Friday, May 24, 2024
HomeBusiness10 Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

10 Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

SEO is important because most web users will click on results that are on the first page of the search engine. A huge majority will click on the first result and many will not look past the first page. If your website only receives traffic from people who already have the URL or who already know about your business, you are missing out on a lot of potential web traffic and sales. A study conducted by the Biology group at UK has even shown that web users are becoming significantly more reliant on search engines. Also, the user-friendliness of a website that has been optimized is often increased. This is because in order to rank highly in searches, websites often need to meet certain standards set out by search engines. SEO service can make a website easier to navigate for both search engines and web users. Overall, the goal of SEO is to get your website more traffic, which will, in turn, make your website more successful.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ever-changing and sometimes ambiguous set of best practices designed to make your web pages more attractive to websites and web users. If a web user inputs a query into a search engine, there’s a chance that they will click on the top set of results and nothing else. SEO is the method of ranking highly in search engine results so that your website will receive more traffic, ideally more business. SEO is vital for websites as it makes it easier for both search engines and web users to understand what your page is about. It also can make your website more user-friendly as it attempts to cater to search engine and web user standards.

What is SEO?

The answer to this question may seem obvious, but a surprising number of professionals are still unaware of how best to utilize the internet to draw customers to their website. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the synthesis of functionality and design as they apply to written content. The goal here is to attract both search engines and web surfers. SEO is utilized in the building of a webpage so that HTML is text rich, easily navigable, and automatically generates a pattern of traffic to the specific site. This is done by optimizing and editing content to increase its relevance and, by doing so, increasing the ranking of the site to specific keywords on a search engine. The end result is increased visibility for the site and an improved chance at drawing customers to the content. Oftentimes, this is done in a two-step process. The first step is to get visitors to the site, while the second is to convert said visitors into customers. SEO is instrumental in the first step and can be a factor in the second.

Why is SEO important?

Considering the incredibly vast amount of information that is proliferated through the internet, it is extremely simple for your site to become buried or lost in the shuffle. Using SEO tactics is important because it will help bring visibility to your site, essentially making it easier to locate for the search engine users who are seeking the information or content that you are offering.

The vast majority of online experiences begin with a search engine. With more than a billion websites on the internet, simply hoping that people will somehow “stumble upon” your site is akin to a needle in a haystack. For most people, search engines serve as the foundation to locating just about anything. This is important to keep in mind because while your site may offer a plethora of content, if people cannot easily locate it and find their way to your page then the value of your content is essentially lost.

Think of the content you generate as a “map” to the site. The following are the key points to keep in mind as you are thinking about why SEO is important.

Technical Mistakes

Poor URL structure

URL structure refers to the address of a web page in a well-organized and easy-to-remember string. A good URL structure can benefit both users and website owners. A URL that represents the content will provide better information when the web page is shared, thus increasing the click-through rate (CTR) on search engines for users who click the link. A site with a good URL structure will also make it easier for search engines to index and understand. Therefore, it’s important to create a good URL structure by using keywords and categories in the URL and avoiding parameters such as p=233, ?id=324, etc. Instead, use static URLs to make it easier for users to remember the web page.

Missing XML sitemap

XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language, which is a file that lists URLs on a website. It makes it easier for search engines to understand the structure of the website. Although it’s not compulsory, an XML sitemap can indicate the most important parts of our website and how often we want to update them, so that crawlers can easily access and retrieve the data. Therefore, it’s not a good idea for a website to have no sitemap because it could take a long time for indexing and there may be some parts of the website that can’t be indexed.

Neglecting mobile responsiveness

As time goes on, some people are already switching to mobile websites because they are more effective and efficient. The higher technology in the mobile phone industry pushes people to use their phones to search for something. It is important for website owners to optimize their websites so that they have the same appearance when accessed with a personal computer or mobile device. According to Google, there are 4 errors that could affect mobile websites: flash, unplayable content (e.g. video), the use of irrelevant redirects to smartphone applications, and smartphone-only 404 pages. In 2015, Google released the mobilegeddon update, which prioritizes mobile-friendly websites on search engine result pages (SERP). So, it’s very important to make a responsive website for better visibility on search engines.

