While some sectors have internalised entire teams of SEO experts and software to deal with fierce competition in their market, others are still wondering whether it makes sense to keep a budget for SEO. The direct consequence? SEO errors are frequent on websites and it is sometimes simple to improve your natural SEO by correcting a few things. Here’s a round-up of the most frequent errors and some SEO tips to solve them: technical errors, content errors and errors relating to popularity.
Major technical errors that hamper natural referencing
At the crossroads between the user experience and natural referencing, the technical criteria of your website are crucial elements to take into account. Increasingly put forward by search engines, with Google in the lead, you can no longer afford to ignore them.
These are the three pillars to check your website.
SEO Tips: #1 Optimise the loading time of your pages
Lately, page loading time has become the spearhead of technical SEO. Put forward by Google, which wishes above all to offer a good user experience, the search engine now integrates it into its algorithm. You will therefore need to regularly check your site and your pages individually.
Three crucial elements are to be taken into account for an optimal natural referencing :
- The weight of the images: this is a major issue for the speed of a site. The weight of the images can represent up to 50% of the weight of your site: it is necessary to optimise them. To do this, you can use a graphic design software to rework your images for the web. Otherwise, Photoshop is an efficient solution but it requires certain notions to be able to use it.
- The cache policy: the cache is a temporary memory system. When a user comes to your site, a version of the page is saved to present it more quickly on the following visits. This technical aspect can be complex to set up yourself. But if your site is under WordPress, you will be lucky enough to be able to use the heavyweight of this category, namely the WP Rocket plugin.
- Hosting performance: quality hosting with good technical performance is one of the keys to a high-performance site. It allows to limit server response times and thus to save loading time. Some specialised hosting companies even offer a package that takes into account image optimisation and cache management. We can notably mention the WP Server host specially designed for WordPress.
SEO Tips: #2 Redirect all 404 pages and don’t leave broken links
Pages 404 and broken links go hand in hand. When you change the URL or delete a page, this creates a 404 error. Why does this happen? Because the page was indexed in search engines and will always be indexed after you delete it. In fact, a surfer who clicks on the ad in the search engine will arrive on your 404 page. Of course, there is a good chance that he will leave your site and return to his Google search. This is why it is necessary to perform a redirection every time you change a URL or delete a page. When redesigning a website, you will need to go even further by creating a redirection table so that you don’t lose the history of your pages.
The other disruptive element is the broken link. These are simply links (internal or external) in your content that now lead nowhere. Page deleted, site no longer existing… The reasons can be numerous. You must be careful because links are gateways for Google robots. If these are broken, the robots can no longer navigate correctly from link to link and this penalises your site.
SEO Tips: #3 Avoid having a high volume of duplicate content
Google favours relevance in your content and therefore the presence of new elements. However, a site can have a large volume of duplicate content.
This content comes in two forms:
- Duplicated content coming from another site: for example, you have copied and pasted the description of a product that you sell.
- Duplicated content between your own pages: you offer similar pages with a product attribute that changes. For example, a polo shirt with 10 different colours. Apart from the colour, the entire description will be identical on each page.
The first case is to be avoided at all costs. It is strongly penalised by Google. The logic is quite simple, if you offer content already present on the web without adding value, then your page has no major interest for users and Google will not put it forward.
The second is sometimes unavoidable to a lesser extent but must remain moderate. On a page, you must have a high proportion of unique content. For good reason, your pages are not supposed to talk about the same thing. In the case of e-commerce product pages, you can define canonical URLs. This is a method of presenting search engines with a “mother” URL so that they can understand that it is not duplicate content.
SEO Tips: #4 Confusing SEO architecture and website tree structure
Between technique and semantics, here is one of the most complex errors of natural referencing and also one of the most important: the SEO architecture error. It is defined by the structure of the URLs of your website, from the home page to your deep pages. The objective of working on it is to allow you to create semantic cocoons around a part of your site.
