Mistakes in SEO run rampant, and they can be the downfall of any website with a less than perfect foundation. It’s also difficult to mitigate many of these mishaps, as they nip at your heels like a dog who smells blood in the water.
If you want to avoid the nagging feeling that something has gone wrong with your site and potentially make unnerving changes down the line (title tag too long? Too many words?), we recommend learning about SEO mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.
I’d like to preface this post by saying that though I work in SEO, I’m not entirely familiar with all of the errors mentioned below. I have heard many of the stories from my clients, but some are just hearsay.
You’ll get your fill of SEO horror stories in SEO Horror Stories: Top 10 SEO Mistakes You Need to Avoid, but if some of what you’ve heard is true, then please let me know!
32 Common SEO Mistakes
1 32 Common SEO Mistakes
- 1.1 Title Tags Too Long
- 1.2 Wrong Keywords in the Title Tag
- 1.3 Content Hidden in the Source Code
- 1.4 Titles with Too Many Words
- 1.5 No Meta Descriptions
- 1.6 Keywords in the Headings
- 1.7 Not Using your Brand on your Domain Name
- 1.8 Meta Keywords
- 1.9 Not using your Brand in the Title Tag
- 1.10 Not Including Meta Tags
- 1.11 Not Using Internal Links
- 1.12 Not Using H1 Tags
- 1.13 Not Using Alt Text
- 1.14 Using Broken Images
- 1.15 Using Too Many Keywords in your Site
- 1.16 Not Using the Keyword Locale
- 1.17 Not Using a Canonical Tag
- 1.18 Not Using Nofollow Links
- 1.19 Not Updating your Resource Pages
- 1.20 Using Misleading Links
- 1.21 Not Using Schema
- 1.22 Not Using URLs
- 1.23 Not Having AMP
- 1.24 Not Having a Consistent Heading Structure
- 1.25 Not Using your Website’s Keywords
- 1.26 Not Using Page Speed Optimization
- 1.27 Not Using Shopping Comparison Sites
- 1.28 Not Using The Robots.txt file
- 1.29 Not Implementing Sitemaps
- 1.30 Not Using the Review Markup
Title Tags Too Long
This one is a pretty common mistake that I’ve seen happen to multiple clients. If you’ve got a title tag so long as to be unreadable by many search engines, there’s a good chance your site is penalized for it.
It’s understandable to go wild with titles if you aren’t too concerned about PageRank, but as the saying goes, “great ideas come from reading good books. You may think you’ve got a great idea, but if it stinks now, just wait until Google reads it.”
Wrong Keywords in the Title Tag
Your title tag should contain those words that you want to appear as an “organic” result for your site. This is not simply a search engine optimization technique.
Google and other search engines rank pages based on relevance and user experience, but they aren’t above making subjective decisions based on their own rules and guidelines set by engineers.
However, it’s important to note that your title tag can actually make a big impact on your site’s rankings. We’ve seen many documents with a relatively simple language reflecting the kind of content on the page.
You can’t make things up as you go with this one – if you try to, you’ll only end up getting penalized by Google for it.
Content Hidden in the Source Code
This is another frequent mistake that I’ve seen on websites. It’s not uncommon for webmasters to hide their content in the source code, making it difficult to access. This can happen on many different levels.
You might be hiding your content from search engines so they won’t “steal” your content, but at the same time you are preventing users from easily accessing it.
The access of content is also something that search engines tend to focus on when determining where to rank content pages or documents. This is why it’s important to have clean code, so that search engines can easily read new content on your site.
Titles with Too Many Words
I think this is one of the most important mistakes in SEO, because it’s so easy to get carried away with writing extensive titles. Titles are not only supposed to be short, but they should also give a sense of what the page or post will be about. This is not the time to get creative with your titles.
It’s simple – don’t try to trick the search engines by making your titles longer than they are. Even if you are working with long-tail keywords or phrases, they still should be fit for titles.
It’s tempting to make extensive use of brackets, parentheses, hyphens and asterisks, but it’s probably best to use them carefully and selectively.
