9 common SEO mistakes to avoid
To say that search engine optimisation is a challenging task is a bit of an understatement. The algorithms for platforms such as Bing as well as Google are constantly changing and require trained minds to understand how best to adjust strategies accordingly.
Despite this, numerous business leaders hear about the benefits of SEO and view it as a simple profit-generating venture. Consequently, they make errors which have the opposite effect – costing them traffic and conversions.
The good news is many of these common mistakes can be fixed and agencies such as CandidSky will be there to help businesses resolve them. Yet, if you’re wondering if your SEO campaign is on the right track, I have detailed some mistakes which I’ve seen individuals make. I’ll explain each in more detail below, but in summary these are 10 most common SEO mistakes to avoid:
- Preventing crawls from taking place
- Believing link building (or any strategy) is dead
- Investing in link earning, rather than intentional link building
- Excessively using keywords
- Neglecting mobile users
- Creating orphan pages
- Reusing content
- Neglecting local search
- Abandoning a strategy too soon
Preventing crawls from taking place
The robots.txt file is a vital part of any website and specifies pages you don’t want accessed by crawlers. When put like that, it’s tempting to prevent all robots from visiting your website. However, it’s worth remembering that search engines use crawlers to find relevant pages.
Consequently, if all robots are prevented from accessing your site, you won’t appear in search results. In this situation, it won’t matter how much effort you put into your SEO campaign, your website might as well be invisible.
If you want to learn more about robots.txt files, take a look at this resource.
Believing link building is dead
To borrow a routinely used phrase, there’s a lot of “fake news” out there. This is also true when it comes to the SEO industry. Partly spread by people who haven’t given a strategy the time it deserves, they then post articles online claiming what they were doing is ineffective.
Link building is one of the most frequent tactics described as dead whereas it is still a viable – and essential – part of any SEO campaign. This dismissiveness might be due to how link building has evolved over the years and I’ve linked to a post explaining some good strategies to use.
Regardless, if you see an article stating that a particular tactic is dead, don’t completely take it at face value. Gather multiple sources and trial several strategies before writing it off. Chances are, the author of that piece has just been doing it wrong.
Investing in link earning, not building
Link earning is a phrase which tends to differ in meaning depending on the person who uses it. While some definitions involve creating quality content and assuming people will read it, others favour some degree of promotion and getting automatic backlinks as a result.
Sadly, this strategy is not as effective as actual link building. When publishing content on your site, always invest suitable time in content promotion. In fact, Social Triggers states that, when generating content, 20% of your time should be spent on creation – 80% should be allocated to promotion.
Excessively using keywords
In the early days of SEO, using as many mentions of a keyword as possible greatly benefited your campaign. For example, webmasters wanting to rank highly for “cheap used cars” generally had to include that phrase more than their competitors to succeed. Eventually, it got to a stage when SEO-targeted content became challenging to read and looked like this:
Are you looking for cheap used cars? Great, we have a fantastic selection of cheap used cars in our online store. Browse our selection of cheap used cars and find a cheap used car to suit your needs. Speak to us today about finding a cheap used car.
Thankfully, this strategy does not work anymore. Yet excessive keyword use is still prevalent within some SEO campaigns. These days, relevance and variation is vital when targeting a particular phrase. Not only is this better for improving visibility but – from a UX point of view – it helps the user as well.
Neglecting mobile users
The browsing habits of users has changed dramatically over the years. Whereas people were once limited to desktops, now they can access the internet through mobile. In fact, in 2016, the number of internet users on mobile and tablet exceeded desktop for the first time.
However, despite the importance of mobile optimisation, research conducted by PayPal this year suggested that just 18% of UK small businesses had a website which was correctly optimised for mobile.
Needless to say, by neglecting mobile users, companies are missing out on a substantial number of customers.
Creating orphan pages
When a webpage is not linked to from anywhere else on the site, this creates what we call an orphan page. By not having these connections, it becomes very challenging for both users and search engines to find – signifying to a search engine that this page is not a high priority. Similarly, internal links are vital for the flow of SEO value (gained from building an authoritative domain) around a website.
When adding a new page, it’s essential that it is well linked to with a strong internal linking structure. This can include in-content links (links within the copy), navigational links (links within menu structures), or breadcrumbs. Otherwise, even if this new resource contains amazing content, it will struggle to rank well.
When managing a large website, the idea of creating unique content for each and every page can seem daunting. Either on purpose or through accident, it is not uncommon to see remarkably similar content throughout several pages of one website. Perhaps it is no surprise that a study published in 2015 revealed that almost 30% of websites suffered from duplicate content issues.
This creates a problem for crawlers where, when faced with multiple identical pages, they can struggle to identify the original. As a result, this traditionally leads to decreased rankings and traffic.
Neglecting local search
A study conducted by Google in 2014 revealed that more than 60% of smartphone owners used their device to access local information stored on adverts. Moreover, the organisation revealed half of consumers who used local search visited a store that same day.
Although this aspect of search is deeply important, some webmasters don’t rate local optimisation that highly. As a result, they won’t focus on their Google My Business listing, NAP data, or local schema. However, by doing so, they could be missing out on an audience base close to home.
Scrapping strategies quickly
One misconception with SEO is the amount of time it takes for results to manifest. All too often, companies will cease strategies after several weeks – accusing them of being ineffective. However, the effects of search engine optimisation can take several months to materialise and should continue to improve as time goes on.
When running an SEO campaign, perseverance and patience are two very important qualities to possess.