SEO Mistakes To Avoid: 11 Common Mistakes To Steer Clear Of

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Practically every business owner wants more, relevant traffic visiting their website. Of course, there are several marketing methods that can be used to do this, from paid ads to driving traffic through well-planned social media campaigns.

Yet few options compare to SEO when it comes to bringing a stream of high-volume, sustained traffic to your site.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through 11 common mistakes that businesses make when they’re optimizing their websites for search engines. But most importantly, we’ll tell you exactly how you can avoid making these SEO mistakes for your own website.

Want more traffic to your site? Then read on…

What Is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization – it’s the act of optimizing your website to appear higher up on search engine search results. This is usually done through a mix of widely accepted techniques, from improving user experience to publishing regular, relevant content.

From searching for local businesses to finding something to entertain us, we have all used search engines to find the things we need. This is why it’s a powerful marketing tool. SEO helps businesses drive traffic from those who are interested in the products and services they offer.

Below we use an online baked goods company as an example – let’s call it The Happy Baker.

The Happy Baker creates a website to sell its delicious baked goods. As part of its SEO strategy it optimizes its website for the search term: 

“doughnuts delivered in New York”

They did a great job at SEO, so now whenever someone Googles “doughnuts delivered in New York”, they appear at the top of the search page. This drives hyper-relevant traffic to their website which results in multiple sales every day. 

But why does being at the top matter?

Well, because stats suggest that on average the top result receives a massive 27% click through rate…and 75% of searchers never scroll past the first page of results!

11 Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid

It’s clear that good SEO can make a huge difference to your online business. Now we’re going to walk you through 11 common SEO mistakes to avoid, and give you some actionable tips on how to steer clear of these SEO errors.

#1. No SEO Strategy

It might seem like a silly question. Yet if you fail to be specific about your marketing goals, it will be impossible to ever achieve them.

Your goal might be something as simple as “sell 100 more doughnuts every week” or “get 50 more inquiries each month.” Once you have an endpoint in mind, it becomes possible to create a strategy for achieving it.

Your SEO strategy will detail everything you plan to do to achieve your end goal. This is likely to be a mix of tactics. Your strategy can also be used to forward plan time investment and responsibilities – offering you an easy-to-reference document that can be used to ensure you are always heading in the right direction.

Advice from the Experts

Set your strategy first, before you begin any other SEO. This will ensure that you only ever invest time and effort in doing things that will truly have a positive impact on your business.

#2. Slow Site Speed

We’ve all been there…

You open a website hoping to find some useful information, or perhaps even hoping to make a purchase. One second passes… two seconds… three… four… the website takes forever to load. So, you lose interest, close it and look elsewhere.

Slow site speeds won’t just frustrate users, many experts claim that it can also negatively impact how well your site will perform on search engine rankings.

Advice from the Experts

Many factors can impact your website load times. However, some of the easiest to change include moving your website to a faster server, compressing file sizes (such as images), and removing unnecessary plug-ins from your website.

#3. Targeting the Wrong Keywords

Getting loads of website visitors might make you feel good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean anything positive for your business unless those visitors have an actual want or need for the product or service you offer.

This is why finding the right keywords to target is crucial to SEO success. The right keywords for your business will not only drive traffic but also include buyer intent. For example, someone searching “how to make doughnuts” is likely to be much less valuable to an online baked goods company than someone searching “doughnut delivery.”

Advice from the Experts

Make keyword research a key element in your creating your SEO strategy. You can use free tools like Google Keyword Planner to find keywords that are both relevant to your brand and have high search volumes.

google keyword planner
Google Keyword Planner offers you lots of insights into your keywords.

#4. Duplicate Content

Duplicating is not only unoriginal, but it can also impact how favorably search engines view your website. This is true whether you duplicate content from another site, or use your own content in multiple locations.

Repeat content is seen by search engines as creating a poor user experience.

Advice from the Experts

Although it is fine to use other content as inspiration, it is crucial to ensure that your content is original. You can use free tools such as Dupli Checker to check your content for potential plagiarism.

dupli checker
Ensure you aren't publishing duplicated content with online checkers.

#5. Forgetting Meta Descriptions and Alt Tags

Meta descriptions and alt tags are an important part of telling search engines what your content is all about. Although search engines will typically assess your content in its entirety, your meta description and alt tags will make it clear what the key themes of your content are, making it easier to rank you for the right terms.

Advice from the Experts

It’s simple. Remember to add a meta description and alt tags to each web page and blog post you create.