Ignoring website speed optimization

Site speed is one of the most important values for a website. It could be a good indicator of website characteristics. A slow website could increase bounce rates and decrease the frequency of website appearance on search engines, while a fast website could make visitors want to visit our website and increase page views. According to MOZ, sites that load in 5 seconds have a 73% visitor leave rate, and returning visitors who experience a 2-second page load only expect an increase in performance. So, if a website doesn’t have good website speed, it could be a loss for the owner.

Technical SEO is one of the most important values for a website and it’s focused on the basic concept of a website, such as crawl, indexing, and website appearance on SERP. Some digital marketers might consider SEO is only about keywords and content to get a higher rank on search engines, but actually, SEO is very broad, ranging from keyword research, content optimization, social marketing, to technical aspects in order to achieve better website visibility on search engines. And these are common mistakes in doing technical SEO.

Ignoring website speed optimization

A common trend in more recent years, especially on news sites, is the use of infinite scroll. While this can be beneficial for reducing bounce rate and increasing the amount of pages viewed, it can cause a doubling in crawl cost with Googlebot. This is because when Googlebot encounters a link to a page with infinite scroll, it will simulate the action of a user scrolling down to load more content, and then index both that page and the page that is loaded via the infinite scroll function. If you have a site with many pages you may also want to reduce the amount indexed, as this can cause Google to see your site as low quality if there are a large amount of indexable pages, ultimately reducing traffic. This can be prevented by a number of methods, the simplest being to use a standard <a href=”nextpage”> link to the next page and the rel=”prev” and rel=”next” annotations.

Website speed is an aspect of SEO (and Google ranking) that is often neglected, and is an extremely important factor. Page loading times are a significant factor, and studies have shown that even one second delays in load time can cause you to lose a significant amount of traffic. This is especially detrimental for mobile searches, where people are often using a network that is slower than a broadband connection. It is also now an official Google ranking factor for mobile searches. There are various methods to improve load time, such as enabling compression, reducing server response time, leveraging browser caching, using a content distribution network, and optimizing images. Gzip is one of the most popular and effective methods for compression and is available with many hosts, and plugins are available with easy setup for caching, image optimization and to an extent, CDN usage. It is often best to try a combination of these methods and test them to see which works best for your site. Using Google PageSpeed insights will provide you with detailed information about your site’s performance and suggestions for improvements. But remember, don’t sacrifice too much quality for load time, always make sure the page is still going to be attractive and easy to use.

Neglecting mobile responsiveness

Google rewards those who have mobile responsive design with better rankings, and in order to do well with search engine results, you would want to benefit from anything that gives you a boost in rankings. Failing to do so, your competition could quickly overtake you with far better rankings. This translates into a drop in traffic, potentially losing you customers and leads. An article by Jeremy Said states that in 2015, Google produced over 94% of organic traffic on mobiles as opposed to laptops and computers. This just shows how important it is to have a mobile-friendly webpage in order to maintain and develop more traffic. This extra traffic is then conveniently converted into customers or revenue for your website.

Mobile-responsive design may seem solely related to the user’s experience, but its significance goes further than that. Right now, mobilegeddon is real and affects the continuous progress and traffic of a website. In April 2015, Google implemented an algorithm favoring mobile-friendly webpages over those that are not. This was a big change in their algorithm as Google stated that this would have a significant impact on search results.

Missing XML sitemap

In order to create and submit an XML sitemap for a WordPress website, you can either use a plugin to generate your sitemap or generate one through an online service which you can later upload to your site, and then register your sitemap with Google Webmaster Tools. I have used the “Google XML Sitemap” plugin to generate a sitemap, and I highly recommend it because as soon as you create a new post, it will automatically notify Google. Also, you can decide which are the pages or posts you want to be available in the sitemap. This plugin comes with a simpler configuration process which allows you to simply create the sitemap, and the plugin will update the sitemap with every new post. So if you had been missing out on the sitemap, this is the right time to create it for your website and see how this small step can turn out to be a major difference in search engine optimization.

