Three Big Mistakes I Still See (Good) SEO Agencies Making

In my job, I either create or assist in creating a couple dozen SEO site audits a month. Being a part of the process instead of completely delegating it to employees is still important to me for numerous reasons: Doing so gives us a chance to discuss and analyze often more complicated concepts of SEO. It gives me a refresher for many of the different facets of SEO if I’m doing more managerial tasks for a long period. It acclimates me with the hundreds of other SEO companies around the country. And finally, it gives me insight into the interesting, clever things some people are doing and the outdated, not-so-impressive approaches others may be taking.

Below are a few of the most common bad SEO practices I witness regularly during site audits and how you can address them.

Using/Abusing Weak Meta Information

This is simple on paper, but potentially complex in implementation. Meta information is “behind the scenes” code that gives both search engines and users more information about the website and/or the particular web page. It isn’t that common that I see meta information on pages created purposefully in its entirety. Though meta information could rely somewhat on opinion and could be done 100 different ways per page and still technically be correct, I strongly feel the criteria is straightforward:

  • The meta title should always be the main keyword of the page. If there are two keywords, include them both. If there’s one main keyword, follow it with your branded keyword, such as: “Towing Company NYC | Bob’s Towing Company” or “Quick, Easy Tax Returns | Jill’s Tax Consulting, LLC.”
  • The meta description should contain your main keywords. In one part, show what makes this page different from others on your site. In another, identify what the viewer can expect to get from the page. Finally, include some sort of call to action.
  • Include meta keywords at your discretion (but definitely add them if you have time).

Weak meta titles often miss geography information, lack enough specific information about the service/product, and use duplicate titles from other pages. In the meta description, you want to avoid using the same description for every page, adding as many keywords as possible so that it simply reads like it’s an opportunity to abuse SEO, or omitting helpful information.

Keep in mind your meta description is included in search results along with your title. So if it reads poorly, it could easily deter visitors. Here are two examples for comparison:

  • Good example: “Jill’s Tax Consulting is an experienced team of accountants handling tax returns, business creation and dissolution, and more. Call for a free consultation today!”
  • Bad example: “Tax returns, business creation, business dissolution, tax consulting, tax accountants, tax experts. We’re the best tax consulting and accountants for your individual or businesses needs. Call for cheap, best tax consulting now.”

Including Too Many Plugins

Most SMB websites today are on WordPress, which is great, despite certain drawbacks such as bloated code. In essence, a plugin is a big block of programming code (PHP, JavaScript) that adds additional functionality to your site. Over time, the more plugins you have, the more code you’re essentially injecting into your site until it becomes slower and slower to load. You can tell just how slow your site is getting by doing a run of Google PageSpeed Insights.

SEO experts are very rarely programmers or have knowledge of how code fundamentally could affect site performance and in turn affect SEO. I once had a legal marketer tell me that his client websites ran on a “proprietary blend of 50 plugins.” Not only did it sound like they were fueled by a high-end, indiscernible coffee of some sort, but it seemed that any visitor would be patiently waiting for the site to load well into the next Google algorithm update. 

To avoid this, think about what plugins you can live without, which ones are actually not necessary (because writing the code yourself is relatively simple), and what happens to the site if certain plugins are deactivated.

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