When you started doing SEO, you were probably very excited and optimistic. You would have been checking your rankings every day only to find little to no results.
Slowly your interest in SEO diminished.
You end up feeling like you’ve wasted your time and money into something that isn’t working and you feel like giving up.
I completely understand that feeling and I’m here to tell you to HOLD ON!
Did you know there’s a term called Negative SEO that is on the rise. Negative SEO occurs when all your SEO related efforts hurt you rather benefit you.
I’m willing to bet your SEO strategies aren’t working because you’re unintentionally investing in Negative SEO.
Well, here’s a list of 20 common SEO mistakes you’re probably guilty of making and I’m also going to tell you how to avoid them.
SEO Mistake #1: Optimizing Everything for Keywords
One big mistake many SEO experts make is focusing too much on keywords when they should be focusing on delivering great content consistently. You would be surprised to know that many blogs that rank high on Google don’t focus too much on keywords.
The problem with focusing on keywords is that you could end up stuffing your blog post with too many keywords. This disrupts the flow of your content.
It isn’t necessary that your content will gain traction only if it is optimized for keywords.
A great example of content that is not optimized for keywords can build authority is Brian Dean’s Skyscraper Technique.
Skyscraper technique is a term which had zero search volume, yet it grew to become one of the most widely searched terms on the internet. Since his post consisted of great quality content, people started sharing his post heavily on social media.
By building his brand and authority, he was able to rank for more competitive terms like “keyword research”.
Optimizing for keywords isn’t the only SEO technique available. You need to focus on building a brand over time. This will help your email outreach and obtain natural links to your content.
SEO Mistake #2: No internal linking
This is a mistake many content marketers are guilty off. What they don’t realize is that linking to other similar content on your own blog is another type of promotion. People focus so much on external links that they forget about internal linking.
It is equally important to link between articles as it is to link to other blogs. Once you build enough authority, you will start ranking from internal linking alone.
You can be as creative as you want with your internal linking strategy, but try not to go overboard. One or two internal links within your blog post is enough to get you started.
You can create one blog post as the centerpiece and two related blog posts. You can then link to this main piece of content or vice versa.
Linking to older articles will drive traffic to your best content and boost your SEO.
SEO Mistake #3: Not promoting old posts
Content distribution is one of the key factors to increase traffic. Writing quality content is useless if no one knows it exists. Content marketers spend most of their time creating content and very little time and effort in promoting it.
There are many ways to promote old posts. You can update and relaunch old posts. You can also leverage social media for promotions.
Another way to promote old post is to link to them in your latest articles. Similarly, you can also link to your previous posts in your guest posts.
You may have written a great piece of content, but unless you distribute it online, no one is going to know it exists. Hence, no matter how old your content is, you need to promote it.
SEO Mistake #4: Obsessing over content length
Many marketers obsess about long form content because they are of the assumption that long form content equals quality content. That is not entirely true.
While long form content outperforms short content in SEO and social shares, there are some downsides to it.
Many people prefer shorter content and don’t spend much time reading long content. Readers will most probably skim through your article if its too long. Long form content takes a much longer time to write.
Personally I feel that content length is a personal choice. If you can provide quality informational content in less words, then you should definitely go for it.
SEO Mistake #5: Not updating older content
You may have written a great article that helped gain a lot of traffic to your website, but over time you failed to update that blog post.
While you neglected that article, other website owners wrote fresher content that Google decided to rank higher since it was more updated. As a result, your website numbers took a hit.
One way to update old content is by updating the statistics included in the article or you can update the content itself to rank for more relevant keywords.
For example, my blog post “7 content marketing trends that will help you beat the competition in 2018” will not be relevant in 2019.
So what do I do to update it?
I will just change the year in the title and update the trends instead of writing a whole new article. This will help boost my rankings and save me some time.
The same can be done for my other blog posts “SEO in 2018: The Ultimate Guide” and “The complete SEO checklist for beginners”. Just by updating the content, I can show Google that I am updated with the latest trends.
This will also ensure my rankings don’t allow me to tag a dip.
SEO Mistake #6: Forgetting Alt Tags
It’s amazing how many so called “SEO experts” don’t understand ALT tags.
Let me try my best to explain it to you:
Google crawlers cannot read images, so they use ALT text to identify what your image is about. By using the correct images and by including the correct keywords in the ALT text, you can boost your image SEO.
This will help you appear higher in Google image search.
