The importance of SEO to a business has only recently been fully recognised in the past couple of years. As a consequence, more and more firms are now acknowledging the positive impact SEO can have to their business and are attempting to tailor their online presence to enhance it.

However, with the importance of SEO perhaps being greater than ever, the frequency at which firms get it wrong is worryingly-high, especially since certain mistakes can be detrimental to a company’s hopes of ever ranking in searches. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when thinking about your site’s SEO.

Keywords are key

It used to be all about keywords. A few years ago, a site could select a couple of keywords that they wanted to rank for and then litter them across a webpage. ‘Keyword stuffing’ used to work very effectively, meaning low-quality content could rank high up on Google – until the Panda update altered the algorithm that ranks pages, filtering out the worst content.

Nowadays, shoving the same keyword in multiple times will work against a site and make sure that it is banished to the deep, dark depths of Google’s hundredth-something page, never to be ranked higher. This is because the bots that are constantly scanning the web’s content will work out that one page has repeated the same word, and penalise it as being spam.

By all means use keywords, but use them moderately. Make sure they sound natural wherever included!

Results will be quick

Some business owners may know a little bit about what SEO is and why it’s important, but few know exactly how it works.

A common misconception regarding SEO is that it is some sort of tick-box exercise, whereby once all the requirements are hit a page will simply rank top on Google. This is, of course, not the case. SEO is an ever-changing process and a page is never ‘fully optimised,’ there is always something more that can be done.

It usually takes around six months for a page to rank on Google. Of course, the exact time depends on the type of content, its relevance and the site that hosts it. Established sites such as news outlets posting latest news articles will instantly rank high up. This is down to the content being relevant and the fact that Google will consider their site as credible due to thousands of people visiting the page.

A new site will not have any of this pre-acquired status to help it boost up the rankings, so patience is key. If the quality is good, of interest to visitors and beats other similar content out there, it will eventually rank.

Longer content is better

This one is a double-bluff of sorts, in that too long is indeed detrimental towards a site’s SEO, yet too little and it won’t be seen as valuable content. It is commonly suggested that a minimum of 500 words is needed for content to rank at all. The optimum length for an article is said to be around 800-1000 words.

Longer content can be accepted, but as always, it must be informative, relevant and positively contribute towards the user experience. The longer the content, the less-likely a visitor to the page is going to read it in its entirety, therefore the page’s bounce-rate may suffer. This metric, as well as the time in which a visitor stays on a particular page, is taken into account by Google when it is ranking pages.

Therefore, aim for between 500-1000 words. If it is longer, make sure it is relevant to why the visitor has come to the page so that they read the whole content and don’t deviate from it early – negatively impacting upon your potential to ranking.

The more images and videos the better

Again, it is good to add some visual accompaniment to content. However, do not litter your content with visuals and overlook the value of the words. Bots will again recognise the extensive use of images and videos and could penalise the page for any incorrect inclusions.

Some popular online companies, the likes of Full Tilt, Amazon and the Telegraph Online for example, use visuals very well. Full Tilt for instance, uses one or two images with a video when explaining a certain game variation on their site, whereas Amazon have multiple images of a product on a product page to satisfy visitors’ desire to visualise what they will buy. They all successfully assess and apply the correct number of images and videos needed on their pages based on the content of the specific page.

A lot of these points may seem obvious, but so many businesses are still failing when it comes to SEO and falling victim to these easy, common mistakes. Avoid them, and you will have the foundations of a sound SEO strategy to build upon which could potentially benefit your business infinitely.

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