11 SEO Mistakes You’re Probably Making On Your Website

Ben Tippet

In the realm of SEO, attention to detail is crucial. There are 11 prevalent SEO errors that many businesses often overlook. The landscape of SEO is filled with a complex set of guidelines, which can be particularly daunting for newcomers.

To excel in the ever-evolving landscape of SEO, it’s imperative to have a deep understanding of the rules that govern it. Your SEO strategy serves as the roadmap that guides Google in showcasing your content to users searching for terms relevant to your niche.

Without a well-crafted strategy, you risk missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with potential customers and grow your online presence. In the competitive arena of search engine rankings, not knowing how to play the game effectively is akin to striking out before even stepping up to the plate. Therefore, it’s crucial to invest time and resources in developing a robust SEO strategy that aligns with Google’s guidelines and user expectations. This is not just about staying in the game; it’s about hitting home runs consistently.

Even for those well-versed in SEO, the ever-changing nature of the field ensures that there’s never a dull moment. While this keeps things interesting, it also demands constant vigilance to stay updated with the latest shifts, all while adhering to industry-specific best practices.

Managing this intricate balance is no small feat, especially if you’re at the helm of a marketing team or in the process of establishing a new business. That’s why it’s imperative to get it right from the get-go and steer clear of these widespread SEO pitfalls.

1. Keyword and Content Gaps

One of the frequent missteps in SEO is the presence of gaps in your keyword and content strategies. These gaps refer to specific keywords that your competitors are targeting but you aren’t, putting you at a disadvantage in search rankings. The issue exacerbates over time as your competitors continue to build authority around those keywords.

If your competitors are not only ranking well for high-value keywords but also running paid ads alongside, you’re essentially facing a steep climb to gain visibility and ranking. So, how do you identify and fill these gaps when you’re not even sure what you’re missing?

The Solution

The most effective way to uncover these gaps is by utilising tools like SEMrush or SpyFu. These platforms provide insights into your competitors’ strategies, allowing you to shift from a defensive to an offensive approach.

Additionally, you can employ tools like Moz’s Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs to identify pages on competitor websites that attract a high number of backlinks. While it’s not advisable to directly copy your competitors, you can certainly use their successful strategies as a blueprint and inspiration for your own content initiatives. Chances are, they’re doing the same with your strategies. For a more comprehensive guide on how to leverage tools like SEMrush and Open Site Explorer, there are resources available that detail how to keep tabs on your competition.

2. Overemphasis on Traffic

While driving more traffic to your site is a key aspect of SEO, it’s a common mistake to consider it the sole focus, especially among business and marketing professionals. SEO is not just about ranking well in SERPs for valuable keywords; it’s also about enhancing user experience, driving conversions, and fostering overall business growth. Having a million visitors is meaningless if only a handful find value in your content and convert into customers.

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) is equally crucial as it directly contributes to business expansion. Content marketing is another vital component, aimed at providing users with valuable information related to your industry. Social media, too, plays a significant role as it often serves as the online persona of your business.

In essence, while traffic metrics are important, they shouldn’t be the sole indicator of a successful SEO campaign. The “O” in SEO stands for “optimisation,” and that’s your ultimate goal: to maximise the potential of every page on your site for the best chance at conversions and business growth.

The Solution

To genuinely optimise your website for both search engines and conversions, you need to adopt a multifaceted approach. This might involve stepping out of your comfort zone to experiment with strategies you haven’t tried before. Start with an SEO audit to ensure that you’re using unique keywords for the pages you aim to rank and check for any dead links that may have accumulated over time. By taking a more comprehensive approach, you can identify what truly works for your business and refine your strategies accordingly.

Next, it’s essential to incorporate calls to action (CTAs) on every page of your website, including the homepage and “About Us” section. CTAs serve as prompts that encourage user engagement and conversions. Once you’ve implemented these, consider launching a content marketing campaign. Create new pages that focus on targeted keywords, which will not only drive more traffic but also increase conversions.

Social media is another indispensable tool. Establish profiles on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. These platforms allow you to engage with your audience through meaningful conversations and fresh content, thereby encouraging further conversions. Additionally, it’s crucial to register your business on Google My Business and Google+ Business. This ensures that you appear on Google Maps and in local search results, making it easier for local customers to find you.

