Keeping up with a website is difficult enough, let alone with maintenance so it performs well, ranks well and targets the ideal audience. Business and hotel sites are on a whole other level, especially when it comes to keeping track of booking calendars, product listings, and up-to-date event information. It may be tempting to let content slide a little…after all, can’t you just rewrite it or change it as needed?
I’m going to outline the most common problems that we’ve encountered during development and evaluations. Our content and SEO teams have seen it all and have identified what we find to be the most problematic.
Here’s what not to do if you want a smoothly running, well-optimized site.
Settle for the Cheapest
As with everything else in life, settling for the cheapest writer or copy team may leave something to be desired. We’ve found that there are plenty of writer types who shouldn’t be called upon to craft optimized copy. These types include those who don’t write with SEO in mind, writers who don’t create a quality product (mistakes, misspellings, etc.) and even non-native/non-fluent writers!
We don’t have anything against ambitious writers trying their talents at copywriting. It’s just not a best practice when it comes to clients who want optimized writing, fluently nuanced language, and more.
Find a writer with a robust portfolio, or at least one who has one or two examples to show. Better to invest in a qualified writer from the start than to have a website suffering from poor copy that you’ll need to go back and pay someone else to fix later.
Repeat on Every Page
Keywords are important. Many keywords are important. However, you don’t want to use the same keyword or optimize for the same thing on every page. This will only make your pages compete with each other, rather than trying to rank against other competitors. Designate a keyword or keyword phrase per page, rather than lumping them in together. Not only does this help your traffic efforts, it improves the quality of your writing.
To keep readers interested, you’ll want to provide enough content to answer their questions, or at least cover the topic they searched for. However, you don’t want to overwhelm them, either. This will just cause your bounce rate to skyrocket and kill your click-through-rate.
A lot of people think that the answer to this balance is setting up a page to hide a majority of the content, paired with a button to expand the copy if the reader is interested in seeing more. It’s the best of both worlds, right? The content to help the page rank and the button so today’s readers aren’t handed the cumbersome task of reading.
That’s exactly why it’s a problem. First, if your button is confusing or hidden, users won’t know to click to expand. They’ll reach a page that showed up for their search, yet doesn’t immediately appear to have the content they’re looking for.
And if you think that users are so impatient they’d do anything to avoid having to read, then you’d better believe that they won’t hesitate to hit that convenient Back button if they can’t instantly see that the page is relevant to their search. Instead, they’ll return to the results that they want and jack up your bounce rate in the process.
The answer is creating enough content to match the keyword search for that page (note that keyword is singular. See Step #2 for more information), but presenting it in a manner that isn’t overwhelming to your audience. This is where paragraphs, images and overall presentation come into play.
For example, I’ve already tricked you into reading about 600 words that you probably would have refused to if I’d just put a single block of text on the screen.
Follow the “Less is More” Mantra
This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous step. Both are terrible things to do in regards to users who are looking for specific information. While hiding content confuses users, a page following the “Less is More” mentality (not adding enough words to engage visitors) probably won’t even rank.
Just because a picture is worth a thousand words doesn’t mean that Google sees it that way. Add content that’s relevant to the page to help get your message across.
“Scraping” content, or reusing page content for other purposes on other pages within your website, on external sites, on social media, or even in directory listings is bad. Really bad.
Sure, you probably own the content and you can use it however you please, but it’s not good for search. Reusing content from your original site drives down the SEO-value of your site, and can even make the multiple pages compete with one another for search.
This can allow other competitor pages to advance in the results, leaving you with multiple pages with identical content, lower traffic and the memories of when your site was the best.
Don’t force your website past its prime. Keep it relevant with original content, unique descriptions for external listings and fresh social media posts.
Sometimes people think that just writing what they want to will convey the exact message people search for. Maybe, but probably not. Pick your topic, pair it with relevant title tags and meta to present a unified front. Then sit back and enjoy the traffic rewards for your efforts.
Optimize for EVERYTHING
It sounds like a good idea, right? Plugging in meta and optimizing for anything that people might be searching for that relates to your topic?
Nope. Get used to a high bounce rate. You’ll attract the wrong traffic, users will get frustrated trying to find what they need, and you’ll lose your audience (along with business).
Focus your page to rank well for one thing. Then, create another page with unique, new content that focuses on a different key word. Repeat until you’ve hit all of the topics you want that relate to your business. Just don’t crowd a single page.
Change the H1
Updating your website is one thing. But suddenly changing intricate parts of your optimization throws the whole thing off-kilter.
Don’t get me wrong – altering a page for a new, more relevant word can be good in the long run.
Let me repeat that.
“…in the long run.”
It takes weeks and months to rank well for traffic. If you don’t notice an immediate increase, that’s okay. SEO runs a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t change the H1s, meta and other aspects of your optimization unless you plan on keeping that for a very long time. Otherwise, you’re not giving the site enough time to show up for the results.
Ignore Pre-Made Design
This is an interesting dilemma. We sometimes come across websites that have an overflow of content. This creates problems with the way adjoining copy is aligned, pushes down imagery and otherwise negatively affects the user’s experience.
You want a website with a clean and coordinated presentation. While we don’t recommend boxing yourself into a template or pre-made design, we understand its convenience. Be sure that your content meets the parameters already set by the layout and design format.
If you’re just starting out, check that your web designer and copywriter join efforts to create the best experience possible. That could involve making navigation or an image smaller, or even abridging content without sacrificing SEO. The extra effort involved should result in a more harmonious site!
Forget 2 Profreed
Typos are excusable once in awhile. We’re all human. But like most humans, we don’t want to sift through piles of misplaced apostrophes, overused commas and creative misspellings to understand your message.
If you can’t invest in Microsoft Word to grammar-check, what might it say about your product? Invest in all the aspects of your business so that the marketing message doesn’t get muddied with sloppy writing.
Don’t Update Site Information
Remember that month back in the 90s when you were offering discounts for all of your products? Maybe not, but customers sure do, because you haven’t updated the content on your Discounts page in over a decade. Stop making your managers price-override and just update the site.
That’s It for Now!
We know this is all a lot of work and that you’re probably busy actually running your business. Why not hire someone else to do it?