Common SEO Errors: 10 mistakes you’re making today

common seo errors 10 mistakes youre making today

Search Engine Optimisation | 8 Minute Read

When was the last time you made a mistake? Did it have an impact on your business, cost you leads, and force you to miss out on valuable opportunities? Probably not.

The truth is though, if you’re a business owner with an online presence, there’s a good chance you’re making a mistake right now that is costing you customers, giving your competition the edge, and hurting your business.

Even worse, your mistake could be so simple that you’ll kick yourself for not realising it and rectifying it sooner.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of attracting high quality leads in large numbers by appearing on search engines like Google. For a small business this visibility can be the difference between thriving, and just surviving. But there are common SEO errors that many businesses are making, without even knowing it!

We’re here to provide a free education. These mistakes don’t have to keep happening.

But you’re running a business and you’ve got places to go and people to see.

So we’ll give you the short and sweet version of the top 10 most common SEO errors you could be making, and how to fix them today.

The Short Version

As a business owner, you want to do everything you can to make your business stand out, attract customers and thrive in whatever competitive industry you’re in.

This may involve a variety of marketing approaches, both digitally or traditionally, but in many cases it’s the things you are NOT doing that are damaging your business.

With 93% of online experiences starting with a search Engine, and Google holding an 80.5% market share, appearing on Google is the starting point for success.

It’s not just enough to adhere to SEO practices that are ethical, based on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and up-to-date with the latest ranking algorithm changes. You have to be proactive in finding the small SEO errors within your website that are at best holding you back, and at worst dragging you down.

Because getting just one aspect of SEO wrong can be the slip up your competition needs to fly past you.

Fixing your common SEO errors starts by paying attention to local search factors. With a smartphone in the hand of every consumer, it’s no surprise that 50% of local searches result in a visit to a physical store the same day. And that Google searches for ‘near me’ have increased two-fold in the past year. If you pay attention to local ranking factors – that’s optimising your content, meta description, page title, H1’s and NAP to reflect your location, you’ll be better placed to appear as a local SEO result.

The next step is to improve your content. Google loves content that is packed full of useful information and relevant to your customers. Avoid creating content just to fill the space, and absolutely avoid scraping content from other websites and paraphrasing it. Remember, good content is good for SEO.

The same goes for poor web design. If your website is too slow, has unnecessary or overly similar pages, or a confusing navigational structure, you’ll be banging your head against the wall hoping for SEO results.

Where your content is concerned, avoid targeting overly competitive keywords. You won’t be able to rank for them against big budget SEO campaigns run by massive companies. Instead, you’re better off targeting medium volume keywords that will give you a chance of ranking. Take this a step further by researching long-tail keywords that will help you rank for customers who are close to the end of their purchasing cycle.

Once you’ve chosen your keywords, it’s important to not over optimise them. Place your keywords in your page title, H1 and within the first 100 words of your content. Beyond that, if it doesn’t flow naturally, you’re better off leaving it out.

From there your internal linking structure takes importance. Include internal links within your content that help your customers find what they’re looking for. Avoid over optimising your anchor text, and don’t direct your internal links to the same location. Spread your links evenly and naturally to offset this common SEO error.

With the importance of backlinks, it’s tempting to pay for a portfolio of backlinks to try and get instant ranking succes. Don’t do it! Submit your website to local directories, seek guest blogging opportunities, or bring on an SEO team to find the most relevant and authoritative backlinks for you.

Once you’ve done all of these, make it a habit to audit your own website regularly. Prevention is better than a cure so find the little mistakes before they cause a big headache.

Bringing these common SEO errors all together, don’t try and take a shortcut to the top of Google. If it gets you instant success, it will also get you a penalty from Google and bury your website in obscurity for the long haul.

With hard work and close attention, or the professional touch of a proven SEO agency, spectacular SEO results are possible. Don’t expect results overnight, but embrace the long-term strategy that is SEO by focusing on your business, or complementing SEO with paid search or other marketing approaches.

Do all that and you’ll have left the ten most common SEO errors behind.

Which means nothing but rankings and revenue from here on out.

If you want some expert help at getting your SEO back on track, we can help!

The Long Version

What is SEO?

Whether this is your first time hearing about SEO or you’ve been in the business for years, it’s worth having a quick SEO refresher.

As one of the most commonly spoken about aspects of an online marketing approach, SEO is a subject that retains an air of mystery.

