Updated on 11 November 2019
SEO mistakes to avoid:
Why do we make SEO mistakes?
Why do we need to discuss SEO mistakes?
Let’s be honest. If we have a website, we would like to see a growth in visitors. There is no better feeling than to see a growth in visits and to see your website move up the ranks in Search Engines. We also know that climbing the search engine ladders equates to better visibility and more visitors. The more visitors, the better the chance to convert them into leads and ultimately clients.
We know the saying that ‘the best place to hide a body is on page 2 of Google’ is often used to describe the importance of Good SEO. It is for this reason that we will all do our best to have our websites display on the first page of search engines. In this article we will look at common mistakes that we make from time to time. This will not be a white hat versus black hat SEO article but a simple look at things that we can rectify immediately without to much of an effort.
Keywords: High Competition Keywords:
The use of keywords do not need much of an introduction. We all use them. What we however need to consider is which keywords we are using. In order to compete with other companies in a specific market you will have to compete for the same audience, not so? When we write a blog article or create other content for our websites we tend to focus on specific keywords. When others do the same we are in effect contributing to the creation of high competition keywords.
In a high competition keyword arena, it is sadly only the well-established companies and well-known brands that will perform well. Let’s use a quick example. If I want to write an article about a photography project (Photography Tips), and I use these high competition keywords, I will probably find that my article will not appear at the top, but those of the well established websites such as www.exposureguide.com, and my favourite, www.digital-photography-school.com using the very same keywords, will be topping the search engine list.
With this in mind it may be better to consider and target lower performing keywords due to the much lesser competition to rank for these keywords. The benefit of the use of lower performing keywords lies in using descriptive phrases rather than singular words. To use the above example again it may prove better to focus on a descriptive phrase such as “Tips to get the camera exposure right on a rainy day”.
Website not responsive or mobile friendly:
Although this should never be the case, there are still websites out there that is not responsive or mobile friendly. This means that there are websites that are not optimized for mobile use which is one of the worst SEO mistakes that can be made. It is a well known fact that Google regards mobile friendly websites as an essential part in giving a website better rankings. Google’s algorithms actually penalise websites that are not designed for mobile. To meet Google’s standards for mobile usability one of the following approaches may be required.
- Responsive design
- Adaptive Design
- Separate mobile site
For the purpose of this article we will not look into the differences between these mobile configurations. It is however important that we know that we cannot expect SEO success if our websites are not accessible on mobile devices.
Better and shorter content:
Most of us have heard the expression ”Content is King”. Although Bill Gates already coined the phrase in 1996, it is still applicable today. The way in which we approach and use content has however changed with time. Today we live in period where information contained in content needs to be absorbed quickly. For this reason, shorter, yet better content is preferred and actually outweighs more content.
Research that has been done, has proven that website content that provides substantial value attracts more visits than those on the opposite side of the scale. It may sometimes be difficult to give visitors quality content whilst limiting the content to a specific number of words. Research by has shown that content such as an article that ranks #1 on search engines contains an average of 2000 words. This is insightful, but we believe that this may change with the huge emphasis on mobile websites. Mobile websites will due its very nature require shorter content. It will certainly pay to consider means of creating better and shorter content for your website’s visitors.
Backlinks that lacks quality content:
Backlinks also hardly need any introduction. When other websites have links to your website they are backlinks. This can be extremely important for SEO and has been so for many years. Whereas search engines previously considered backlinks as is and marked it as an important part of your website’s ranking they are now checking the quality of these mentioned backlinks.
Although this article is not about black and white hat SEO tactics, we know that many companies bought large numbers of backlinks for SEO purposes. Search Engines will now punish a website if a backlink is not linking to quality content. In effect this encourages us to create quality content which deserves backlinks. Only backlinks to quality content will assist.
We have learned to always remember that search engines will lose its credibility if they present their clients with bad content.
Media not optimized for web display:
Much has been written on optimising images for website display. Yet there are still many websites that contain images that are not properly optimized.
When we refer to image optimisation we refer to a number of factors that need to be considered when optimising images for web display. The most important factor is the size of the image and the way in which you make it visible to search engines. For this discussion we will concentrate on making it visible to search engines.
