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Month 7 of New Year, New Blog is coming to a close, and this month we’re talking SEO. Earlier this month, we talked about some SEO basics, and today we’re going to talk about mistakes.
We all make mistakes, like that time Taylor accidentally gave her mom’s cellphone number to a telemarketer (who still calls her six years later), or when I accidentally told Gmail hackers my login information. Oops. While the mistakes we’re talking about today aren’t about poor phone judgment, they’re just as annoying.
Making major SEO mistakes could be the difference between killing it in search engine traffic and getting nothing but crickets instead of comments. Today we’re going to walk you through six SEO mistakes you might be making, and how you can fix them to make Google your blog’s BFF.
Mistake #1: You have dead links.
Things on the interwebs are always changing, so that article you linked to a year ago might no longer exist. Or maybe you linked to a blog post of your own, and later deleted that blog post. Dead links happen when a hyperlink links to a page that doesn’t exist, and Google doesn’t like those one bit. It’s like if you referred your friend to five good restaurants you love…and they were all closed down. #rude
Fortunately there’s an easy way to find out where your dead links are located. Thank you to our lovely VIP Tayler who tipped us off to this gem: www.brokenlinkcheck.com. For free (yes, free!) this site will crawl your blog and give you a list of your broken links, along with where to find them. Taylor tried this out and found 90 of them on her site alone (yikes!). This isn’t just her, though – these things happen. Stuff gets moved around on the web all the time so make sure your links are all working. Your blog will thank you, and visitors won’t be frustrated when the link they click leads to Nowheretown.
Mistake #2: Your site isn’t mobile-friendly.
Google knows that people are increasingly accessing webpages on their phones or tablets, and so it favors sites that are going to look flawless on a desktop AND an iPhone. If you’re using a pretty standard WordPress or Blogger theme, most are made to be mobile-responsive, so you’re probably covered. If you’re using a custom theme or a theme you designed yourself, you might want to check your site’s mobile-friendliness. You can do that with Google’s mobile-friendly test.
So your site isn’t mobile-friendly – now what? You’ve got options. If you’re using a WordPress.com, you’re covered by Jetpack. If you’re on .org but using a standard theme, you can download Jetpack as a plugin and use its mobile-friendly functionality. You can also download the WPtouch plugin. (Note: we haven’t tried it but we’ve heard awesome things)
Mistake #3: You aren’t being meta enough.
Metadata might sound like some web designer mumbo-jumbo, but it’s actually crucial, and not too hard to understand Metadata is all the behind-the-scenes text that tells search engines about your website. For example, the alt text that you enter for a photo is what tells Google what the photo is, since Google can’t “see” it. If you aren’t entering alt text, Google isn’t indexing those images. Same goes for the meta descriptions of your posts. If you aren’t entering meta descriptions for your posts, Google will just to the first few words of your post, which might not be all that related to content of the post itself.
If you aren’t using metadata as much as you should, the fix is simple: Start! Make sure every photo that goes up on your site has alt text, and every post has a meta description manually entered by you (if you have the Yoast plugin we recommended in the last post, you’ll see the option).
Mistake #4: You have spam links cluttering up your blog comments.
Those spammy comments asking you to “SAVE BIG ON MALE ENHANCEMENT BUY NOW” or telling you “You have nice site might I suggest SEO help am expert buy now can help you” with fifty spam links aren’t just annoying. They’re telling Google your site is shady. Part of SEO is having a “good reputation” with Google, and linking to a bunch of spam sites on your blog (even if it’s in the comments!) is telling Google you hang with some shady interwebs friends.
Make sure you delete spammy comments – it’s that easy!
Mistake #5: You’re not using anchor text for your internal links.
Part of the SEO story of your blog is where your various posts and pages are linked – and how they’re linked. If your post on your Grandma’s killer blueberry muffins is linked to by ten of your other posts, but the link text is “click here,” Google doesn’t know anything about your muffin post besides the fact it’s associated with “click here.” You’re missing a prime chance to use those links to tell Google what your posts are about.
Instead, link to text that actually relates to your posts (anchor text). Link to the muffin recipe with the phrase “blueberry muffin recipe,” and Google will have a much better idea of what that page is about. There’s no way to fix this one but to go back and manually re-link any posts linked to a generic phrase like “click here,” but it pays dividends down the line!
Mistake #6: Your blog loading time is sloooooow.
Who likes waiting forever for a page to load? Nobody. If your site is loading slower than the last hour of work feels, then Google isn’t going to be giving you much love. Google ranks pages higher that load quickly, so a slow site is a good way to ruin your awesome SEO potential.
It’s different for every site, but if yours is loading ridiculously slowly, there are a few things you can try. First, cut down on the WordPress plugins. Plugins are like little fancy genies for your blog, but they also take up loadtime, so try to limit them to the ones you absolutely need and deactivate the rest. Your images might also be a problem. The plugin WPsmush reduces the size of your picture files to reduce the burden on your site and help your site load faster (we highly recommend).
We hope that after reading this post, you have a better idea where you can improve your SEO and make your site shine on search results.
Do you have any good SEO tips we missed? Let us know!
Now I’m peacing out to a blog conference (and maybe taking my cat with me…sssh!). If you feel like following along with the shenanigans sure to ensue, follow me on Instagram (@ericaligenza), Twitter (@msericaligenza), and/or Snapchat (@erica_lig). All up in this social grill, right?
And just for fun, use code GRANDOPEN to get 15% off anything you like from Sweet Water Decor, like this fabulous print. Because you guessed it…the shop just grand opened and is bigger and better than ever. With beautiful prints, fun mugs and tumblers, and wedding stuff galore, I think I’ll need to pass my credit card onto someone else for safe keeping. May your weekends be filled with strength, dignity, and lots of wine and carbs.