Over the past week, we have been busy completing search engine optimization (SEO) audits for businesses. There have been a lot of Google algorithm updates recently, so we want to make sure everyone is following the latest SEO best practices.
As part of the audit, we review both “on-page” and “off-page” SEO factors. On-page SEO includes everything you need to do on your webpages to make them relevant for the keywords you want to rank for in Google. Off-page SEO includes everything else, which is obviously off of your webpages.
After 22 review requests, I’ve found the 3 most common on-page SEO mistakes that you need to fix if you want to rank your website higher in the search results.
On-Page SEO Mistake #1: Page Titles
The first mistake is not using your webpage Title properly. Your webpage Titles (<title> in the source code of your web pages) tell Google what your pages are about, and they are one of the biggest factors in your Google rankings.
Think of your Titles as chapters of a book. What if you opened up a book and every single chapter had the same title? That would be pretty confusing right? Well, that’s exactly how a lot of websites are set up, and as you can probably see how that could be confusing for Google.
The solution is simple. Use unique, descriptive Titles for each page that include your target keyword phrases. For example, if you want your webpage to rank #1 for the search phrase “baby food cookbook,” then the Title of that page should include that exact phrase. Using your keyword in your Title tells Google your page is relevant for that keyword.
On-Page SEO Mistake #2: Page Descriptions
The second most common mistake is not using your webpage description properly. Your Meta Description is the text that shows up below your Title tag in Google’s search results.
If you’ve studied SEO, then you know Meta Descriptions do not directly influence your Google rankings. And that may be one reason why so many businesses neglect this important element of their webpages.
Even though they do not directly impact your rankings, a well-written Meta Description can help generate more clicks (and more traffic) from your Google rankings. What good is a #1 ranking if no one clicks on your listing!
Think of your Title and Description together like an advertisement. The Title is the ad headline and the Description is the body of the ad. So the purpose of your Meta Description is to sell your webpage so prospects click on your listing rather than the other search results.
On-Page SEO Mistake #3: Multi-Topic Pages
The third most common mistake I see is using one page for multiple different topics. For example, many businesses use a single webpage to list all of their different products and services. Using one page for all of your services might be OK from a usability standpoint, but do not expect this one page to rank for all the various keywords that are relevant for each product and service. It’s not going to happen.
If you have 3 distinct services and you want to rank in Google when prospects search for them, then create 3 unique webpages that are optimized for the relevant keywords. Each unique page will have a relevant Title that includes the keyword phrase, as well as a compelling Meta Description to get more prospects to click to learn more.
Of course, there’s a LOT more to on-page SEO than this, but if you fix these 3 mistakes you’ll be ahead of most businesses I’ve been reviewing lately.