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7 Pitfalls That Can Derail Your SEO Strategy in 2014


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Most business owners and digital marketers are well aware of how important a solid SEO strategy is, especially with so many businesses fighting for attention online. But with the continual updating of Google’s algorithm, it can be hard to keep up.

With SEO best practices changing all the time, how do you stay on track? Start by addressing these 7 essential pitfalls:

Weak Social Signals

Following the Hummingbird update, Google is putting a lot of weight on social media engagement, as strong social signals are a good indicator of brand relevance and content quality. Businesses need to not only publish original and useful content, but also ensure content can be shared across multiple online channels. Businesses that don’t include social media buttons alongside content will lose out. Make content more shareable and you’ll be rewarded with more backlinks and social media exposure.

Static Anchor Text Keywords

If you use a single keyword repeatedly in anchor texts, not only will your readers lose interest, but you will also be penalized by Google. Try using different combinations of keyphrases to make content more readable and keep Google happy. The Penguin update started Google’s major attack on keyword stuffing and Hummingbird has made it very clear that Google is focusing more on overall content relevance and penalizing inappropriate keyword repetition.

No Mobile Integration

It’s old news that an increasing number of people are searching the Internet via mobile devices. Still, many websites have yet to be optimized for mobile. This is a huge mistake for businesses trying to gain higher search engine rankings, as Google apparently downgrades sites that aren’t mobile compatible. Upgrade to a responsive web design to improve the user experience, decrease bounce rates, and boost your SEO.

Poor Quality Backlinks

With so many Google algorithm updates aimed at tackling low quality links, business websites that haven’t addressed the issue have been badly affected. In 2014, the focus should be on developing backlinks (or inbound links) from authority sites (basically, those that are credible, useful, and engage with their audience across multiple online channels). One of the most effective ways to do this is to continue to distribute high quality content.

Lack of Content Diversity

An effective content marketing strategy needs to include more than just text to be SEO-friendly. Google encourages visual content, including images, graphics, and videos, so don’t make the mistake of only focusing on text-based content. Although visual material is crucial for engaging your audience and showing Google your content diversity, it’s still important to include enough relevant text-based content so that search engine spiders can index your content more easily.

Poor Site Structure

The latest updates by Google also reward sites with a well-built structure and good design. The advanced algorithms can now recognize website quality, taking into account factors such as site usability and the overall user experience. Websites that fail to deliver user-friendly navigation and those that feature too many ads above the fold, for example, will be penalized.

Ignoring Google Authorship

Along with social signals, Google are keen to encourage more valuable and credible content, and this is why they launched Google Authorship. Businesses that ignore it are going to find it harder to compete with other content sources that feature their Authorship profile. If you haven’t done so already, sign up for Google Authorship and link it to your Google+ profile. It will help build credibility around your brand, drive more traffic, and hopefully nurture more quality links.

The Bottom Line

Many businesses still find it hard to keep up with the latest trends in SEO, but by avoiding some of these SEO blunders you can get a good head start on the competition. Ultimately, the principles of a solid SEO strategy remain the same: deliver a diverse mix of useful content across multiple online channels that attract your target audience, and join in the conversation. Continue to do this and in the long run you’ll build brand credibility, attract a wider audience, and boost your search engine rankings.

About Tewfic Kattan
Tewfic is managing partner and head of Paid Channels at Sandstorm. His 15+ years experience spans both traditional and digital marketing with specialism in PPC, Analytics and E-commerce Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) working with some of the region's largest brands including Aramex and DAMAC.

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