What are the 4 most common SEO mistakes?

Designers are supposed to be communication experts, but as with the mechanic’s car and the gardener’s garden, their own websites and Google ranking often leaves a lot to be desired. Paul Robbins, a SEO specialist at Inbound Interactive in Austin Texas, looks at graphic designer’s websites and gives advice on what you can do to improve.

Here are his four most common SEO mistakes to avoid.

I have seen hundreds of freelancers websites when they’ve come to me asking for advice about how to get higher in Google, and these are the most common mistakes I see reoccurring.

1. Location, location, location

Being No. 1 in Google when you search for your name is not an achievement. If clients already know you, they’re not going to search for you in Google. You want new clients from the internet – think of your website as a sales tool not an online portfolio – so you need to think of the search terms they’re going to search for a designer such as yourself.

What most freelancers forget is that clients want suppliers local to them. A client in Dusseldorf will Google “freelance web designer Dusseldorf”. The web has not made the world a smaller place, people want to work locally. You don’t need to make your website promote your specialities, you need to specialize in your location. That also means hosting your website in your country and not with an international domain like .com, but with your country domain.

2. Hire an SEO professional

If you think you can get a high position in Google by reading a few blogs about SEO and taking the advice about adding your website to some directories, sending out press releases and articles, and filling your homepage with keywords, then you’re sadly mistaken. How does a brochure look when the client designed it themselves? How good is a logo when they made it? You advise them to hire a professional, maybe you should take your own advice when it comes to SEO.

If you haven’t spent thousands of hours studying SEO and worked at it full-time for a few years then you cannot hope to achieve the same results as a professional. With all their tips, tricks and contacts, they can accomplish more in a few hours than you can in a few weeks. And is it better to pay someone else for a few hours work or spend your time, when you could be doing what you do best?

One thing you can be sure of is that your competitors have hired professionals. It might not be cheap but remember you get what you pay for, and one big freelance job will pay your SEO bill – and your odds of getting big jobs are dramatically increased if you have a high google ranking.

3. Converting hits into jobs

There’s more to life than being No. 1 in Google.  You can get hundreds of hits but if people don’t feel impelled to contact you, you won’t get new jobs. The creative’s websites I see all look beautiful but they don’t sell. A contact page with an email address does not qualify. Would you make an advert for a client that just had a picture of the product and their email address on it? I don’t think you’d be very successful.

Your phone number has to be on the homepage with a ‘call for a free quote’ in big and bold letters. There have to be quotes from satisfied customers. There have to be logos of the awards you’ve won and the clients and agencies you’ve satisfied. Your homepage is the only page and it has to smack of experience and success. You work in advertising and marketing – you’re a glorified salesperson – and as the old adage goes: “if you can’t sell yourself, what can you sell?”

4. Local links

Freelancer designers work alone in very competitive and their websites reflect this solitary nature. When I run a check on a designer’s website I often find very few people link to them – usually because they link to know one. This is the key to getting high in Google – popularity – and you get what you give.

If you’re a graphic designer you don’t have to link to other designer’s, but you could gain reciprocal links by directing visitors friends. Again the secret is local… don’t link to people all over the world, link to friends you work within your own town. Google registers this and you move higher in local searches.

And if you’re part of a network, association or an agent, such as The Collective, link to them as well, as your profile is listed there and it shows you’re part of a successful website. Google also gives credence to links to .edu and .gov as it thinks these are more reliable.

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