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Are you an aspiring blogger who wants to rank higher on search engines? Or maybe you have an e-commerce website with hardly any organic traffic? A poor SEO strategy can explain these problems. Or, in the worst-case scenario, a lack thereof.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s a technique to get ahead of the competition and rank higher on Google and other search engines. It’s hard to imagine a successful website if its presence on search engines is lackluster. After all, roughly 2 out of 3 online experiences start with a search engine. SEO determines how many potential visitors you can expect on your website.
What to expect in terms of SEO mistakes
Basic SEO doesn’t cut it these days. Plenty of site owners, regardless of their experience, prioritize other aspects of running their websites. In some cases, this happens due to not understanding how prominent SEO’s role is. In other cases, it could be the result of insufficient resources. Those with a dedicated SEO team have an easier time than those operating alone. Wearing many hats means having different priorities, and there’s not always enough time to optimize pages for search engines.
Having said that, the hours you can dedicate might not necessarily translate into a net gain. SEO is tricky; errors happen, setting you back. To make the most out of the resources you have, let’s learn about SEO mistakes to avoid and how to avoid them.
1. Slow site speed
Slow site loading speed is the first item on the list. It’s more than just a nuisance for visitors who struggle to navigate the site. Search engines detect poor loading times and penalize a website. Users who leave the site before it loads also work as an indicator that something is wrong, sending search engines signals.
Start with running a performance check on Google PageSpeed Insights. It should give you an idea of what’s causing the problem. If issues are identified, work through the list to resolve them. Optimize the content on your site. Too many media files or large images could sometimes damage the website’s overall speed. Finally, if all else fails, talk with your hosting provider. Perhaps the issue lies on their end. If they can’t fix it, you might have to switch to another, more reliable hosting provider.
2. Lack of location-specific pages
Location-specific pages are easy to overlook. It’s one of those things site admins don’t consider when they create content. The purpose of location-specific pages is to attract interest from nearby users. For instance, someone might be looking to get a haircut. Their keyword in the search engine query would look something like “barber shops near me” or “nearby barber shops.”
The words “near me” and “nearby” indicate the user intends to look for location-specific goods or services. Location-specific phrases have become popular thanks to the smartphone. It’s easy to open a search engine on your mobile while you are walking around and need to find something.
Identifying and modifying website content is the go-to way to avoid this mistake. If the site is missing location-specific pages, create them. Or update your current pages to include local search.
3. Duplicate content
Duplicate content is not as straightforward to avoid as some might think. There are instances when you publish content and somebody steals it, makes small adjustments, and republishes it on another website. Another example could be you hiring a content writer and asking them to create content. They might seem like a good fit, but in reality, they are just copying whatever else is on the internet. The old adage of “content is king” hasn’t disappeared. And not just when it comes to quality but also about uniqueness.
Every article you publish on the website has to go through plagiarism checks. Even more so now when so many people use AI tools to generate content. Make the most out of Copyscape, Grammarly, and other duplicate checkers. Add it to the website once you confirm that the content is original.
4. Lack of keyword research
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Publishing content without any prior keyword research in common. Without a second thought, a site owner writes and publishes an article. Sure, there are cases when you get lucky and rank for keywords you were unaware of. However, it’s not a winning strategy. At the end of the day, the goal is to attract more visitors, and organic traffic goes hand in hand with keyword optimization.
Take the time to research the keywords. Aim for low-volume ones first. Generic keywords are too competitive, and you will struggle to rank for them most of the time. Find specific queries. Remember that people prefer long-tail keywords to specify their search. Instead of “shoes,” go for “running shoes for winter” or “top shoes for upcoming summer.” Also, don’t stuff keywords. Spread them naturally so a reader won’t even notice they are there.
5. Poor backlink strategy
Backlinks add juice to your SEO strategy. A link from a relevant website also helps redirect visitors to your landing page. There are different approaches you can take to build links. Some offer exchanges, whereas others pay directly. The nature of backlinks plays a prominent role as well. Local SEO, for example, emphasizes local business listings and locations. On the other hand, international SEO is about building links on high-authority websites that are recognized globally.
Your local SEO mistakes when building links could be:
- Failing to identify the right demographic
- Not adding keywords to the content
Your international SEO mistakes when building links could be:
- Focusing on quantity rather than quality
- Getting too many links in a short period of time
- Ending up with no-follow or sponsored links rather than do-follow links
It takes a lot of work to establish a backlink strategy. Take the time and aim to get high-quality links. Avoid middlemen and look for direct contact with website owners. Also, make sure to have something you can offer in return. Hardly anyone will give do-follow backlinks for free!
6. Poor mobile-friendliness
According to Statista, about half of all the internet traffic occurs on smartphones and tablets. Consumers expect mobile-friendly websites so it’s our job to provide them. If someone lands on a page and struggles to browse it on a mobile device, they will find another that’s easier to use. Mobile SEO mistakes usually start with picking the wrong theme for your website. Most CMS theme developers create mobile-friendly solutions, but not all do.
Use a mobile-friendly theme and make sure your website is ready for smartphones by:
- Simplifying the navigation menu
- Eliminating pop-ups
- Keeping content short
- Improving website speed
7. Mistakes in robots.txt
Errors in robots.txt can lead to indexing issues and a drop in traffic. Pages that fail to index on search engines do not appear on them. One of the most common mistakes related to robots.txt is using a single file for multiple subdomains.
Use an SEO plugin to create and manage your robots.txt file. A good plugin will be able to maintain the file and ensure it’s always compliant with search engine rules.
8. No meta tags
Meta tags describe what the page is about. They function as an introduction that search engines display under the meta title and URL in results. As a rule of thumb, a meta title should be between 50 to 60 characters and a meta description of 50 to 160 characters. Poorly optimized meta elements hinder SEO and make potential leads second-guess. If the title and description are unattractive, a user is less likely to click.
Double-check whether your meta elements have the right length. Then, add clear calls to action to incentivize users further to click. And don’t forget about keywords. There are also lots of resources online that can help craft efficient meta elements.
Pro tip: Use vertical bars to separate keywords for clarity.
9. Lack of internal linking
Not enough internal links confuse the overall site hierarchy. Page rankings go down as well. Site owners don’t bother going through already published content to look for relevant internal linking opportunities. And if they do, the keywords and anchor texts don’t always make sense. Not to mention linking back to the home page.
Every published article should have at least a couple of internal backlinks. Establish a clear structure, so your internal linking efforts don’t go to waste. Find content pieces that make sense to redirect to. An internal link should add extra value to the article, encouraging readers to click further for more information.
10. No long-term SEO strategy
No long-term strategy is the last SEO mistake to avoid. Ranking high on Google and other search engines doesn’t happen overnight. SEO, as a whole, requires a lot of time and resources to bring results. It’s understandable why some give up.
To avoid frustration, get into the mindset that SEO is a long-term game. Go through every little bit you can and mark what you want to achieve. Create a document and list all the steps and goals to see what’s in front of you. Get into the habit of updating the file to see the progress.
You can even take a screenshot on Mac, for instance, and keep it on the device as a visual reference/reminder that you can look back. Set realistic expectations. Lastly, if you have the resources to spend, scale your SEO efforts where you can.
To sum everything up, a fair few SEO mistakes get in the way of helping you rank high on search engines. Hopefully, the information in this article will help you identify what you are doing wrong and avoid potential problems in the future. Remember that search engine optimization requires patience, and avoidable errors shouldn’t discourage you.