If we take a look at the other side of the coin, we have an HTML sitemap which comes with lesser benefits as compared to the XML one. HTML sitemaps are designed for the user to navigate through the website and may not have links to all the pages.

An XML sitemap acts as a roadmap for search engine crawlers. It helps search engines to understand your website’s structure while crawling it. Whenever a particular post is published, it notifies a search engine and it is a must-have for any website. It notifies the search engine when changes have been made and details each of the individual web pages. This helps in the faster indexation and higher indexation rate of my web pages. If a sitemap is not provided to the search engine, then I need to wait for the search engine to discover my website and web pages on its own, which may take a long time to index my pages. An XML sitemap tells Google which pages and posts are most important and how often they are updated, helping you improve your website’s visibility in search engine results. Since search engines can find your web pages through backlinks from other sites, it is common for them to miss the chance to index many of those pages. An XML sitemap solves this problem by providing a direct path to all of your important pages so they can be easily found by search engines. And one of the reasons my website was not ranking well in the starting stage was due to non-availability of the XML sitemap. This is very much important for new websites because such sites do not yet have any external links pointing to their site. This makes it harder for search engines to discover the site’s pages because website pages are not well linked to each other. An XML sitemap will display the website’s pages in a hierarchical order, making it easier for the search engine’s spiders to find the pages.

Poor URL structure

Non-Descriptive or Excessively Long URLs: Non-descriptive URLs can hurt a page’s rankings in search engines simply due to the fact that the URL offers no insight into the page’s content. A good example of a non-descriptive URL is something like [Link] This URL provides no placement in the site or page information. Too long URLs can hurt for similar reasons as the URL may be seen as query string spam: another hazard.

Too Many Sub-Categories: While sub-categorization will help users and search engines navigate your site, there is, of course, a possible downside of excessively deep directories. Each layer in a URL structure is another click away from the index page, and too many clicks can lead to overlooked pages by the spiders. There is much debate about how many clicks from the index page a given page should be, but I believe around 3-4 clicks is reasonable.

Dynamic Parameters and Session IDs: URLs loaded with various parameters and session IDs, while great for tracking on the back end, can cause duplicate content in the search engines as each of these URLs may be indexed. Some content management systems, and some shopping cart software generated this way. If it is possible, it may be worthwhile to provide a method to use static URLs and customized metadata for the purpose of improving the search engine results for the long run.

A well-defined URL structure is essential in helping search engines understand (and then associate) any given page with particular search queries. It also provides the navigation structure for site users, and it can be a way (if human-readable enough) that people link to your site. While many well-built sites have naturally constructed URLs, there are still many sites that could use some extra help in creating a URL structure that will be both SEO friendly and simple.

Content Mistakes

Duplicate content

When searching for information online, it is not uncommon to see 10 to 20 sites that all have the same content. Usually, it is a small paragraph or blurb of text that is taken from another site, normally referred to as “copy and paste”. Users tend to do this in an attempt to provide more content to their own site and serve its visitors, or because it may be information that is useful to their users and they do not want to forget where to find it. Unfortunately, this outdated tactic can leave you questioning if you could receive a duplicate content penalty or be a victim of copyright infringement. This is because it is difficult for a search engine to determine which site must have the original content and thus which site deserves to be indexed for it. Due to the similarity of the content, the search engine may find that both the sites have duplicate content and deserve a filter or lower ranking for that content.

It is a prevalent mistake for webmasters to think that because something is available on the internet, it’s fair game to be used and isn’t subject to copyright laws. But recent legal actions taken by major companies such as the New York Times and the Washington Post will show you that copyright laws do apply online. Webmasters who choose to infringe copyright laws and use content from other sites to serve their own purpose, instead of using content developed by their own company, often find themselves slapped with lawsuits which can be very costly in the end.

Thin or low-quality content

So what are some examples of low-quality content? Usually, this is identified by the content not fully addressing the user’s query, often being shorter than 300 words, stuffed with keywords, or simply having no purpose/conclusion. If you’re new to SEO, you need to make a habit of checking the Google Search Quality Rating Guidelines as this document teaches people how Google manually reviews the quality of websites.

