By this point, if you use digital marketing as part of your marketing strategy, you know the importance of SEO for reaching your performance goals. SEO not only helps send the right users to your website but focusing on good SEO tactics, helps lead visitors easily through your website so you increase conversion. Despite a plethora of information available and several great SEO optimization plugins, such as Yoast and All-in-One, too many website designers and content creators make costly SEO mistakes that limit their success.
Image courtesy of Yoast SEO plugin
When users search Google or any other Google search engine for that matter, they want the most valuable results featured toward the top on the first page rather than having to filter through hundreds of pages of results looking for a link that effectively addresses their query. Search engines, thus, have an incentive to developing a ranking algorithm to meet users’ demands for effectively matching their search intent.
Meanwhile, website owners want to ensure their links appear toward the top in search results as rank greatly influences the number of visitors showing up on your website, as you can see below.
Image courtesy of Moz
That’s SEO or search engine optimization. Google uses hundreds of ranking factors to identify websites that ultimately deserve top billing in search results. No one knows exactly which factors impact search results or the weight assigned to each factor, plus Google changes their algorithm frequently with major changes happening every year or so. Despite the fact they don’t publish their algorithm, Google management hints at changes or proposed changes on their own websites and social media, while SEO experts run experiments to determine the impact of website elements on rank. Thus, we know a number of the most impactful factors and can offer advice on how to improve your rank. If you want to make sure that your site comes out on top (and who doesn’t), then you work hard to optimize these elements.
If you try to do too much optimization at once or over-optimize your website that can work against you and reduce your ranking. You may even find that you end up making a few crucial SEO mistakes along the way as well, and this is the last thing that you need as you struggle to gain traction online.
So, today, we’ll discuss some of the biggest SEO mistakes you might make and how to avoid them to optimize performance.
Biggest SEO mistakes
First, let’s list the factors with the biggest impact on your rank so you know which factors to focus on as you try to optimize performance. We focus on the Google algorithm for this list, as Google still represents the greatest number of searches online (92+%). Also, and probably a function of Google’s prominence, most other search engines employ similar factors in their algorithm.
- Fresh, valuable content published on a consistent basis. This is probably the most important ranking factor and the most time-consuming as it means researching and publishing content your target market wants to read. That’s why you need a blog or other content-rich element for your website.
- Keywords are the phrases (no longer single words) that match you up to your target users. Users enter these words into the search box to start a query. Website owners choose keywords users employ frequently that match their content to users. Not all keywords are created equal, as some fit your business better and have a higher number of searches per month. Select a dozen or more keywords meeting your needs then craft content around the chosen keywords.
- Social media engagement acts as a recommendation of your website so the more users comment, like, and share your content, the better Google assumes the content is.
- Backlinks and links act as additional endorsements of your content. Backlinks reflect other websites that link to your content, suggesting the value of that content, while links in your content show you researched the topic. The higher the authority assigned to both links and backlinks, the greater the impact on your results.
- Mobile-friendliness is an important ranking factor as more users transition their search to mobile devices and Google wants that experience to shine.
- Other ranking factors also impact SEO. Elements such as domain authority, site load speed, structure, age of the domain, bounce rate, and many other factors also impact SEO.
When building and maintaining your website, you open yourself up to a number of SEO mistakes, as it’s hard to keep every aspect of the ranking algorithm in mind as you work on your website. You might find it’s worth the money to hire an SEO company to get everything right.
Now, let’s discuss the SEO mistakes you might make without even realizing you’re making them.
Under optimized posts and pages
Page and post titles (H1 tags) are one of the most important factors you must consider account it comes to SEO. It’s important for search engines as well as users to see your keywords at the very beginning of your content. Page titles alone can help you increase your page rank by a huge amount and if you want to try this out, then you should look into A/B testing different H1 titles to capitalize on this ranking factor.
Meta descriptions are also an important ranking factor. Even if you produce quality content on a regular basis, you miss out on good SEO if you don’t use good meta descriptions and headings that contain your keywords. In fact, you may even find that visitors don’t even get very far in reading your content if you don’t use headings to make reading easier, as most visitors skim an article rather than reading it from start to finish.
Not conducting regular SEO audits
An SEO audit is something you must do on a regular basis if you want to optimize your SEO. While there are a lot of regular checklists out there, the most important audit you can do is in your search console, which is free. Your Google search consol contains a plethora of data about performance including errors, top pages, average position in search, web vitals, and much more. You can also audit your performance using tools like SEMRush for free with limited functionality or a number of paid services.
Fixing any errors detected in your console is a must but you’ll find many more actions suggested by the reports.
Not monitoring your competition
Research is part of your campaign, and monitoring the performance of your competitors is a great help in improving performance and discovering opportunities. If don’t do this then you end up missing out more than you might realize. If you can scout your competition, you’ll discover ideas as to what content they post or even what keywords they choose to target. Scouting your competition also helps you find the right keywords for you, so you can dominate search engine results with ease.
Alexa provides a free option that evaluates aspects of your performance and identifies opportunities while, at the same time, offering options to compare your performance with key competitors. There are a number of other tools out there to help you evaluate your competition.
Long-tail keywords are sometimes overlooked because they reflect a much smaller number of searches per month. They are also much easier to rank for, as well since you have less competition. At the same time, you must understand that long-tail keywords tend to cater to very specific searches, so you need to ensure your long-tail keywords line up with the type of traffic you want to attract to your content. Since it’s bad form to use a keyword multiple times, as you then compete with your own content, you need a bunch of long-tail keywords to avoid competition.
As you can see from this discussion, it’s easy to make SEO mistakes that can damage your website far into the future and reduce your performance. Obviously, these are just a handful of the many SEO mistakes you can make so spend some time fixing these mistakes and search for other potential SEO mistakes once you’ve mastered these tactics.