Top 5 Things To Avoid When Optimising Your Website

We look at five mistakes that can be easily avoided when designing your site with SEO in mind.

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In this video I’ll run through the five SEO mistakes we see most frequently on websites. It’s important for web designers and developers to avoid these issues as they make it difficult for search engines and users to interpret your site’s content. As search engines become more sophisticated, best-practice techniques for designing for both SEO and real users are converging. Therefore implementing our recommended fixes will increase your site’s performance in organic search results as well as improving the user experience.

Some of these issues are easy to fix, but some are influenced by how your site is designed, making retrospective changes difficult. This emphasises the importance of considering SEO when devising your content strategy, right at the beginning of a project.

With these issues resolved, you’ll be able to focus on producing great content that will drive traffic to your site.

1. Poor Use of Title, META and Headings

Getting your title and meta tags right might seem basic, but it’s one of the most common problems we come across. Each page title and description should be unique and accurately reflect the page’s content, whilst focusing on keywords that drive traffic. As this content is also displayed in search engine results, it should be user-friendly and encourage click-through.

We often see multiple H1s on webpages, which Google interprets as spamming. On occasion we even see pages with no H1 tags! Google prefers to see a single H1 per page, as this is the main indicator of its content. We recommend following a semantic page structure, utilising multiple sub-headings to make connections between blocks of content and help relevance.

2. Unintuitive Site Structure

We often see large sites with multiple layers of content, which make it difficult to find pages that are buried deep in a site. Make sure that your site is both easy for users to browse, and easy for search engines to crawl.

Ideally a user shouldn’t have to click more than three times to reach any of your content. Design a navigation system that makes it easy to find your most important pages, such as using drop down navigation to allow immediate access to your main product or service categories.

Breadcrumbs, aside from improving the user journey, help crawlers to understand the hierarchical structure of your site.

3. Zero Image Optimisation

Everyone knows to include alt text on images, but Google also considers file names as a ranking signal. File names like “ABC123.jpg” are meaningless, so ensure they are descriptive and follow a human readable format.

Google have incorporated site speed in search rankings, which is no surprise seeing as faster sites offer a better experience. As images make up a large proportion of a web page’s total file size, optimising images is the most effective way of improving your site’s performance. Use image compression tools such as PNGCrush or to minimise your file sizes.

CSS3 effects such as rounded corners and drop shadows can also reduce your reliance on images – but find the right balance as too many CSS3 effects can also negatively impact a page’s performance.

4. Duplicate Content

Duplicate content can cause your site to suffer a drop in search engine rankings, as Google increasingly looks to eradicate organic ranking manipulation techniques. Duplicate content can take the form of titles, headings, meta information, images as well as blocks of copy. If you do have duplicate content, canonical tags can be used to inform search engines that pages are duplicates or variations of another page, allowing link authority to be passed to the original and avoiding any penalty.

5. Mobile Versions For All Pages

Don’t forget the growing importance of mobile. We’re seeing Google penalise sites’ mobile rankings because they don’t have mobile versions for all their pages. We recommend that all pages are accessible from all devices – for this reason we strongly advocate Responsive Web Design, which remains Google’s preferred configuration for mobile.


So, to summarise:

  • Code your pages semantically, using unique and descriptive meta and heading tags, containing well-researched conversion-focused keywords. Remember not to stuff your pages with keywords though, as Google will regard this as spamming!
  • Keep your site structure shallow and make your content accessible within three clicks.
  • Compress your images, use descriptive file names and use CSS3 effects where possible to minimise reliance on images.
  • Avoid duplicate content issues with canonical tags.
  • Ensure you have mobile versions of all your pages.

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