Next, consider time on site. If a visitor immediately closes their web browser after arriving on your website, this sends a signal to Google that the user’s query intent was not satisfied by the content found on your site. This will reflect negatively on your website’s quality score and waste any potential crawling and indexing that may have taken place.

What does Google mean by low-quality content? Well, the search engine has its own set of criteria for identifying good or bad content. In particular, Google has listed 23 questions to help website owners objectively classify a poor quality webpage. These questions are pretty revealing. The first question asks “Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?” whilst the second asks “Is the article short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?” Fact is, if your content is lousy, Google will find it. This will directly hinder the potential SEO value of the page as it won’t index it for the keywords you would like it to be found for.

Keyword stuffing

These days it’s more about the placement of KW in an article, specifically where it occurs in a sentence. When my team does a review for something that might be targeting a certain keyword, I notice a common mistake is that the keyword isn’t used in the first sentence of a piece of text that is targeting it. This is one of the first things spiders look for, so it’s a must to include it early on for best optimization. Many of the tools Mo uses to do on-page analysis will advise us to scatter the keyword more within a certain piece of content. This often leads to forced usage and could be perceived as keyword stuffing. Remember it’s about the semantic relation of a keyword in today’s new SEO era, you don’t necessarily need to use the exact same keyword over and over.

If you don’t want to incur the wrath of Google, you should avoid keyword stuffing. In days gone by, it was possible to get a certain page to rank simply by repeating a certain keyword over and over. Not so anymore. Search engines have wised up to this old black hat technique and have put certain measures in place to identify the quality of a certain piece of text. Forcing keyword usage just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Lack of proper headings and subheadings

Properly formatted content is an important part of SEO. It helps to deliver a clearer outcome to the search engine about what the page is about and thus helps to ensure the correct people are finding the correct information. Text is much harder to read and categorize than articles with titles, neat headings, and paragraphs. Consequently, it is important to use proper headings and subheadings for SEO. This means that the article should be split into different sections. Each section should have a heading and in some cases a subheading. This is better seen than explained, so take a look at the structure of this article. Heading and subheadings also make for easier reading. People are more likely to keep reading an article if it is clearly set out and easy to skim through. By using proper headings and subheadings, an article is transformed from a single block of text into an interlinked structure of related topics. Let’s liken this to a house. The article is the house and the individual sections are the rooms. The information within each section is a piece of furniture. Would you rather live in a house with no rooms or furniture, or a house that is nicely divided up and contains your prized record-breaking spoon collection? I think we both know the answer to that one.

Ignoring meta tags and meta descriptions

Meta description: A meta description is a short summary that describes and provides information about the content of the web page. It usually appears below the clickable link on the search engine results. The purpose of writing a meta description is to encourage a searcher to click on the link and visit your web page. An ideal meta description should be between 150-160 characters. A well-written meta description should pique a searcher’s interest in the content of the web page and may even lead to higher rankings in the SERP by helping search engines understand what the web page is about.

Meta title: The title is the most graphically displayed piece of meta details. It usually appears as a hyperlink on the search results. The title on each web page of your website should be clear and descriptive. It should be created to inspire a visitor who is researching the web page from a search engine result to click on the link and visit your web page. To achieve this, the title should be compelling and relevant to the content on the web page.

Meta details are the title and description for your web page. They are the first things a searcher sees regarding your web page on an inquiry outcome listing. It gives a hint or preview of what the web page is about. Having a respected meta title and description is one of the most important SEO techniques. If you have been neglecting it, it is time to give it the attention it deserves.