While this may seem like a daunting list of tasks, you can initiate most of these steps in a relatively short period. Fine-tuning the details may take some time, but the effort is well worth it to sidestep this prevalent SEO pitfall. By adopting a holistic approach that goes beyond mere traffic numbers, you set the stage for more meaningful engagement and sustainable business growth.

3. Inconsistent URL Formatting

URLs are more than just web addresses; they’re a potent SEO tool. Whether you’re linking to an external site or to a page within your own domain, search engines use these links to understand your website. However, inconsistent URL formatting can send the wrong signals to search engines. For instance, if search engines encounter two different formats for the same page (like http://www.yoursite.com and yoursite.com), they may interpret them as separate pages with duplicate content. This confusion dilutes the link equity, making it challenging for either URL to rank well in search engine results.

In essence, inconsistent URLs can muddle search engine understanding and hamper your ability to rank for relevant keywords.

The Solution

While there are various ways to format URLs, consistency is key. Once you’ve chosen a format, stick with it across your website. Whether it’s http://www.yoursite.com, www.yoursite.com, or simply yoursite.com, maintain uniformity. There’s no inherent advantage to one style over another; the crucial factor is consistency.

If your site currently has a mix of URL formats, it’s advisable to standardise them. The format http://www.yoursite.com is generally considered best practice. After making these changes, it may take some time for major search engines to to recognise and index the updated URLs, but you’ll eventually see improved results.

To ensure ongoing consistency, communicate the chosen URL format to everyone involved in your website’s development and content creation. Whether you have a small team or a large workforce, everyone should be aware of the preferred URL style for both internal links and external linking.

One effective way to enforce this is by creating a style guide that outlines your company’s formatting rules, including URLs, headings, blogs, and more. For inspiration, you can refer to established style guides like the AP Stylebook or our style guide, which is widely used and respected.

By maintaining consistent URL formatting, you not only make it easier for search engines to understand your site but also pave the way for better SEO performance.

4. Thin Content

Thin content refers to material that is short, uninformative, or overly simplistic, resulting in a poor user experience. As content marketers across various industries are increasingly focusing on the quality and length of their posts, the bar for what constitutes “thin” content is rising. Google’s primary objective is to offer users a positive experience, and if your content falls short, your site’s ranking will suffer.

Think of Google as a well-intentioned friend who recommends you for a job. If you perform well, it reflects positively on them. If you don’t, not only will that friend hesitate to recommend you again, but you also lose the employer’s trust—in this case, the user. Google aims to recommend websites that offer valuable content. If your content is thin, you’re signaling to Google that you’re not putting in the effort, making it difficult to compete with established online companies that Google already trusts.

The Solution

Creating high-quality, informative content is easier said than done, especially if writing isn’t your forte. However, there are some SEO best practices you can follow to improve your content. Start by researching keywords relevant to your industry and focus on high-value targets. Leverage your expertise and years of experience to provide in-depth information on these topics.

Next, establish a consistent publishing schedule, whether it’s through a blog or individual site pages, to start ranking for these keywords. Promote your content on social media platforms and use relevant hashtags to increase its visibility.

Don’t stop after one round of content; keep the momentum going. Incorporate multimedia elements like photos and videos where appropriate, and always include a call to action at the end of each page. While it may seem counterintuitive to offer valuable information for free, it pays off in the long run. By doing so, you establish yourself as an industry authority, show your willingness to assist others, and demonstrate that you’re an active online presence. These factors collectively serve as the cornerstone for enhancing your online reputation and SEO performance.

5. Duplicate Content

Creating content can sometimes lead to a rhythm where you find yourself reusing similar information to address different questions. While it may seem like a time-saving tactic to simply copy and paste this content, doing so is a significant mistake. Duplicate content confuses search engines, as they encounter identical information on multiple pages. This makes it challenging for Google to determine which page to recommend to users. As a result, Google may opt not to recommend either page.

This means that your effort to save time has actually stunted your website’s growth. Instead of having one strong page that could compete effectively, you end up with two weak pages that need to be revised before they can rank again. Rectifying duplicate content can be a cumbersome task.

The Solution

There are several ways to address the issue of duplicate content. One straightforward approach is to delete one of the duplicate pages. Alternatively, you can rewrite one of the pages to focus on a different subject. Another option is to implement a permanent redirect, also known as a 301 redirect, from one page to the other.