No Meta Descriptions
The meta description is very useful for rating your site. If you are running an eCommerce site or want to get more traffic, then you’ll want to use this tool. The meta descriptions allow Google and other search engines to know what the content on your page is about, and they can even provide some unique insights.
For example, if you are writing about a product, make sure the description offers some quality keywords that will help it be found in search results.
You should always include a meta description and it should be no longer than 155 characters. The best way to write this is to use one or two keywords that you expect to return in search results.
If you want to add some additional features, such as a brand, don’t go too far overboard with the additions. Just stick to the basic tips and you’re good!
Keywords in the Headings
One of the most common mistakes that I’ve seen is failing to include keywords in post titles. It’s also common for people to forget about the heading tags.
This is minor compared to some of the other website errors that can plague your site, but it’s something that you should keep in mind while posting on your site.
Not Using your Brand on your Domain Name
Many companies don’t use their brands, which can be an SEO mistake on multiple levels. First, your brand doesn’t help you gain attention when people view the URL.
Second, if you don’t use your brand in terms of getting people to visit your site via referring links, then it’s very difficult to gain the trust of potential customers.
It’s true that search engines can find duplicate content on different sites and they don’t always take the pages with the better copy and structure over to their domain name.
This is why it’s important for users and search engines to see only your business when they view the web page. Tricking these search engines is a good way to see your business penalized.
Meta keywords were designed to provide some insights into the content of your web page or post, but they aren’t really needed any longer.
Today’s search engines don’t even use meta keywords for ranking content, so they are pretty much useless in most cases. For that reason, we recommend that you do not use meta keywords – don’t even fill them out.
Not using your Brand in the Title Tag
While you want to have a great title tag, you may have overlooked using your company name in the heading. While it’s true that search engines are getting better at being able to find your site based on titles, it’s still really important to use all of the elements that will help people find your site.
If they see your brand, they can remember it later on when they are searching for other information on their own.
Not Including Meta Tags
Meta tags are powerful tools that can help you get more attention for your site. This is particularly the case when it comes to creating visuals. While you want to avoid keyword stuffing, it’s also important to consider what words or images will be good for attracting readers and users.
It’s not always about the keywords themselves, but what will catch user’s eyes and draw them in?
Not Using Internal Links
So, you’ve figured out that you can include major keywords in your document and include those in the title tag. Still, there’s one more thing that you may be missing – internal linking.
This is a great way to spread the love among your content and give readers a chance to find other important pages on your site. This could be related to anything from product pages to content pages and everything in between!
Not Using H1 Tags
H1 tags are a must for all of your content pages. The H1 tag is the main title of your web page – it’s the first thing that people will see, so you should never forget to use it!
We recommend that you use a separate one for each page, but if you have a lot of content it may be worth considering using the same heading on multiple pages. Just make sure that they are not too close together and focus on different topics.
Not Using Alt Text
It’s obvious that the alt text is important for visual content. It also provides important information, like what the image will look like when people view it on their own device.
This is an important way to make sure that you are able to grab someone’s attention and make them want to click on the image.
Using Broken Images
There are two types of images – debug and non-debug. The debug images are used for testing different formats and they are not supposed to be seen on the site, or anywhere else for that matter.
You should never publish these on your server, but it’s important to note that Google does have some issues with debugging images. Make sure that you have just one image for each page.
Using Too Many Keywords in your Site
While focus is critical for an effective SEO strategy, you can’t make something like this happen overnight. In the meantime, you want to make sure that you’ve got a steady flow of traffic coming from search engines crawling your website.
To do this, you need to make sure that you don’t try to cram in a ton of keywords or focus on a single keyword too much.
You may have heard that keywords with less than three searches per month can be discounted by Google, but there isn’t really any proof of this being an issue. In fact, many people have seen good results when they use low volume keywords.
Not Using the Keyword Locale
I assume that all of you are familiar with the term landmark, but hopefully you’ve been using it incorrectly for a while. The term landmark is actually referred to as locale in this context, and it’s an important part of your SEO strategy.
In short, this is a way to create a separate listing for your exact same content in multiple languages. The easiest way to do this is by adding a locale tag to your page content.
