Three simple mistakes that ruin your SEO

By: Steve Sant in Servers

Posted on: May 30th 2015 at 13:21pm


Your New Website Not Showing up in Google? You’re Probably Making These Three Simple Mistakes.

There’s nothing quite like that feeling you get when your new website is launched. You step back to admire your handiwork, and all your friends and family are amazed at what you can do.

Now naturally, you know that it won’t appear immediately in Google. You’ve been told it takes time, so you leave it a few months and then check to see if you can find your site.

Nope, nothing there. What could be wrong? You’ve got great hosting (naturally); you’ve filled the site with some amazing content and you’re using WordPress, one of the best website frameworks available. So why doesn’t Google like you?

It’s the simple things

During my time auditing websites, I’ve found that three very common mistakes crop up time and again. They’re not overly technical, and they don’t require experts to fix, but they’re easily and very often overlooked. What’s more, they could stop your site being found at all.

If you find that Google won’t display your site when you’re searching for it, my bet is that one of these issues is to blame. Go through each one and check thoroughly. If you find a problem, fix it and sit back. You might be pleasantly surprised in a few days’ time!

Titles

The title of each page and blog post on your site is probably the single most important aspect of your on-page SEO (search engine optimisation). It has to be a clear indication of the intent of your page, a bit like an ‘elevator pitch’ for your content. It should be easy to understand, and it should deal with just one topic.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to have the name of their company in every single title. It tells people who you are, but it doesn’t say what you do.
Similarly, I’ve also seen sites with nothing in there at all, or just the word “untitled”.

Why the title is important

3 mistakes

When you search for something in Google (or any other search engine for that matter), you get a list of results. Those results comprise of a title and a short description. Have a guess where it gets the title from? Yup, you’re right, from your page title.

In this search for “Car lease”, I get a whole bunch of results with the term in the title. It’s clear what those pages are going to be about.

Keep them unique

Each page on your site should have a unique title. Potentially this is difficult because maybe you’ve got multiple pages that discuss car leasing. Well, that’s OK, just narrow down the scope to include the particular area that page deals with. If you find that you have one page that is discussing a lot of different areas within car leasing, maybe split them out into multiple pages?

For example, you might want to have separate pages that discuss used car leasing as opposed to new car leasing? Another for van rental? Each of these subjects will appeal to different people, so you should attempt to target those people individually.

Another aspect of the title that people argue about is whether you should include your company name in each one. I say no. It’s not necessary to always remind people who you are, it should be self-evident.

If you’re using WordPress, simply leave the “Site Title” field blank in “General Settings” and then each page will have its own title only.

No-index

There’s a way of telling Google that you want it to ignore a particular page, or indeed a whole website. I know, it sounds weird, but there are reasons why you might want to do this. For example, it could be that you were developing your site on a test area and you didn’t want it to be found while you were messing with it. That’s fair enough, it’s a good thing to do, but when you eventually go live, you need to make sure Google isn’t ignoring it.

If you’re using WordPress, go to ‘Settings->Reading’:

And make sure there isn’t a tick in this box:

I was working with a company a few months ago who had come to me in despair because their site wasn’t appearing anywhere in the search results. There was a tick in that box above. I un-ticked it and a month later they were in the top ten. It’s a powerful little setting, that!

If you’re not using WordPress, then you need to check your content management system or even just analyse the pages manually. Here’s a site that has a tool to allow you to do just that:

http://www.seoreviewtools.com/bulk-meta-robots-checker/

Simply give it your website address and it will check it for you. If you find your site is being blocked, just give your web developer a call.

PDF Files Instead of Pages

Many people lead busy lives and so when they’re forced to create their first website, they can’t be bothered to re-write content for it so instead they just upload a PDF document that they already had lying around.

It’s not that PDF documents are a bad thing, it’s just that they have a particular place, and being a replacement for web pages isn’t one of them. Nothing can contain my ire when I click on an ‘About Us’ page, and my browser immediately starts downloading a massive document.

Too many websites do this, and it needs to stop. It seems one of the biggest culprits are zoos and amusement parks. It’s as if their web department asked marketing for a list of opening times and they sent a document that just got uploaded to the web.

Where this gets annoying is when browsing a site using a mobile phone. Clogging up a users’ bandwidth with a huge PDF download will turn people off.

It’s also not helping your SEO efforts. Google can easily crack open PDFs and include them in its search results, but it will take people to the document, not the page.

It’s a simple fix: just put the content that would normally be in the document on to a regular, bog-standard web page.

Fix these and watch your rankings rise

SEO has a lot of mysticism about it. Some will tell you that it is a precise science that requires years of study and a deep understanding of the complexities of Google.
It isn’t and it doesn’t. It’s just the application of common sense and often, it’s the simple things that will make all the difference.

This article was provided by Andy Calloway, an SEO specialist at www.callowaygreen.co.uk