Mistake #1: Continue to Use Keyword Stuffing
Up until somewhat recently, putting as many keywords as possible into your page was key to visibility – but that’s no longer the case.
In fact, using the same keyword too many times on a single page might actually get you penalized by Google. “Keyword stuffing became useless (and even penalized) years ago,” says Eduard de Boer, a Netherlands-based reputation coach. “The first implementation by Google dates back to September 2003 and was called the Florida update: many sites dropped into oblivion and were not found anymore within the search results.”
Although there were other improvements and changes over the years, the next big keyword stuffing cleanup came in April 2012 under the name Panda. “Google likes high quality content that reads naturally,” de Boer says. “If you can read your own texts loudly, without blushing or feeling ashamed because they are stuffed with unnatural sentences and many repeated keywords, chances are high that you can safely publish it and that it can also rank.
Mistake #2: Letting Your Pages Look Spammy
One of the major issues with keyword spamming and duplicated content is that they make your site look less reputable. “Pages which look spammy get penalized, both in an automated way as well as by human inspection,” de Boer says.
De Boer gives the example of one of his clients, a plumber in Tucson, United States, whose site had dropped in the search results over the past months, as it contained a much too high keyword density for ‘Tucson plumber’, ‘plumber in Tucson,’ etc. “When I investigated the uniqueness of his content, I found 28 other plumber sites with literally the same content; the only word(s) that differed across those sites were the city and the state,” de Boer explains. This is one of the things Google doesn’t like and that it might end up affecting your ranking considerably.
As a general rule, the key to making your site look more professional is to stop focusing on keywords. “Keyword research has also become quite obsolete for ranking purposes as Google is smart enough to know synonyms,” de Boer explains. Instead, de Boer recommends focusing on real content quality. “Length is also becoming more important,” says de Boer. “Assuming the content is not fluffy, the longer unique articles one has on a site, the higher the chances for ranking.”
Mistake #3: Ignoring the Power of Outbound Links
Much of the power of the Internet as a marketing tool has to do with links – which is why de Boer says Google will actually reward you for linking to highly relevant sites (e.g. Wikipedia, gov sites, authority medical sites). “For local SEO purposes, it is also very important to link to local businesses/venues/other places from a location page,” de Boer explains. “This improves the ‘local connection’ of a business location to the locality in a city or state.”
Mistake #4: Ignoring the Importance of Having Other Sites Link to You
How many sites out there link to yours? How visible is your URL in the vast online world? These are important questions because your ranking is affected by the number of sites linking to your website. “Acquiring links is still the basis for higher ranks in the search results,” de Boer says. “But not simple links from a gazillion low-quality sites.“
The key to links working in your favor is quality. “I’ve seen new dentist sites in a competitive area like New York rank to the top in the organic results, based on only a handful of high quality links (magazines and authority sites),” de Boer says.
Mistake #5: Ignoring Your Mobile Site
All other factors being equal, a website that is mobile friendly website will rank above a non-mobile friendly site. What makes a website mobile friendly? Fast loading speed, a responsive design, a font size that’s readable on a mobile and high-resolution images that are optimized so they don’t take forever to load or take up too much space on the screen.
** About the Author: Eduard de Boer is a Netherlands-based reputation coach. He helps local businesses increase their findability, visibility and reputation in order to increase turnover (and profits). His Dutch website can be found at: http://www.reputatiecoaching.nl (English version website coming up soon)