Every year, the digital marketing landscape is just a little different than the last. Sometimes big changes are made (like Google’s AMP and mobile-focused updates), while smaller algorithm changes that happen several times a month. Everyone — from freelancers to agencies — have an opinion about how business owners should shape their SEO strategy.
This is especially true when consumers trust articles that are shared by people they trust. However, the people we trust don’t always read an article before they share it, which can lead to following inaccurate advice. One study found that 6 out of 10 people will share a link to an article they haven’t even read.
With so much happening at such a quick pace, you can never be sure that someone’s advice is outdated or downright wrong. Webmasters often make the same mistakes in SEO, and are just as quick to siphon that advice onto someone else. To help avoid some crippling mistakes, here are a few red flags to watch out for:
Bad Advice #1: Build your keyword structure around your product, service, and/or target customer
This bit of advice is a bit misleading, and it’s something that can easily be misconstrued. While you do want your keywords to be related to your products and services, you don’t want to make any decisions that aren’t backed by research. Keyword research is the most important part of your marketing strategy, and it’s the foundation you’ll use for all marketing efforts, from social media campaigns to blog content.
It’s not uncommon for business owners to believe they know exactly who their customers are, and then discover later down the line that they missed several key opportunities and audiences. To fully capitalize on your potential customers, it’s important to use your research to increase SEO.
Bad advice #2: You can’t use pop-ups
Over the years, pop-ups have been given a bit of a bad rep because they can certainly thwart the user experience. But this doesn’t mean you have to nix them altogether. According to Eric Sachs, the CEO of a Los Angeles based SEO company, there are right ways of incorporating pop-ups into your website.
“Google knows you have to have a way to connect with your visitors via email, and they are okay with that,” says Sachs. “The problem, however, is with the pop-ups that get in the way of allowing the visitors to have an enjoyable user experience.” Sachs recommends sizing the pop-ups accordingly, only using them when absolutely necessary, utilizing Neil Patel’s Hello Bar, or opting for scroll boxes instead.
Bad Advice #3: Image optimization isn’t important
Optimizing your images can do wonders for SEO and on-page performance. Because images take up so much data on the page, it needs to be properly sized and formatted, so as not to thwart the user experience. There are a few things you can do to optimize images, including saving and compressing images for Web.
An optimized image also needs to be optimized for search engines, too, and you can do this by applying accurate content to title and alt text, as well as captions. This provides search engines with the information it needs to properly categorize your images.
Bad Advice #4: Simple products don’t need a product description
According to a study conducted by MineWhat, 81% of consumers will search for a product before they go to make a purchase. For this reason, product descriptions are critical in ecommerce, and they need to be written in a such way that appeals to your target audience and caters to SEO. With all products, you should list the features and benefits, style and size, and various use cases.
However, this can get increasingly difficult when you’re dealing with simple products. This is where creativity comes into play. Think Geek, for examples, uses fun phrases to describe simple products such as this flashlight. Have fun with your descriptions and stick to the core brand. And don’t forget to avoid keyword stuffing, as it can lead to a Google penalty.
Bad Advice #5: You don’t need responsive design
Choosing to forego responsive web design would be a mistake. Responsive design makes your webpages easily viewable across different devices and screen sizes, enhancing the user experience and increasing your SEO. With more searches coming from mobile devices than desktop, it’s important to be able to appeal to those users. And in certain industries, like Food & Beverage, the percentage of people searching on mobile is substantially higher than average. Lastly, responsive design is directly correlated to site speed, as non-responsive sites generally take longer to load.