So let’s break it down in simple terms.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.

With a massive variety of moving parts that contribute to a successful SEO strategy, at its core, SEO is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through organic search results.

For a business with an online presence, it’s visibility 101.

There are a range of cogs inside the SEO machine of your website. A successful SEO approach is the combined efforts of both on-site and off-site changes that impact the structure and content of your website to make it more accessible and engaging to humans and Google’s advanced ranking algorithm – which determines where your website will appear when people search.

Aspects that include, but are certainly not limited to, the keywords you use within your content, the internal linking structure you maintain, the number of links redirecting back to your website from around the internet, the relevance of your content and the authority of your domain all go towards determining your ranking on search engine results pages.

With the top three spots on any given Google search attracting 60% of all website traffic for that query, the figures sharply decline the further down the page your website is placed.

As a result, there is a constant battle for the prime real estate at the top.

Over the years, Webmasters have tried to find the shortest route to the top and in doing so have led to Google handing down penalties and punishments aimed at stopping nefarious tactics, and promoting instead what is known as White Hat SEO – ethically acceptable ways to boost your website’s rankings.

These foolish SEO pioneers have made the mistakes so you don’t have to. Or at least, shouldn’t have to.

Despite the obvious punishments waiting for websites who look to bend the rules, many businesses are still finding themselves falling on the wrong side of SEO, making mistakes that are holding back their rankings, and in turn, holding back vital traffic, leads, and customers.

Despite this, in most cases these businesses aren’t even aware that they are shooting themselves in the foot!

With the definition of SEO made simple and clear, the next barrier comes in the form of value.

Sure you’ve heard about SEO now and then, maybe you’ve even dipped your toe in the SEO waters but you haven’t yet fully dived in. Right now you might even be thinking ‘I don’t think SEO is for me’.

Whatever your thoughts on SEO may be, the verdict is in and it’s a landslide – SEO is here and it’s here to stay.

Don’t believe us? Check out these statistics which show just how valuable SEO is to a business in 2018.

93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. That’s a pretty overwhelming majority.

And with Google currently holding an 80.5% market share of the search engine industry, your focus must be appearing on Google to capture the huge numbers of people who start their purchasing journey looking at this…

Empty Google Search Bar

But it’s not enough to just be on Google. If your website is listed at number 297 for the keywords you wish to rank for, *technically* you are on Google. But there’s a well known SEO expression that says the best place to hide a dead body is the second page of Google, such is the lack of interest there. To put a figure on that level of consumer disinterest, 75% of people never scroll past the first page!

So the first page of Google is important, that much we can agree on.

But is it better than more traditional forms of outbound marketing, like cold calling or direct mailing?

With a 1.7% close rate for traditional outbound leads compared to the 14.6% close rate for SEO generated leads, the result was never in question.

It’s SEO by knock-out.

With SEO spending forecast to hit $80 BILLION a year by 2020 (and that’s American dollars!) the shift towards Search Engine Optimisation has grown year on year at an incredible rate.

SEO Spending Graph Forecast

With the importance of SEO clearly established, let’s now have a look at the most common SEO errors you could be making and how you can avoid them.

Even better, we’ll break down simple and actionable ways you can start fixing your SEO today, which is going to be great for business tomorrow.

10 common SEO errors you’re making right now!

1. You’re trying to take a shortcut to the top of Google

No one likes being outsmarted. Not least a billion dollar company that’s widely seen as the most valuable in the world (that’s right Apple we said it). Trying to find the loopholes in Google’s digital armour doesn’t end well.

This common SEO error comes down to thinking Google can be ‘tricked’ into giving high rankings through misleading metrics and other dubious SEO tactics. It’s important to note that this has been possible in the past – and in some cases remains possible today – however, even if short term gains can be made, there are considerable downsides once Google finds out.

While it may be tempting to take the shortcut to the top, trying to game the system for rankings can have serious long-term negative effects on your website. Receiving a manual penalty from Google is a real possibility. If this happens, expect your website to disappear from search engine listings, with a mountain to climb to get back to where you once were.

Man trying to climb mountain representing a google SEO penalty

It’s worth noting that this risk is accepted by many websites who don’t have long-term strategies in place. In an effort to churn and burn their way to the top for an immediate financial gain, they’re willing to risk the instant obscurity of their website.

