Almost every website owner should try to promote it by themselves. It’s not so difficult, if you choose the right strategy and avoid making mistakes. Read through the list below and you’ll discover some of the common SEO mistakes that make web promotion less effective.
Content creation mistakes
- Duplicated content. As a rule, it happens because of technical aspects of your CMS. For example, identical content can appear on a page on which content should be posted, e.g. category and tags pages. This problem can be fixed by applying URL canonicalisation and blocking technical pages from being indexed.
- Content theft. If you just fill your website with other sites posts, then you violate search engine requirements.
- Poor quality content. If you plan on posting others unique content, create content without any added value or post irrelevant content, then it will have a negative impact on your site’s effectiveness.
- Keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing puts your website in danger of penalties.
- Ignoring different types of content. Users and search engines love websites with great texts, unique and high quality images, infographics, videos and other types of content.
- Unreadable content. Users won’t read messy articles, while search engines will notice users’ dissatisfaction and leave a website without any traffic.
- Keyword cannibalisation. If you intentionally use same keywords on every page of your website, then you should expect to get a penalty.
- Creating different pages for semantically identical keywords. Users that enter “buy PVC windows” and “PVC windows buy” are looking for the same thing. They don’t need different landing pages.
- Irregular updates to a website. If you don’t publish new and helpful material, then the relevance of your website is lowered. Search engines take this into account.
- Using service pages as landing pages. For example, bloggers often try to optimise their category pages: they rent links and write walls of SEO text. Search engines regard this as a machination, because in most cases users are not interested in category pages. The exceptions are sites for massive online shops and content-projects. In these cases, users can really start browsing from these category pages.
- Absence of meta tags: title, description, keywords, robots. They are necessary both for people and for search engines.
- Unresponsive web design. Search engines don’t drive visitors to sites that aren’t properly formatted for mobile devices.
- Low website speed. Owners of both desktops and mobile devices like when a website loads quickly.
- No alt attribute in img tag. Textual descriptions make it easier to index images, and it is displayed, if a user saves traffic.
- Focusing on high-frequency queries. Nowadays it’s much more effective to work with a huge list of keywords.
- Absence of convenient 404 page. Make a redirect to go back to the home page and add a search form on your 404 page.
- Paying low attention to content and high attention to technical SEO. It’s better to write and post an article, then rewrite your code again and install useless plugins for SERP manipulation.
- Creation of a Flash only website with no HTML version. This approach is not appreciated by users or search engines.
- No local search optimisation. This is especially important for websites of offline companies.
- Using too large images. High resolution photos look great on desktop screens. However, mobile users are not happy with them, neither are users with slow connections.
- Splash screens. Users don’t need them, so search engines don’t like them.
Link building mistakes
- Buying links in link exchange systems. It’s one of the most effective ways to get a penalty.
- Automatic or manual registration of a website in catalogues. Search engines regard the appearance of dozens of backlinks as manipulating behaviour.
- Automatic or manual posting on forums in order to get links. This is a completely outdated method of link building.
- Commenting dofollow-blogs. If you leave several comments on various platforms, then nothing bad is going to happen. However, don’t expect your website authority to improve. If you leave hundreds of comments like “OMG what a great article”, then your website is likely to be penalised.
- Links in footers. If you are engaged in website development or online marketing, then your partners will often refer to you. Search engines are ok with such links. If you sell car parts or write about finances, then a big number of footer links to your website looks suspicious. If the footer links were not blocked by nofollow and have anchor text with keywords, then you could get a penalty.
- Guest posting. The head of Googles web spam team, Matt Cutts, doesn’t advocate using this method to get links.
- Press-releases. Google regards links in press releases as a method to exchange backlinks.
- Absence of relevant outbound links. Don’t be afraid to include open for indexing links to authoritative sources. Natural link building is a two-way street.
- Overusing links with optimised anchor text. If a search engine sees a lot of links to your website with anchors such as “order cheap website promotion”, then you should expect to receive a penalty.
