Search engine optimization is an important part of building a successful website. This can take all kinds of different meanings, but there are some that can be devastating if used incorrectly. After all, creating SEO mistakes has potential to cause a great deal of harm to any website.
Because SEO techniques are so important, you need to learn how to use them wisely. Even though you may have a firm understanding of some practices, it can still be very easy to make a costly error.
To help guide you through protecting yourself from these problems, we’ve devised a list of 13 of the worst SEO mistakes you need to avoid at all costs. Staying away from issues such as these can greatly influence your future success.
1. Don’t create poor content
There’s a saying on the Internet, “Content is king.” This is more true than what many website owners believe. Because sites like Google and Bing are putting more effort into quality results, it’s the condition of the content that will determine visibility.
In a sense, turning yourself into a content marketer can boost the awareness of your site. For instance, leaders in content marketing are capable of generating almost eight times the traffic than the others. Of course, many other things will play a factor in marketing. However, it all starts with the quality of your content.
Putting more effort into quality can also boost conversion rates, social media shares and even brand reputation. That one perfect piece of content could reach millions of potential customers if it were to go viral. But it won’t unless you spend some time sprucing up your webpages.
2. Don’t underestimate the value of keyword research
Keywords will always play an important role when it comes to developing content for webpages. After all, it’s how people are going to find a specific piece of text. However, not everyone puts in the effort to find relevant or trending words to build that content.
Without research, you may find that the set of keywords you use perform less than expected. Even if the content is written brilliantly, it can still perform poorly in search results simply because it’s not what people are looking for.
This research can be conducted in a multitude of ways. From trending articles appearing on sites like BuzzSumo to using analytical tools such as Google Trends or Adwords, a bit of investigation can go a long way. You may just find that the right keyword can actually make or break the success of an article.
3. Don’t underestimate the value of internal links
Internal links are those you put into your content that are targeting other webpages on the site. This develops what many call, “link juice.” Essentially, it’s telling search engines that you are “voting” on a specific piece of content that is relevant to the webpage.
In reality, the more votes a webpage receives due to linking, the better it will perform in search results. This is calculated from both external and internal sources. So, you can see the importance of setting up links within your content to aim at other pieces you create.
Experts attest that in order for a specific page of your site to score well in rankings, it needs more internal links to it. In essence, you are giving that specific page link juice in order to attract search engines to the location of the content.
4. Don’t keep using Flash-based images and backgrounds
Flash had its place in 2005, but it’s widely accepted as a dead platform. This system was a constant target for hackers and it creates speed issues for many websites. Even YouTube, one of the biggest users of Flash, has traded it up for the HTML5 player. Using HTML5 is more ideal as it is safer and loads much faster than the traditional Flash-based graphics.
Search engines have a problem with using Flash on a website. This is especially true if you use a Flash background. Although it may look appealing, it may not contribute to site performance or search rank. Many designers have designed alternative HTML versions of the site to promote higher search results.
5. Don’t assume your site is as fast as you can make it
The speed of your website is a factor for search results. Faster websites are given higher priority. As a result, you need to make sure the website loads as fast as possible without losing the features that make it functional. Nearly 40 percent of people will abandon a site if it takes too long to load.
Everything from images to site programming will affect speed.
According to Amazon, losing just one second of load time could cost the company $1.6 billion each year. This is derived from visitor averages to the shopping website. As you can see, a lot can happen within 60 seconds of a slow-loading website.
Using a CDN such as CloudFlare helps boost the speed of the site. This is done by sharing your pages across a global network while reducing the time it takes for visitors to access pages in those parts of the world. For instance, a visitor in New York may access pages of your site faster if your CDN was located in Virginia as opposed to a server located in Great Britain.
6. Don’t be tempted by content scraping
Copying content from another site and calling it your own was quite a common practice when search engines first hit the scene. Today, these same engines will penalize your site and bury it deep in the results. In some extreme cases, even lawsuits regarding plagiarism have been threatened.
One of the most important SEO techniques is to make sure your content is as unique and as original as you can make it. This may be difficult if you’re using the same facts as someone else. The trick is to give it your own personal spin and personality.
Go deeper into the facts. Give the material a different point of view. Do something that makes it stand out as your own.