But for a business with long-term goals, attempting to trick Google is like hiding dirty magazines under your bed and asking your Mum to come in and conduct a room inspection. Plus, even if you do manage to find a viable short-term shortcut, you won’t attract genuine customers who are interested in your products and services. With the disinterest of your visitors, and the lack of engagement that results, you’ll only hurt your website more in the long-term with Google’s ranking algorithm punishing websites who don’t engage with search engine users.

2. You’re targeting competitive keywords

Adding keywords to your content is an integral aspect of SEO, both organically and locally.

However, there is a fine line to tread. Target low volume keywords and you’ll have greater success ranking for them, but with no one searching for those keywords it’s a waste of your time and energy. The inverse applies to high volume keywords. It’s very difficult to rank for keywords that are widely searched. While these represent a great chance to tap into a large market of willing consumers, you’ll be going up against giant businesses with SEO budgets that will likely dwarf yours.

The balance comes from finding long-tail keywords that are less competitive, but are connected to consumers who are deeper in their purchasing cycle, and therefore more likely to turn into customers.

Let’s assume for a moment you’re a furniture shop in Sydney. To try and rank for the keyword ‘furniture Sydney’ would see you go up against huge furniture stores that can afford to spend more on their SEO.

First page SEO results for Furniture Sydney

By targeting a long-tail keyword like ‘where to buy cheap furniture Sydney’ or ‘best couch deals Sydney’ you’ll be targeting less competitive keywords that are being searched by users who are ready to spend money, giving you a better chance of ranking and a better chance of closing a sale.

As a business, take the time to develop a keyword strategy that works for you. By looking at the purchasing cycle from the perspective of a customer you’ll be able to identify what they’re searching for and how they’re searching for it.

Need help creating a bullet proof keyword research strategy? Our SEO experts can help with that.

3. You’re paying for backlinks

Backlinks play a major role in improving search engine rankings. In fact, in 2018 it’s widely accepted that they are a core building block of successful SEO. With such a high value placed on backlinks, building your own robust backlink portfolio should remain high on your priority list.

But how can you take this knowledge and work it in your favour? Before Google’s algorithm began to take the shape that we know and recognise today, one of their main ranking factors was backlinks. Known as PageRank (named after Larry Page – one of Google’s founders) this algorithm was easily manipulated. Back in the early days of SEO this was possible by paying web owners to host content with backlinks pointing back to your website. It was a quick and simple way to boost your backlink portfolio, helping you rise to the top of the search results and reap the benefits of traffic that comes with such juicy real estate.

Cartoon hands connecting to show the benefits of SEO backlinking

With Google’s Penguin update in 2012 this black hat SEO tactic was put to a stop with websites using link farms penalised while their search engine rankings tumbled.

Google also issued a warning that businesses who were found paying for backlinks would be penalised, which brings us to today. While paying for backlinks is still possible, and still used by certain unscrupulous SEO characters, it’s a risk that is not worth taking.

As a business then, how do you improve your backlink portfolio without falling foul of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines? Luckily, there are still several ways to boost your backlinking prowess on your own.

Submit to online and local directories

Listing your website in local and online directories is a great way to promote your business and should form the base of any marketing approach you use. Word of mouth is great, but conversations that used to happen in the street now happen online, and putting your website where it can be found is step number one.

More than increased visibility though, listing your website in local and online directories is a great way to create backlinks. Directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and True Local make it easy for potential customers to find you. Even better, the photos you leave there and the positive reviews you generate all go towards making you easier to find, and more appealing to customers, both of which are great for business.

You can’t talk about directories though without mentioning Google My Business. The gold standard for a small business, A Google My Business Page is a way for your customers to find your business details, contact information, reviews, photos and location all in one place. It’s free to set up, but takes a professional touch to optimise and truly attract traffic. No matter what industry you’re in, setting up a Google My Business page must be your first move.

Google My Business Logo and local shop on cartoon map

Comment on blogs

By leaving comments on blogs you’re able to leave a link to your website. In most cases these links will be nofollow backlinks – meaning the link does not pass on the SEO benefits of the source site to your website, but by leaving comments on relevant industry blogs you’ll be developing relationships with authoritative websites and businesses. Over time this gives you the chance to connect and work together, turning those nofollow backlinks into juicy, juicy dofollow links!

