10 Common SEO Mistakes and What You Can Do to Avoid Them

Are you often the victim of SEO mistakes that hurt your business? Everyone who makes these missteps needs to understand how to solve them. Here is how!

The world is not short of bloggers creating valuable content or even businesses having supposed knowledge of SEO.

On the surface, Search Engine Optimization sounds like a simple thing, and though it is not rocket science, hitting the sweet spot does depend on many factors.

What I am trying to say is that it’s pretty common to make SEO mistakes.

On top of that, there is an entire virtual world on the internet. And everybody is trying their hardest to draw people’s attention to themselves. This demands a careful SEO approach that will set you apart from the crowd.

 In this article, we will talk about mistakes that SEO practitioners make while optimizing their websites for search engines.

10  SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2019

Let’s take a look at the most common SEO mistakes and understand how they work against us.

1. Lack of Research

This is probably the most important of all the points on SEO mistakes we will cover. Merely creating content that you believe is great does not help with your rankings. 

It is important to understand what the online community is interested in. Therefore, it is critical that you invest some time in researching what is trending concerning your business.

You can also lookup and thoroughly investigate your competitors who are ranking well online. Check some of their performing pages and get a grip on how you can improve your existing page content.

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For example, if you want to write a list post on “great bathroom decorations”, you can start by searching for the term in Google and see what the results look like. 

seo mistakes

You can also use Google to discover related keyword terms that others are searching for. Simply scroll to the bottom of the page to see the more keyword ideas that relate to the term you are looking for.

seo practises

Another way to discover keywords that will help you improve your content’s quality and website visibility is to use Keyword research tools, such as KWfinder or Ahrefs. Utilizing tools like these will help you find great keyword ideas without guesswork.

We have written several extensive guides on how to conduct keyword strategy and write content that ranks. You can start with this guide.

For more specific audiences, you can also make use of tools such as live chat software to ask questions and find out what the audience is interested in. You can then use their feedback to explore new content and see what keywords it is ranking for.

2. Content Duplication

From spinned, copied, plagiarized, rehashed to cannibalism, these are just a few words that partially or completely define content duplication. And once done, there is a serious risk – rankings of your website can suffer, giving your competitors an edge over you.

Besides this, there are other common outcomes like:

  • Losing traffic
  • Adding no value to your brand presence
  • Adding no value to your customers
  • Getting penalties for content duplication

However, content duplication can happen in various forms. Let’s take a look at them below.

  • URL

    Content duplication can appear in permalink variations (URL). A few parameters like tracking and analytics code can cause such duplication issues.

    negative seo mistakesHere is a guide to help you take care of this problem.
  • Scraped Content

    Scraped content occurs when one website takes original content of another website and publishes is on its own domain as well. This content category not only includes website blogs, but also meta descriptions, titles, product descriptions (especially in eCommerce websites), landing page content, and the list can go on. It goes without saying that you should avoid such practices.

    Now, there are times when the same website may run on two different URLs like “www.example.com” and “example.com”. What’s more, if the same website runs on two different URLs, the content on one website will be similar to another one. That too, leads to content duplication.

Pro Tip: Make sure to create original content. This includes content on your blogs, landing page content, titles and meta descriptions, and others, to avoid the guaranteed path to SEO mistakes that you would regret later on.

3. Titles/Headings

No matter how smart Search Engines might become, if your content does not have a suitable title or heading, the search engine does not know where to place it. Having a poor or irrelevant title is a recipe that leads to failure.

seo mistakes

Search engines are becoming smarter with every update. So, if your content does not have a suitable title or heading suggestion, the search engine can fail to rank your content piece. That means a poor or irrelevant title is a big SEO mistake.

According to a study added by Search Engine Journal, 4.69% of websites fail to add or miss adding relevant headings to their website content (whether web pages or blogs).

seo headings

Source: searchenginejournal.com

The same study also states that 2.13% of the content lacks proper insertion of the heading. That means you forget to add the heading format or order when publishing your content. Also learn that every page, whether blog or landing pages, cannot have multiple headings on the page.

For example, a company website has different content on different pages, but all pages have a common title (company/product name). Not adding proper header tags to separate paragraphs and subchapters (H1, H2, etc.) is as good as not having title/headers. 

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Pro Tip: Smart inclusion of keywords in your headers increases optimization.

It would be wise to allocate some time and study up on how to create perfect headers.

4. Wrong Link Building

Building your backlinks might look like a surefire way to increase your traffic. However, if done in the wrong way, it can do more bad than good. Your content is regarded as high quality if it is being directed to and from another quality content.

So, what practices should you stay away from? Let’s take a look at them below.

Spammy Links

Avoid adding spammy links to your articles. For instance, your company specializes in building smart tools, like a learning management system. While writing content for your niche, you are likely to reach out to websites that either deal with the same services or belong to the same industry. That’s your way of building quality links for your brand in the market.

Except, you need to avoid adding links that do not belong to your niche. So if you are sending an article on eLearning industry, you need to avoid links that belong to gaming or adult websites.

