SEO takes a lot of time and effort, but just because you put in the work, does not guarantee you will see results.
In fact, many companies spend a lot of their mental bandwidth on optimizing their website for SEO, but they may actually be doing more harm than good by making some common SEO mistakes.
In this article, we will introduce you to several of the most commonly-made SEO mistakes and teach you how you can correct or avoid them altogether.
- Using the Wrong Keywords
- Sleeping on Speed
- Forgetting About Local Search
- Failing to Use Unique Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
- Not Using Analytics
- Creating Poor-Quality Content
- Not Making Mobile SEO a Priority
- Duplicate Content
Common SEO Mistakes
From local small businesses to large corporate companies, here are the SEO mistakes that happen most often:
Using the Wrong Keywords
Creating content around targeted keywords is standard SEO best practice and something you should definitely be doing, but it’s important to ensure you are targeting the right keywords.
One of the most common SEO mistakes is trying to rank for the wrong keywords. Just because a keyword has a high search volume doesn’t mean you should target it.
If you want your content to rank, you have to optimize it for the right keywords.
Below are some examples of keywords you want to avoid targeting:
- Global keywords: Keywords that target a multitude of regions worldwide when you only offer your services locally.
- Generic keywords: Keywords used to bring people to your site who are not your target audience or customer base.
- Low-value keywords: Keywords that attract visitors in search of free information but not potential customers who actually want to make a purchase.
- Board keywords: High-competition keywords that will be extremely hard to rank for
Instead of aiming for the keyword examples above, focus on coming up with keywords that are more specific. The longer and more specific your keywords are, the better chance you have of ranking for those keywords.
Sleeping on Speed
Everyone loves a fast website, especially Google. The faster your site, the more likely Google is to show it some love. The slower your site, the more likely it is to fall in the rankings.
If you know your website has speed issues, doing what you can to make it faster should be one of your top SEO priorities.
This also applies to WordPress installations. If you are the owner of a WordPress website, it’s a good idea to take a look at which plugins you have activated.
Are you using all of your activated plugins? If not, they could be slowing down your website.
Review all your activated plugins to see if any can be removed. If there are none that can be removed, maybe some of your plugins could be replaced with a single plugin that combines several of those functions.
If you are not sure how fast your site is, check out the free and useful Google PageSpeed Insights tool.
All you have to do is enter a URL, and Google will give you an overview of what elements you can improve on to enhance the speed of a given page.
Make the changes Google suggests, and you should see an improvement in your site speed and eventually in your rankings.
Looking for a quick way to speed up your website? Learn how image SEO can give your website speed a boost.
Forgetting About Local Search
When you optimize your content, it’s important to remember to optimize it for local SEO as well.
If you have a business that focuses on customers who live within a specific city or region, knowing how to optimize your content for local search is an absolute must.
This includes using region-specific keywords in your content, title tags, and meta descriptions, as well as including your local address and phone number on your pages.
The goal is to provide visitors with consistent and accurate information about your business and making it easy to find. Doing this will give you a good chance of showing up in local search results.
Failing to Use Unique Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
If you are one of the companies that use your company or website name for the title of all of your web pages, you are missing a massive opportunity to optimize those pages for search engines.
Every page on your website should have its own unique title that should describe what the purpose of that page is.
Why? Because your title tags are used as the text for bookmarks when someone bookmarks your page, and those titles are often when your article is shared on social media.
If you want to consistently include your company or website name in your page titles, that’s fine, but do it at the end of the title after you’ve already used the specific keyword that page is targeting.
It is also important to not forget about your meta descriptions.
Meta descriptions are your chance to pitch your webpage to search users. You have 160 characters to tell users why your page is worth clicking on. Those 160 characters should include your target keywords and make users want to click on your link in the search results.
Not Using Analytics
No matter how much time and effort you pour into optimizing your website, it can all be wasted if you are not utilizing analytics.
The only way you can measure success is by tracking it.
Using free tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, you can track your optimization efforts to see which strategies work and which ones do not.
Once you have that information, it will be much easier to optimize your content and know what you are doing is producing results.
Creating Poor-Quality Content
When it comes to SEO, content is king. No matter what SEO best practices or standards you incorporate, they won’t go very far for you if you don’t have high-quality content.
Below are some of the most common mistakes people make when forgetting to create good content.
- Too short: Content needs to be at least 300 words to give Google enough copy to determine what a page is about. If you write less than 300 words, you are more or less telling Google your page isn’t a good match for the search query.
- Prioritizing search engines over website visitors: It’s important to always keep your audience in mind.
- Unoriginal content: If your content is not original and brings nothing of real value to the table, it will get lost in the shuffle.
- Keyword stuffing: Keyword stuffing used to be an SEO tactic, but now it can actually get you dinged by Google. If you are focusing on cramming in keywords instead of making the text easy to read and consume for your visitors, your content won’t shine.
It’s a great idea to have the content on your site optimized, but if neglect to think about the impression your content will have on your visitors, all that optimization can be for naught.
To earn your visitors’ trust, focus on producing high-quality, original content that is both unique and valuable, then you can turn your attention to optimizing your pages for SEO.
Not Making Mobile SEO a Priority
Much like local SEO, mobile SEO can have a huge impact on how your content is ranked.
Google switched to mobile-first indexing on July 1, 2019. What that means is that Google now predominantly uses the mobile version of your content for indexing and ranking, and uses that version to figure out how high your content should rank.
That means if you spend all your time making a beautiful desktop version of your website but neglect the mobile experience, your rankings will reflect that. Google recommends that your content be the same on both mobile and desktop versions of your website.
Google also says that you should make sure that the descriptive title and meta description are equivalent across both versions of your site.
If you want to check and see how mobile-friendly your site is to use, you can do so with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, which tells you how easy it is for visitors to access and use your site on mobile devices.
If you find that your site isn’t meeting your mobile expectations, you can audit your site by browsing it on a mobile device. Spend some time on the mobile version of your site, visit all your pages, click on all your links, buttons, and images, and see how your site responds.
Mobile usage is here to stay and it’s becoming more important every day. If you take the time to optimize your site for mobile, you should notice an improvement in your rankings.
Duplicate content can kill your SEO.
Not only can it lead to keyword cannibalization, but it can also cause Google to harshly penalize your site.
Some SEOs deliberately duplicate content on their site in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or draw more traffic, but when they do this, Google makes appropriate adjustments in how it indexes and ranks those sites.
This can hurt you big time in the rankings, but even worse, it can also lead to Google removing your site from the Google index altogether.
If that happens, you will need to make changes to your site, then submit it to Google for reconsideration.
Even then, there is no guarantee your site will be added back to the rankings.
It is not worth the risk. To be safe, avoid creating duplicate content.
Optimizing your website for SEO is a great idea, but like many things, you want to make sure you are doing it the right way.
Otherwise, you risk making common SEO mistakes that plague poorly-optimized sites, which can actually hurt your standings in search results.
On the other hand, if you focus on SEO and avoid the mistakes we covered, you should be well on your way to giving your site a boost in the SERPs.
Not sure where you stand in the rankings? Learn how to find your SEO ranking online.