You can use the Alt Text Tester plugin for Google Chrome to identify any missing ALT text.
Now that you understand the importance of ALT Tags and image SEO, audit your website for missing ALT text and fix them now!
SEO Mistake #7: Not researching long tail keywords
You’ve probably optimized your site for top keywords and phrases, but only a small number of searches have to do with those exact keywords. Most searches involves variations of keywords.
These are called long tail keywords. For example, the search term “where to buy gym equipment in Arizona” will count as a long tail keyword. The exact keyword in that phrase is “gym equipment”.
You can use keywords analytics tools to identify the right long tail keywords to target. SEMRush is an ideal tools to analyze your keywords as well as your competitor’s keywords.
You can put your keyword analytics into perspective by combining data from Google Analytics, you social media management suite and your email marketing platform to get an overview of your search volume.
SEO Mistake #8: Missing XML sitemap
XML sitemaps are very important as they tell Google crawlers or other search bots how to crawl your website. These sitemaps can be generated using an online xml sitemap generator or by using Yoast SEO plugin.
You then need to upload these sitemaps to Google Search Console for indexing.
Despite the importance of XML sitemaps, many websites never submit them for indexing. As result, their websites don’t get indexed properly.
If you don’t have one, then you need to get one immediately.
I have covered how to setup XML sitemaps in one of my older blog posts.
SEO Mistake #9: Stuffing your content with keywords
Keyword stuffing takes place when you give too much importance to keywords. When you focus too much on targeting the right keywords, you will try to include those keywords within every sentence of your blog post.
This results in an uneven flow of keywords and Google will pickup on this.
Your content will get registered as spammy by search engines.
That’s why it is not good practice to stress too much on keywords. If you’re looking to target 20 keywords, it doesn’t mean those 20 keywords need to be included within one blog post.
You can spread those 20 keywords across 3 or 4 different blog posts. You will still have the same effect and you can also avoid keyword stuffing.
Google has employed Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) which means Google can now identify your content’s topic without the need for stuffing your content with target keywords.
SEO Mistake #10: Getting confused between 301 and 302 redirects
You’d be surprised to hear there are a number of website owners that don’t know the difference between 301 and 302 redirects.
Let me clear your confusion.
301 redirects are used when your website URL is moved permanently to a new address whereas 302 redirects are used when you’ve temporarily changed your website URL.
So, when should you use them?
Let’s say you’ve change your website URL structure. You can use 301 redirect to direct users to the new website URL.
But let’s say that you want to direct users from your website to a landing page for a special occasion like Christmas. Since Christmas only occurs once a year, you can use 302 redirect to temporarily direct users to the Christmas themed landing page.
What’s difference between these two?
301 redirect passes all your domain authority to the new URL. In other words, it is the key to maintaining your domain authority and search rankings when you move your website. So, if you have a domain authority of 40, then that authority will be maintained when you redirect to the new page.
On the other hand, 302 redirect does not pass any domain authority to the new URL. This means that if your domain authority is 40, when you move to the new URL the domain authority will become 1.
I hope this helped you understand the importance of 301 and 302 redirects, so that now you can avoid making this mistake.
SEO Mistake #11: Choosing the wrong keywords
If you sell men’s shoes, then you want to rank for mens’s shoes. So, you need to optimize your content for “men’s shoes”. Don’t optimize your content for “shoes” or “men’s apparel” since both those of those are more generic and contain a different intent.
In other words, your keyword should be specific to your product/service offering. Optimizing for the right keywords will boost your page rank in Google search engine result pages.
SEO Mistake #12: Ignoring meta descriptions and title tags
Meta descriptions are used to tell the search engines and users what you web page is about. They give a small descriptions and include relevant keywords.
You can either write your own meta description which is the correct optimized way or you can have the search engines pull excerpts from your content and display it in description.
When you write your own meta descriptions, you can include relevant keywords in it. This way, when users search for related topics, your blog post will show up because it contains the target keywords.
For example, let’s say you have a blog post on social media marketing hacks. The target keywords is “social media marketing”. You need to include this phrase in the meta description. That way when users search for social media marketing, your blog post has a good chance of showing up because it contains the phrase “social media marketing”.
If your meta description isn’t optimized, your chances of showing up for the search term social media marketing will be much lower.
Apart from keywords, your meta description should contain no more than 320 characters.
This is what an optimized meta description looks like:
Did you notice the bold words within the description? Those are the keywords that should be included in the meta description.
