In any given year, search engines like Google roll out dozens of new algorithm adjustments. These may not always be major changes, but they all contribute to the single most important goal of making sure that anyone who hits “Enter” in the search bar gets what they need. In effect, these updates cater to the end-user and prompt businesses to keep the customer in mind, always and in all ways.
The challenge, therefore, when it comes to SEO, is keeping abreast of changes despite the ceaseless cycle of technological development. It’s definitely no easy task. Make one mistake too many and you could be losing market share to your competitors, which is always a big no-no.
Whether you’re new to the field or you’ve been around long enough, run through these top examples of SEO mistakes for good measure. Get a quick refresher on what not to do so you keep your website’s performance in tip-top shape.
1. Poor internal linking structure
Internal links and their structure are important to any website. Not only do they offer convenient navigability to your users, they also offer your audience content that’s easier to consume, getting them even more interested in what you have to offer. These links also help Google bots map out the significance of your content to those looking for related answers.
Understandably, more pages are created as a website ages. There’s a chance that internal links lead to 404s, duplicated content, and so on. While these minor things may not seem like much of a problem, if you accumulate too many poor links, your site may end up not getting indexed.
How to fix It
There are several ways you can make sure your site’s linking structure is strong enough to withstand the test of time.
- Make a habit of resubmitting your XML sitemap to search engines after making changes to your website. This keeps the valuable information on your website indexed as well as its page updates.
- Use robots.txt and no index tags wisely to streamline what crawlers map throughout your site. But, keep in mind not to block links to your own webpages or an affiliate’s link.
- Always do regular keyword research to maintain the relevance of terms that your target audience uses.
2. Thin content
By Google’s definition, thin content refers to content with little or no value. In other words, these pages don’t necessarily have less content in the literal sense, but they could also be duplicated from other pages or have near-similar content. Thin content may also refer to pages that read like they were just written for the sake of including keywords.
You might be creating new pages just to churn out more content, but that sacrifices the quality of not just one page but the rest of your website. If Google deems that you to hold more pages than incidentally acceptable, it’s possible that your whole site may be removed from search results.
How to fix it
Producing good content is the best response to a penalty. You can request to be reinstated in the search results after making the appropriate adjustments to your site. You may even increase your brand’s authority with this.
- Do your keyword research. This ensures you don’t overuse the same words over and over. This boosts your relevance and gives better insight on what your content is about.
- Keep content straightforward, actionable, and evergreen. It should be able to transcend time so that you build a stronger brand identity.
- Boost any duplicate content with additional original content. While it isn’t ideal to just delete these duplicate pages because you might lose any ranking you’ve already gained from it, you can improve the existing content.
- Run readability tests. You’re not here to impress your audience with big words. You’ll sell better when you’re understood better.
- Stay relevant and informative if you want more people to click on your site. Remember, they’re looking for answers and solutions to questions and problems they have.
3. Optimizing for the wrong keywords
Why does it seem like your efforts in keyword optimization aren’t working? You can research as much as you want, but you might not be getting the full meaning behind the terms you’ve stocked. It’s easy to misinterpret things, after all.
Context is crucial to the way you utilize any form of data you’ve gathered. More than listing keywords from research, understand why these are the keywords that come up. For instance, your content may not match the user’s intent. If someone is searching for information on a general term, offering a product page isn’t the most ideal option – an informative article might be a better match.
How to fix it
Look into the statistics you find. Take a moment to reconsider how they all make sense from different perspectives.
- Bounce rate. Why might there be a significant number of people leaving your landing pages so soon, when you’ve beefed them up with CTAs? Your terms may be too broad and may be capturing too wide an audience that doesn’t specifically need your brand. Identify and adjust.
- Revisit your brand and target market. Offer your business to the people who need what you have. Tweak the content based on terms that they would use instead of terms that may be too generic.
- Re-evaluate if your pages match a user’s intent. You’ll want to give a solution to a problem, not just related content.
4. Failure to localize
Language plays a crucial role in widening audience reach. The more accessible it is in a specific language, the more people will opt to click on your content simply because they understand it.
If going global is your business goal, you may want to take a step back and reconsider localizing because of how much potential it holds. Not everyone in the world understands English. Expanding to different languages will make you a formidable competitor against brands that don’t provide accessibility in this way.
Plus, search engines have also included localization in their ranking algorithms. SERPs are affected by a user’s location whether the search is related to a particular geography. You may miss out on getting a better ranking if you don’t localize.
How to fix it
Allowing users to understand is one thing, but there’s more to localizing than just translation. It’s about the who, what, and where.
- Make accessibility an imperative necessity to your chosen locales. Create content that makes your business relevant for a locale such as shipping rates, branch locations, and whatever else affects a location.
- Build link connectivity to sites relevant to the region you’re targeting. Talk to local blogs and businesses. You may get a feature on their website if they like you enough.
- Submit your site to directories. They can increase your SERP ranking and in effect, your site traffic.
5. Duplicate content
The bigger your website grows, the more content you will build over time. If this isn’t looked after well enough, you might end up with duplicate content issues.