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is one of the most valuable ways to gain high-quality backlinks without the help of a digital agency, who can supercharge your backlink portfolio while you sit back and relax. Though the process can be time-consuming, by researching quality sites in your industry and offering your specialist advice or insight, you’ll be able to contribute content that helps their readers. Make sure you include a backlink to your website either in the copy or as an author profile, and that your content adheres to their guidelines, and you’ll be on your way to growing your backlinks in no time.

Write testimonials

As a small business, reviews are the lifeblood of your day to day operations. Collect an army of satisfied customers singing your praises and not only will you help convince new people to become new customers, but you’ll be boosting your local SEO efforts.

Like these happy customers singing our praises (we couldn’t help ourselves).

Search It Local positive business reviews

On the other hand, if your service isn’t up to par you might incur the wrath of customers who find it easier than ever before to vent, and with their feedback able to make or break a business, it’s worth treating reviews seriously. Because it’s not just a matter of trust. A recent study by Harvard Business School showed that a single star rating increase could boost revenue by 5-9% for restaurants, so avoid negative reviews and use your voice to benefit your business. 

You can build backlinks by taking this knowledge and writing testimonials for websites that you use. This is a quick and easy way create backlinks, as long as you are a customer of the product you’re writing for, as websites will often post positive reviews with links to your website, in a classic case of win-win.

4. You’re using a terrible internal linking system

Your website is full of exciting and engaging content, and that’s job done right? Wrong! Internal linking is an easily overlooked aspect of SEO that if done properly can help your page rocket to the top of search results. And if done incorrectly, can leave your website a confusing mess that’s difficult to navigate and even harder to find.

To start with the basics – an internal link connects one page of your website to another on the same website.

Internal linking has three main jobs.

  • To help in website navigation
  • To define the structure and hierarchy of your website
  • To distribute page authority and ranking through your website

A well connected and evenly balanced network of internal links is used to strengthen the optimisation of your site. It gives Google’s spiders – the indexing arm of Google’s ranking algorithm that dictates who gets the juicy real estate at the top of Google – a clear path to help rank your site, helps users spend more time on your website, and tie together your pages and posts so that content and value is easy to find.

In short, internal linking is great for SEO and a vital part of your customers user experience.

But when your website grows it’s easy to run into some linking errors. From producing duplicate pages to dead links that result in 404 error pages.

Cartoon characters trying to fix an SEO 404 error

Luckily, sorting out your internal linking structure is quite straightforward. As a general rule of thumb, no page on your site should be more than 3 clicks away from the homepage or a strong call-to-action landing page.

Once you’ve identified and fixed any 404 errors or duplicate content issues, you can resubmit an XML sitemap to Google to open up crawl paths for your newly organised website, which will speed up the process of getting your site indexed and ranked.

If you’re trying to get your internal linking in order, try these simple and easy hacks.

Include internal links in your content.

It sounds so simple but it’s too often missed. You are your own best asset in making your website user friendly so get in the habit of linking 2 or 3 related posts to each new page on your website.

Don’t use too many internal links in your content.

You can have too much of a good thing. While Google can handle a landslide of links, too many will get in the way of a simple and user friendly experience for your website visitors, so only add links that truly add value for your visitors.

Don’t over-optimise your anchor text.

Anchor text is the clickable text in your internal links. Constantly optimising your anchor text to mirror a specific destination is seen as a way to manipulate your rankings and should be avoided.

Avoid linking to the same page over and over.

This typically happens when a website has one profitable or high converting landing page. It’s tempting to link to this page to drive traffic and sales. But while this makes sense for a business, Google doesn’t see the natural link between so many pages and one landing page, and SEO efforts suffer as a result.

5. You’re failing to audit your own website

If you didn’t spend the odd weekend out in the yard keeping things in order, what do you think would happen? The same goes for your car, without regular maintenance it won’t run at optimal performance. When it comes to SEO, one of the most common SEO errors comes through inaction. If you don’t stay on top of your website, the little things that pop up over time can come together to create one big headache.

A site audit can ensure your SEO hard work doesn’t go to waste. If you’re thinking of running an eye over your site, here’s what to look out for.

upsidedown magnifying glass on red background with SEO mistakes caption

Duplicate content

Duplicate content is content that appears in more than one place, under the same URL. While duplicate content won’t earn you a penalty from Google, it does pose 3 distinct challenges to your SEO efforts.

One – Google won’t know which version of your content to index

Two – Google won’t know whether to direct link metrics (these include trust, authority, anchor text and link equity) to a single page or to split it up between the versions of identical content.