This is what an meta description that is not optimized looks like:
I hope you now understand the importance of meta description.
The same concept holds true for meta title tags as well.
SEO Mistake #13: Ignoring content quality
Content is king! This is a popular phase in the world of online marketing. This is because there is a lot of buzz that good quality content can generate for your website.
One best practice to make sure your content quality is good is to write for users and not for search engines. There is no secret to quality content. When you write long in-depth posts that cover everything, it obviously means you have done your research and you know what you’re talking about.
This will lead to a lot of people who will share your content which will help boost your search engine ranking.
Look at this link building post from search engine land.
Not only is the post quite long, but it leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind.
Another best practice is to keep it simple. Reader’s don’t like complex content that makes them look dumb. Neil Patel keeps his posts as simple and easy to read as possible. Even if you’re not a digital marketing expert, you can still understand his posts.
You can also incorporate a lot of images and statistics into your posts to make it more appealing to the masses.
I just cringe when I come across blogs that are too short and confusing. They fail to convey their point and I feel like I’ve just wasted my time with them.
SEO Mistake #14: Not optimizing content subheading
When you write content, it’s always a good idea to break them by parts and use sub headings. This makes it easier for the reader. But, did you know that you need to optimize those subheadings as well.
Your subheadings will tell Google what your content is about. It’s a good practice to include relevant keywords in your headings. You also can use the heading tags to tell Google that these are your headings.
For example, you can have a look at all the headings in this post to have an idea about optimizing subheadings.
SEO Mistake #15: Not fixing or removing broken links
When your website has been around for a long time or when your website has a lot of pages, there are going to a few pages that are broken. These broken pages need to be identified and fixed immediately.
You may sometimes link to another page that doesn’t exist anymore. This creates a broken link to your content.
This can be very important as it tell Google that you are keeping your website updated..
You can identify broken links using Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool.
Once you identify the broken links, you can then fix these links by providing a 301 redirect to the new pages or removing them altogether.
SEO Mistake #16: Not optimizing for mobile
I hope these statistics are enough for you to take mobile optimization seriously.
In order to do so, you need to understand that just because your website works well on a desktop, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to function well on mobile as well.
For example, the same font size you used on a desktop version may not be appropriate for a mobile site. If you’re using a video background on your site, then you need to replace it with a image background on mobiles.
Another good practice is to optimize your headings to make them readable on smaller screens.
These are just some of the little things you can do, but they go a long way to improve user experience.
SEO Mistake #17: Not doing local SEO
Local SEO is essential if your business serves at a physical location. This is because people will search on Google for your address, business hours and phone number before making a visit.
You can use a tool like Moz Local to discover where you stand with respect to your listings across the web.
Then use this information to build profiles on directories and websites that you’ve missed out on.
SEO Mistake #18: Not optimizing homepage for conversion
Take a look at the number of visits your homepage gets and compare that to any other page on your website. I’m willing to bet your homepage gets more visitors.
Therefore, you need to optimize your homepage for conversions. You can include a contact form with a nice attractive call to action button.
Since the homepage doesn’t contain much content, optimizing it for conversions can double your leads.
Look at this example of kissmetrics’ homepage:
If I click the CTA button, I will taken to a landing page where I have to enter my contact information.
This is another great example of a homepage optimized for conversion.
SEO Mistake #19: Not investing time in keyword research
It sounds pretty simple, right?
It’s much more deeper process than that.
Every time a user searched for a query on Google, they don’t care about keywords. They are just looking for answers. There is always an intent behind a query.
For example, If I were to search for pizza I would be shown a few pizzerias and restaurants that sell pizza. This is because Google knows what I’m looking for.
On the other hand if I were to search for pizza recipe, I would be shows a bunch of recipes for pizza. My intent shifted and so did my search results.
Therefore you need to be specific about the keywords you want to rank for. This requires you to invest a little more time in keyword research.
SEO Mistake #20: Expecting instant results
You need to understand that SEO is not an overnight process. It takes time before you begin to see results. You need to give your website a minimum of three months before you begin to see effective results.
I just cringe when I hear “SEO experts” claim that they can get your website in the first page of Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) within one month. Ranking first on Google depends on the domain authority of your website.
If you avoid the above mistakes and maintain consistency with your website, then you will start to see results as long as you understand that SEO is a continuous process that takes a lot of time and effort.