7 basic SEO mistakes to avoid
We live in a digital era, we have mentioned it a couple of times on this website I know, but that’s the truth.
That’s why SEO and all other digital marketing channels are a game changer for many businesses, especially online based. SEO has been around for some time now, personally I have been involved in SEO for nearly seven years. Through this time, the industry has changed a lot. I remember starting guest posting when it has actually been a thing. [L1] Despite these industry changes, I can still see the same SEO mistakes being repeated time and time again, even by people who have worked in the industry for a while, like me. Everyone makes mistakes, you simply can’t know it all (although I have met a couple of people who think they do!). There are some basics we should all know and follow. I have listed the most obvious SEO mistakes that I have seen people repeating, but please do share more.
1. No On-Page Optimisation
This one really bugs me, if we google any SEO guide this is one of the first things we see. I don’t know why people neglect to do it, when it is actually the easiest one.
All it involves is conducting keyword research, writing and optimising content. It is simple as that.
When I started in 2013, it was popular, which is why I can’t believe that seven years later there are still some specialists, and more worrying some agencies, that do not do it. One of the first things you do when you take on a client or when you become an SEO Specialist for a brand is run an audit including on page, run a keyword research and then write optimised content. Despite all the new fancy stuff, which don’t get me wrong are great and work, Googlebot still uses keywords to rank websites. Why would you make this simple SEO mistake and not use keywords?
In 2019 Moz shared a White Board Friday on On -Page Optimisation, se it below:
2. Optimising for wrong keywords
There are also many cases where we go a step further. We do have content, but wait… those keywords don’t seem right. While usually people do understand that if they are selling let’s say clothes, they shouldn’t optimise for computers, but what they don’t get is that not all the pages on your website should be optimised for ‘money keywords’. What do I mean by this term? I mean keywords people use to search when they want to buy something. So, let’s say I am looking for ‘red dress size 10’, what I want to see as a buyer are collection pages or product pages showing me red dresses I can buy.
What I don’t want to see is a blog post about ’10 best fashion shows’. Some people believe they should optimise everything for their product and this is not and never has been the case.
Let me tell you what is going to happen if somehow your blog post about ’10 best fashion shows to attend this year’ is going to rank for ‘red dress’, even if I click I will most likely bounce back, your bounce rate [L2] will increase and I may remember your brand negatively, as id didn’t show me the content I wanted to see.You could argue that you may still sell those red dresses and maybe I will try to find them on your website myself. This is not going to happen, not unless you are a huge, well-known brand, which if you are you have probably have done your SEO right (usually, trust me those huge retailers also make very simple mistakes)
3. Keyword cannibalisation
This one often goes together with the one above, but not always. If we optimise everything for ‘red dresses’ those pages will cannibalize each other. Simple as that – Google won’t know which one to rank and in the end you may end up not ranking at all.
Sometimes there is ‘good cannibalization’ but this one is usually small – let me give you an example, if I look for ‘red dresses’ just in general, I would probably be happy to see these two:
Your product page (or filter page yes!) showing me red dresses
Your blog post about 10 most beautiful red dresses of the season
I still wouldn’t like to see your post about ’10 best fashion shows to attend this year’ – this is not my intention at the moment.
So, if both first examples manage to rank highly for red dresses – in my opinion this is a good thing, because:
a) you will get people at the beginning and middle of a buying circle who may just search in more general way
b) you own more space on the first page (by ranking highly, we are talking about the 5 first positions of page 1)
Ahers came up with a very simple way to find and fix cannibalisation issues, read about it here.
4. Keyword stuffing
Sometimes we see the complete opposite to number one – we get people who want to rank and optimise their content so badly, that they use the same keyword 50 times in a 400 word long piece. This is not the way to go. The general rule of thumb is – if it doesn’t sound natural it is probably keyword stuffing (or poor writing skills).
5. Duplicate Content
There are many SEO specialists that do not check for it and do not fix it, next there are many websites with huge duplicate content issues. Again we have a similar story as keyword cannibalization – how does Google know which is the most relevant page? In the end they may not rank you at all.
A very common cause of duplicate content, especially in E-commerce websites, are filters, which can also be optimised, or if they don’t bring any value, they can be de-indexed. (but usually they would, so optimised)
Moz created Duplicate Content Guide for 2020, where they explain everything you need to know about duplicate content.
6. Not creating link- worthy content.
Despite rumours that links will not be important going forward, for now they are important.
Link building is extremely difficult these days and people have started confusing it with Digital PR (they do share a common ground do not get me wrong!). I will be speaking about this common ground in Poland in May if you’d like to find out more, but to the point. It results in people thinking they are doing link building and they are not, or the opposite, they think they are doing digital PR and they are not.
In 2020, we do need link worthy content to get links – especially given the fact that Google does not want us to ‘build links’ they want us to ‘earn links’.
With all of that in mind, brands do not want to spend money on blog content, they do not want to spend time and resources on creating bigger, interactive pieces because they think it’s not worth their time. SEO’s don’t believe you can actually earn links from those pieces, as such, agencies do not invest in resources to promote this content. This is not the way to go. Yes, sometimes your great content won’t get links – but you do need to try to make it valuable and promote it so people find out about it. This is the world we are living in.
7. Lack of mobile optimisation
Yes, this one falls into basics now, and that’s why it is listed as one of top basic SEO mistakes to avoid.
I remember Christmas shopping last year and looking for a book for my mom. I found a really good book shop with many positions but obviously I found this from my phone and a lack of mobile friendliness put me off the site so much, that I went somewhere else. We are very demanding as customers these days – we want things to be made easy for us. The majority of the time we spend online is actually from our phones – so if you want to be up to date – a website optimised for mobile is a must. If you still don’t believe me, here you will find some very interesting mobile stats from Front Burne Marketing.
These are the most common SEO mistakes that I have seen and that come to my mind, but I am sure there are many more. It is important to learn to walk before we run – so before you focus on all the fancy SEO stuff, which I will say that again, are great, make sure you have got your basics covered.