Mistakes That Can Lower Your Website’s Search Engine Rankings

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Your author website is the hub of all your marketing and publicity efforts. And the more fans who visit your website—the more newsletter sign-ups, event attendees, and book sales you’ll get! Since about 75% of searchers never scroll any further than the first page of search engine results, it’s important to optimize your website to get more traffic. Yet as many as 50% of websites unwittingly use bad practices or have common technical glitches that lower their search engine rankings.

Writers: Are You Guilty Of These Common SEO Mistakes?

Keyword Bad Practices. Choosing the right keywords is one of the trickiest yet most important ways to get more traffic to your website. Many people cherry-pick words or short phrases that rank high in popular search engine queries, which is generally a smart practice. Yet if the folks who find your author website in this way swiftly back-click to the results, search engines will assume that you didn’t fulfill the searcher’s needs. High traffic means nothing if your bounce rate goes through the roof.

A better practice is to consider longer, more precise keyword phrases that will lift your website higher in specific search rankings tailored for your targeted audience.

Another bad practice is keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is an old trick where the text on your pages is enriched with high-ranking keywords, often in unnatural or awkward ways. Google is on to this black-hat SEO tactic and now includes something called “keyword density analysis” in its algorithms. This bad practice will get you warnings, penalties, or even banned from Google.

Unresponsive Author Website. Web searches on mobile phones have escalated dramatically over the past few years. In response, Google updated their algorithms in 2015 in order to lift those websites that are platform-responsive higher in search engine rankings. Now, to keep your ratings up, your author website needs to look as readable and amazing on an old iPhone 5 as it does on a mini-tablet or a seventeen-inch desktop screen. Check out Google’s mobile-friendly test to see if your website makes the grade.

Tech Issues And Glitches. Technical glitches or unintentional oversights are the source of five common SEO mistakes that lower search engine rankings. Fortunately, once detected, most are easy to fix. Check your own author website to see if any of these problems are present:

  • Image Issues. Search engines gather the information written in your website’s image “alt-tags” to index those photos or graphics correctly for search engine queries. Empty or badly filled alt-tags will lower SEO, as will a broken link if your image is pulled from another site that no longer hosts it.
  • Title Issues. A title tag is basically a pithy, keyword-rich, one-sentence explanation for a particular page in your website. Every page should have a unique title! Search engines don’t like duplicate, wordy, or empty title tags, and your rankings will show it.
  • Website Description Issues. The short paragraph that appears in search engine results is a vital metadata description of your website. If it’s wrong, missing, or duplicated (rather than customized) on multiple pages, your search engine ranking will suffer.
  • Link Issues. Multiple broken links, whether they lead to another page on your own website or a page on someone else’s website, often lead to error messages that Google will notice. Too many links to (or from) unrelated or spammy sites can also make your rankings take a nose dive. 
  • Text Issues. A website that duplicates content on multiple pages can find those pages fighting against one another for ranking space. Google will then weed them out according to Google’s preference, not yours. The old trick of hiding keyword-stuffed text so that the reader can’t see it—by, say, making the text the same color as the background on the page—is also frowned upon. Yet Google also disapproves if there isn’t enough text on your webpages, so make sure you have plenty of quality content.

Taking care of basic technical maintenance issues, avoiding bad practices, and setting up a regular schedule to re-evaluate keywords, title, and metadata will go a long way to raising your website’s profile in a crowded online world. Then you can focus on what’s really important: writing more content for your readers!

Question: What platform do you use to build and maintain your author website? Or have you hired someone to build and maintain it for you?

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