Source: neilpatel.com  

Internal Links

Internal linking is a positive practice. And, if you wanna dig a little deeper, NinjaOutreach reveals how internal linking helped them boost organic traffic at their website by 40%.

NinjaOutreach also gives a good rule of thumb to remember – adding one link in every 100 words.

Except, this is where you’ll have to be careful. Adding links to any page of your website to an article (in the case of NinjaOutreach) won’t help you capture more business for your brand.

So, what can you do?

You’ll need to observe a few things when adding internal links to your articles, especially when you plan to publish them on other websites. These include:

  • Do these web pages receive regular traffic?
  • Do you see more leads getting captured at these pages?
  • Are these pages converting?

If the answer is yes for every question, you are adding the right links. Understand that, adding irrelevant links to your articles won’t help you get more business. Plus, you won’t see many queries coming to your online business.

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Now, you may ask ‘how is this a bad practice’?

Well, giving “link juice” to pages that won’t convert for your brand online is a bad SEO practice, to say the least. Plus, in case the article is published on another website, there would be a pretty thorough investigation of the links’ quality and how these can offer value to their readers.

Competitor Links

There is no doubt that some of your competitors have access to studies and data links that help them build well-researched articles for their website. And, you’d like to have similar data to back your claims in one of the articles.

But the question is, will it be a good decision to add a competitor’s link to one of your outreach or guest post articles, avoiding the hard task of finding the right studies and statistics for yourself?

Probably not.

By adding a link to your competitor’s website, you end up giving them linking power. What’s more, some readers would be keen to open the link and check out the contents. This may increase the bounce rate at your website too.

So, at least in this case, refrain from adding a competitor’s link to any of your content in general.

What should you do instead?

Adding relevant links to support the claims you make is important to convince your readers to help them make an informed decision. 

So, rather than looking at what studies your competitors have conducted, look for research paper links or stats by statista, hbr.org, and others, to support your claims. Such links help you attain benefits like:

  • Avoiding the process of giving link juice to the competitor’s website
  • Supporting your claims and building trust with readers through your content
  • Building a strong domain authority by adding links to websites that hold a higher DA than yours

5. Avoiding Regular Link Auditing

Now that we know what links you should avoid building for your website, it’s time to talk about auditing the existing ones.

To build a strong presence online, we tend to build links from wherever possible. That’s because everyone would like to see a backlink graph that looks similar to this:

backlink growth

Source: searchenginejournal.com

And, to make sure you are on the right path, you’ll need to audit your links often – you need to look for red flags like a sudden spike or drop in your link building efforts. 

Here is an interesting example.

Robert Neu faced a lot of repercussions from not being vigilant at his own podcast website on WordPress in 2014. His website was affected by link farm spam. He could see thousands of links with an anchor text “porn movie” and what’s worse, he saw a loss in traffic and ranking. In fact, his website ranking dropped 50 spots for his main keyword.

So, what did Robert do?

He submitted a disavow file that listed all the domains that attacked his podcast website. This helped him recover his rankings and improve website traffic. You can see in the image below how this measure helped him get his traffic back on track.

traffic recovery

Source: searchenginejournal.com

Understand this – it is important for you to monitor your link profile growth so that you can easily avoid such attacks before they even take place. Now you can either use a link auditing tool like Linkody or check the quality of your links manually to see the number of good backlinks you’ve made.

6. Not Balancing Long Tail & Short Tail Keyword Frequency

Marketing teams come across a lot of challenging situations while creating SEO strategies for their customers or for their brand name. And, one of these is to find a balance in the use of long-tail or short-tail keywords for their content marketing strategies.

The type of keyword they plan to use depends on the kind of traffic they’d like to bring to their website.

For example, imagine you run a business that provides WordPress themes online. Your marketing team plans to target keywords like “WordPress themes”, “WordPress themes for blog”, and “free responsive WordPress themes for blog” to get the right kind of traffic on your website.

But here’s the catch. “WordPress themes” is a short tail keyword that has a high search volume whereas, keywords like “WordPress themes for blog” and “free responsive WordPress themes for blog” would have medium and low search volume accordingly.

And that’s not all. The conversion rate on the same medium and low search volume keywords would be higher than the short tail keyword “WordPress Themes”.

seo keyword research

Source: seopressor.com

Now, to increase the conversion rate for your business you need to find a balance between the two types of keywords. That’s only possible if you make a combination of the two. Normally we see how long-tail keywords are seen by experts online. They’d say that the use of the long-tail keywords helps you bring organic traffic and avoid spam link to your website.

However, adding short tail keywords will help you bring the right balance between the two. For example, if you sell a live chat to businesses to help them grow their customer satisfaction rate, then what keyword of combinations can you use to promote it online?

“Live chat” is a short tail keyword and also a broad theme. So, you can use it in the following combinations:

  • Online live chat support tool
  • Free live chat software for businesses
  • Use live chat to boost conversions

And, the list can go on. Now, these combinations have the short-tail keywords (that have a high search volume) and a few more supportive long-tail keywords to make its use look more natural and less forced.

