Even long-time SEO experts can make mistakes now and then. Here are 9 of the worst mistakes you can make when doing search engine optimization.
SEO is like any other industry that you can master over time: if you are very comfortable with it, you can think of yourself as above making mistakes.
We all know how it goes. You're in it for five years, or 10 years, or longer, and you get into a kind of autopilot mode.
But wait a minute, someone else might say. Is not SEO the very thing we can't "set it and forget it?"
Sure, but oddly enough, the more you know about something, the easier it is to forget the details. And with SEO, you also must keep in mind that Google changes its methods pretty much all the time. Every SEO could use some incentives on how to be better.
What Are the Worst SEO Mistakes?
Here are 9 of the worst SEO mistakes old masters can still make.
- Creating Content for Content’s Sake
- Presenting a Poor Internal Link Structure
- Not Investing in Link-Worthy Content
- Not Reaching Customers with Your Content
- Optimize for wrong keywords
- Forgetting About Local
- Not Checking Google Analytics Regularly
- Not checking Your Website Regularly
- Ignore technical SEO
1. Creating Content for Content’s Sake
Best practices dictate that you should continually produce content to increase your brand's reach and authority, as well as increase the indexing rate of your website.
But as your website grows to hundreds of pages or more, it becomes difficult to find unique keywords for each page and stick to a coherent strategy.
Sometimes we fall into the fallacy that we should be producing content just to get more of it. This is simply not true and leads to bad and unhelpful content, which amounts to a waste of resources.
- Do not write content without completing strategic keyword research beforehand.
- Make sure your content is relevant to your target keyword and uses closely related keywords in your H2 tags and body paragraphs. This will convey the entire context of your content to search engines and achieve user intent on multiple levels.
- Take the time to invest in long-form, actionable content. Remember that we are content marketers and SEO specialists, not journalists.
- Optimized content can take months to reach first page results; Make sure it stays relevant and unique to its industry when it is.
2. Presenting a Poor Internal Link Structure
As your website grows with all of your awesome content, you are sure to run into some basic internal linking errors. This includes everything from producing mass duplicate content to throwing up 404-page errors.
I think internal link structures are largely ignored by webmasters, but they serve as one of the most valuable functions in your UX and SEO strategy.
- Internal links provide five valuable advantages to your website:
- Provide clear pathways to conversion pages.
- Posting authority on web pages hidden deep within your site.
- Provide additional reading or interactive material for users to use on your site.
- Categorically organize web pages with keyword-optimized anchor text.
- Connect your most important web pages to search engine crawlers.
Resubmitting your XML sitemap to search engines is a great way to open search engines' crawl paths to unlinked web pages.
In the same vein, it's important to use the robots.txt file and the noindex tag wisely so that you don't accidentally block important web pages on your site (or on a client's site).
As a rule of thumb, a web page should be no more than 2 clicks away from your homepage or call-to-action landing page.
3. Not Investing in Link-Worthy Content
As we understand it, the quantity and quality of unique referring domains to a webpage is one of the top three ranking factors in Google.
Link building is a major industry draw for agencies. But going out and following group links through guest posting, influencer marketing, and manual outreach can be costly and resource intensive.
The best way to get links is, of course, to take advantage of premium content that people just want to link to. Instead of investing time in manual research and creating hundreds of guest posts, why not invest in a piece of content that can get all of these links in one day of writing?
As mentioned earlier, invest time in crafting long-form content that adds value to the industry. Here, you can experiment with different forms of content, be it a resource page, infographic, interactive quiz, or an evergreen guide.
Dedicate some of your manual outreach strategies to promoting a piece of content posted on your own website and not someone else's.
4. Not Reaching Customers with Your Content
Continuing with this discussion, you must have a strategy in place to get people to view your content.
I think a lot of the industry and a lot of companies don't invest as much resources into content promotion as they do into production.
Sure, you share your content across social media. But how much reach do you actually gain without paid ads? Simply post your latest article to your blog, social media channel, and e-newsletter, limiting its reach to a small percentage of your existing audience.
If you are looking to generate new leads for your business, you will need to invest more resources in promotional methods.
Some strategies include:
- Paid social campaigns.
- Targeted engagement with hashtags optimized for keywords.
- Promote content through influential channels.
- Link building.
Only then can you start to gain more links organically. Although it's a chicken and egg thing to do, you need to promote the content to get links back to it.
5. Optimize for wrong keywords
So you invested time creating a piece of long-form content, but it doesn't drive more traffic to your website.
Just as bad, your visitors spend low time on the page and don't convert.
