchers get

Right now, they focus on the latter.

For you, that means you’ll continue to experience frequent changes. You’ll have the challenge of keeping up.

Understand it’s simply the reality. Will Google make dramatic changes? Perhaps. But, most of those may already be done. Regardless, they’ll continue to adapt and improve to some extent.

You’ll have to spend time learning, or working with your SEO in staying on top of what’s happening.

  1. Understand SEO Works Differently in Various Contexts

No two websites are the same. You may read about a SEO technique that sent rankings and traffic sky-high at one website.

Then, you may try exactly the same with yours, only to find you fall flat. It does happen.

SEO has so many factors and variable in play at one time, that you have to know your own website and what you can do to improve.

If you have an old website (10 years+), you may have a much easier time ranking than others. It may take you just a few months what takes most websites a year or more to accomplish.

And the reverse could be true too.

Look, SEO isn’t easy. It requires patience, diligence, and hard work over a long time (usually at least a year). So hopefully these tips help you understand how it works and how you can improve the results you get from it.

2 Principles to Follow for Long-Term Local SEO Success

Look, I’ll just be honest and tell you: servicing an area and trying to rank well in many areas outside the city you’re physically located in is hard.

Google’s stacked the odds against you from the outset. You must have one heck of a search presence to have a chance at outranking another business with a physical location in the area.

But take heart – all hope is not lost.

You can compete. Just be aware that it’s not easy. Here’s the general principles you would follow if you wanted to outrank your competitors in their home city:

  1. Spend Much of Your SEO Efforts on Local Pack Rankings, and Realize Google’s Going to Hammer You From Time-to-Time, Even If You Do Everything Right

You must attract links to your location-based pages. You want reviews from customers in these locations. And you want those customers to mention the city name in those pages.

Sounds simple to do, doesn’t it? It’s easy to understand, but difficult to execute in a completely legit, non-spammy way. Some companies do try to manipulate this by hiring people from India to post fake reviews (BIG mistake!).

You may achieve decent rankings for a while. But eventually Google will pummel you down.

Smart SEO companies have strategies to do this in a 100% ethical, long-term way that doesn’t cause rollercoaster-like changes in your rankings.

  1. Do All the SEO Fundamentals Right

What are the fundamentals for ranking in local search? Generally, they’re this:

  • Optimizing landing pages for each city you serve. Load the pages with unique and relevant content.
  • Strategize ways you can get reviews from specific pages onto these pages. You could even do this by writing the review for your customer and asking them to post.
  • Use schema (a totally legit and highly underutilized SEO technique) to mark up the reviews and your name, address, and phone number. Use schema markup in every other way possible to make it abundantly obvious to Google you serve this city.
  • Earn a handful of links that use the city and state you serve in the anchor text.
  • Include links to each location from the rest of the site.
  • And if you’re really serious, open up an office in each physical location you service. Google also requires you to have staff and onsite signs to comply with their guidelines. So, make sure this is a totally legitimate effort to expand your company, and not just one you use to manipulate your search rankings.

This all sounds like a ton of effort. And it is. Google wants only the best businesses ranking in each location. It doesn’t want companies just trying to climb the rankings.

So long-term, focus on building the best company you can. Then, use SEO to increase your reach.

It’s the ensures strategy for success.

The Little-Known Key to Consistently Winning High-Quality Back Links

Have you noticed all the changes Google’s made over the years?

Well, of course you have. Some say they make 200 – 500 updates to their algorithm annually.

With the major updates, the ones you actually hear about, Google dramatically alters the rules of the SEO game.

Inconvenient for you (and us too).

But ultimately, we have to admit, it has led to a higher quality web. Google’s ability to deliver the best result for what the searcher requests keeps it at the top of the search game. And as far as anyone can see, this will continue for some time.

(1) The Key to Getting Back Links Isn’t Content…

Technically, that’s a bit misleading. content is one of several keys to getting back links Google loves.

But this time, let’s focus on a different one: content promotion. 

(2) Why Has Promoting Your content Become Necessary?

Basically, because many niches have become saturated. They have an abundance of content on most topics. And that content, thanks to Google toughening up its standards of what makes it good, is excellent.

If you simply write content, optimize it for ranking in search, and do nothing else, that’s a losing formula. That used to work, oh, about 5-7 years ago or so. Today, your content simply gets forgotten if you do that.

(3) How Do You Promote Your Content?

Actually, you have a nearly infinite number of techniques available. But, as you might guess, the strategy begins with having content worth linking to.

So to create that, you have to understand what your competition does. Then, you offer more, take a unique view, improve your content’s entertainment value (even if you’re in a boring niche), or dress up its visual appeal.

It sounds so simple. But this takes hours of research and trial-and-error to do. So, it’s not easy.

Once you have content that tops what’s available on a certain topic, then you can begin outreach. “Outreach” doesn’t mean dropping a link on your social media profiles.

That’s good to do. But, you have to actively develop relationships with influencers in your niche. Using email and direct social media contact, you let people who have linked to the content you’ve topped know about your content.

Some will ignore you. Others get too busy. But if you’ve done your job and truly topped what’s available, you’ll begin to get attention.

These influencers have tens of thousands of social media fans. They’ll share your post. They’ll link to your content themselves. Some of their followers will link to you.

Then you simply repeat the process. It all hinges on the quality of your content.

And for now, and the foreseeable future, content promotion is a nearly indispensable tactic to have in your SEO arsenal.