SEO is something we’re passionate about at Main Street ROI. We have an entire team dedicated to auditing, optimizing, and managing SEO for our client’s websites.
Recently, I sat down with some of our analysts to ask them about the most common SEO mistakes they see when working on websites for our clients. They filled me in on the mistakes they see most often and their tips for correcting those mistakes.
Here are 9 of the most common SEO mistakes they see and how to fix them.
Mistake #1. Not Optimizing Your Title Tags
One of the biggest mistakes I see is when the homepage is not optimized for any keyword in particular.
A non-optimized homepage will just have the company’s brand name in the title tag instead of the keyword phrase that prospects would search to find that type of company. For example, a dentist in NYC may have a title tag “Main Street Dentist” on their homepage when it should be “General Dentist in NYC | Main Street Dentist”.
This is a big mistake because Google looks at the title tag to determine what any particular page is about. Of course, you’ll want to optimize the title tags for all priority pages on your website, but the homepage is the most important page on any website. And when we see a non-optimized title tag, that’s a clear indicator that there’s a lot of room for improvement with SEO.
Not sure where to find your title tags? This article explains how to find the title tag of a webpage.
For your homepage, you’ll want to write a new title tag that incorporates your #1 priority keyword as well as your brand name.
And then for other priority pages, you’ll want to follow a similar approach, writing title tags that incorporate the relevant keyword associated with that page’s contents, plus your brand name at the end of the title tag.
Note that title tags should only be 50-60 characters in length (65 max), so you have limited space to work with.
To identify the best keywords to focus on, we recommend conducting keyword research with Google’s Keyword Planner, as well as reviewing your top competitors’ title tags for keyword ideas.
Mistake #2. Lack of Service Pages
It seems obvious that a website should have a page for every product it sells and a page for every service it offers. However, one of the most common mistakes we come across is a site not having enough pages for all of its services.
Often we’ll find that a small business website will have 1 page listing all of its services, rather than separate pages for each of its services. Instead, it’s much more effective to have separate pages for each of your services, linked from a main “Services” page.
To fix this, take a look at your website and make sure you have a page for each service you offer. If you realize you are lacking a service or a product page then add it. Make sure there is relevant keyword usage in title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and website copy.
For example, let’s say you’ve got a law firm website and you have multiple practice areas, including personal injury and estate planning and divorce law. Instead of having 1 practice area page listing the information for all 3 of the separate areas, it’s best to have 1 main practice page that links to 3 sub-pages for each of those practice areas.
Mistake #3. Showing Duplicate Pages to Google
Another common mistake is to accidentally show duplicate content to Google. Duplicate content is content that appears online under more than one URL. There are several ways this can happen without you realizing it.
For example, if you’re redesigning your website and you have a separate development website, it’s important to put a “no index” tag on those pages, so that Google doesn’t index the extra version of your website. Otherwise, Google sees this as duplicate content which can hurt your SEO rankings.
Another way you can create duplicate content is by not setting a “preferred domain” with Google. For example, you should have your webpages only load with “www” (at http://www.domain.com) or without “www” (at http://domain.com) – otherwise, Google will actually count those as 2 separate website URLS and therefore as duplicate content.
If you have a development site, make sure to add the”no index” tag to any pages that contain duplicate content to your current site.
And let Google know which version of your website you want to load with (www or non-www) by setting your preferred domain. Click here for instructions from Google on how to set this up.
Mistake #4. Blocking important pages from Google
Another common – and very costly – mistake is to accidentally block pages from Google. This sometimes happen during a website redesign.
Let’s say you’re designing a new version of your website and you don’t want Google to index duplicate content from the website that’s in-progress. You correctly add “no index” tags to the development website. But then if you forget to remove the “no index” tags from the pages, and go live with those pages, you will effectively block your website from Google, with disastrous consequences.
Always remember to remove “no index” tags from important pages!
You can use Screaming Frog to check for which pages are “no indexed” and fix any that should be ranking.
Mistake #5. Being inconsistent with Name, Address, and Phone number
Another big mistake – especially for Local SEO – is being inconsistent with your business Name, Address, and Phone Number.
Google looks at the consistency of your Name, Address, and Phone number to determine how credible and reliable your business is. So, if this information is different on your Google My Business page than on your Facebook or Yelp page, Google may question how legitimate your business is.
Check for consistency in your business name format in your various online profiles. And if your address or phone number have ever changed, you should check to make sure that you’ve updated your address and phone number in online directories.
You can use MozLocal to help check for any inconsistencies.