Each solution has its pros and cons. Deleting a page means you lose all the work on that particular page but eliminates the need for further action. Rewriting allows you to salvage some elements of the original content for use in a unique context. Implementing a permanent redirect effectively removes one page from public view, directing traffic to the remaining page. Regardless of the method you choose, the key is to resolve the issue of duplicate content to improve your site’s SEO performance.

6. Mixing Keywords

When crafting content around specific keywords, it’s crucial to focus on using those targeted keywords—and their variations—on a single page. Spreading the same long-tail keywords across multiple pages can confuse search engines, causing them to pit your own pages against each other in rankings. In essence, you end up competing with yourself too many keywords, undermining your own SEO efforts, and making it easier for competitors to outperform you.

It’s easy to inadvertently include a keyword that should be on another page. While a one-time mistake may not significantly impact your rankings, repeated instances can create issues.

The Solution

The key to avoiding keyword mixing is thorough editing after content creation. Review the page or blog post you’ve written and eliminate any irrelevant keywords. Stick to synonyms and variations of your target keyword to maintain focus and avoid diluting your SEO impact.

Using synonyms and rephrased versions of your target keyword can actually enhance your chances of a search engine ranking as well. It not only improves the user experience but also signals to search engines that you’re not merely stuffing your content with keywords to manipulate rankings.

This approach also allows you to target both exact-match and partial-match keywords on the same page, catering to different search queries. For instance, if your target keyword is “vintage graphic T-shirts,” you can also include phrases like “vintage T-shirts with graphics,” making meta title of your content more versatile and likely to match various search queries. Just be cautious not to include unrelated terms like “vintage wolf T-shirt,” as that would be a keyword for another day and another page.

7. Focusing on Search Engines

While the term “SEO” implies a focus on search engines, the landscape has evolved to prioritise user experience. Concentrating solely on search engine algorithms often leads to outdated or even black hat tactics, such as keyword stuffing, poor website navigation, and lack of responsive design. These practices not only harm your SEO but are problematic because they degrade the user experience.

In essence, user experience was always the priority, and search engines have adapted their algorithms to reflect that.

The Solution

The key is to focus on the user, not search engine bots as they are the ones who ultimately become your customers, not the search engines. Ensure your website is user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and easy to read. Avoid overwhelming visitors with a wall of text filled with irrelevant keywords.

While it’s still crucial to consider search engine factors—such as titles and headings, which are important for rankings—your primary focus should be on providing value to the user. High-quality, informative content not only meets the needs of your visitors but also contributes to link-building efforts. As you accumulate more quality links, your pages will naturally rise in search engine rankings.

By balancing a focus on user experience with a search engine optimisation considerations, you create a win-win situation: your users are satisfied, and your website ranks better, thereby attracting even more users.

8. Using the wrong redirects

Redirects are frequently used, but they’re not always understood. These are especially tricky for webmasters who are just starting their first website(s) and need to move some of their content around. Using the wrong redirect can hurt your SEO because it’ll send the wrong message to search engines.

If you want a 301 redirect, but you use a 302 redirect, you have a problem. Basically, if you’re going to use redirects, you have to make absolutely sure that you’re working with the right numbers. If you’re not, you can negatively affect valuable parts of your site.

The solution

The best solution is to simply know your redirects.

  • 301: Permanently move a page
    • Preserves link equity earned from other sites
    • Often the best solution to redirecting a page
  • 302: Temporarily redirect to another page (HTTP 1.0); Found (HTTP 1.1)
    • Does not preserve link equity earned from other sites
    • Avoid using
  • 307: Temporarily redirect to another page
    • Does not preserve link equity earned from other sites
    • Useful if your server is 1.1 compatible and your content is really only moved temporarily

Basically, you only want to use 301 redirects for the vast majority (99%) of your site. You can implement a redirect using HTML, JavaScript, Apache, .htaccess, Nginx, Lighttpd, Ruby, .NET, Node.js, and Flask.

9. Misusing robots.txt, Useragent, and Disallow

One of the easiest yet most damaging mistakes you can make, especially on a new website, is misusing the robots.txt file. This file instructs search engines on what they can and cannot crawl on your site. A small mistake in this file can prevent your site from being indexed, effectively making it invisible in search engine results.

