By Jaysson Hollingshead
You may have heard of many ways that you can boost your website’s SEO, but no one seems to cover the things that can kill your SEO. Your website could be following all the elements of “good” SEO optimization, but a single mistake can kill your SEO rankings.
Of course, no site is going to ever be perfect when it comes to SEO. However, there are many things you can do to ensure that your site is ranking as high as possible on all search engines, but you should always start with the basics as it can get confusing when you reach the more technical tweaks. Therefore, I’ve decided to list 5 things that kill your SEO rankings, which you can apply on your website whether you’re a complete beginner or an SEO expert.
Let’s get started.
1. Not Using HTTPs on Your Website
Starting with one of the most common and easy-to-solve things that can kill your SEO ranks is the lack of HTTPS on your website. With Google using HTTPS as a ranking signal since July 2018, if you have yet to set up HTTPs on your website, your SEO ranking has more than likely significantly fallen since this update rolled out.
Not only this but when a visitor clicks on a site that isn’t HTTPS, a browser warning is displayed, noting that the site is “not secure”. This means that even if your SEO rankings were doing OK, the person who clicked on your site is likely going to leave as soon as they see this warning, making your website’s SEO rank meaningless in the first place.
If HTTPS is already enabled on your site, there are a few tweaks you can make to ensure that your site is both secure as possible and free of any warnings, such as adding the HTTPS site to Google Search Console or changing the website’s address to HTTPS.
2. Writing Content Just for the Sake of It
If your site has a blog or some sort of newsfeed (which it should!), you need to make sure that the content on it is of high quality and provides something of value to the reader. If you’re writing content with the sole purpose of building links and optimizing your site’s SEO, Google will notice and penalize its’ rankings for doing so.
On the contrary, having high-quality content on your site with natural keyword usage can (and will) greatly improve how your site ranks in search engines, but it may take some time for the changes to start taking effect. Here are a few things you should take into consideration when writing content to prevent killing your SEO rank:
- Make sure the content is readable. This should go without saying, but check your article for grammar errors, proper sentence structures, and overall readability. Having content that is hard to read is one of the many things that tell Google that your site is of low-quality, causing its SEO rank to drop.
- Never spam keywords. While it may seem beneficial to throw as many related keywords into your article as possible, doing so is counterintuitive and will harm your SEO rankings. The truth is that putting keywords in the middle of every sentence just for SEO can make the sentence sound robotic, and Google will notice. Of course, if the keyword you’re using sounds natural when included in your writing, feel free to add it. However, don’t do it just for the SEO benefit.
- Don’t write duplicate content. When you’re running out of ideas on what content to write for your website, you may think it’d be clever to simply delete an old post and repost it with minor changes. However, this can kill your SEO as Google may view it as “spam” and/or low-quality content. Instead, you should rewrite articles from a different angle or provide an update to those based on studies, news, or year-specific data.
3. Having Slow Page Load Speeds
It should be no surprise to hear that website visitors hate slow page load speeds enough to click off a website within a few seconds. Google is no different, as page load speeds are one of the many signals Google uses to rank your website. In this day and age, there’s no excuse for a webpage to load slowly. However, many different things can cause your website to take a while to load, but here are a few of the most common reasons as well as how you can fix them:
- Bad hosting. When trying to determine why your website is loading slowly, your first step should be checking the roots of your website: your hosting provider. Believe it or not, your hosting provider could be using an outdated server to host your website or have flaws in its infrastructure, both of which will cause slow page load speeds. Contrary to popular belief, “premium” hosting doesn’t have to come with a premium price tag. Here’s a brief study on the true cost of building a website, which takes some of the most trusted hosting companies into consideration.
- Using too many plugins. When you first start up a new website, it may be tempting to add every plugin you see on WordPress. However, having too many plugins will slow down your website’s load speed as there will be more information to load the more plugins you have. Keep the plugins down to essentials only, and you’ll see an improvement in no time.
- Large media. I’m all about media when it comes to sites like blogs or newsletters, but not having this media properly store will take unnecessary space within your server and slow down your website. Before adding media like pictures, videos, or GIFs to your website, you should compress them with a tool like EZGIF or TinyJPG. This will bring your files’ size down, saving you server space and improving webpage load speeds.
4. Unoptimized Website Design
Although Google can’t exactly tell how a website looks, it can sure tell one key analytic about your website: its’ bounce rate. A website’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that leave after viewing a single page (usually the homepage). The issue with this is that Google sees this as an indicator that your website did not satisfy the request of the user and will rank you lower as a result because it thinks that your website is “low quality.”
When it comes to bounce rates, website design can be one of the biggest causes why users click off your page at first glance. Think about it: would you browse a website that has inverted colors and terrible formatting when there are more visually pleasing websites out there? I certainly wouldn’t.
However, there are many solutions to bad website design, such as hiring a talented graphic designer or using themes, although both options tend to be costly depending on where you look. To keep things simple, just make sure your website is readable and isn’t a chore to look at. Doing so will not only decrease bounce rates but also improve SEO rankings as a result of increased user interaction.
As you’ve probably already realized, there isn’t any “easy” way to fix decreasing SEO ranks. However, by making sure you avoid these 4 SEO mistakes, you can rest assured knowing that at the very least, nothing is killing your SEO rank.
However, that doesn’t mean you should simply give up on your site’s SEO. If you’re doing your due diligence and applying optimization strategies to your site, you’re bound to start seeing results sooner or later.