Beginners to SEO make mistakes either because they are not aware of the basic SEO best practices 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 SEO developments.
This post will examine the 10 most common SEO mistakes to avoid and explain 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 to the truth, it is in fact a big SEO mistake.
The Google keyword tool will give you an indication of what queries people type in the Google Search Box and by including those keywords in your articles or pages, you make the content more relevant to them and easier to understand for the search engines.
In addition, another common mistake many webmasters make, is targeting through their posts popular keywords only, believing that this way they will get more traffic.
The truth is that high traffic keywords are mission impossible due to the high competition.
Instead you should target low completion, long tail keywords that are easier to get good rankings, in a reasonable amount of time.
Hint: You can read how I use the Google keyword tool (real examples included).
Mistake #2: You don’t have unique title tags and descriptions
This is probably the biggest SEO mistake and despite the emphasis given by both Google and Bing, still some websites do not provide unique titles for each page.
The most common mistakes are:
- Having all pages under the same title
- Including the website name in the page title (it’s ok to do that for the homepage but it’s not needed for the rest of the pages)
- Making the page titles more than 65 characters in length
Descriptions should 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.
Hint: 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 website 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 hidden SEO benefits, social media is also a good source of traffic.
You don’t have to be active in all networks, or to spend a lot of time socializing without a purpose.
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.
Hint: 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 decent audience (which includes hundreds of email 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.
How to promote your blog posts? There are a lot of ways but the most effective are:
- Publish it on your social media pages (both personal and business)
- Share it with your followers (both personal and business)
- Use Facebook Ads to promote your posts to a pre-defined targeted audience (based on the profile of your average visitor)
- Write a summary of the post and publish it on LinkedIn (use LinkedIn publishing platform for long-form posts)
- Send it to your email list
- Link to it from older posts (internal linking)
- Write a guest post and publish it in an authoritative website and link to your post.
Mistake #5: You haven’t registered your website 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 website owners find out more about their properties.
There is absolutely no valid reason why you should not register your website.
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 don’t 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 Patel explains with some nice examples the importance of creating great content on a consistent basis.
Hint: 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 creating high quality content
Latest trends in SEO are about authority and trust.
Your goal is to build trust between your website and users and authority between your website and search engines.
One of the ways (it’s not the only way) to build authority is by constantly publishing high quality content.
It’s a huge SEO mistake to concentrate on anything else and forget about the importance of content.
Instead of trying to have as many pages published, try to build authority and trust through your content. The benefits are a lot and go beyond achieving high rankings.
What is authoritative content? Content that has the following characteristics:
- Informative and useful to the user
Hint: I urge you to read, how to write content that actually deservers to get links, to get an idea on how to to create high quality content and avoid this very basic SEO mistake.
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 website
- 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.
- Don’t always use keywords in the anchor text but use text that flows naturally in your content.
- 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. 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 part to make this happen.
I know from my experience talking to clients that trying to improve the loading time of a website is not the easiest task to do but it is a mistake ignoring it.
A faster website 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 and ad revenue.
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 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 big fan of the term ‘link building’. In fact, I don’t even like to hear it, I like to use the term promotion instead.
Nevertheless, the reality is the same. Whether you call it link building, off-page SEO or promotion, it is one of the most important processes if you want to achieve high rankings, especially in Google.
When build links don’t make the following SEO mistakes:
- Don’t build too many links too fast. The whole process needs to be natural and it is not natural for a 3 month website 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 rankings, 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? Chapter 12 of the Complete SEO Guide, will teach you how to approach link building and make it work.
Conclusion and final words
For sure the above list is not 100% compete. There are many more SEO mistakes that even the experienced webmasters miss. Nevertheless, the above mistakes are the most important.
In addition, it is almost certain that when these mistakes are corrected, the benefits to your website will be immediate.