Every day, there are tons of websites being birthed. This means that the demand for proper SEO keeps increasing by the day. That said, it is no simple task to keep up-to-date with SEO trends year after year.
A single Google update can render a lot of your SEO efforts ineffective. As an online digital marketing model for most business owners, continual improvements in practicing SEO is what can set apart a successful brand from another.
Luckily, the internet harbors a lot of information on some of the best SEO practices you should be executing for better ranking results and avoiding some major SEO mistakes.
Even with best practices in SEO, you still could keep lagging on SERP. Surprisingly, it could have nothing to do with algorithmic changes by Google, but rather some mistakes you are making.
The challenge is usually in identifying the errors you are making. Given that SEO is a series of many different activities, a mistake may easily go unnoticed. While you may be aware of all the necessary steps of SEO’s best practices, some errors are fatal.
The one thing that makes you an expert in SEO is your willingness to change and improve, based on the constant advances that happen in this field. Find below some of the seven rookies, yet major mistakes you are making right now:
1. Publishing poor quality content
After practicing SEO for a while, you know for sure that great content is vital for successful optimization. Still, you may start losing your grip on producing great content. The problem is never in publishing poor quality content, but when you become consistent with substandard material. Over time, you will realize fewer and fewer people are visiting your site, few return visitors, fewer shares, less comments and likes on your copy, among others.
To know whether your content is of poor quality, you need to analyze it based on the following pointers:
Does it resonate with the needs of your target audience? Your audience should always come first with SEO. What do they want to know? What do their conversations look like online? What kinds of questions are they asking on your timeline? Understanding the needs of your audience is the first step to creating material that meets their needs.
Is it up-to-date with the current issues in your industry? Professionalism is about keeping up with the trends in your industry and offering a unique approach to issues for the benefit of your target market.
Is the piece you are sharing duplicated content? Can you find a similar article anywhere online or on your website? Duplicated content takes away your capability to choose which page you want to rank for, which means that two pieces of work might be competing against each other. The result is a low-rank position.
Does it have a purpose? Either to inform, persuade, entertain or all of them. Why else would people consume your content when there is a ton of information being offered by so many other sites online?
Are your pieces engaging? How many people are sharing, liking or commenting on your content?
What is the word count of your content? The most recommended word count for a high-quality copy ranges between 1000 and 2000 words. Below that, your content can fail to articulate the major issues properly. Above that may become monotonous or too wordy for a reader.
While all these signs may point you toward something, you should already be aware of, the kind of quality you are producing. The best way is to contrast your pieces with the searches on Google’s SERP. Ideally, once you type in your target keyword, the top results should give you a benchmark on the quality you need to be writing on. With content, you may need to hire a content creator so you can ensure all your material remains fresh and relevant, withstanding the test of time.
2. Not optimizing for mobile first
This tech-savvy generation has brought with it some new demands in the way SEO should be done. Mobile-first optimization is a key ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. What this means is that the mobile version of your website becomes the first result that Google uses to display on SERP for targeted keywords.
It is however not to imply that only your mobile site results are considered for indexing, but instead that they are considered first. This means that you stand a better chance at ranking higher on SERP if you have a mobile site that Google bots can crawl first before they get to your desktop results.
While you may have a dedicated site for your mobile users, mobile-first optimization asks for so much more. Technically, before you do anything regarding SEO, it must first be tailored for the mobile audience before the desktop audience. This makes sense if you want to drive more traffic, since mobile traffic is way more than desktop traffic today.
As you would configure your site for the audience first before search engines, do the same with the mobile audience. For the most part, this will require choosing keywords that favor mobile searches more than desktop searches. It is at this point that you must learn more about voice search. To ensure your mobile site is fully accounted for, there are a few rules to stick to:
Your site should be responsive to commands and queries from users, and very easy to navigate from one point to another.
Prioritize load time and page speed. You cannot afford to have any pages load more than 3 seconds.
Structured data – the mobile and desktop versions of your site should have the same structured data markup, which is very much relevant to the specific content of a page.
Free from clutter – since the mobile users are working with small screen space, your mobile site must be friendly to the user in that it is free from unnecessary information. This includes interstitial pop-up ads, too many images, links, widgets, and sidebars.
3. You Don’t Fix Broken Pages
The whole process of link-building cannot be ignored in successful SEO. However, if you are not keen to follow through with the backlinks you put up on your site, you will have a new problem on your hands.
What happens when the site you linked to is broken? What if the content you link to is pulled down? When this happens, you acquire tons of broken pages and links on your site. Much as you cannot control what happens to other people’s sites, you can control what happens to yours.
A broken page can also result from a misspelled URL, whether internally or externally. This then results in your URLs pointing to non‐existent resources, which only lowers your site’s UX.
Generally, any dead links on your website can stop search engine spiders from crawling your site. 404 Errors encourage users to move on to the next website, which means your bounce rates will be much higher. This can affect your repeat user ratio along with your website’s conversion rates.
Ensure that all the URLs you enter on your site are active and correct. Consider redirecting your pages. For broken links that are impossible to fix, redirect them to one of your landing pages or homepage.
This is a way to allow search engines to know when a page has moved, to avoid losing any page authority. You can also hunt down any broken links and pages with a tool like Moz Site Explorer.
