7 mistakes that could lose you website traffic in 2018

Do you have a website to promote your sales or service business online?

Is it getting enough traffic and generating enquiries?

Most website owners know that if your website doesn't rank highly in the search results then it's not going to get many visitors. The exception may be is that you're paying for advertising to get them there.

Of course advertising with PPC (Pay Per Click) can work out rather expensive and most service businesses tend to rely on their web designer or SEO manager to get good rankings in the natural 'organic' search results. The problem is, many people who rely on their knowledge of SEO are still using outdated techniques such as keyword stuffing and exchanging links with other website owners which can often turn out to have a negative effect.

When a search engine such as Google updates it's algorithms in an effort to improve it's search results, it can often have a dramatic effect on rankings, but we cannot just blame everything on these updates. It's more likely that there are other reasons that your site is not performing well and getting enough traffic because you're a victim of committing some of the following SEO mistakes.

1. Not getting your site optimised for unique keywords

If for example you run a carpet cleaning business and are based in the Greater London area, simply optimising your homepage for the keywords 'carpet cleaning' will be highly unlikely to get your website lots of visitors. The chances of getting your site on the first page for those keywords are extremely remote. Even by some amazing luck your website did show up on the first page it may not be relevant to people who are looking for a carpet cleaning service in Brighton for example. You have a much better chance of reaching potential customers with a more targeted keyword phrase such as 'carpet cleaning service Twickenham' because there will be much less competition.

The fact is... the most basic general keywords don’t fetch enough traffic!

You need to be more location specific. And yet it’s amazing to see just how many local business websites are not optimised for these type of keywords.

2. Not staying up to date with Google updates

It's important to remember that the main aim of Google and other major search engines is to provide quality content in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) Users of a search engine like Google expect to get good search results and if they don't provide a good search experience then those visitors may decide to look elsewhere or change to a different search engine.

Search engines rely on visitors to survive, otherwise they would go out of business.  This inevitably means that Google needs to regularly maintain good search results by continuously assessing websites and ranking the ones with the best and most relevant content on the first and second page. If your website doesn't appear on the first or second page for the most important search term to your business and you have have sparse or poorly written content on your website, or duplicated content from another website, you might get penalized and quickly lose your rankings. It's therefore important that you stay informed of any changes that Google makes to it's algorithms and the way it assesses websites. SearchEngineLand.com is a good website to keep up to date with any changes.

3. Not updating content regularly

Whatever type of website you have, if you don't keep it up to date and add new content regularly, you are missing out on opportunities to build more traffic. Worst case scenario is can also lose traffic and rankings that might have been hard fought to achieve. No matter whether you're operating an e-commerce website, information or service based website,  you should always make sure that new pages, as well as old pages, are correctly optimised to reflect the page content. The more web pages you have, the more opportunity there is to link them and build more traffic.

The inclusion of a blog on your website is extremely useful for building additional content. Google rewards websites that are active and blogs are by their very nature should be regularly updated if used properly. There is no point in having a blog if it doesn't get utilised. It’s surprising how many webmasters add a few posts on their blog and then just forget about it. If you want to let Google know that your website is active, you need to keep adding new and fresh content.

4. Not using social media

To gain website traffic you need to consider all possible ways to get visitors to your website. There are many ways to do this, but taking advantage of social media is one of the most effective. Yes it can be time consuming, or you can outsource this aspect of your business. But social media is becoming increasingly important to businesses, not only to drive traffic, but increase customer engagement.

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ are all major sources of traffic, along with many other community orientated websites such as topic related forums and niche blogs relevant to your business. Don't rely on search engines alone. One major update could see your website traffic drop considerably, but you can protect yourself from loss in traffic by building a network of gateways and backlinks from social media. And one of the great things about it is that it's totally free!

5. Not using effective internal linking

Ok, so your home page is the most likely page to get ranked in the search results. But that doesn't mean you can't take advantage of the traffic that you can generate from any other page on your website, as long as it's effectively optimised.

A good way to get additional pages ranked is to create internal links to pages of prime importance and relevance to your business. Getting extra traffic to pages with specific content that people are looking for can give your website a major boost in the search results and at the same time reduce page abandonment. People want to get direct to the source. This also builds trust in your website and company.

Internal linking can help you achieve this. An easy to navigate website is essential to keep visitors on your website and avoid frustration. Add important and relevant internal links to any pages that are already receiving a good deal of traffic so that the new pages will get found quickly. Use external linking too from good quality sites only. The quality of backlinks is now far more important than the quality of backlinks. Poor quality backlinks will have a negative effect on your website, so avoid these or suffer the consequences.

6. Not using effective SEO 

Search Engine Optimisation is a major component of your website. If not done correctly, your website has little or no chance of getting ranked well, or never found at all.

Implementing basic SEO into your website is not that hard. There are numerous articles and videos online that can help you do this. There are also some excellent tools available that can simplify the process and help you understand which parts of SEO are important and will work best for your website. Wordpress users can take advantage of useful plugins that can provide this. Yoast is one of those plugins that have good user reviews and is a good addition to your arsenal in the fight to rise to the top.

I've also used plugins that are even simpler to use than Yoast, with very good results. The most important elements of SEO are correctly formatted title tags, description tags, image tags, plus headline and sub headline tags, as well as a good article which incorporates the main keywords you want your web page to be found for. Articles with at least 300 words will fare the best.

7. Using ranking as a parameter to evaluate success

For most website owners, getting a first page ranking is the ultimate goal.

Yes, first page is a great position to be in if it's for your main keyword focus. But is it getting results?

Even if you are near the top of the search results page, and people are visiting your website but conversion rates are poor, then is your website really doing it's job properly? Ideally, your website will bring you new business, as well as returning customers. This is one of the main reasons you paid to have a website built isn't it? There could be other reasons of course, but getting good conversions should be one of your prime goals if you expect it to bring in new business.

A good way to track how your visitors use your website is by using Google Analytics.

Analyzing user behavior when they arrive on your website can help you identify weak points, such as if the visitor immediately leaves your site, or whether there are poorly converting product pages. This information can be extremely useful in order to help you improve your website and user experience.