You don’t want your website being identified as one that copies its content from others.
7. Don’t forget mobile support
Mobile Internet access has long surpassed that of desktop computing. It is believed that by 2020, there will be more than 256 million smartphones being used in the United States. As a result, it’s safe to assume that a large portion of your website traffic is going to be from many of those devices.
However, it’s not enough to simply choose a responsive design and cross your fingers.
Everything from image optimization to text fonts and layouts need to be addressed. Testing on various screen resolutions may also be necessary to determine if the site looks good across the board. Otherwise, you may have a horrible mobile layout on certain screen sizes without knowing.
8. Don’t make your URL impossible to type
Your domain name should be easy to read and understand. If it’s too jumbled, it can be difficult for the average Internet user to type. Shorter and more concise domain names are often deemed the best to use for both search engines and visitors.
You may also want to make sure that it’s relevant to your content. For example, you wouldn’t use “www.MyCatLovesMice.com” if you plan on selling smartphone cases. Yes, this example was a bit extreme, but you get the point.
9. Don’t assume any backlink is a good backlink
A common practice by many in the past was to create guest posts on blogs or other websites while linking back to their own. Now, this process is still vital in creating awareness of your site. However, it needs to be done in a different way.
Since 2012, search engines have been putting more emphasis on relevant linking. An example of a bad one would be to link a cat toy eCommerce site to a boating supply shop. These two are not relevant and may score poorly in search results.
If you want to create a strong network of backlinks, you need to be careful where you post your content. Create guest posts on blogs, but make sure they are relevant to your site’s specific niche or industry.
Studies show that link authority plays a strong part in higher rankings within search results. This means links from websites that have a high rank according to Ahrefs Domain Rating can greatly impact the appearance of your site in search results.
10. Don’t assume your site is perfect without SSL encryption methods
One of the more recent changes to Google was the addition of putting security encryption in higher standing. This means that sites with SSL certifications and using “HTTPS:” are more valuable in the search results.
Approximately 30 percent of surveyed sites with SSL problems had no SSL certification issued. Now, this doesn’t mean that your website will be unsuccessful in search results. However, sites with a valid SSL will perform better.
Essentially, not securing your site in such a way gives your competition a chance to surpass you in the results page.
The purpose of this addition is to make browsing safer for all without fear of data being stolen. Unfortunately, millions of high-quality sites can suffer a penalty in the result page simply because they don’t provide this protection.
11. Don’t stuff keywords into your content
Keyword stuffing was quite a common practice at the turn of the century. Many people discovered that using the same word over and over again would help rank a site higher in search results. Unfortunately, this also created terrible and difficult-to-read content.
Although this practice has been widely abolished, it’s still something that happens more often than it should. There are still developers who stuff as many keywords as possible into a small amount of text. As a result, the pages do not perform well during a search.
Experts believe that an ideal ratio for keyword-to-content should be approximately 2.5 percent. This means you want to use the same keyword once for every 50 words at the most. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of a penalty from search engines such as Google.
12. Don’t forget your sitemap
The sitemap for a website is how search engines like Google find and crawl most of your content. Without building one and submitting it, the content of your site may be ignored by search engines. Otherwise, you’re putting faith in the links of others to help your webpages get indexed.
You cannot expect a search engine to crawl a website for content if it doesn’t know where the pages exist. Sites like Google use the sitemap as a way to identify where content is and how often it has been updated.
13. Never assume what works today will work tomorrow
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in terms of SEO techniques is not keeping apprised of changes and trends. For instance, the keyword stuffing webpages developed back in 2002 would rank poorly today. It’s important that you keep your thumb on the pulse of optimization.
Consider this. Google has made major changes to its search algorithms more than 100 times since 2010. The search engine giant is constantly working to make sure quality and relative results are displayed first and foremost. This means you need to be aware of these changes if you want to keep your site from being buried under the competition.
Another example is in regards to a September 2016 update to Google’s “Penguin” algorithm change. This addition to the search engine rewards high-quality sites with better position while affecting sites that are too closely related to web spam. Which does your site fall under?
There are many facets to online optimization. It can be extremely difficult to remember them all. Protect the success of yourself and the website by avoiding these SEO mistakes. In many ways, the online reputation of the brand or your company can be at stake.