7. Ignoring Social Media

As of February 2019, there are about 3.48 billion social media users worldwide. This is a large pool of potential traffic waiting to be harnessed. As such, not promoting your content on social media could be the most unforgivable mistake.

Social media also helps you get a better insight into what is trending and what is not. A research study found out that approximately 50% of consumers actively look at customer comments before buying a product or service online in comparison to only 34% of customers who seek discounts.

There are other stats that highlight the prominence of social media and online reviews among your customer base:

  •           88% of consumers say they trust an online recommendation as much as the recommendations of their peers
  •         77% online shoppers read online reviews either at the start or during their research
  •         63% of customers are of the opinion that online review is “important” or “very important” when it comes to selecting a local business.

 All these stats go on to show that social media and online reviews have now become the word-of-mouth publicity of the digital age. It is essential that you harness it to the fullest and leverage all the information available to you.

8. Building Weak Websites

Have your visitors complained about either of the issues?

  • Boring user interface 
  • Slow loading time
  • Lack of CTA (Call to Action) buttons 
  • Unattractive images 
  • 404 errors 
  • Non-responsive website across all platforms

If yes, then you have a weak website at hand.

To correct these practices, you need to make sure that you get the best designers on board to help you revamp your user interface and add more attractive images that encourage visitors to take action when checking your website. 

Other than that, you need to work on making your website responsive across all devices. Doing so helps you reach those mobile device users who tend to pick up their phone every now and then to find a service provider. Plus, you need to ask your marketing team to add CTA buttons in places where people might feel the urge to contact the business.

As for 404 page errors, you can either rectify the problem with URL redirection or add a live chat tool. Adding the tool will help you initiate proactive chats with visitors who end up on such pages and redirect them to the correct URL.

Finally, for improving the load time of the website, you can make use of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and practice image optimization to ensure that your website loads quicker in search results. After all, you wouldn’t like your prospects getting impatient and skipping your URL just because your website takes more time to load. Know this, speed and efficiency along with interactive designs are key to ensuring customer engagement.

9. All SEO and No Content Quality

You must have noticed lengthy blog posts on various websites these days. What do you infer from this?

Is it for marketing purpose? Or do these posts plan on helping the reader get good takeaways?

Well, that is a little hard to put into perspective. Understand this, every business online wants to rank high to build brand presence and keep the audience hooked to their line of thought.

While some cater to the interests of both their business and reader’s intent in mind while curating big pieces online, others implement for the sake of following the trend.

So, creating content with high keyword density looks like an attempt where you want to rank and not serve the intent of the reader who’s landed on the page.

However, this approach can land you or those practicing it into trouble since, when Google releases an update, it’s intention is to help people find relevant yet quality searches for their query.

And, with every update, Google is getting smarter. It will implement penalties if your content follows practices like:

  • Purchasing links on other websites is seen as a practice to manipulate PageRank.
  • Swapping links with other websites to increase backlinks seems like an innocent practice, but it can lead to penalties from Google if done in excess.
  • Using too many H1 tags can also lead to penalties.
  • Stuffing too many keywords in the content is a mark of poor content quality. So, in case Google catches an article that shows a high density of keywords, it will not help it rank and, even worse in some cases, penalize the website.

10. Inconsistent or Outdated Publishing

The more frequently you publish good content, the more memorable you are to your visitors. 

Aside from that, it is also important to remain up-to-date with trends and keep modifying your content topics and structures as per changes in trends. 

For example, you can tune your content a little bit as per ongoing trends such as presidential elections or sports’ world cups, as long as it is relevant to your audience. Doing so will help you get more incoming traffic and show that you are active in your niche.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that SEO is the winning strategy when it comes to an increase in traffic. At the same time, however, many people/organizations are not educated enough and end up making many SEO mistakes. 

So, every time you are ready to optimize your content for search engines, remind yourself what negative SEO practices you should stay away from and focus only on what works well.

 So, here is the final checklist for you to avoid future SEO mistakes.

  •       Research thoroughly when deciding the keywords that will help you market your brand successfully online
  •           Keep an eye on what is trending and where your audience is headed, by monitoring the performance of your social media platforms
  •           Build honest and valuable content while optimizing headers, metadata, links, etc. in mind
  •     Try publishing content regularly by keeping existing trends in mind to rank well in SERPs
  •           Use quality research links to add validation to your content when creating backlinks for your website
  •           Make your unengaging website engaging by adding a live chat software
  •           Make sure you have conducted thorough research before writing content for your website. Here, it goes without saying that you should add relevant, high-quality outbound links as well.
  •           Stop plagiarizing other people’s work if you want your content to rank on Google SERPs or be published by high domain authority websites

It may not be easy and quick, but go on ticking the right boxes, and you are all set for a perfect SEO strategy!

Author Bio:

Jared Cornell is a customer-support specialist, a marketing evangelist and a book lover, associated with ProProfs Chat. Jared is always keen to develop new strategies to help customers seeking live chat assistance for a delightful experience.