Three – Google won’t know which version to rank when people search.

The rankings and traffic losses that can come about through duplicate content – with the similar nature of your content diluting the visibility of each page, can severely damage a business online.

While duplicate content is rarely done with intent, with some statistics suggesting 29% of the content online is duplicate content, without getting your digital house in order your SEO efforts will be hampered.

Broken links

More than a frustrating dead-end for your visitors, broken links can restrict the flow of link equity across your website, which will hurt your SEO rankings. While finding broken links can be like finding a needle in a haystack, especially on larger websites with many pages, there are ways to identify and fix broken links on your own.

Google Analytics is a useful (and free) tool that can track your website performance and keep track of broken links. Even better, with Google Analytics you have the ability to set and send email alerts to receive broken link reports directly, so you’ll be able to stay on top of your website and stop things from getting out of hand. Remember, prevention is always better than a cure!

Unoptimised tags

The world’s greatest content can be held back by unoptimised tags. While some tags are vital for successful SEO, others have no direct impact, so it’s important to know what tags should take up your time.

To make the most of your tags, put your keyword(s) in your Meta Title Tag and Meta Description and ensure your writing is compelling and magnetic to attract attention and website visitors.

Search It Local Meta Tag and Title

Who wouldn’t want to meet this team?!

You’ll also want to put your keywords in your H1’s and in any ALT tags for images on your website.

Remember, these examples of on-site SEO typically only require your attention once. Once your on-site SEO is firmly in place and doing its job, you can focus on your business knowing your website is working with you and not against you.

Slow site speed through oversized images

A picture says a thousand words, so that high-quality picture dominating your homepage has to be helping, right? Not so fast. Images account for a large portion of a website’s load time, and if your load time isn’t snappy, you’re at risk of losing your hard earned visitor. In fact, recent figures suggest that as page load time goes from 1 second to 5 seconds, the probability of your visitor leaving increases by 90%!

You can make sure your website is loading faster than a rocket blasting off by avoiding text graphics, compressing your images to reduce their size, and using simple file formats like JPG, GIF or PNG when you choose to add images.

Red rocket blasting out of cartoon laptop

Lastly, when implementing a site audit, make sure you pay close attention to your content strategy. No matter what industry you’re in, changes in technology, buying patterns, or market conditions will occur. To keep up with these changes you may find that certain products or services you once offered are no longer relevant. Make sure you update your website to reflect any changes and clear out any pages that are no longer required. This will make the user experience for your website visitors that much simpler, and ensure the hierarchy of your website is clear and easy for Google to crawl and index.

6. You’re over-optimising your keywords

There is such thing as too much of a good thing. While SEO is the rocket fuel that can supercharge your business and send you to the top, too much SEO is a common SEO error that leads to over-optimisation, and that’s not good.

This most commonly occurs through the accidental, or deliberate, over-optimising of keywords. Google wants the simplest and most seamless experience for their users. In doing so they retain customers, and the more people that use Google the easier it is for Google to sell ad space to businesses. So if your website doesn’t read well or contains content that is confusing, incorrect or simply difficult to navigate, you’ll be punished for it.

Keyword Density vs Keyword Stuffing

These closely sounding phrases have vastly different meanings. While keyword density refers to the amount of times your keywords appear in your text, keyword stuffing is the unethical practice of using your chosen keywords more than is natural in an effort to boost your rankings. At best keyword stuffing comes across as suspiciously dubious, and at worst it is a nightmare to read, driving away human visitors and guaranteeing a swift fall down the search results.

While recommended keyword density figures vary from 4% to 7% and even 10%, Google’s ranking algorithm in 2018 has the ability to discern content through a variety of triggers and a number of metrics. So the days of hitting a standard keyword density figure are in the past.

As a good rule of thumb, sprinkle your keywords in the page title, H1 and the first 100 words of your opening paragraph. These areas will have an effect on your SEO, anything more than that you run the risk of crossing Google’s keyword stuffing punishments. If it sounds natural, put it on the page. If not, you’re better off without it.

For a creative approach to keyword usage, consider using alternate keyword research tools to find thematically similar terms that won’t put you in the territory of keyword stuffing, but will help you to cast a wider net over customers looking for your products and services.