Off-Page Mistakes

It is one of the biggest mistakes to assume that backlinks are all the same. Even though there are backlinks that may seem only slightly useful to the point where it is unnoticeable, however, those links might be doing more harm than good. It is smart to aim high with backlinks and seek out the links from higher ranking sites and make sure the link is connected to similar content that represents your site. On another note, it is best to avoid spam links as this may lead to blackballing from search engines. It is known that over 70% of internet users utilize social networks. Now, with that being said, how could one expect to miss out on a huge potential of traffic? Social media is all about visibility and creating something worth talking about. This correlates to creating quality content and achieving top results. Gaining the correct attention may result in that site being discussed on a blog or a social media page. By lacking social media presence, this would be an opportunity missed. Last but not least, there is ignoring local SEO. This is pretty specific and has a lot to do with the global vs. local mark. Let’s say, for instance, you have a PC repair service in Las Vegas. Now, it isn’t really going to be beneficial for a customer in Alabama to run across this site. This is where local SEO comes into play. By implementing keywords with local intent and changing site content to local information, one can avoid irrelevant traffic and maintain good quality visitors to the site. The final three sections highlight SEO mistakes for specific types of optimization: on-page, technical, and off-page. Overall, the list should provide ample information for webmasters to understand what they are doing wrong and how it can be fixed. While backlinks are fixable, some of the mistakes a person may not even know they are committing. An understanding of these mistakes may lead to a more thorough evaluation of one’s site.

Neglecting backlink quality

Sometimes companies want to automate this process, and a common way of doing this is through link trading websites. Despite the name, these websites are now considered to be link spam, and search engines are now giving less link relevance to links coming from these websites. This technique provides minimal benefit to both sides and can, in fact, damage the website of the person taking part. Another common method is mass link exchange, which is exchanging links with many websites. Often, these links are inserted on a links page and will never be in direct visibility of a website visitor. This is not a good method as it severely lowers link authority. A rule of thumb in link building would be to ask the question, “Would I still place this link if search engines did not exist?”

Link building is an essential component of off-page SEO. A useful analogy to link building is that it is the driving force that allows people to find your website. Having a lot of links from other websites is like having a lot of signposts saying your website is this way. However, all link building is not equal. What is important in today’s SEO world is the quality of the links. This mistake is seen as one of the easier link building methods, as usually website owners are more than happy to receive a link. Usually, it involves a simplistic idea of “I will give you a link if you give me a link.”

Overlooking social media presence

The main problem is that search engines are used as a benchmark for the success of a website’s marketing campaign. When medium to large sized businesses start conducting SEO campaigns, they usually have a certain allocation of expenditure and they generally try to correlate this expenditure to revenue as a ROI. This is a rational approach, but due to misconceptions regarding SEO methods and timeframes, the results can often be skewed. When utilizing SEO to augment organic search traffic, it’s vital to monitor the changes in search traffic volume. This in itself is an analytics lesson, however as search traffic is propelled, it is probable that traffic from all other mediums including social media will also increase. It is here that the SEO campaign is mistakenly correlated with increased organic traffic, when the reality is that it was the cumulative effect of all marketing efforts. At this point in time, the package cannot be replicated with same results. But should there be another augmentation in search traffic through off-page methods, the gap between cumulative traffic and solely organic traffic will start to close. This is when the effort and expenditure on off-page SEO becomes less justifiable. In the case that semantic search is attained, the company may pull out of SEO attempt to replicate previous results. The issue is that Semantic search is by no means an on/off switch and by halting SEO, the company may find that competition causes search ranking to stagnate or drop. This poses the question of whether semantic search has a negative effect on the SEO industry, however that is a topic for another day.

Social media is a great tool for promoting a website, blog or product. In stating that, not all industries need to use social media to get their target audience to their site. Many companies in the SaaS industry feel that their customers are not on social media. Another example is that a law firm or major construction company would have very little crowd on social media. While this is true, there are still positive effects and it can still be a lucrative method of marketing. An eloquent example is that when inputting the company name of a business, it’s likely that the social media profiles will rank on the front page of a search engine.

Ignoring local SEO optimization

Local businesses that ignore local SEO will never receive the high volume of traffic or sales they desire. Local search marketing is crucial for small businesses trying to capture a local audience. Beginning with local keyword research, a business can easily uncover a large volume of very specific keywords that were being used in search engine. These keywords often have low to moderate competition and search volume, which makes them very profitable to use. An example of a local keyword would be “Long Island real estate”. This term is very specific with location. This type of keyword, along with other local keywords, can be used on the content of the website in a relatively quick amount of time, increasing the chances of ranking high on many of these keywords. These keywords can also be used as domain names as long as the website is brand new. Combining local keywords as the domain name for the website will almost guarantee quick top rankings in the search engine results.

Most Popular