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 15 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…
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!
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Learn more about the ins and outs of How Does SEO Work in our full beginner’s guide!
It’s clear that good SEO can make a huge difference to your online business. Now we’re going to walk you through 15 common SEO mistakes to avoid, and give you some actionable tips on how to steer clear of these SEO errors.
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 Expert Mordy Oberstein
It’s very easy for SEOs to get lost in search volume and keyword difficulty, those kinds of metrics, without thinking about the business goals behind the keywords. But I think for the average site owner, getting too focused on the tools is a bad thing.
Mordy Oberstein is Head of SEO and Branding at Wix, the popular website builder. With a wealth of experience under his belt, including 2 years at Semrush, 5 years at Rank Ranger, and 3 years at Wix, Mordy is an expert in the SEO community. We were lucky enough to sit down with Mordy and learn more about his work and his thoughts on SEO - you can ready the full interview below!
Mordy sat down with our writer Jac to discuss all things SEO, from his day-to-day at Wix, whether you need an SEO gteam to rank well, thoughts on AI writers and SEO, and tips on ranking.
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Having an SEO strategy doesn’t have to cost money. Our guide on How Much Does SEO Cost breaks down the main costs involved in optimizing for search engines, to help you budget for your strategy.
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.
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.”
We also interviewed Mordy Oberstein, the head of Wix SEO who talked about it being easy to become wrapped up in search volume and keyword difficulty metrics – and instead to focus on the business goals behind the keywords.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.”
Your title tag is simply the headline that shows up for your page on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). This headline is what both search engines and visitors will see as the title for your content – so it is really important to optimize it.
Here are some key pointers to help you do this:
- Keep it concise (50-60 characters)
- Make it descriptive of the content on the page (keep it relevant)
- Include the keywords your page is targeting, with the most important one at the beginning
- Ensure it is unique
- Write it in a way that is easy to read and enticing to click on
When you neglect to optimize your title tags you are missing a big opportunity to boost your pages search engine performance and could result in lower rankings and click through rates.
Website images are often overlooked as an important part of SEO. Yet your image descriptions and keywords can provide additional context and drastically improve your search engine rankings.
Here are some ways to avoid this mistake:
- Optimize your file names using descriptive keywords to help search engines understand the content of the image
- Use alt tags to provide an alternative text description for visually impaired users (this is also used by search engine crawlers)
- Reduce image file sizes to reduce load time, you can use a free online image compressor
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Creating content which perfectly meets the needs of your users will help you drive more traffic from search engines. To do this you will need to understand the types of intent that a searcher might have. These are typically categorized like this:
- Informational intent – when a searcher is seeking out specific information, answers, or knowledge about a particular topic or query.
- Navigational intent – when a searcher is looking for a specific website, brand, or online destination.
- Transactional intent – when the searcher is ready to complete a transaction or engage in a specific online activity such as making a purchase or signing up for a service.
When you understand intent, you can then create content which offers searchers exactly what they are looking for. This makes for a better user experience and helps increase authority with search engines.
Backlinks are an important part of building your websites search engine rankings. However, focusing on quantity over quality can be a bad idea.
Instead work to build backlinks from high quality websites that are both authoritative and relevant to your own content. Why? Because this carries more weight with search engines like Google.
A diverse range of natural backlinks from these types of websites will help you drastically improve your domain authority, and your rankings. In contrast, you should avoid gaining backlinks from low-quality or spammy backlinks, as search engines may penalise your site for this.
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. All of this is especially important when doing a website update.
- Not focussing on keywords enough – or keyword stuffing, which is just as bad!
- Poor quality copy such as incorrect grammar and typos
- Not delivering the answers your visitors want to find, or meandering on about unrelated topics
- Linking out to spammy websites
- Not structuring content properly using headings and paragraphs
The list goes on! The main thing to consider is, does your copy serve your visitors? Is it easy to read and understand, and does it clearly answer their search query for the keywords the page is targeting? Google cares about user experience, so if you do too, then you’re on the right track!