For example, if you Google your basic keyword and scroll down to the bottom of the page, you’ll find the ‘searches related to…’ section. This handy tool can produce other relevant and thematic keywords that will add depth and value to your content, while helping you capture the search intent of people who may be looking for your products using different phrases. This is known as Latent Semantic Indexing – keywords that are semantically related to your primary keyword, but not direct synonyms.

For example, if you were searching for the ‘best pizza Sydney‘, these additional searching terms would be offered.

Examples of LSI Keywords on Google search

Tapping into these rich keyword variants is a great way to avoid keyword stuffing, remove the stress of keyword density, and tap into a broader market all at the same time.

7. You’re ignoring local search factors

It’s tempting to think the digital explosion that’s put a smart phone in every pocket and opened up the world for business would have taken away the importance of local searches. The reality is the exact opposite. Across local directories, a Google My Business Listing and the local three-pack results, local SEO is a highly targeted and high converting approach.

When it comes to local search, the numbers don’t lie.

  • 50% of searches on a mobile result in a visit to a physical store that same day.
  • Google searches for ‘near me’ have increased by two times over the past year.
  • 72% of people who did a local search went on to visit a store within 8 kilometres.
  • 30% of mobile searches are related to a location.
  • Between 80-90% of people read online reviews before they commit to a purchase.

What these figures come together to reveal is that consumers are using their mobile phones to search for products and services on the go. And that their results directly impact their purchasing habits. It’s not enough to be a local store. You have to be present among local searches to capture the instant desires of customers the moment they occur.

To do this you need to optimise your website, as well as your Google My Business Listing, to appear in local searches.

If you’re a small business looking to stand out on the local scene, here are a few aspects of your website that you can optimise for local intent to give your website a little head start.

Graphic showing website loading tim

Content

Your services are offered locally, so make sure your online presence reflects this. The websites on the first page of Google regularly include relevant, accurate and up-to-date content so providing value to your visitors is a priority. You can use this value to boost your local SEO efforts further by optimising your content to include locations, giving you a better chance of appearing when people search for your products and services.

Page Titles

Page Titles are the first thing people see when your website displays in the search results, so they’re an important way to stand out. More than that though, by adding the name of the city your business is located in, you’ll be giving local search factors the attention they need.

Meta Descriptions

These short snippets of information are shown directly below your page title in the search results. These should act as a compelling reason for people to choose your website over everyone else’s. But more than that, adding your location in your meta description will help your local SEO efforts immensely.

NAP

NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number. This information is sought by Google across Map and Search results, so your NAP has to be consistent across your entire digital presence. Make sure your NAP matches across your GMB listing to any directory listings and you’ll be helping boost your local ranking factors without lifting a finger.

H1 Titles

Adding keywords to your H1 tags is a proven SEO strategy. You can take this a step further by adding your location to any relevant H1’s, which is a great local ranking signal.

URL

Adding your location to your URL, as well as any relevant keywords, will help Google’s crawlers to see who you are, what you do, and where you do it. An often overlooked but easy change that can make a big difference.

Image ALT attributes

Adding keywords and locations to your image ALT attributes is a creative and clever way to tell Google about your business and where it is located. This is another easy way to help boost your local SEO and improve your chances of appearing when people are searching for your products locally.

8. You’re using poor website design and architecture

Long gone are the days when a reputation, or stellar content, could carry an average website. In 2018, consumers want information, products, and services at the click of a button. They don’t have time to wait, and more than that, they simply won’t wait.

Imagine if this website took 7 seconds to load, would you have waited? No chance! In this day and age your website must be fast, secure and mobile-friendly to stand a chance of appearing on the first page of Google. No amount of wonderful content or loving audience could save you from Google’s ranking algorithm if your website isn’t up to par.

Slow Website Load Graphic

As digital experts, these are the most common mistakes we see from business owners who have neglected their websites. Avoiding these pitfalls can mean avoiding the dreaded drop from the first page of Google.

Your website is too slow: The speed of your website is important for both your user experience and SEO. Because users expect a website to load in under 3 seconds, so does Google. And with 40% of people likely to abandon a website that doesn’t load within 3 seconds, it’s vital to stay on top of the technical aspect of your website and ensure it’s quick as lightning. While core code issues can quickly solve these problems, they will require professional help, which is something we’re experts at.

Your website has a poor site architecture: This may involve multiple pages trying to rank for similar keywords, resulting in keyword cannibalisation that ends up missing out across the board. The worst variation of this can create thin or duplicate content which Google is actively against.

