SEO Pitfalls That Can Devastate Your Website Conversion Rates
SEO is a complex, fast-evolving ecosystem.
As such, it breathes ground for many popular SEO myths. As you’re reading and listening about them every day, it may be difficult for you to tell facts from guesswork.
Consequently, you may waste your time, energy, and budget on irrelevant SEO tactics that do not attract qualified prospects to your website, and in the process hurt your conversion rates.
CRO is a strategy worth investing in. But the output is only as good as the traffic you attract to your site.
Here are some common SEO mistakes you may be making without knowing it.
Not Aligning Keywords with the Search Intent
In the past, you could optimize your pages for several popular keywords and show up high in Google’s SERPs.
Today, it’s not that easy.
Stats say that Google sees 15% of all daily searches for the first time. To please its searchers and provide relevant search results, it introduced RankBrain. This is Google’s AI algorithm that goes beyond analyzing keywords, to observing the quality and relevance of your content, too.
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To appeal to RankBrain and rank higher, you first need to understand your searchers. You need to pay attention to what keywords they search for and what kind of results they expect to receive. In other words, you need to understand their search intent, which can be:
- Informational – users conduct search queries to find answers to specific questions.
- Navigational – a searcher knows what site they’re looking for and they’re entering a keyword that helps them find that site.
- Transactional – a searcher already knows what kind of product they want to buy and they’re looking for the places where they can find it.
- Commercial – a searcher knows what they want to buy, but they haven’t made their buying decision. They’re performing searches to compare brands, prices, and product features until they find the one that meets their needs.
When researching keywords, you also need to pay attention to who your customers are.
Look at their demographics data.
Where are they located? Optimizing your pages for global keywords when wanting to target local audiences is useless.
With the rise of mobile searches, especially voice ones, you need to optimize for organic keywords – ones that your audiences are really using. For example, instead of just adding your city or state name to your keywords, consider optimizing your site for keywords including “near me” and “open now” phrases.
There are many tools that will let you understand what people really search for.
For example, Buzzsumo’s Content Discovery feature lets you identify the hottest topics in your niche.
Answer the Public relies on Google and Bing’s databases to predict what searchers are going to ask.
Google Trends tells you how popular a certain phrase is among your users, as well as lets you compare the performance of two keywords.
You can use Google’s SERPs features like its answer boxes or “people also ask” to identify long-tail keywords your searchers are using.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: We’ve written a short and sweet guide to hacking RankBrain.
Not Boosting Website Speed
Page load times directly impact user experiences and, therefore, dictate the time a user spends on your site, their bounce rates, and their conversions.
Stats back me up on that.
HubSpot says that 47% of customers expect web pages to load in less than 2 seconds. Therefore, a 2-second delay may lead to the reduction in clicks and the increase of dropped queries. Consequently, you will suffer a 4.3% loss in revenue per customer.
Therefore, to increase your website speed, test it regularly. Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights, KeyCDN Website Speed Test, Pingdom Speed Test, or GTmetrix may help you. All you need to do is enter your page’s URL and the tool will tell you how fast it is and what you can do to optimize it.
Some key steps to take when improving your website speed are:
- Upgrade your hosting plan. If your budget allows it, switch from shared hosting to managed hosting, meaning that you will be the only one using the server you’re leasing.
- Invest in CDN. A content delivery network includes numerous servers that are scattered all around the world. The CDN copies your site’s static content to these multiple servers and caches the content of the pages. So, when a user in a certain location visits your page, their browser will download the copy of your site from the closest server, ensuring that the page loads faster.
- Enable caching. Cache stores browsing data and makes sure that the future requests for that data are loaded faster. Instead of loading the whole website from scratch every time a visitor searches for you, a cache will deliver a stored website page.
- Compress your images. The idea is to reduce their size without hurting their quality. There are many photo editing tools you could use, including Photoshop, JPEGmini, TinyPNG, etc. If you’re using WordPress, you can also use image compression plugins such as EWWW or Imagify.
- Leverage lazy loading. This means that your visuals will load as the visitor scrolls down the page. If they don’t get to a certain image on your page, it won’t even load.
Not Tracking SEO Campaigns’ Results
In the hectic SEO landscape, we’re constantly bombarded with a bunch of tools to use and data to analyze.
Therefore, you first need to think about the goals of your SEO strategy and prioritize your data accordingly. Once you set realistic and relevant KPIs, it will be easier for you to know what information you want to focus on and pick the right tools to track your success.
Always keep in mind that just because something works for another site doesn’t mean it would work for you, too.
One of the most common problems inexperienced marketers face is the lack of understanding when it comes to selecting the right KPIs.
