Common SEO Mistake #2: Using Important SEO element for non-SEO purposes

What is the Issue?

These elements should be reserved for SEO purposes, exclusively: Page Title, Meta-Description, H1, H2, H3, Canonical Tag, and Image Alt tags.

Too often, you’ll find the Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) or the HTML itself already utilizing these elements – most often the H1, H2, H3 elements – in ways not intended for SEO, but rather for controlling the look and feel of the page design.

Why is it important?

Signaling to search engines a highly relevant page for SEO depends on an effective use of a small set of HTML elements available on any page. Without fully exploiting these urls, we limit our effectiveness to signal to search engines how relevant a page is for thousands of potential visits per month.

How to find these issues?

You’ll need to look for the above html elements in a page template, then look for two general limiting scenarios.

Scenario 1: The html element is not keyword-enriched AND it is already used to control the CSS behavior.

The CSS governs the layout of the html content on the page. It governs by making rules that say for elements within “div class X” change the font size, increase the padding between content, etc. Sometimes, the front team development team leverage one of the above on-page html elements such as the “h1”, which means that if you want to change the copy in the h1 or have the h1 wrap around an existing piece of copy on the page, it will harm the current the flow of the page layout.

Scenario 2: The html element is not keyword-enriched BUT thankfully it is not hooked into a CSS rule.

For example, you’ll see the H1 already used on copy that it repeated on multiple pages of the site. It doesn’t help the individual page rank any better because you’ll essentially highlighting the same generic copy across the page, rather than the copy that emphasizes something uniquely targeting an important keyword.

How to fix these problems?

Get ahead of these problems by announcing to the designers and developers that they reserve the main html elements for SEO only, before any development starts. Explain to them that these elements can only be used when governed by a SEO strategy. Otherwise, they are off limits.

To see if these issues actually existing, consider these steps:

1)    Identify the scenarios described on the page by running a crawl (manually or preferably with a web scraping tool like Screaming Frog).

  • See if any element’s copy is repeated over and over. For instance, do you see “Get in Touch” present on every pages H2 HTML element? This is a signal that the element is improperly used and potentially used with the CSS.

  • See if any element is totally blank, signals that the element isn’t in use or its used for a CSS rule.

  • Dig into the source code on a page to see what the facts are: Use the Search function in the Inspect Tool or the View Source to locate the SEO elements.

2)    Ask the developers to replace the offending code with a non-reserved html element, like a new <div class> or a <p>

3)    Find a location to apply the html element, again, it’s likely an <h1> or an <h2> in a more SEO-constructive location on the page. This might mean a new page design.

4)    Using your SEO strategy to determine the right keywords for the elements.

By saving your most important SEO html elements for true SEO purposes, you’ll begin see with this simple adjustment, a boost in the relevancy of your site. If all else is well optimized, you’ll see important boosts in your rankings.