And then if you find an inconsistent address or phone number, search for that outdated address or number in Google to find any listings that you need to correct.
Mistake #6. Missing Contact Information
Not only is it important to make sure your contact information is consistent across directories, it’s also important to make sure people can find your contact information on your website.
Missing contact information is a surprisingly common problem on many websites. Whether your website is missing the address, phone number, or even email address, it can hurt your business by not providing visitors (who are potential customers!) the proper information to get in contact with you. And for Local SEO in particular, it’s very important to list your business Name, Address, and Phone Number accurately on your website.
To fix this problem, be sure to have full contact information on at least the contact page of the site. This should include your business Name, Address, Phone number, email address, and any other contact information you may have like a fax number or social profiles.
Ideally you would want to have all this information in the header or footer of every page on the site. That way any visitors to the site can easily get in contact with you when they’re looking at your homepage or a product/service page.
Mistake #7. Not Having a Mobile Optimized Website
Having a mobile friendly website is crucial. With mobile search outpacing desktop, mobile optimization is now a key factor in how Google organically ranks websites. Plus, user experience is important. If a potential client visits your site using their cellphone and your site isn’t mobile friendly, they’ll likely move on to a competitor’s site that is.
The first set to checking for this mistake is to use Google’s Mobile Friendly Testing Tool. This tool will tell you if your site is mobile friendly.
If it is, then you’re fine. If it’s not then you will need to create a mobile version of your site. Once that is completed you will have a more responsive website that adapts to any device anywhere, anytime, which is a good thing all around.
Mistake #8. Not Having a Secure Website
Another extremely common mistake we see is a lack of security on a website. If a website is not secure, it will load with “http://”. When a website is secure that will automatically redirect to “https://”.
The secure connection is important because without it, information like credit card numbers and logins can be intercepted by others. Google gives preference to websites that have a securing connection because it guarantees that user information will be protected.
To fix this problem you will need to install a SSL certificate onto your website to have a secure connection with all visitors to that site.
Mistake #9. Missing or Duplicate Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are the short snippets shown under your page’s URL in Google’s search results. One mistake our analysts see often are missing or duplicate meta descriptions.
For example if you searched for a “dentist in Atlanta” each dentist that came up in the results would have a brief description their site below the link to the site. A well-written meta description can help entice searches to click on your website in the search results.
If you do not have a meta description on your site, you’re leaving it up to chance what text Google will display in the search preview. Likewise, it’s not a good idea to have duplicate meta descriptions. Each page should have a unique meta description.
First, you’ll want to scan your website using Screaming Frog to determine which pages are lacking meta descriptions and which pages have duplicate meta descriptions.
Then, you’ll want to add/edit meta descriptions to the individual pages. The process for this changes across website platforms. If you’re using WordPress, click here for tips on how to add meta descriptions to a website built on WordPress.
Meet the Analysts
Peter is Founder and CMO of Main Street ROI. At Main Street ROI, Peter oversees client SEO campaigns and leads the company’s marketing initiatives, including developing strategic partnerships.
Peter is an expert at direct-response copywriting, email marketing, conversion strategy and search engine optimization (SEO). Peter’s marketing thought leadership has been published on leading business news sources including Forbes.com, Inc.com, FoxBusiness.com, MSN.com.
Peter earned his bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard College.
Prior to Main Street ROI, Peter was a drummer in New York City, where he recorded albums and performed with various rock bands and hip-hop bands.
He lives with his wife Samantha and sons Ian and Adam in Connecticut.
Michael is a Digital Marketing Analyst at Main Street ROI. He helps research, create, and manage digital marketing campaigns for clients.
Michael is in his fourth year at Hofstra University where he studies marketing and business. He plans to obtain his MBA after graduating.
Outside of school and work Michael spends his time with his family, playing golf with friends, and cheering on the Yankees and the Patriots while shaking his head at the Knicks. He is also an avid fan of European Soccer.
Josh is a Digital Marketing Analyst at Main Street ROI. He helps research, create, and manage digital marketing campaigns for clients.
Josh earned a Bachelor Degree in Business with a concentration in Marketing at Nyack College. After graduation he started work in social media marketing and for almost two years helped small businesses with their social sites and campaigns. Now as a member of our team Joshua is focusing on helping client’s craft, and achieve success in their digital marketing campaigns.
Outside of the office Josh loves spending time with his family, playing yard and board games, and supporting his favorite European Soccer team Manchester United.
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Main Street ROI is a digital marketing agency based in New York City.
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