Beginners to SEO make mistakes either because they are not aware of some factors or because they don’t understand them correctly. It is also a fact that SEO is a fast changing industry and what worked a few months ago may not work today so you need to stay educated and informed about the latest developments.
I present below what I think are the 10 most common SEO mistakes to avoid and what to do instead to give your rankings a boost.
Mistake #1: You are not using the Google keyword tool
Some people believe that by using the Google keyword tool before creating their content, they are somehow cheating. This is nowhere close the truth, it is in fact a big mistake. The Google keyword tool will give you an indication of what queries searches use to find you and by including those keywords in your article or page you make it easier for them and for search engines.
In addition, another common mistake most webmasters make is going after the popular keywords believing that they will get more traffic. The truth is that high traffic keywords are mission impossible due to the competition. Instead you should target low completion, long trail keywords that are easier to get good rankings.
You can read how I use the Google keyword tool (real examples included).
Mistake #2: You do not have unique title tags and description
This is probably the biggest SEO mistake and despite the emphasis given by both Google and Bing still some web sites do not have unique titles for each page. The most common mistakes are:
- Having all pages under the same title
- Including the web site name in the page title (it’s ok to do that for the home page but it’s not needed for the rest of the pages)
- Making the title more than 65 characters in length
Descriptions should also be unique (between 150-160 characters), non-keyword stuffed and attractive to the user. A good description can increase your click through rate (CTR) and if your content delivers what promised in the description, it is more likely to have high conversions as well.
Read my seo tips for beginners article (point 1) on how to SEO your page titles and descriptions.
Mistake #3: You are not active in social media
Social media is one of the best and most effective ways to promote your web site or new content. It is a huge mistake if you are not active in at least one social media platform. Most SEO experts agree that social signals are gaining more ground as a ranking factor and besides the SEO benefits, social media is also a good source of traffic.
You don’t have to be active in all, or to lose a lot of time but you need to find which platform is best suited to your audience and try to build authority and trust by following the leaders in your niche and sharing informative and useful content. You can read my previous article: SEO boost your social media profiles for more details on how to do basic configurations for your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest profiles.
Mistake #4: You are not promoting your blog posts
Don’t expect that because you’ve written what you think is a good post, people will start sharing it on Facebook or tweeting about it. This is not going to happen in the beginning or until you have managed to build a huge audience (which includes hundreds of RSS subscribers, thousands of Facebook followers and tens of twitter followers).
Promoting your own work in the beginning is not a mistake at all and it is not something you should be shy about. It will take a lot of effort, good content and persistence for others to share your work, but once you get to this point everything else becomes easier.
Take for example this post, how many likes does it have? I know before I publish it that it won’t be much because the site (the blog part) is still young and does not yet have a big audience. I also know that my posts on caloriesecrets.net will get a good number of likes, tweets, +1’s because the site has thousands of RSS subscribers and Facebook fans.
The bottom line is that you should try and promote your posts and this article will outline 10 more ways to do that.
Mistake #5: You have not registered your web site with Google and Bing webmaster tools
Not having your website registered with Google and Bing webmaster tools is like driving with your eyes closed. Both Google and Bing created the webmaster tools as a way to help web site owners find out more about their properties. There is absolutely no valid reason why you should not register your web site. There are many benefits to gain and the process is simple and even a beginner can do it.
Instead of guessing what might be wrong and you are not getting as much search engine traffic as you should, open your eyes and take advantage of the feedback given to you by search engines.
Mistake #6: You do not have a consistent publishing plan
It doesn’t matter if you publish new content daily, every other day or once a week; what is more important is having a consistent publishing schedule. Decide in advance how many times you plan to publish new content and when and stick to that plan no matter what. What I do to make sure that I don’t miss out my plan is prepare a few blog posts in advance so that I have one week to 10 days to find some time and craft new content.
Consistency does have an SEO value and it does bring in more traffic. Neil explains with some nice examples the importance of creating great content on a consistent basis. You can also read my previous post: How often should you publish new content to get an idea of how you can create your publishing plan.
Mistake #7: You are not a Google verified author
Latest trends in SEO are about authority and trust. Your goal is to build trust between your web site and users and authority between your web site and search engines. One of the ways (it’s not the only way) to build authority is by taking advantage of the Google authorship feature of Google+. When you have a complete Google+ profile you can link that with the content you produce and if everything is done correctly your picture will appear in the search results next to your content.
It is not very difficult to implement and it’s really a big mistake not to take advantage of it. Having your picture shown in the search results will also increase the CTR (click through rate).
Mistake #8: You are not doing internal linking
Inter-linking your pages together is necessary for 3 reasons:
- You help search engines discover more pages from your web site
- A link to an internal page is a signal to search engines that this page is important for your site
- You help users find out more about a subject they are interested in.
Most web site owners don’t even bother to make internal links either because they believe it’s a waste of time or because they are not aware that internal links are good for SEO.
Best practices for internal linking:
- Link relevant pages together both within text and by providing a ‘related pages’ section at the end of each page. See at the bottom of this article (below my author bio for an example).
- Don’t always use keyword anchor text but also use things like ‘click here’, ‘read more’ etc.
- Don’t always link new pages with older pages but go back and link old pages with new pages. I know this is hard but you have to add this task in your schedule.
- Make sure that the pages you want to rank higher in the SERPS have the most internal links. Hint: You can view the relevant report in Google webmaster tools by selecting Traffic and then Internal Links.
- Aim to have 2-10 internal links per page (depending on the length and type of content).
Mistake #9: You have a slow loading web site
It is really a crime not taking advantage of speed as a ranking factor. If there is one factor that we know for sure that it affects your ranking position, this is page speed. Google and Bing want to make the web faster and they are doing everything they can from their site to make this happen.
I know from my experience talking to clients that trying to improve the loading time of a web site is not the easiest task to do but it is a mistake ignoring it. A faster web site will bring more traffic (due to higher rankings), will generate more sales and more page views. If you are running ads on your web site (like Adsense) a faster web site will also generate more ad clicks.
How can you improve the loading time of your web site? You basically have 2 options. The first one is outsource this task to a professional team and let them find their way through the bits and bytes and the other way is doing it yourself. For the first option you can also contact me to discuss your problem and give you a quote or you can hire a developer through odesk.com or peopleperhour.com.
For the DIY solution, you can start by analysing your web site through the Google PageSpeed Insights service and follow their guidelines.
Mistake #10: You are building incoming links too fast
I am not a fun of link building, in fact I don’t even link to hear this term (I use the term promotion instead) but the process of building links is here and many people are doing it in an effort to gain better rankings.
I don’t do link building because there is no need to do it, instead there are many more important things to work on that will bring more traffic to your web site and this is what I describe in my book.
If you decide that you want to build links don’t make the following mistakes:
- Don’t build links too fast. The whole process needs to be natural and it is not natural for a 3 month web site to have tens of links pointing to it. Go slow and steady.
- Don’t use keyword anchor text links. In the near past keyword anchor text links were very important for ranking but now if you have many of those you can get a penalty instead.
- Don’t direct all your links to your home page. Diversification is a better practice.
- Don’t buy or exchange links with other bloggers and don’t participate in any link scheme (either free or paid).
What you should do instead? Use guest posting wisely for building your link profile.
Conclusion and final words
For sure the above list is not 100% compete. There are many more SEO mistakes that even the experience webmasters miss, but from my experience the above mistakes are the most important. In addition, I believe that when these mistakes are corrected, the benefits to your web site will be immediate.