When it comes to SEO (search engine optimization), there are an endless amount of strategies to follow to land a website on the front page of a search engine. But which are the common SEO mistakes to avoid?
Successful SEO can be compared to a house of cards where every piece needs to be in the right position for the house to stand. Every part of your website needs to be strategically optimized to ensure its standing on Google’s and Baidu’s front page. One wrong move and it gets bumped – the house of cards falls.
Find out how to successfully implement SEO for your business and which mistakes you should not make in this Tenba Group article. We also shed a light on specifics for the Chinese market, where a separate search engine – Baidu – dominates the online search world.
Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid
In our previous blog entries, we’ve covered good SEO practices that you should be following. Here are 17 common SEO mistakes to avoid if you want to set your business apart from others and keep your house of cards standing.
Before we start, let’s begin by mentioning that while there are several search engines like Ecosia, Bing, and others, Google is the world’s largest search engine with a market share of 73%. In China, Baidu has a market share of 67%, while globally it only accounts for 10%.
1. Losing Sight of What’s Important
In China SEO and search engine optimization in general, you are constantly making adjustments to your website for better crawling and indexing. It’s easy to get lost in “tricking” Google or Baidu rather than focusing on the quality of the content your website provides. Your goal should always be to provide the best information in your industry.
2. Forgetting to Conduct Regular Website Audits
As you build and edit your website, it’s easy to get lost on the back end of things. But oftentimes to make crucial improvements to your site, you need to walk a mile in your client’s shoes. Or at least experience your website from the client’s eyes.
Is your site intuitive? User-friendly? Informative? Easy to navigate? This is an easy, often overlooked task that can reveal different ways to improve the site.
3. Using Incorrect Keywords
Using too broad or generic keywords won’t target the exact visitors you need for your business. If you provide a specific service for local customers, you need to use keywords that will lead you straight to them. Using short, broad keywords to compete with other websites for Google’s front page is time-consuming and inefficient.
4. Not Using Title Tags
The title of the page is visible anytime someone shares your page so you need to make it work for you. Be sure that it is descriptive enough for other users to be interested enough to visit it.
Having only the name of the company in the link makes it unclear where the link will lead to and will turn off potential visitors. Remember that Chinese consumers love brand names and high-quality imported Western goods. If you happen to be such a seller, make sure to mention it.
5. Skipping Meta Descriptions
There are two reasons that forgetting to write well-crafted 160 character meta descriptions is bad for business. First, it will affect your search engine ranking negatively. Second, it will turn away internet users who are quickly scanning the search results page looking for the right website to visit.
Think of a meta description as an elevator pitch for the page. Keep in mind that for Baidu, the recommended ideal meta description length is 78 simplified Chinese characters.
6. Running an Unsecured Site
Internet users are becoming increasingly concerned about online security. On the Chrome internet browser, users are given a warning when visiting an unsecured site.
Seeing the “Not Secure” warning will deem your site as untrustworthy and can easily deter a potential customer from visiting. To make your site secure, you need to purchase an SSL certificate from your website host and install it on your website.
7. Not Using Analytics
If you want to quantify and track your progress, you absolutely must review your analytics. Google Analytics and Google Webmaster are both tools you can use to study your website’s strengths and weaknesses.
The equivalent for the Chinese market is Baidu Tongji for analytics as well as the Baidu Webmaster Tool, called Ziyuan, where you can upload XML sitemaps and more. Monitor our blog to stay up to date on more Chinese marketing and search engine news.
8. Having a Slow Load Time
We’ve said it before and we’ll repeat it – internet users have very short attention spans. Users expect a lightning-fast load speed for web pages, images, and videos. According to Google, more than half of all mobile users abandon sites that take over 3 seconds to visit.
In China, having a speedy website is crucial to surpass the “Great Firewall” of China, and to reach millions of consumers. Your site speed will also benefit from hosting your website in mainland China or closeby.
9. Not Focusing on User Experience
Your website may have great content but if it doesn’t look like it belongs in the current decade, it likely won’t make it very high in the search results. If your site was built 3, 5, 10, or more years ago – you need to make sure that it has a modern look and feel. Having a better website design and UX is great for your SEO because users spend more time on well-designed pages.
10. Failing to Include Relevant Internal and External Links
When internet users visit your site your primary goal is to keep their attention and interest. Internal linking helps guide their experience and keep them on the site longer. External links allow you to offer helpful information by sending your audience to other high authority sites.
But it may seem counterproductive to send your viewers away. Think of it this way, having external links increases the chances your site will receive backlinks. Having backlinks adds to your website’s own authority and credibility.
Baidu in China puts even more emphasis on backlinks, so that also links from forums and blogs to your site count and improve your website’s ranking. This also allows sites to be indexed faster.
11. Not Using Anchor Text for Internal Links
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink that gives us the information to our next destination. While it should be relevant to the linked page we’ve all seen that generic “click here” link floating around on websites from time to time.
Even though having a call to action is great, having such a generic title is a waste of prime SEO space. Tailoring your anchor text will increase the chances that users will follow the link. The more users that follow, the better your SEO.
12. Not Optimizing Your Images
When uploading images to your website, do you keep the generated image file names that look something like “20616_115131.jpg?” If so, you are missing out on valuable optimization opportunities. Make sure to change the image alt attribute to whatever is displayed on the image. This will affect your search rankings
13. Having a Weak Mobile Design
With 5.1 billion mobile users around the world, mobile devices are becoming the preferred way of browsing the internet. Having a mobile version of your site is no longer a bonus – today, it’s a necessity. Google now considers mobile site usability and speed as part of it’s ranking criteria. If your site is slow or difficult to navigate, your SEO will be negatively affected.
14. Not Implementing Google Maps
So you have a “contact us” page with your company’s email, telephone, and address and that’s enough, right? Not quite. Having a Google map on your site is easy to do and is great for your SEO. By making it easy for Google to find your physical address you enable it to better send traffic to your website.
15. Not Optimizing for Better Conversion Rates
Ignoring the best conversion rate optimization practices causes your business to miss out on sales, leads, and profits. Why make it more difficult for the customer to sign up for your service or buy your product? Try reducing the number of form fields or using a contrasting color for your CTA (call-to-action) button. These are simple things you can do to improve your conversion rate without much hassle.
16. Ignoring Social Media
Coding and links will always be a huge piece of SEO. But today, SEO means more than just the technical aspect of your website. Ranking websites now consider social media a big part of a website’s ranking.
So both big and small businesses need to consider how social media will play into their SEO strategy. Instead of thinking that Facebook and Instagram are an extension of your website – make them equal partners. This will allow your target audience to perceive your brand as an experience.
Remember that in China new social media platforms have emerged, on which you should focus if you are targeting the Chinese market. The super-app WeChat, the RED book Xiao Hong Shu, short-video newcomer TikTok, the micro-blogging app Sina Weibo, and many more.
17. And the Final Mistake is…
…not hiring an SEO expert for China and your worldwide business. The above SEO mistakes are made every day and it’s difficult for business owners to keep up with all the rules. But as the data shows, weak search engine optimization limits online exposure and hurts businesses. We strongly suggest hiring a professional agency that can dedicate the time to make sure your website isn’t missing out on potential customers.
Now you know the 17 most common SEO mistakes to avoid. Everyone makes mistakes but the key to correcting them is to continue learning. Click here to read answers to the 5 most frequent questions around Baidu SEO that we receive.
The mistakes we’ve compiled above are commonly made but easy to rectify. Be sure to visit our blog regularly for more tips and advice about marketing advice for China, digitalization, and everything around SEO. If you want help with your worldwide and China SEO, the team of Tenba Group is here for you!