Broken images can be a problem too. They usually cause the same issues, creating a poor user experience.
Ensure that once you delete an image from your archive, you remove it from the specific article. Consider also minimizing the number of links you add in one page. Using too many links can dilute the value of your web pages and it even lowers your UX.
4. Not Auditing Your Site Frequently
Sometimes the poor performance in your SEO is as a result of your neglect for your site. With technological advancements being the shifting sands they are, some technical issues in your site can frustrate all your optimization efforts. Check to ensure that all your web pages are indexed by Google bots. Crawl your website to track down any broken and missing links that also compromise your SERP performance.
Auditing your site is the only way to come up with a conclusive analysis of what is ailing your site. From this point, you can strategize on how to combat the issues you realized.
Consult a tool like the Screaming Frog Spider or Google Analytics. Take your time to study the behavior of your visitors while on your site.
There are a few questions to ask yourself while studying your site visitors behavior:
Are they attracted to one particular page more than other pages?
Are they exiting faster than they landed on your site?
Do you have any comeback visitors?
This is an actionable insight that can help you make a positive change to your SEO.
Auditing your site will allow you to customize other things that will also complement your SEO efforts. For example, could it be time for you to change your website’s design?
Without analyzing your site, you cannot come up with innovative ideas. Check to ensure that your site is on par with some of the basic practices of optimization like page speed. You would not know how long your page takes to open until you have an analytical tool to report on this. Remember this should matter for both your desktop and mobile sites.
5. One-dimensional Keyword Targeting
Did you know that you might have been doing keyword research the wrong way your entire SEO life? Technically, it is not enough to find a couple of suitable words you will use on your copies to attract the right kind of audience. The strategy of how you use up your keywords matters a lot.
When your approach is one-dimensional, it means you have been using just one keyword on your work. Targeting one-word keywords are quite often unrealistic. Other than that, it may also prove unprofitable. The search volume of the keywords you determine for your site should account for something.
The goal should be to take up terms that are less competitive, but very realistic and relevant to your industry. Furthermore, excessive keyword optimization only needs to lower quality content, which again becomes a major fail in your part.
Instead, consult Google suggest for several related keywords that could suit your seed phrases or words. This way, you can avoid keyword stuffing that hinders the flow of reading, while targeting a broader audience base with several similar keywords. Be careful not to work with out of reach keywords, or those that are very competitive that your site does not stand a chance on the first page of Google’s SERP.
Generally, here are some common things you must avoid at all costs:
Keyword stuffing – readability of a piece of work is very difficult when there are too many keywords used. A high-quality copy needs a proper flow of ideas that stem from keywords that have naturally been used in the text.
Targeting plural keywords instead of singular – most people are usually searching for the singular version of a keyword
Keywords out of context – the context within which words are used dictate their relevance. You may not show up in SERP for specific keywords because you translated their meanings outside of their context. Figure out the intent of the keywords before using them on your work.
6. Overlooking the Essence of competitor Research
Competitors do not just challenge you to make more profit than them. Technically, the top players in your industry and your main SEO rivals are not the same things. Even competitors that are outside of your niche can still be your rivals in SERP.
If you are having a hard time figuring out who your top competitors are, the Google SERP will give you a good indication of who they are. For keywords that you are targeting, anyone showing up on the top of the list is your main SEO competitor, regardless of whether they are your business competitors or not.
To stay ahead of your competitors, you must be knowledgable about all the information on your site. If you are one to target multiple niches, you may even have a distinct list of competitors.
You can learn a lot from your competitors with regards to SEO. This includes finding out about their domain authority, backlink data, social signals, keyword use and strategies, along with their content generation approaches.
A tool like Google Analytics can let you in on what your competitor is up to. Check out their traffic sources so you can borrow ideas on how to get by. Be particularly keen with competitors that are ranking in position zero thanks to featured snippets, and those dominating the local searches.
7. Compatibility for Different Browsers
It is a major mistake to be selective with which browser you prefer people to use to access your site. The target audience you are choosing to work with come from different places all around the world. While it is common to expect most people to use Google as their main search engine, you must also consider that some people would rather use Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine.
People have different preferences on which browsers they use. If you are a Google fan, then it is typical to be fond of the Google Chrome browser. But what happens to the part of your audience that uses Firefox, Internet Explorer or even Opera Mini? Are they restricted from using your site?
It should be your priority that your site is compatible with different browsers. This is more so sensitive in this era of technological advancements. With more and more people accessing the internet via their smartphones, you cannot afford to restrict them to the browser you deem fit for yourself.
Use BrowserStack to check whether your website is working on different browsers and OS platforms. Ensure that the pages in your site are rendered in such a way that each browser cannot prevent the web page from displaying correctly. Therefore, ensure you have valid CSS and HTML, and a correct DOCTYPE, to make it easier for users to surf and engage on your website.
Becoming an SEO expert involves dedication and a generous amount of time and consistency over a specified period.
Many websites continue to exist without their owners knowing about the mistakes they are making. If you let that go on long enough, the consequences will soon be evident.
Now that you have learned some of the major SEO mistakes you must stay away from, start tracking your performance by visiting https://serpbook.com/blog/keyword-ranking-tracker/.
Take back your position on SERP and outrank your competition for your targeted keywords.