Your website is not user friendly: SEO is highly technical, yet despite that, you should always create your website and content to reflect the human user. Each visitor to your website wants to find the simplest and fastest route towards their desired information, products or services. If you don’t provide them with a simple route – this can be done through internal linking for example, they will leave. This is known as your ‘bounce rate’ and is used by Google when determining your search result rankings. Essentially, when people leave because your website was not intuitive enough, they are telling Google “I didn’t find what I was after, I’m going to look elsewhere, thanks but no thanks”. That is a message you do not want sent to Google.

9. You’re including poor content

Poor content sounds like a simple mistake, but it’s a common SEO error that can manifest in a range of ways, all of which are bad news for your SEO. Everyone knows that content is king, but how can you rule over your competitors when your content is anything but top notch? The goal is to provide content that is useful, valuable and speaks directly to the pain points of your customers. Get those basics right and your SEO will thank you.

graphic showing the positive results of strong content

Some of the most common examples of content related mistakes include…

Creating content just for the sake of it

Can you imagine eating for the sake of it, instead of when you were actually hungry. You’d soon find your body was no longer running at full speed, with problems on the horizon. Your website is exactly the same. Adding content just for the sake of it, or because you think extra content will provide an extra SEO boost, can end up doing more harm than good. On that logic, you’ll quickly end up with pages and pages of similar content, or worse, thin content that’s wasted your time, and puts you at risk of a Google penalty.

The writing of content should always come after a strategic keyword research session. If you’re interested in the best ways to identify the keywords that are most likely to convert customers, we’ve written the ultimate guide just for you.

Your content should always be relevant to your chosen keywords, that way search engines will know what your page is about and be more likely to take that into account when determining which websites are displayed for relevant searches.

To make sure you’re working smarter, not harder, create content that is actionable and evergreen, that is, content that is always relevant even as time passes. This is particularly important as the timeframe of SEO success is a marathon and not a sprint. It can take months to reach the first page of Google, so it’s no good creating engaging and fresh content that has become stale and out of date by the time your SEO results put you in the shop window on Google.

Not creating link worthy content

It’s been admitted by Google that the quality and quantity of the websites that link to your website are within Google’s top three ranking factors. Link building is therefore a massive part of any successful SEO strategy, but can become costly when modern tactics such as influencer marketing become involved.

The best, and cheapest, way to build a portfolio of links is to acquire them naturally.

How do you do this? Easy, create content that people just love to link to.

Investing time into a long-form piece of content that is chock full of value, overflowing with helpful statistics, and has a powerful message that is widely valuable to your industry, can pour gasoline on your SEO fire (safety message: don’t pour gasoline on fires).

When people read and share your content, you’ll be creating content that’s high-quality, you’ll be improving your backlinks, and you’ll be casting a net over a wider audience.

That’s what we call an SEO win-win-win.

Adding scraped or thin content

Taking content from another source and repackaging it might seem like an efficient way to source information, but it’s a common SEO error and an action that can get you penalised by Google. More than that, it’s easily spotted by Google and will have the dual effect of ruining your search rankings and driving away customers at the same time, because let’s face it, who has time to read the same thing online over and over?

It takes a little extra time on your part, unless you bring on the services of a professional content writing team, but the result is well worth it. With so much content online, providing information that is different, valuable and useful, can push you ahead of the pack and attract customers who recognise that your business provides value that your competition do not.

The same goes for thin content. This is defined as content that brings little to nothing to the table. As a good reference, every time you add content to your website, think of it as a Hollywood blockbuster. Thin content has no characters, no plot and no resolution. Your content should stand out. It should bring value, attract rave reviews, demand attention and potentially star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson!

You can identify pages that contain thin content by visiting your analytics page to see which of your web pages have the highest bounce rates. If you’re seeing a large number of bouncing visitors, it may mean your content is too thin, and offering them no reason to stick around.

10. You’re expecting results overnight

Good things come to those who wait, we’ve all heard that before. But there’s certainly scope to say it isn’t a blanket rule. If you’re waiting for your food order for several hours there’s a solid chance it’s been burnt to a crisp, or the staff have lost your order and haven’t figured out how to break the news to you yet. But when talking about SEO, it’s absolutely a case of waiting for success.