- Overusing links without anchors or uninformative anchors. It’s about both outbound and internal links.
- Using non-semantic URLs. Learn what semantic URLs are.
- Broken links on your website. Check your website for such links from time to time. Use Free Link Checker or a similar service.
- Selling links on your website. Search engines ban both buyers and sellers for doing this.
- Incorrect robots.txt. If you don’t want some pages or sections of a website to be hidden from indexing, then just don’t fill this file.
- Blocking of a sites indexing in the CMS administration console. Sometimes website owners temporarily block indexing and then forget to unblock it later.
- Absence of a sitemap. Search engines may index a website incorrectly, if it has no sitemap.
- Wrong use of noindex tag. Website owners usually use it to block indexing of widgets, counters and outbound links. All content put between tags <noindex> and </noindex> remains inaccessible for search engines.
- Using the none and noindex attributes in the robots meta tag. These attributes forbid search engines to index a page.
- Absence of links to a new page or website. If you have recently created a new website, then make sure that several third-party sources refer to it. For example, announce it on social networks. If you have created a new page or section on an existing website, then there should be internal links to it, including navigation elements.
- Absence of wrong use of redirects. For example, website owners often use 302 redirects instead of 301. This problem misleads search engines.
- Wrong processing of error messages. If a user goes to a nonexistent address, then a site should return a 404 code and redirect the user to error page.
- Using several H1 headlines on a page. It misleads search engines.
- Ignoring SEO after a redesign. Website redesign may lead to loss of important data.
Ignoring users’ interests
- Excessive amounts of ads, banners or links. Don’t put more than 3 blocks per page.
- Disguising ads as website content. You may suffer twice. Firstly, contextual advertising systems will deprive you of payments. Secondly, search engines will lower your website’s ranking.
- Publishing cloaked content. This cheating scheme puts your website at risk of penalties.
- Attracting non-targeted traffic. If your website is about Forex, then you don’t need to attract users searching for the best conditions for foreign currency deposits.
- Lack of functionality and poor usability. A user must have the ability to solve their query without thinking about how to get to a necessary section of a site or how to fill a form in.
- Race for ranks. Caring more about Alexa Rank and PR instead of the users experience means being caught in the trap of “old school SEO”.
Incorrect use of webmaster tools and analytics services
- Incorrectly installed code. Code for analytics services should be put between <head> and </head> tags. Make sure that you use the relevant code.
- Incorrect assessment of bounce rate. Google Analytics counts a bounce, if a user leaves after viewing only one page. This data should be specified.
- Focusing on metrics instead of user’s interests. Google Analytics reports should be analysed only in the context of reviewing the effectiveness of a websites marketing.
- Wrong choice of promotion performance metrics. If you have recently created a website, then unique visitors, page views, search engine traffic, bounce rate, conversion rate and natural outbound links are enough metrics to track.
- Cheating on behavioral factors. It’s a great way to get a penalty.
Wrong expectations of social media marketing
- Attempts to impact website ranking with the help of Facebook shares and likes. Links from the largest social network in the world have no impact on SERP ranking.
- Posting links just to influence website authority. You can attract traffic by sharing new articles and content on social networks. Even if social links have some impact on website authority from the point of view of search engines, then this impact is minimal.
- Ignoring social networks. Share buttons, social plugins for commenting and authorisation make a website more user-friendly. Announcements and posts on social networks increase traffic.
Bonus: the main SEO mistake
The main mistake in SEO is about choosing the wrong promotion strategy. If you want to attract traffic by cheating on search engines, then wait for trouble to arrive. You may become a great conspirator, but search engines will be always one step ahead of you.
If you attract traffic by taking care of your user’s interests, then it won’t take long to succeed. Of course, everyone makes technical mistakes, but choosing the correct strategy will help you to get rid of inaccuracies and develop a project quickly.