Where the logic becomes more complex is when you have hundreds or even thousands of URLs to process. You will then have to make sometimes difficult choices. To top it all off, you should not confuse SEO architecture (search engine oriented) and site tree structure (navigation menu). For example, you can find elements in the tree structure that are totally different in the architecture.
SEO Tips: #5 Respond to user issues
The content of your site should answer the questions of your potential customers and not just explain what your products or services are. This is a tip that helps improve the user experience and also applies to SEO. Not dealing with the problems of your targets means not positioning yourself on queries and therefore not being present on the Google searches of your prospects. What’s more, this can lead to a feeling of frustration for a web user who arrives on your page but does not find the answers to his questions.
SEO Tips: #6 Add more content on your pages
Google has always recommended a minimum content of 300 words for each page. This is the minimum content it needs to assess whether they are indeed of interest to users and therefore of interest to be positioned.
While this minimum value is already very low and will only very rarely allow you to be positioned in the first pages of the search engine, some sites sometimes offer pages that do not even contain a hundred words! This is very often the result of a desire to focus the content of sites on image and minimalism. It is then necessary to find the right balance that will allow you to have both an aesthetic and SEO-friendly website.
SEO Tips: #7 Optimise your title tag
An essential element of your natural referencing, the title tag simply corresponds to the title of your page on the search engine. It is one of the most important elements for natural referencing since it has a double use:
- To place the keywords or the expression on which you wish to position yourself.
- To encourage web surfers who see your page in the search results to click on it.
Many sites have title tags that do not correspond to either of these two criteria. However, optimising these tags can have a major impact.
Popularity, a major impact
Search engines, with Google at the forefront, have built themselves up by offering the most relevant content to their Internet users. To find out which content is the most suitable for a given request, Google uses the notion of popularity. A “popular” site (or page) that is highly cited and highlighted is naturally more advanced than a site that is never mentioned. It is, therefore, necessary in an SEO strategy to take popularity into account, maintain it and grow it as much as possible.
SEO Tips: #8 Work on your website authority
Although we often focus on content to work on its natural referencing, authority is not a point to be neglected. Indeed, SEO is based on three main axes: content, technique and authority.
The latter corresponds to the number and quality of links pointing to your site. Each site has a more or less strong authority according to these criteria:
- the number of referring domains (i.e. sites) it has,
- the authority of its reference areas,
- the themes in which these areas are credible.
- We talk about Trust Flow and Citation Flow.
Software such as SEMRush or Majestic SEO allows you to know the metrics of each site to know which sites are relevant or not to look for links.
SEO Tips: #9 Have a relevant internal linking
The internal linking of your website is a very important element for your SEO. Specifically, it will help you to create bridges between your pages and transfer the authority of the latter within your site. A page should never be a dead-end and it is, therefore, relevant to refer to additional services, sub-pages of details, articles dealing with content-related themes for example.
It is necessary to create logical links between your pages and refer to those that may be of SEO interest. The classic error is to link to the “contact” page, which generally does not present any direct added value or real semantic link.
SEO Tips: #10 Don’t think that SEO has no future!
Last but not least, since it is a strategic and not a purely operational question. With Google’s constant evolution, we may be led to think that it is no longer as interesting as before to bet on a natural SEO strategy.
Indeed, the search engine is increasingly becoming a response engine and, with the help of enriched results, it extracts relevant content directly from sites, thus potentially generating a loss of traffic. Worse: Google Ads ads take up more and more space over the years and it is therefore only a matter of time before natural results become a distant memory.
However, this theory is actually nothing new. SEO has been around as long as web marketing agencies have been around, or almost as long as web marketing agencies have been around. This is the subject of many articles, such as SEO: natural SEO is not dead. Research intentions are changing and so is the way of doing SEO. So we should not think about the future of SEO on the standards of the past.
About the author
Maxime Ben Bouaziz is an inbound marketing and growth hacking specialist. He assists companies, start-ups, SMEs and major accounts in defining their digital strategies. Founder of the media La Pousse Digitale, his ambition is to offer the keys to effective web marketing through articles and fund files.