Although Google and other search engines don’t directly penalize duplicate content, there’s a chance that they will regard duplicate content as “thin” content that should be de-indexed. Plus, if third-party websites find their content on your site before you asked permission to repost it, they can file intellectual property claims.
How to fix it
It’s more about website management than anything else. Keep a watchful eye on what kind of content you create and put out because it may cause more harm than good.
- Conduct regular site audits. Review your existing pages content that needs updating. Do anchor texts and links work properly? Is your output still relevant and valuable?
- Don’t let high authority sites republish your content without a backlink. It might seem like a good idea at first to get a high authority site to republish your content even without a backlink. But because they’ve already built their domain authority and have a huge following, your audience (or search engines) may think that it’s your site that duplicated the content. Make sure that you’re always credited as the original author.
6. Link buying
It might sound like an easy fix to get more clicks by paying other sites to link to you, but as it stands, link buying is bad practice. More importantly, it goes against Google’s webmaster guidelines. Once you’re caught, you’ll be penalized and knocked down the SERPs.
According to Google, paid links don’t refer just to using money for links or posts with links. This includes any form of exchanging goods and services for links or sponsored content. It’s good to be wary of how you obtain backlinks to your site.
How to fix it
Don’t rely too much on other websites to generate traffic. They’re helpful in building your authority and ranking, but only to a certain degree. Paying for links shouldn’t be your go-to strategy.
- Build a strong brand to get more organic links. While that may be a lot easier said than done, you can always turn to other ways to get organic links. Try participating in online communities to establish yourself. Help solve problems posted there and relate it to what you’re offering.
- Create how-to articles that address a problem your business is solving. Pages like this can help you reach your target audience faster and more effectively.
- Open your doors to guest blogging. Make sure that it’s more about reaching a wider audience than building links, so don’t forget that quality content still matters.
7. Overlooking social media’s potential
Many companies are still hesitant about investing their resources in building and managing a social media presence, but it’s important to recognize that there is, in fact, SEO benefits to this (albeit indirectly).
Almost everyone is on social media. If your business isn’t on it, you may be missing the chance to boost website traffic and brand awareness on such an accessible platform.
How to fix it
It’s easy to discover goods and services on social media, and there’s a bigger audience to engage. You can build a strong following that allows room for organic backlinking without the need for any form of payment (if they like you enough).
- Create a page and link to conversion pages or relevant info on your site. An interested party might message or comment, asking for details. That’s the perfect time to jump in and share your landing pages, encouraging them to convert.
- Post consistently and never forget to make it relevant. The more people relate to your content, the more it will be shared, thus exponentially increasing your reach.
- Add keyword-rich descriptions on your website content and link them to your social media profiles (and vice versa). This will make it easy for crawlers to map out the relevance and potentially boost your social media page’s value.
8. Equating good content with pure text
Surely, keywords play a major factor in any site’s SEO strategies. But, there are a lot of other ways to provide quality, SEO-friendly content.
We live in the digital age where answers can be more than just long form articles. Let’s face it – not everyone has the time and energy to read long articles. People are always on-the-go nowadays and they crave highly-visual, snackable content.
How to fix it
Questions can be answered visually, too, with different media formats that center on the topic a user has searched.
Create videos. They’re often playful and appealing, which easily beats having to read. Videos don’t need to be long. They can be short but hold impactful meaning that gets straight to the point of the topic at hand.
Add images to break down your text. Make sure to use alt tags and name the file as descriptively as possible to help search engines understand what the image is about.
9. Missing title tags and metadata
Titles are the very first thing users will see on SERPs and it’s what searchers will use to determine whether a particular piece of content is relevant to what they need.
You may be going over the character limit for titles and metadata. Remember not to go beyond 60 characters for titles and 120 characters for meta description. Otherwise, search engines will truncate your title and description and users will not be able to read the entire snippet. Choose your words wisely!
Importance of variation in keywords
- These make the very first impression of your business. You want to be able to capture your audience with a distinct title that addresses their concern.
- It’s displayed in a web (or mobile) browser’s tab and helps indicate what page is open. Having keywords associated with your brand not only helps users identify which tab pertains to your content, but boosts brand recognition, too.
- These are also displayed on social media posts when your content is shared.
How to fix it
It can be challenging to write short copy, especially when you want to be as descriptive as possible. Here’s what you can do to write better title tags and metadata.
- Include promo details and relevant bits of information related to your page in the title.
- Frontload your titles with the main keywords that answer a search made by a user.
- Make sure your page titles are never the same. Give them unique titles that clearly state the significance and relevance of your page.
- Put your brand name in the title tag. If your brand is already well-known, you can boost traffic with just the mention of it.
When you’re in an SEO pinch, remember to keep calm. There are different ways you can fix the problem—or avoid these worst SEO mistakes altogether.
The key point to remember is that it’s all about the quality of your content. Your business won’t be compromised if you remember who your audience is, provide answers to their questions, and offer them a unique solutions. And when in doubt, consult with the experts at SEO Company.