Avoiding the Pitfalls: The Top SEO Mistakes to Avoid
Major search engine crawlers, such as Google’s search algorithm, can undergo hundreds of updates and changes every year. Things tweak and change – dramatically or subtlety – all the time.
So, when you set out to optimize your website, it can seem daunting to keep up with all the best practices. After all, it’s a lot to keep track of, and it’s easy to make little errors here and there that add up to lackluster optimization.
Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the more common SEO mistakes people make so that you don’t have to!
What is SEO?
First of all, SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” It’s basically the act of creating, modifying, and positioning content on a website so that it will appear more attractive to search engines.
The heavy hitters, such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc., all have their own algorithms that scan content on the internet to determine what it’s about. SEO is about taking that content (or creating it) and making it as likely to appear at the top of a search result as possible.
This may seem like SEO for dummies, but it’s important to know what we’re talking about. Common components of SEO are:
- Keywords (the words people are using to search)
- Internal links (hyperlinks to other pages on your own website)
- External links (hyperlinks to other people’s webpages)
- Metadata (content written within HTML directly for search engines)
- Social media (a digital platform to funnel content through)
- Digital directories (websites to allow yours to be listed and receive reviews)
These are a few of the main elements of SEO, and if you’re familiar with these then you’ll be better at recognizing common mistakes in SEO strategies.
What are the Top SEO Mistakes?
When it comes to search engine optimization, a little mistake can go a long way.
You want to avoid them at all costs, so it’s a good idea to learn from others’ mistakes. Let’s look at some of the most common examples.
1. Messy Link Structure
Link structure has to do with internal and external linking. Links create the structure of your website because links are what people use to navigate your website.
Messy link structure means you have some of the following issues:
- Broken links
- 404 error pages
- Links to irrelevant content
- Too many links between a landing page and “call to action”
Broken links and error pages are obvious issues. If someone clicks a link on your site and ends at a dead end, there’s a good chance they’ll abandon ship.
Search engines won’t look favorably on this, either.
The other important thing to remember with link structure is that it shouldn’t take a reader too many clicks to get to a call-to-action (CTA) page. CTAs are pages that entice the reader to purchase a product, request a service, contact the company, etc.
A good rule of thumb is that no page should be more than two links away from a CTA.
2. Focusing on the Wrong Keywords
As you might know, when you write a blog for SEO purposes, keywords are an important part of the equation. People are out there (sometimes right around you) who are going to websites like Google to ask questions and insert phrases.
You want to create content that matches what they’re searching for, but a common mistake in SEO is focusing on the wrong ones. When you do your keyword research, you might discover short and long-tail keywords that are getting a lot of attention.
But it’s possible these keywords don’t match with your own topic, product, service, etc. Just because you can rope readers in by using popular keywords doesn’t mean it will help.
3. Keyword Stuffing
Speaking of keywords, keyword stuffing is when you overstuff your content with keywords.
You may be thinking, “The more keywords I use the more effective it will be!” Wrong. Overuse of keywords is seen as spammy by most search engines and you’ll more than likely be penalized by the overuse of these repeat words.
4. Link Stuffing
The same applies to links, too, both internal and external. You may think that adding as many links as possible only enhance your search ratings, but again, it’s seen as spammy.
Especially when you internally link to your own website, you need to make sure that the link is relevant to the topic at hand. Adding links just for the sake of adding links will hurt you in the long run.
5. Meaningless Content Creation
Just like you can overdo it with keywords and links, you can overdo it with content creation itself.
Creating content is an important part of any good SEO strategy. Sometimes, though, we make the mistake of thinking that we need to constantly create and publish content no matter the quality.
Creating content that is irrelevant to your brand, product, service, mission, etc. is a bad idea. Content for content’s sake is meaningless and your audience will not appreciate it.
This will create an unfavorable bounce rate (people who quickly leave your website), and it will hurt your ranking in search engines.
6. Not Checking Your Work
Basically, you need to consistently review and assess your own website’s SEO “health.”
Not only do search engine algorithms change, but your own website can change, too! This means a lot of problems can crop up that you aren’t even aware of.
For example, broken links pop up all the time as people change or restructure their website. You should always give your website a check-up to make sure everything is operating smoothly.
And always be sure to use analytics to monitor your website’s ranking to make sure that your strategies are actually working.
Learn From Others’ Mistakes
When you’re trying to optimize your website and rank highly in search engine results, it can be difficult to remember all the do’s and don’t’s. Standards sometimes change, and you need to be on top of current strategies.
One good way to keep ahead of the curve is to learn from others and avoid these common SEO mistakes.
If you want some more tips about SEO, check out this guide to local search so you can target the most relevant people for your business!
President, Direction Inc.