Whether you’ve heard of search engine optimization before or not, your website could already be making common SEO mistakes.
Why does this matter?
The more SEO mistakes you’re making, the less likely you’ll rank anywhere significant (or at all) on a search engine results page (SERP).
SEO is merely the practice of increasing the amount of traffic your website gets through organic search engine results. But the practice of it can be a bit more complex and always a work in progress even for the most savvy websites and businesses.
Below are 13 common SEO mistakes you could be making right now and not even realize it. Fortunately, these mistakes are easy to fix.
Using incorrect keywords
Keywords are commonly thought of when first learning SEO best practices. The correct keywords will help your website appear on SERPs.
However, choosing the right keywords that are relevant to the audience you want to find your website can be tricky. This means that it’s entirely possible that you’re using incorrect keywords, ones that mean something else or are too generic.
This can happen because many will skip doing critical keyword research.
Review the product(s) and/or service(s) you offer and consider what your customers would search for to find them. They could be far more specific than you realize.
Duplicate content can be a very common SEO mistake. It happens when the same content appears on more than one webpage within the same or even different domains.
Search engines do try to determine which version to index, but it can go wrong.
One solution is the use of canonical links, which help show search engines which version is prioritized.
Speaking to too general of an audience
Have you been producing content for a while but haven’t seen much traction on it from search engine referral traffic?
The internet is a big place, and it’s easy to speak too broadly in hopes of appealing to everyone (but not appealing to anyone).
Consider who you’re speaking to in your content. Think about your ideal customer:
- Geographic location
- Education level
- Financial scenario
- Needs and wants
- Biggest problems (that you can solve)
When you can better engage with the specific target audience you’re looking for, your relevance factor goes up for that audience (as opposed to swimming in an ocean of general appeal).
Ignoring your Google MyBusiness listing
Google continues to prioritize “near me” type searches, which makes Google MyBusiness listings one of the best opportunities for small businesses to be discovered.
Google MyBusiness allows you to include your location, any additional information (like open hours) and answer any posted questions.
Not claiming or appropriately managing your Google MyBusiness listing is a missed opportunity.
Slow loading time
You might not realize it, but search engines do pay attention to how long it takes for your website to load.
This is difficult because it means balancing the consumer appeal of graphics, photos, videos and so on with the need for a quick-loading experience.
Loading speed is especially important for mobile users.
If a webpage takes too long to load, you can experience a high bounce rate. The more users who quickly leave your page, the more search engines think that your page is not relevant.
To speed up your loading time, you can limit the number of plug-ins and audit your site for any poorly written codes.
Lacking in mobile optimization
Mobile is everything these days. If your website is not optimized for mobile use, you’re missing out on an increased SEO ranking automatically.
Not sure where to start? Check out our 16 tips for mobile optimization.
Using ‘black hat’ SEO tricks
“Black hat” in the SEO world refers to using methods that violate search engine guidelines but theoretically can yield faster results.
Some “black hat” tactics are:
- Keyword stuffing
- Link exchanges
- Hidden text
- Purchased links
While tempting, these practices can get your website penalized or even banned by Google and other search engines.
Ignoring link building
Link building refers to the active increase of backlinks, which are links on other websites that link back to your website.
The more backlinks you have, the more valuable your website looks to search engines.
Not optimizing your on-site SEO
On-site SEO involves optimizing your page titles and meta descriptions on your website.
These appear as the headline and summary for your website as you appear on a SERP.
Letting these go will not only downplay your ranking but likely turn users off from clicking on your result if they do see it.
Quality links missing
Just like how you want to be linked to from other websites, you also want to link in your own content to other websites.
It’s about quality over quantity. The key here is that you’re linking to relevant websites with a strong reputation and better ranking.
Not addressing site errors
Don’t assume that everything is always working perfectly on your website.
Search engines will downgrade the rankings of any sites with broken or misleading links (i.e. 404 errors). You can use such tools as Sitechecker or WooRank to keep an eye on your website and make sure everything is in working order.
Not measuring your performance
SEO doesn’t just happen, and it definitely doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
Keeping an eye on referral traffic to your website (which pages are getting visited the most by organic search traffic) helps you understand:
- Are your SEO efforts working?
- What specifically is working?
Watching your metrics is a best practice in all types of marketing, not just SEO.
Thinking social media doesn’t impact SEO
Social media and SEO might be different, but they can definitely benefit one another.
First, consistent social media accounts frequently rank in search results. Second, engagement with your content through social media is just an additional signal to search engines that your content is valuable.
Keep in mind that all search engines monitor overall social media engagement on your accounts.
While these SEO mistakes are easy to make, they’re also easy enough to fix. Just remember that successful marketing uses SEO as a tool among many other tools to expose your business to new leads.