Search Engine Optimisation is a constantly evolving process whose success depends on a heavy investment in time and energy on behalf of SEO professionals. SEO offered with ‘rapid results’ or ‘instant page one rankings’ should set off alarm bells. The truth is, these results are close to impossible to achieve without taking shortcuts that will inevitably see your website punished by Google.

With the ranking algorithm that fuels SEO always changing and growing, a successful business must adopt a long-term strategy to reflect this process. Overnight success would be amazing, but good SEO takes time, compounding with each passing month to strengthen your website’s position.

Cartoon hand holding magnifying glass to find common SEO errors

Why does good SEO take time?

The idea of ‘instant SEO’ is one that still lives on in the corners of the internet. More than an outright lie, it can actually damage businesses who take a chance on a price that seems too good to turn down. No matter what agency you’re thinking of dealing with, the bottom line remains the same – good SEO takes time.

But why is that? It’s all well and good to say SEO is a long-term strategy, but to many small businesses this can feel like their agency wriggling out of an answer, or avoiding tough conversations.

The truth is, a successful SEO brings together so many moving parts it simply can’t happen in a short timeframe. Take this entire article for example, these 10 common SEO errors are all cogs in the machine of SEO. If one falls out of place, an entire strategy can grind to a halt. Managing the moving parts of an SEO strategy take time, there’s no way around it.

To put that number of moving parts into perspective, the ranking algorithm that determines where your website will appear includes more than 200 ranking signals. And they’re always changing. Not only that, but they’re never explicitly stated by Google. Which means digital agencies must embrace widely accepted ranking factors as well as go through a process of trial and error to learn what works and what does not.

How to set (realistic) goals with your next SEO approach

Now that you know the top 10 most common SEO errors, you’re perfectly placed to never make them again. And with those dark days of poor SEO decision making in the past, it’s time to focus on the future.

It’s natural to want overnight results, but it can be comforting to know that certain aspects of your website will change in the short-term. For example, altering your title tags and adding compelling content can happen near the start of an SEO campaign, and while the effect this will have on your rankings will take time, the immediate impact of a website that’s revamped and rejuvenated can help you convert more customers.

Group of hands reaching up to touch a target with an arrow in the bullseye

In the meantime, here’s a few ways to prepare before your next SEO campaign gets underway.

Expect SEO to be a long-term strategy

Businesses who understand that good SEO takes time are already ahead of their competition. Instead of stressing and burning time, money or resources in efforts to speed up the process, or rush alternate marketing approaches that aren’t necessary, these businesses are happy to sit back and wait for the results that they know will generate leads and customers.

Be willing to invest to see results

The most pressing question for many small businesses is, ‘how much does SEO cost?’. This is a lot like asking how long is a piece of string. The truth is, really good SEO takes time, resources and energy. The more you invest in time, resources and energy, the better your results will be. Which means the price of SEO really changes depending on your goals and your timeframe for success.

With that in mind, you should hire an SEO team who can clearly show their past success with clients in your industry, and who are willing to talk openly and honestly about the process they have planned for you. If there’s jargon or tech speak, there’s a good chance they’re hiding something from you!

Prepare to update your SEO strategy when required

Successful SEO is a moving target. So you can never get comfortable or complacent, and keeping the same strategy for years, or even months, could see your rivals get the jump on you. Work with your SEO team to re-evaluate your SEO strategy at least once a year. Remember, 6-12 months is the expected timeline for visible changes in your search rankings, so staying on top of the latest trends – or having an SEO agency who can stay on top of the latest trends for you, should always be a priority.

Keep communication lines open

Choosing an SEO team means passing the hard work to an experienced and battle hardened group with their sights firmly set on your goals. Which gives you time to focus on your business. Understanding that the goalposts are set up in the future will give you plenty of time to communicate your expectations, obstacles and results.

Final thoughts

Everyone makes mistakes. So if you’re guilty of any of these common SEO errors, it doesn’t mean that you don’t care about your business or that you’re not capable of finding spectacular success with your own SEO strategy.

Take these common SEO errors to heart and make sure your website checks all the boxes going forward.

Sometimes, the best way to go forwards is to take a step back and let an SEO team run their professional eye over your website. By doing so they’ll identify any areas that may be holding you back and any areas that could be used to get you ahead.

If you need any help crushing your SEO goals and climbing to the top of Google’s search results, we can do the hard yards for you.

But keep these ten most common SEO errors in mind and you’ll be headed to the top in no time.