For instance, using “Useragent: *” and “Disallow: /” in your robots.txt file will block all search engines from crawling any part of your site. This can be devastating for both new and established websites, as it negates all previous SEO efforts and prevents new pages from being indexed.

The Solution

The first step is to familiarise yourself with the robots.txt file and its syntax. You can create a dummy page or section on your site to test how it works. Initially, allow search engines to index this page. After it’s indexed, update your robots.txt to disallow crawling for this specific page or section. Wait for a few days or a week, and then check to see if the page has been removed from search engine results.

It’s important to remember that not all bots that visit your site are from reputable search engines like Google, Yahoo!, or Bing. There are also “bad” bots that ignore robots.txt instructions. These can skew your analytics, steal content, and even make your site vulnerable to hacking. If you encounter issues with such bots, you may need to identify their IP addresses and block them manually.

Remember, the robots.txt file is more like a polite request than a strict barrier; bots adhere to it because they’re programmed to do so. If you’re dealing with persistent “bad” bots, you may need to take additional security measures beyond just editing your robots.txt file.

10. Expecting Results NOW

SEO is a long-term investment, not a quick fix. Many people become frustrated when they don’t see immediate results, but that’s the nature of SEO. Google has its own priorities and schedules for crawling and indexing websites, and it can take time for your efforts to bear fruit. This is especially true if you’ve purchased a domain that has been previously penalised by Google. In such cases, you’ll need to work doubly hard just to get back to a neutral standing before you can even think about climbing the ranks.

The Solution

Start by building a robust, user-friendly website with a clear purpose and multiple pages. Once your site is up and running, submit your URL to Google to ensure it knows you exist. After that, the real work begins. Consistently produce high-quality content, either through blog posts or additional website pages. The more content you have, the more there is for Google to index, which improves your chances of ranking well.

Next, focus on link-building. Reach out to other websites in your industry, promote your content on social media, and make your content easily discoverable. The more high-quality external links pointing to your site, the better your chances of ranking well.

Remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time for Google to recognise and reward your efforts. While it may be frustrating to wait, patience is key. Keep producing quality content and following best practices, and over time, you’ll see the results you’re aiming for.

11. Thinking You’re Done

One of the most common misconceptions about SEO is that it’s a one-and-done deal. This couldn’t be further from the truth. SEO is a continuous, evolving process that requires ongoing attention and effort. The digital landscape is ever-changing, and so are the algorithms that search engines use to rank websites. If you think you can set it and forget it, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Your competitors are continually optimising their sites, and if you’re not doing the same, you’ll quickly fall behind.

The Solution

The key to successful SEO is persistence and a willingness to adapt. If you’re passionate about SEO, the ongoing nature of the work should excite you. There’s always something new to learn, a new strategy to implement, or a new algorithm to adapt to. This constant flux allows you to build an impressive portfolio that showcases your adaptability and understanding of SEO.

If the thought of ongoing SEO work doesn’t excite you, it might be time to consider whether this is the right field for you. SEO requires a certain level of enthusiasm and dedication that can’t be faked. If you or your team lack this passion, it’s better to find someone who has it. SEO can be taught, but the drive to continually improve and adapt is something that comes from within.

Are You Making Any of These SEO Mistakes?

If you’ve read through this guide, you’re likely wondering how many of these common SEO mistakes you might be making. The truth is, SEO is a complex field that’s constantly evolving, and even seasoned professionals can slip up now and then. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it does cover some of the most frequent pitfalls that can derail your SEO efforts.

The key takeaway is to always be vigilant and proactive in your SEO strategy. Mistakes can happen, but they don’t have to define your SEO journey. By being aware of these common errors and knowing how to correct them, you’re already a step ahead in optimising your website for search engines and users alike.

So, take a moment to evaluate your current SEO practices. Are you guilty of any of these mistakes? If so, it’s not the end of the world. Each mistake is a learning opportunity, a chance to improve and refine your strategy. Remember, the world of SEO is ever-changing, and staying ahead requires continuous learning and adaptation.

Conclusion

If you’re sensing that your website could benefit from professional SEO services but aren’t sure where to begin, look no further than Perth Digital Edge. We’re a team of digital marketing experts, and according to a recent internal poll, we’re the top SEO company in Perth.

Don’t leave your online marketing to chance; reach out to us via call or email to discuss your specific needs. Let us help you find your digital edge today.

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