Not Using a Canonical Tag
Canonical tags are incredibly important for improving your SEO efforts, even if you don’t use them correctly right away. These tags are used to make sure that one page ranks over another, which is essential for link building and natural ranking.
The best use of this tag is to make sure that people don’t get more than one of your pages in the results.
Not Using Nofollow Links
Nofollow links were created to help people focus on link building and other important elements of SEO. This tag basically tells search engines that they should not pass any value or ranking power to that page or site, and this helps prevent link buying schemes, forum spam and other shady tactics.
While you should always use nofollow links, it’s important to make sure that you don’t use them too much as well.
Not Updating your Resource Pages
Resource pages can be a great way to draw traffic and give you an advantage over your competitors. However, they need to be updated from time to time.
This is because Google is constantly changing their algorithm, and it’s possible that older content will not provide the same value as newer content. In fact, you may be better off removing old content from these sites if it’s just going to confuse people!
Using Misleading Links
One of the most common reasons that people get penalized for link building is by linking to a page that is dead, or a 404error page. In addition, you can also get penalized if you use excessive keywords in your links.
If you want to have good trust from your readers and Google, then you need to stop using these sneaky techniques. Just make sure that it’s not hurting the quality of your pages and content!
Not Using Schema
Schema is a rich snippet that can be used to help your SEO efforts. This allows Google to provide great information about your page, including the image, the title, the description and even some information about the address.
This helps you stand out from other brands online and it’s an important part of any SEO strategy.
Not Using URLs
It’s easy to get caught up in the world of URLs, but you really need to focus on just one thing – getting people to your website. When it comes down to it, Google will never have a link to your site if they can’t find it, so you’re going to have to make sure that everything is set up properly.
Make sure that the link targets the information that you want people to find, and takes them directly where they want to go.
Not Having AMP
Many companies have taken the leap forward in their SEO efforts by implementing Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages. This is a great step towards improving your site, but you need to make sure that you are being careful with what you are doing.
Many people have seen great results in just the first 48 hours of having this type of content on their website, so it’s worth exploring!
Not Having a Consistent Heading Structure
The heading structure is one of the most important things that you need to pay attention to, and I know that’s not what you want to hear. Unfortunately, it’s true.
The heading structure tells users what your content is about, but it also helps search engines make sure that they are looking at the right content. If you are inconsistent with your headings, then you are going to have a serious problem on your hands!
Not Using your Website’s Keywords
You don’t want to be putting all of your eggs in one basket, but you also don’t want to ignore the importance of using your site’s keywords! This is another important part of your SEO strategy, and you need to make sure that you’re using the right words when it comes time to find your content.
If you aren’t sure what words they should be, then make sure that you use Google’s keyword tool and start with the most popular terms.
Not Using Page Speed Optimization
If you want to rank well on Google, then you need to make sure that your pages are loading quickly. There’s no way around this. Even if your site is chock full of great content, if it takes forever for someone to read it, then they’re out of there.
The faster you can load your content, the more traffic you’ll get and the easier it will be for people to find what they’re looking for.
Not Using Shopping Comparison Sites
These days, people don’t want to spend hours online finding the best prices for everything they need. Instead, they want it all right now, even if it’s not necessarily entirely accurate!
You can use these sites to your advantage by optimizing your listings and giving people what they’re looking for the factors that matter the most.
Not Using The Robots.txt file
The file is an important element of any website that you want to rank well for. It tells Google which pages to ignore, and it also gives you the ability to redirect people if necessary.
The best way to use this file is to make sure that you are allowing Google to crawl your pages so much as possible, but only when they are looking for specific content. You can always add restrictions on certain pages.
Not Implementing Sitemaps
Sitemaps are a great way to get Google to crawl your site and show you which pages they’re still missing. You need to make sure that your sitemap is accessible and easy to find.
If it’s not, then Google may miss some of your pages, and it may take longer for them to rank.
Not Using the Review Markup
With the review markup, Google has made it easier than ever for users to leave reviews on your site. When they do this, Google will automatically pull their name and picture if possible to make sure that people know who is leaving their feedback. If you don’t use the markup, then you’re seriously losing out on these opportunities!