Normally a search engine will know that there are images on your website. This is the case because of the manner in which images are placed on websites. Images are placed on websites by means of HTML (markup language) elements such as <img> which contains further instructions such as the location of the image. When a search engine sees the <img> element it knows that there will be an image. It will however not know what the image is about unless we tell it. It is extremely important to tell a search engine what an image is about in order for it to be regarded as relevant and important. As an example, If we place an infographic on a webpage or in an article it is a very good way to illustrate something. The search engine will however be in the dark if it doesn’t know what it is.
For this reason it is important to make sure that we do the following:
- Select a proper name for the file. 000646.jpg will mean nothing to Google. A title such as “woman_in_black_dress.jpg” will tell Google what the image is about.
- Use the “alt text” functionality in HTML. This is even more useful to search engines than the image title as you can include the keyword(s) or phrase in the “alt text”.
- Consider using captions in addition to the above, as research has shown on several occasions that captions under images are read on average 300% more than the body copy itself.
Slow website loading time:
There may be several factors that can slow down a website and I should probably write an article on this separately. In the context of this article it is however important to point out the main factors causing a slow website such as:
- Large images
- Sloppy code
- Slow hosting server
- Server location
- Lots of traffic
- Code density
- Too many file requests
- Outdated CMS
- Unnecessary redirects
We will not discuss these causes in this article. It may however be a good idea to visit GTmetrix or Google’s PageSpeed Tools where you can enter your website and get a detailed report on your website speed and which factors, if any, may cause your website to slow down.
When we first start to understand the value of keywords in a website’s url, its image names, “alt text” and page content, we may be tempted to use keywords a lot. This has been a practice for many website owners or web designers and developers.
Luckily search engines started to punish this behavior. We say luckily because it is a real pain to read an article that makes extensive use of specific keywords or phrases.
Google gives these examples of keyword stuffing:
- Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value
- Blocks of text listing cities and states a webpage is trying to rank for
- Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural, for example: We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Failure to audit your website:
Just as with any other important aspect of a business, a website needs to be audited often. SEO can be equated to a CV that needs to be polished every now and then to show your best side.
Auditing your website will go a long way in assisting you to identify problem areas on your website such as many of the above-mentioned mistakes. Regular audits will allow you to correct SEO mistakes or other shortcomings on your website which in turn will boost its SEO performance.
Article spinning is basically the process of re-writing an article to create new “original” copies in an attempt to avoid duplicate content issues that can result in a penalty from search engines. Article spinning is usually found where a company makes use of article marketing to market their website.
Search engines have definitely aligned their algorithms to curtail and punish this practice. Yet there are still many people that employs this tactic. Article spinning has become one of the SEO mistakes to avoid in 2018!
Not updating your website regularly:
Under updating we are not only referring to keeping your website’s software or code updated and aligned with latest web standards. We are also looking at updating your websites content regularly. This may mean replacing outdated content with new and fresh content. It also includes adding quality and relevant new content to your website as often as possible.
Whilst it may not be possible for all companies, specifically our small to medium sized companies, to publish new content on a daily basis, it has been proven that publishing new content 2 to 3 times a week is beneficial to a website from a SEO perspective. Search engines use software which is referred to as bots, spiders or crawlers to “crawl” the web regularly to keep a proper index of every website. If search engines notice regular new content on a website, it will visit that website more often than other websites that do not get updated regularly. This in turn will lead to higher rankings, provided it is quality content.
From the above we see that there are a number of SEO mistakes or problems to avoid. These mistakes should not be seen in isolation but as cogs in a machine that work together to make a website work for us. Many of these mistakes flow into one another and fixing one may often lead you to dealing with and rectifying another shortcoming. In a different article we look at GoogleMy Business and how to use it to further enhance your SEO
It is best practice to have a proper SEO Plan which contains a specific goal and a proper strategy to achieve the set goal This will not only help you to avoid costly SEO mistakes but will also help your business to become more visible. In these two articles here and here we have given a broad overview of SEO and how to plan A SEO Strategy
Since we work with and create WordPress websites we make exclusive use of the YOAST SEO Plugin to assist us and our clients in complying with best SEO practices. Many other WordPress users trust All in One SEO Pack by Semper Plugins and the ever increasingly popular free plugin Rank Math by Rank Math. We are not affiliated with any of these plugins.
Please also read our Beginner’s Guide to SEO to get a better understanding of the basics of Search Engine Optimisation.