Some would focus on vanity metrics. Let’s take traffic as an example. Even though it provides the precious data about the number of your site visitors and the channels they used to reach your site, it doesn’t tell you anything about people’s engagement and satisfaction with your site.
To contextualize it properly, you need to combine it with some additional metrics such as:
- time spent on the page tells you how much time a visitor spends on your page on average. If they land on your blog page with a 2000+ word article and leave it after 2 minutes, this may mean that your content is either irrelevant to them or poorly optimized.
- pages per session – how many pages a visitor lands on during one website visit? If they’re visiting multiple pages and spend time reading page content, this means that your navigation is user-friendly and that visitors find your site valuable.
- conversion rate – is the number of conversions divided by the number of unique website visits. This is probably the most significant engagement metric, as it tells you whether your website meets visitors’ goals and helps you maximize your ROI over time.
- scroll depth – tells you how fast the user is scrolling down your content.
- the bounce rate – shows you how many visitors landed on your pages and kicked your website without browsing your site any further. This may indicate that your UX design is poor or that you failed to align your keywords with searchers’ intent.
Logically, Google Analytics is the basis of your SEO performance tracking. In addition to it, there are many tools you can use.
For example, Google Search Console is packed with detailed reports you could use to identify website errors and opportunities.
Mobile-Friendly Test by Google tells you how responsive and mobile-friendly your pages are and provides you with some additional tips on how to improve them.
Ahrefs is an awesome tool that consists of 1) Site Explorer that tells you about the performance of specific pages on your site; 2) Content Explorer that helps you to enter specific keywords and search high-performing pages; and 3) Keywords Explorer that generates monthly CTR and search volume for your keywords.
Check My Links lets you identify broken links (both internal and external) and fix them fast.
Reportz is digital marketing reporting tool that lets you automate most of your SEO reporting. It lets you combine your favorite SEO tools and their features to focus on the data that is relevant to you. Therefore, instead of observing your performance across multiple dashboards and tools, you can do so on a single SEO dashboard.The important thing to keep in mind is the fact that SEO is an iterative process. For it to draw the most qualified prospects to your website, optimization tactics must be constantly improved. Click To Tweet
Creating Lots of Mediocre Content
The age of spammy keyword heavy content is thankfully phasing out. But a new problem has emerged snapping at the heels of marketers.
Irrelevant, boring content. This is an insidious issue because it is difficult to spot and fix.
The intention is to provide decent content to site visitors. But there are two oversights.
- The content is crafted solely on the basis of what the brand thinks works for its ideal audience. Often times it is the keyword that draws the most traffic and has the best chance of beating the ranking of the competition.
- The content is repetitive. It has been skyscrapped, but it does not reframe, it does not shake up reader beliefs. In short it is just boring.
This is the wrong idea for a few reasons.
First, Google looks at click through rates of search results to constantly fine tune its SERPs. If the content you create is irrelevant and boring, the bounce rates are bound to be high. This is a clear signal to Google that including your blog in the search results is not an optimal experience for searchers.
Second, content is the key to gaining prospective customers’ trust. By creating authoritative, insightful, and helpful content, you will position yourself a highly authoritative resource. Starting to see the value you’re delivering, they will come back to your website and trust you enough to convert.
So, what to do?
For starters stop assuming what is important to your readers. Interview your customers, take a peek at the search bar data in the Search Console, survey your social following, ask your customer success team – these are reliable sources of information around what your tribe actually wants!
You should also start experimenting with different forms of content.
Traditional blog articles are still working for you, but why not focus on producing some additional forms of content that convert.
Create infographics, comprehensive guides, whitepapers, ebooks, podcast series. Weave your brand personality into each piece of content and help a reader learn something new. This is the only way to show that you know what you’re talking about and encourage people to buy from you.
Finally create a culture of content authority. Partner with experts in the field to bring content that reframes readers. Do opinion polls, or follow Databox’s example and let your users contribute to your content creation process.
Over to You
There are many online resources discussing Google’s algorithm and its updates. They usually lead to a plethora of pervasive SEO myths that are still confusing online marketers, especially those with the lack of industry experience.
This was the main reason why I decided to clear the air about the most common SEO pitfalls that may harm site conversions.
Being aware of them and taking actionable steps to prevent or fix them, you will increase your rankings, traffic, and conversion rates and, above all, avoid Google’s ugly penalties.
This article only scratches the surface of common SEO pitfalls. There is a sea of additional myths that may be preventing you from boosting your SEO performance. Have you ever made some of the abovementioned mistakes? What problems do you face most commonly? We’d like to hear from you!