Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid
Did your website drop from the first page of Google to nowhere overnight?
Are you checking your ranking and slowly going down or not showing up at all?
Most Common Mistakes
But rankings can fluctuate for multiple reasons. Sometimes its due to human error and preventable.
The quick list of why sites drop:
- Tracking the wrong keywords
- Recent Google algorithm update
- New website
- Low quality content
- Low quality links
- Losing high quality links
- Cheap hosting
- Google penalty
- Competitors trying harder
- Business moved locations
What Can You Do?
Useful Google guides to read:
- Google Webmaster Guidelines
- Google SEO Starter Guide
- Google’s guidance on building high quality websites
- Site not doing well in search
Business owners contact me all the time saying:
I have always had great ranking for my website, it showed up at the top of page one and I was getting a lot of business. Then something happened!
How could this happen? And what can you do to fix the problem and get the traffic and leads going again?
Unfortunately, SEO mistakes can occur.
Interns, hacked sites, poor content, mobile issues and mismanagement can break a site and devastate a business without warning.
Once a major loss damages and disrupts a business, the battle as a site owner has just begun.
Below are more in-depth explanations on what not to do to improve your SEO and ranking.
On-Page SEO Mistakes
#1: Content Quantity Rather Than Quality
Content is still king. While there are other elements of SEO important to reaching the top of the search engines, high quality content remains at the top of the list.
low-quality content on some parts of a website can impact the whole site’s rankings, and thus removing low quality pages, merging or improving the content of individual shallow pages into more useful pages, or moving low quality pages to a different domain could eventually help the rankings of your higher-quality content.
How To Fix This: First step is to find the weak content on your website. To do this you can go to Google and type site:domain.com and see what pages are indexed in Google. From there determine what pages should be there, and if there are pages that should be deleted. If you built your site from a WordPress theme its possible you have pages and pages of irrelevant content indexed and worst it has nothing to do with your business.
#2: Unnatural Links
The effects of low quality link schemes is silent but deadly. Unsuspected business owners can be subject to these penalties.
Unethical SEO companies build poor backlinks on spammy third party sites to generate short term results for clients. Kinda like steriods for websites.
When a manual action is taken, Google will notify through Webmaster Tools. If you have a warning for unnatural links to your site, it’s best to remove these links and request a reconsideration.
How to Fix This: You can fix unnatural links by making sure they don’t pass PageRank. To do this, add a rel=”nofollow” or remove the links entirely.
After fixing or removing your unnatural links to your site, let Google know about your change by submitting a reconsideration request in Search Console.
#3: General SEO Mistakes
If you’re handling the SEO for your site, investigating these key areas is going to help you kick major butt in fixing your seo issues.
- Lack of communication: Before you panic, check with your marketing department, It department or in-house webmaster. A simple seo fix might be one email away.
- Site crawl errors: Website errors can prevent your site from showing up in search engines. Use Google Webmaster Tools to find your site crawl errors.
- Search engine algo changes: Learning about algorithms can help pinpoint recent fluctuation in your sites ranking. Moz has a great historical record of Google updates.
- Recent site updates: If your site was recently updated by a team member, its possibly they inadvertently triggered an seo failure.
- Recent CMS updates: WordPress sites regularly undergo system wide software updates to fix bugs and exploitation. If your site has custom features, its possible a recent update triggered an seo mistake.
- Domain name expired: It’s possible your credit card was expired and your Domain Registrar could not charge your card to renew your domain.
#4: On-Page Technical SEO Issues
After examining your big picture SEO health, its time to find and fix the problem. A large majority of SEO problems are due to human error.
- Rel=canonicals: The rel=canonical tag functions as a 301 redirect for search engines without physically redirecting readers.
- Nofollow links: If used in the wrong places it Nofollow links can cause havoc by no passing along link juice to deeper pages.
- Meta Robots: Excludes individual pages from search results.
- Robots.txt: A text file created by webmasters to tell search engine robots how to crawl and index your site.
- Page titles: Verify their visibility in search results and in your source code.
- H1 tags: Verify your H1 tags contain relevant keywords to describe your pages.
- Forgetting Image Tags: Ensure every single image on your website is optimized to be searched and indexed by search spiders by including ALT tags on each image.
- AJAX sites: Sometimes they can serve search engines the wrong content. This is common with website builders like Wix.
- Hreflang: Verify your language tags are serving the correct pages.
- Navigation links: Verify that you have not recently changes your site wide navigation. Lack of links to deeper pages can hamper their placement in search results.