Most likely, you are optimizing for the wrong keywords.
While most of us are aware of the importance of long-form keywords for media queries, we sometimes run into some common mistakes:
- Non-fragmentation of search volumes and competition by geographic region.
- Relying too much on large-volume phrases that don't convert.
- Focus a lot of resources on broad keywords (external links, internal anchor text, etc.).
- Ignore CTRs.
- Attempting to insert embarrassing exact matching phrases into the content.
- Ignoring the value of Google ads.
- Customize targeted keywords for irrelevant content.
- Choose keywords that are not relevant to your audience.
It is important to actually search for the search terms that appear in the top results for national and local searches.
Talk to your customers to see what search terms they use to describe different items in your industry. From here, you can segment your keyword list to make it more relevant to your customers.
Use keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner and Semrush Keyword Generator to get relevant keyword ideas.
Don't forget to optimize for informational and business queries.
6. Forgetting About Local
Google's Pigeon update has completely opened up a whole new area for local SEO.
Between local directory reviews, Google My Business page customization, and the local three-pack, Local SEO is highly targeted and high converting.
Consider some stats:
- 76% of searches on a mobile device lead to a store visit that day.
- Half of all local and mobile searches are for local business information.
- 97% of people read an online review before buying.
- 79% of people trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
It is important to segment your keyword research by local and national targets. If you offer local services, be sure to create content that reflects local intent, such as including city names next to your target keywords and in the content body.
While many of us focus on growing the business nationally, the importance of local SEO should not be ignored.
7. Not Checking Google Analytics Regularly
This next point on Google Analytics. It's very different from auditing your own website, because the audit shows you technical errors on the back end that you need to correct yourself.
Google Analytics is more engaging with the audience, and examining the data presented in the program is crucial to discovering where your website needs attention.
- Have bounce rates increased on this or that page? Look into it to find out why.
- Is traffic from one channel steadily decreasing over time? Check out your resources to fix it. Even if you get intimidated by data and numbers, Google Analytics presents things in easy-to-understand ways so even beginners can understand what's going on.
The point is that installing Google Analytics tracking code and then ignoring it entirely is the wrong approach. I know it often takes time and effort to check things out, but you will learn so much about how your audience interacts with your site that you won't be able to ignore the issues you find.
8. Not checking Your Website Regularly
One of the biggest mistakes we all make is not constantly improving our site and fixing bugs that appear over time. Site auditing is especially important after migrating the site or implementing any new tools or plug-ins.
Common technical errors that occur over time include:
- Duplicate content can occur for a number of reasons, whether through pagination or session identifiers.
- Resolve any URL parameter errors or duplicate content from your cookies by including the essential elements in the source web pages. This allows all references from duplicate pages to point to the source page.
- Broken links are inevitable as you move content around your site, so it's important to include 301 redirects to a relevant web page in any content you remove.
- Make sure you resolve 302 redirects, as they only act as temporary redirects.
- Auditing your website is critical to mobile search. Just having responsive or AMP web design is not enough.
- Make sure to minify the CSS and JS on your mobile design, as well as shrink the images, to provide a responsive design.
- Re-evaluating the site's content strategy. Most industries are dynamic, which means that new innovations emerge and some services become obsolete over time.
- Redesign your website to reflect any new product offerings you have.
- Create content around the topic to highlight its importance in the hierarchy of both search engines and users.
- Continuously update your keyword research and audience research to find new opportunities to expand and stay relevant.
9. Ignore technical SEO
Finally, you can't forget the technical subtleties of SEO.
This may not be an area that many website owners want to tackle given the often mind-boggling nature of resolving these issues, but I can guarantee you that if you're ignoring technical SEO, you're doing it wrong.
- Do you have non-crawlable pages? Broken internal images or links? A temporary redirect?
- What about orphaned pages or pages with no internal links or broken external links?
These are all issues that negatively affect your site's crawlability and increase your crawl budget. What is the whole point? These issues will prevent you from being found by the people who matter most to you.
Use tools like Semrush or Screaming Frog to identify and correct these issues before they build up and cause you a huge headache. Maybe review these technical issues once a month to stay on top of them.
It may not be the most glamorous part of SEO, but fixing technical problems is vital to a successful website, so get to it.
Final Thoughts on the Worst SEO Mistakes
Everyone is susceptible to mistakes in their profession, and one of the best ways to correct them is to consult best practices.
My best advice: keep your brain sharp and always check back here and there to assess whether you're doing the best you can to expand your business or your client.