There are quite a few misconceptions about SEO, especially for a new blogger. We have covered some SEO tips from the best SEO experts here but wanted to give you a glimpse of what can cost you in terms of rankings. Some will cost you dearly or wipe out search traffic and others will have minor impacts or bumps. So check out this list of SEO mistakes to avoid and stay clear of them.
“With Google though, ignorance is no excuse. You break the rules, you pay the consequences. End of story” – Jon Morrow.
You can use any of our Infographics in your site with a link-back to us.
Mistake #1: Purchasing Links
If you pay for links, sooner or later Google will crack down on you. If you are a web master surely you would have seen a few spam comments or emails offering you paid links. You can also get link blasts on Fiverr and get 100’s of links for as low as $5. Are they worth it? No, definitely not. There used to be a time when these black hat SEO tactics used to work but not anymore. Search engines have become more sophisticated and crack down hard on anyone crossing the line.
Search engine rankings and algorithms are changing and evolving. So you may get away today with these tactics but sooner or later you will be hunt down. In short you can run, but you can’t hide.
Mistake #2: Submitting to the Wrong Directories
Jon Morrow makes a valuable point about link directories. He says link directories are like neighbourhoods; there are good ones and bad ones. Google doesn’t like bad neighbourhoods – a collection of links or sites that are low quality, maybe involved in spam(y) activities or link building. Check out these legit link building tactics from the pros.
So how do you know if a link directory is good?
Here are some guidelines from Matt Cutts from Google that will help answer the question above.
If a directory accepts all link submissions then you need to think twice if it is going to add value to you. If there is a human who reviews the links and only accepts good quality links then it may be worth your consideration. If authority sites in your niche are listed in a directory that might be a good sign.
Mistake #3: Article Marketing
Ever heard of “article spinning” or “article marketing”? If you haven’t that is great. If someone told you that this was a great way to build links then they are living in the past. Article spinning is where you write an article and spin the words to make duplicate copies with the hope search engines don’t pick them as duplicates but unique. The spun articles are then published in various sites like E-Zine. The objective is to get links but remember search engines are getting better at sniffing out duplicate content and they even look at similar words to bring back search results.
Focus on guest blogging to get quality links from authority sites and stay away from article marketing. Creating awesome content that is link worthy can produce editorial links which are the best form of links to build authority and rankings.
Mistake #4: Keyword Stuffing
Keyword Stuffing is where the post contains the same keyword repeated over and over again in an attempt to rank for that keyword. The problem with this is the content becomes unnatural to read and hence no readers and no links.
Keyword density is just a small part of Googles algorithm. If your content is not natural, unreadable to readers and has been stuffed with keywords then you may even attract a penalty from Google.
You have to remember search engines evolve and change overtime and they keep identifying black hat tricks that people use to get quick rankings. Once search engines find a way to catch the tricks the show is over, literally overnight. So, you need to ask yourself am I smarter than Google?
Mistake #5: Unnatural Anchor Text
Anchor text tells Google what the content is about. So, if you are trying to rank for the keyword “blogging tips” then you would try to get incoming links using those keywords. Natural links are hard to predict as some might link to your content using anchor text such as “tips”, “online publishing tips” or even your URL. The point is they are varied and not in your control. But when someone tries some of the above bad SEO tactics then they can control those incoming links and may create 100’s of links for “blogging tips”. How do you think Google interprets this as? You are pretty much telling Google “my links are not natural and you need to take note of me”. You are simply putting your hand up and asking to be punished.
Mistake #6: Broken Links
From a user experience perspective a page without broken links will provide a better experience to the user. This is what Google wants and will look at pages with less broken links favourably. Again, this is small factor in the Google ranking algorithm but it is something you need to identify and fix once in a while. This is part of your site maintenance and over time you may have a few broken links as pages move and sites go down. You can use tools like Google Webmaster Tools or ‘Check My Links’ extension on web browsers like Google Chrome.
Mistake #7: Posts that are Shorter than 300 words
We are not talking about web pages, we are talking about blog posts. Neil Patel’s home page on QuickSprout has about 20 words and that is fine; it has a purpose. Seth Godin’s blog posts are short, really short; that’s what his audience love him for and he has a following. Purely, from an SEO perspective posts that are shorter than 300 words are useless. You can hardly have any keywords, similar keywords or long tail keywords.
Mistake #8: Allowing Links in Comments
Agreed, links in comments do not have the same SEO juice as editorial links in the content but you still have to make sure people who comment on your site are not building spam links by the barrel. You can allow links in comment once in a while or if the comment is awesome; make sure you don’t make it a habit.
Mistake #9: Not Using Anchor Text for Internal Links
The worst internal anchor texts are: “here”, “click here”, “this” and text that is not descriptive. If you agree internal links are an awesome way to keep your audience engaged then use a descriptive link so both humans and search engine bots can understand.
Mistake #10: Duplicate Content
This is one of the worst mistakes you can make as a blogger. Not only search engines will penalise you for duplicate content but the blogging community will frown upon you as well. Don’t copy from someone word to word. You can borrow an Infographic but write your content; at the least write your own intro and conclusion. If you like someone’s post comprehend it and write it in your own words and give them due credit with a link back.
Mistake #11: Not Optimizing for Local Searches
People often search for something locally. For example, they might be looking for a local locksmith. In this case the user will be searching for “locksmith Burwood” or “locksmiths near Burwood Victoria” are the most likely first few searches they will run. Guess what if you have not targeted or optimised for local searches, you will not get any traffic from this kind of search. Search Engine Journal has an awesome post covering how you can increase your local SEO rankings along with tools you can use.
Mistake #12: Poor Website Navigation
Poor website navigation means a higher bounce rate or a quick exit from your site and it is certainly not helpful for your search engine rankings. Website navigation should be user centric and making things easier for the user to find. Don’t overcrowd the menu and reduce clutter. Make important things visible and stand out. At the end of the day if you provide a good user experience with good content people will stay on your site and will be back for more.
Mistake #13: Not Having a Mobile Friendly Site
Two things are common in almost every list we have created so far: (1) Website Speed and (2) Mobile Friendly site.
Making your website mobile friendly is not that hard, although changing the theme might be a headache! Check if your site is mobile friendly by doing a Google Mobile Friendly Test. If the results fail then you have two options (if you are using WordPress as your CMS):
(1) Use a widget like JetPack to make your existing theme mobile friendly or
(2) Find a mobile friendly theme.
Mistake #14: Unreasonable SEO Expectations
Depending on your niche and competition, SEO and 1st page rankings can take time. Domain age is a ranking factor among 200 other factors but SEO takes time. So expecting to get search traffic from day one is like expecting to run the day you are born. You have to first crawl quality sites, then walk on your own then slowly start running. In short it takes time unless you are an SEO super ninja or have an awesome niche with ultra-low competition.
Mistake #15: Underestimating Content Marketing
Technically, this is not a SEO mistake but people sometimes confuse SEO to content marketing. SEO does not replace content marketing. You should use both SEO and content marketing to drive traffic and growth to your site. SEO can bring in organic traffic and content marketing can increase your brand and content visibility. There is very little chance an influencer is going to find your content through search engines but there is a good chance you can get their attention through social media marketing and outreach.
After going through this list you may be scared or feel bullied by search engines. You don’t have to be scared; to stay on the right side of Google – avoid taking shortcuts. Focus on providing awesome content that people will like to share and link to. Look at Google as a big buddy and not a big bully.
Provide unique content and do not copy content word to word. Ignore spam emails and offers that promise to bring you Google fame overnight. Good luck.