Top 10 Biggest SEO Mistakes To Avoid (Don’t Lose Rankings)

by | Sep 28, 2018

Search engine optimization is, at its core, a fairly intuitive process. However, do not take that to mean that it is easy. Getting good at SEO takes patience, education, and the drive to stay on top of changing trends and technology, social media, and simply what your competitors are doing.

The best of the best where search engine optimization- and indeed, digital marketing as a whole- is concerned, are the people who take the time to learn the industry and keep learning as they go. Conferences, classes, online content, and just good old-fashioned networking are all essential to the learning process.

That all sounds wonderful.

Now let’s talk about the flipside.

Should an up-and-coming aspiring SEO fail to do these things to the best of their ability, they can end up self-sabotaging and really compromising their productivity and slowing business down to a crawl.

No one is perfect, failing to perform flawless SEO doesn’t make you a moron, it just may make your job harder. Let’s go over some of the most common mistakes made by SEOs everywhere, so you can avoid the pitfalls.

1. Meaningless Content:

Content

What it is: As far as SEO is concerned, more content is not always better. In fact, in can actually be a pretty big hindrance.

This is because, if you haven’t founded each piece of content on a solid, relevant keyword, and then built from there, you haven’t moved your site forward.

Think of your content in terms of shooting at a bulls-eye:

If you take the time to aim through your sight but don’t use the notch at the center, you could still hit the outer regions of the target, say, 9 times out of 10. But you didn’t use your equipment correctly to anchor your aim for that shot you took, and it yielded only moderate success.

The only issue is, someone else at the range did take the time. And he’s ranking first page on Google- I mean, hitting the center of the target. Metaphor over. Anyway.

How to not: Be sure that you begin constructing your content with a strong, well-researched keyword and keep all that follows tight and relevant to that golden keyword you started with.

Sprinkle in some more keywords that are related to one another (and don’t forget your tags), and you’re well on your way to quality content that was worth the time- and money- it took to create.

2. Optimizing for the Wrong Crowd:

Optimization

Are you a fledgling business in the heart of Milwaukee trying to attract attention and get customers from your area in the door? You might want to make sure that that’s what Google (or the search engine of your choice) thinks you are.

It may not sound like a big deal, but being sure that your site, and various listings on places like Google My Business or Foursquare include information and keywords specific to your target area is really important.

You can include regional keywords and page titles, or just be sure that your listing has your address and contact information (including phone number for area code purposes).

3. Not Knowing Who Your Crowd Is:

Not Knowing

Lack of focus is never anything but detrimental to business, no matter what the goal of said business is. This principle also applies to sites and web pages who have lost sight- or who maybe never had it- of who it is exactly that they are trying to reach.

Search engine optimization hinges on having a clear goal in sight, usually related to a consumer base or particular kind of clientele, and crafting your business and its outreach strategies to attract those people to you. It’s about knowing what you want to do and who you want to do it for.

If you cast the net too wide, then, your general optimization strategy begins to suffer. Too often, this problem shows up in websites that neglect good, specific target keywords so as not to exclude people.

Unfortunately, the competition for broad, vague, and generic sorts of keywords is far larger and more difficult to navigate then that for highly focused, specialized, effective keywords.

Optimize to your ideal clientele, and do it well, and you won’t have to worry about not attracting enough attention because you focused in too hard.

4. Links that Don’t Work:

Broken Link

Anyone who has ever been on the Internet before knows what a turn-off it is to be looking for information, to find that perfect link that goes exactly where you need it to go… and then find out that it doesn’t.

You can’t imagine that that’s going to make people want to return to your website or seek you out again, but the problem goes beyond that in terms of your optimization strategy.

Of course, it’s not always immediately apparent that the link you’ve included doesn’t work like it should, but herein lies the value of double- and triple-checking before you make your content readily available. Make sure the link hasn’t been moved or re-directed, or the content it leads to deleted for some reason.

I also recommend investing in the buddy system for this one: there are plenty of tools available to help you keep this problem in check. Try out the Broken Link Checker from Screamingfrog to be sure your visibility doesn’t suffer due to a broken link.

5. Lack of Direction:

Direction

This is primarily a problem where blogs are concerned, but it can nonetheless affect anyone publishing and optimizing web content for views and profit.

If the theme of your site isn’t kept on track and tied-in to its purpose, it not only presents poorly for those people who do make it to you, it can hurt the overall quality of the site and therefore your visibility.

Keep the content (all of it) relevant, on-theme, and rich with information. Consistency is closely tied to quality, and this can go a long way towards helping you achieve the kind of optimization you so desire.