#6. No Linking Structure

Internal linking helps search engines like Google understand how your website is structured. By giving them a clear picture of the hierarchy of your site, it allows search engines to place importance on the most crucial pages.

For example, “The Happy Baker” may have one key page that is used to give information on its delicious doughnuts and allows customers to buy online. The website may also have a blog, where content is published around all things baking.

Ensuring that as many of these blog posts naturally link to the key doughnut page as possible will show search engines that this page comes high up in the hierarchy of your site.

Advice from the Experts

Make a note of the most important pages on your website. Then, every time you publish a new piece of content, set a reminder to review that content and add links to the important pages where it is natural to do so.

#7. Forgetting To Optimize for Mobile

It is estimated that a massive 59% of all internet traffic came from mobile devices in 2022. This goes to show just how important it is to make your site work well on mobile.

Search engines also understand this importance and will penalize websites that don’t perform well when viewed on mobile. In practice, this means that when a user views your site via their mobile device it must look great and be easy to use.

Advice from the Experts

Many platforms such as Wix and Shopify allow you to test your website on mobile before going live. Use this functionality to avoid making common mobile SEO mistakes such as creating buttons that can’t be clicked or using images that don’t fit on the screen.

WIX mobile view
Wix offers a simple way to check how your website looks on mobile.

#8. Not Utilizing Analytics

Website analytics can tell us a huge amount about the site itself, our business, and our customers. They are also really useful in helping us make SEO decisions, especially in the case of search dedicated analytics platforms such as Google Search Console.

These platforms can tell us key information on important SEO aspects of your site such as:

  • Which keywords you are ranking for
  • Mobile usability
  • Top linking sites
  • Site maps

Advice from the Experts

Set a reminder to periodically check your Google Search Console and other analytic platforms to ensure you are making the best decisions in your pursuit of better search engine rankings.

google search console
Google Search Console provides you with lots of helpful data on your search performance.

#9. Making Things Difficult for Crawlers

Making it easy for search engines like Google to crawl your site will help boost your rankings. After all, if they can’t easily crawl your site then they cannot tell where to rank you – so are likely not to rank you at all. In short, if Google’s crawlers can’t index your webpages, then your website is basically invisible, and you won’t show up in search engine results.

Googlebots crawl your website following hyperlinks to discover new content, and it then adds these new pages to its index. If you’re not in Google’s index, you’re not in with a chance of being listed in search results. That’s why it’s so important to create pages that are easily crawled by Google!

You can request indexing via Google Console, which is a good idea when you’ve published new pages to your site.

Ways you can make your pages easier for crawling include:

  • Consistent internal linking between relevant pages
  • Adding pages to your sitemap
  • Building links from other, high-quality sites into your pages (called “backlinks”)
  • Avoiding duplicate content

Advice from the Experts

You can make it easy for search engines like Google to crawl your site by ensuring you use proper site architecture and by submitting a sitemap via Google Search Console.

#10. Faulty Redirects

“404 ERROR”

We all hate to see these words, including search engines.

Faulty redirects are where a link, often connected to anchor text on a website, leads to nowhere. This creates a bad user experience and therefore leads to websites being penalized by search engines.

Advice from the Experts

Google Search Console comes to the rescue again. Simply visit your console and run the “crawl error report” to find any faulty redirects on your site, then go in and fix them.

#11. No Location-Specific Pages

Location-specific pages are incredibly important if you run a business that targets specific geographical areas. This is because they will help you appear in searches for those looking for your products and services in those specific areas.

For example, The Happy Baker may benefit from creating a page that is focused on keywords such as “buy doughnuts in New York” and “New York doughnut delivery.”

Advice from the Experts

Consider the main areas where your customers are based and create pages that target those locations.

SEO Mistakes to Avoid: Summary

SEO is a powerful tool. When a business is able to rank highly for key search terms which are relevant to its offering, it will benefit from high volumes of traffic with at least a certain level of buying intent.

Use the advice we have outlined in this guide to avoid some of the biggest SEO mistakes businesses make when trying to gain more traffic.

FAQs

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the process of optimizing a website to increase the chances that it will appear at the top of search engine results. SEO can help businesses drive high volumes of relevant traffic to their site with no or very little financial investment.
There are countless mistakes that people make when conducting SEO for their websites. Some of the biggest include not optimizing files, not considering user experience, not targeting the right keywords, and failing to use the tools available to improve their chances of success.

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