- Internal-links: Same concept as above but related to links within the content of a page.
- Meta Descriptions: Used to describe the content of a page to visitors in search results. Verify their visibility in search results and in your source code.
- Shared Hosting: Sometimes servers go down and neighbors commit crimes. Check with your hosting provider and make sure your site does not share the same IP with shady neighbors.
- Https / SSL: Duplicate content issues can arise if you are serving both secured and unsecured sites to search engines.
- Failed plugins: When not consistently maintained, plugins can have a cascading effect on the rest of your website.
- Site Speed: Google uses site speed as an SEO ranking factor—not a huge one, but definitely an important one.
- WordPress reading settings: Visit the reading settings in your WordPress dashboard. Make sure you unclicked the Search Engine Visibility button that says Discourage search engines from indexing this site.
#5: Failure To React To Changes In Google’s Algorithm
Any SEO will tell you Google does not share their ranking algorithm with the general public. In fact it’s the job of SEO companies to understand, and to an extent, replicate the algorithm. But there is still nothing better than information released directly from Google itself.
How to Fix This: Google Search Console is a completely free tool that takes a few seconds to set up. Some of the analytical highlights include:
- Website impressions, clicks, CTR, and position by page and keyword
- Robot crawl stats & errors
- Sitemap/robots.txt configuration
- Structured data tools
- HTML improvement recommendations (e.g. title tags and meta descriptions)
- Site link structure analysis
- Website security monitoring
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preventative SEO is something everybody hates, whether its your car, home or SEO, nothing can seem more costly than paying money before its broke.
But often paying to fix a problem is far more.
Lucky for online marketers, it’s easy to avoid SEO disasters by following a couple of steps.
- On-site diagnostics: Regularly determine the baseline health of your site’s SEO.
- On-site monitoring: Your site is active 24 hours a day. Knowing if your site goes down is crucial to the long term health of your SEO.
- Search algorithm updates: Google makes major updates every year. Knowing about those updates can give you a better understanding of why your search results are fluctuating.
- Email alerts: Computers never sleep. Scheduling email alerts is a great way to monitor the health of your site.
- Best practice training: SEO changes on a quarterly basis. Continued education is critical to the health of your site and SEO campaign.
Think of on-site diagnostics like running a blood test. Many of the problems sites have with SEO is not visible with the naked eye.
Using SEO reporting tools can help you identify and fix a problem before it effects your SERPs.
Monitoring the health and stability of your site is crucial to inbound marketing.
The same tools used to benchmark success can be used to stem disaster.
Tools to use:
- Google Analytics: Monitor for major and subtle traffic changes.
- Google Webmaster Tools: Use the search analytics dashboard to benchmark your current position with the previous months position. Use this to determine if you have any isseus that should be addressed.
- Jetpack Notifications: WordPress sites have the advantage of leveraging up-time alerts through Jetpack. the faster you know about a situation the more time you have to repair it.
- Site Analyzer: I will generate quick and simple SEO reports for any page of your site.
- MozCast: If Google is up to something you can be rest assured that MozCast will alert you.
- SEMRush: Maybe you want to learn more about your website. Maybe you want to spy on a competitor. SEMrush allows you to do both.
- Raven Tools: Raven offers a variety of SEO tools, including its popular website auditor.
- DeepCrawl: Discover missed opportunities with your site structure, orphaned pages, and SEO effects on UX.
Search Engine News and Updates
Keeping tabs on your search health is an important task. This includes monitoring your own ranking performance but also keeping track of recent search algorithm updates.
Major fluctuations in search ranking is a telltale sign of a bigger problem. It could be an on-site technical SEO issue or an off-site SEO issue related to a recent Google algo update.
Blogs to read:
- Google Webmaster Blog
- SEO Book
- Raven Tools
- Search Engine Journal
- Search Engine Land
In the fast-paced SEO field, continuing education is important for career growth and improvement. Maintaining best practice training in SEO, is just as important as any other industry.
Guides to read:
- Moz: The Beginner’s Guide to SEO
- Wordstream: SEO Basics: Complete Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization
- Buffer: The Complete Beginner’s Guide to SEO
- SEO Mechanic: How to Rank Your Local Business in Search Engines
Conferences to attend:
- MozCon Local
- Connect by Search Engine Watch
- SMX West
- State of Search
- SMX Advanced
- Conversion Conference
Once you make a few key SEO changes to your website, you may soon realize you have only touched the tip of the iceberg.