6. Too Many Keywords:

Keywords

In the same way that more content does not automatically equal better content, more keywords are not, in and of themselves, the magical key to great optimization.

In fact, the overuse of keywords, known as keyword “stuffing” in the SEO industry, is regarded as suspicious and indicative of spam by search engines, which could constitute a pretty serious blow to your efforts towards increased visibility.

The best way to get your content noticed without having to resort to Shady techniques like keyword stuffing is  good old-fashioned research and careful keyword selection. if you start from a solid foundation with an effective keyword, there’s no reason at all to overuse them.

7. Sacrificing the Quality of Your Links

Quality

Links are a precious resource in the world of search engine optimization, as they have the potential to be the most compact, effective, hard-hitting tool you have with which to connect the audience to the information they need.

That being the case, links must be used and crafted with extreme caution. Ineffective SEO practices see web pages missing golden opportunities with their links in one of two ways:

First, mistaking quantity for quality where links are concerned. They throw links onto the page like SEO confetti, hoping to attract more notice from algorithms and search bots just because they are there.

This is a massive and shameful waste, because links are a great way to associate yourself and your content with prestigious, well thought-of publications and personalities. Hint: also consider linking to websites that have linked to you, in order to keep the merry-go-round of traffic running for the future.

Second, SEO beginners often slack on the use of good anchor text for their links. While it may be a lot easier to use “click here” or the like to signify a link, this ends up being counterproductive, as it keeps readers in the dark as to the content of the link, and also may signify the presence of spam in the eyes of some search engine technologies.

Instead of vague or repetitive anchor texts, spice it up a little. Keep each one unique and descriptive of the topic it links to. Links are all about information, after all.

8. Not Holding the Attention of Your Visitors

Bored

In SEO speak, “optimize for engagement” means “don’t be boring”. Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than just that, but the ultimate goal of optimizing your website and its content is to get attention and keep attention.

This means carefully curating your content. It should be on-topic, tightly written, and engaging. Do the research on effective word counts and figure out what’s best for your viewers.

Visual aids help too, and pictures/diagrams/multimedia related to the topic at hand are never a bad idea. In general, if you can create informative content that isn’t boring, distracting, or entirely painful to look at, the results will speak for themselves.

Correct optimization techniques yield results, and the quality of your content will be best gauged by the number of people who come to your pages and stay there. Remember, it isn’t enough to get views- you must also keep interest.

9. Lack of Analysis

Analysis

Oh, this is so important. Too often, the overachievers who find themselves trying to get a business or new site up, running, and optimized will run into a couple of analysis-based issues.

Many of these people will either be so distracted by keeping all the gears turning that they can’t be bothered to analyze how their efforts are panning out, or the prospect of spending the money to hire someone skilled in SEO analysis will prove too daunting.

Both are less than ideal.

It’s all well and good to do your research, take the classes, and follow all the tips and tricks to get your online content optimized to the nines the way some big publication told you to, but all of that means very little if you have no idea whether all your efforts are bearing fruit.

Monitoring your site’s success is half the battle with SEO, so analysis generally proves to be well worth the extra effort or expense.

One way to tackle this issue is to get proficient at it yourself. There are plenty of resources online for learning skills related to optimization and digital marketing, and this is no different. Sign up for a class and add a valuable, useful skill to your resume for the good of your site traffic.

Conversely, if you’re doing well enough already, it’s often worth the investment to hire an analysis professional. Having someone who can monitor site traffic, search engine trends, and other materials to let you know whether one strategy or another has been successful can be crucial. Either way, best to get it done.

10. Not Auditing Enough

Auditing

Reaching your optimization goals (especially for the first time) is intoxicating. You’re proud of yourself and the website you’ve worked hard on, and things are running tight and smooth. Your site traffic is up and life is good.

When that happens, the temptation is to get a little complacent. To rest on your laurels, as it were. That can be deadly to the success of your website.

Truly successful optimization requires upkeep. New updates, bells and whistles, and plugins are inevitable, and that’s when audits become the most necessary.

Check in with your site. Make sure your content is still original and your methods are up-to-date. Perhaps phase out anything that might be dragging on your site speed or betraying dated outreach methods.

The rest of the Internet is changing too, so check that all your links still work as they should, and re-optimize what needs re-optimizing. Be aware of new trends that you can take advantage of to stay ahead of the curve. I guarantee your competitors will be.

Routine site maintenance will keep your brilliant work effective and your visibility high.