We chose the unlucky number 13 when creating our list of the top SEO mistakes for the 2015 calendar year. The world of SEO can be a complicated place even for those who work in the industry as search engines are always changing and evolving over time. The most common mistakes webmasters make are often not technical but simpler things that are usually fixable with a little time and effort. Whether it’s due to lack of experience or sometimes just plain laziness here is our official list of SEO faux pas that you want to be paying better attention to…
(Also be sure to check out the feature article courtesy of www.healthywealthyaffiliate.com where 34 top SEO experts weigh-in with their opinions as well)
The 13 Most Common SEO Mistakes of 2015 According to My Rank SEO
1. Not Keeping Up With Current SEO Trends: The one guarantee about SEO is that it’s always changing and you can never get too comfortable regardless of how much experience you have. What worked a year ago (or even a couple months ago) might need to be tweaked or adjusted as search engines are always making changes to their algorithm daily. It’s very important to be aware of all the resources you have at your disposal when analyzing the newest SEO trends. That may include reputable SEO authors, blogs, books, forums or SEO groups that pay close attention the latest SEO news and happenings. There is nothing more frustrating then seeing your ranking drop due to outdated strategies or other SEO companies being more on top of things than you are. Getting a first page in Google is one thing but knowing how to keep it long term requires an ongoing effort where the learning never stops. Make sure you keep a “student of the game” mentality with all your SEO efforts as competition will always be biting at your heels and trying to find new ways to do things better than you can.
2. Not Using A Diverse SEO Strategy: Even a lot of more experienced SEO companies use only a handful of SEO techniques or strategies they’ve had success with early on and rinse and repeat for almost every client. This is not to say someone that is just strong with a single aspect of SEO such as link building can’t have success but Google will reward websites more with a broader range of influence. That usually includes a bit of everything such as social media marketing, quality directory listings or citations, proficiency with pay-per-click advertising, gaining online reviews, video marketing, content creation and more. You want to be as well rounded as possible with your SEO skill-set as certain techniques will work better for various clients than others. Remember no two websites are alike therefor your SEO strategy should be created for the needs of that particular project at hand. Having as many tricks up your sleeve as possible will help ensure you are ready for any challenge that comes your way.
3. Not Creating Content That is Useful For Your Intended User: When trying to build quality content on your website there will be a temptation to write articles for the sole purpose of gaining better SEO results. While this is certainly not a bad idea it’s important to understand that creating quality content is not just about SEO rankings only. If your are writing a new article or blog post try and think about what the purpose of it is from your reader’s perspective or a new potential customer. Ask yourself is what you’ve written interesting or engaging enough to keep someone on your web page for more than a couple seconds. Your goal with any article is to increase your reader’s overall knowledge (and interest level) about your business and become a resource they trust in your industry. This will help make sure people visit your website more regularly and stay on it longer while they are there. Poorly planned content will lead to higher bounce rates and poor click-through rates and your website will come off as more spammy than useful in search engines.
4. Not Promoting The Best Content You Have: Its great to fill your website with killer content as it will improve traffic and click through rates tremendously. Websites can see very positive search engine results based on strong content alone but it’s here that webmasters often fail to take the next step. It’s nice to think that people will magically link to your content the moment they lay eyes on it but this is usually pretty unlikely unless you are taking an active role in promoting it. Once you’ve created a great article, infographic or other form of valuable content you then need to have a plan to get it seen by the online masses. This could be through a Google+ community, social media page, discussion board, press release or even by simply adding it to your own email signature. Any great content you have must be liked, shared or re-posted as much as possible for it to truly succeed. Otherwise you’re stuck with a pretty car that doesn’t have an engine to make it work.
5. Going after a lot of links instead of quality links: There is still a temptation by many SEO professionals to acquire as many links as possible as an industry status symbol of sorts. Just because you are able to get a lot of links doesn’t mean you should and this kind of thinking will now usually land you in hot water. As you’ve have probably heard to the point of annoyance by now “a few good links from quality sources will have more value than many links from questionable sources”. Although this saying almost became a running joke in the SEO community before the Penguin and Panda updates occurred Google has since impressively enforced their policy that quality will be rewarded over quantity when it comes to linking. Link building is NOT easy and it’s not suppose to be which is why webmasters who are able to acquire those few “hard to get links” will have more success then those who take every link they can get. Worry less about your overall link count and worry more about building a healthy and reputable link profile that will put you in Google’s good graces when it comes to SEO results.
6. Not Checking For Website Errors Or Duplicate Content: This should be obvious to almost anyone (even those lacking in website experience) but it is surprising how often the simple things are often the most overlooked. Errors of any kind will of course happen at some point, especially as your website begins to grow in terms of size and scope. Luckily with Google webmaster tools and the various other free resources available technical mistakes seldom require more than a modest time investment to correct. Whether its broken links, duplicate title tags or mobile performance issues it’s your job to keep on top of anything Google recommends you should. In regards to duplicate content this sometimes a bit harder to track as some of your old article or posts still might be laying around in places you forgot to keep track of. Either way don’t get fooled into thinking the small details don’t matter when it comes to SEO, the top ranked websites today do things by the books and laziness on your part will come back to haunt you over time.
7. Overuse of Keywords In Anchor Text: It’s already common knowledge that using exact match keywords in all of your anchor text backlinks can lead to a penalty by Google. It should also be stated however that it’s not necessary to even include even partial match or long tail keywords in all of your backlinks either. Not every link that points to your website needs contain keywords as doing so too much will appear “unnatural” by Google’s policy standards. Real life people who actually choose to link to your website will likely do so through more natural sounding descriptions instead. Search engines want a mix of both keyword related and non-keyword related backlinks when evaluating the relevancy of a website to ensure it is being recommended by legitimate sources. Keep in mind a high quality link is likely to boost your SEO ranking for ALL your intended keywords regardless of what the anchor text says so there is no need to overdo it.
8. Poor use of URL structure: The URL extension you give each website page should not be too long or sloppy with the sole intention of fitting in all of your targeted keywords. You want to keep your URLs short and to the point where they give an accurate description of what your page is actually about. Do not try and include keywords in all of your page URLS if they do not read properly or appear out of place. Keep in mind your URL name will only be one on-page SEO factor to go along with title tags, headers, meta tags, alt tags, the body text and more. If there is not a good opportunity to include keywords in your URL then let it be and make up for it with the other properly optimized aspects of your page. Pretend your URL’s are a chapter of a book then ask yourself would you allow it to be published if other people were reading it. If the answer is no then your URLs are probably too spammy and needs to be simplified.
9. Ignoring Google+: If your goal is to get a first page ranking on Google then it’s baffling to figure out why more webmasters don’t make better use of Google’s own free resource. Google is a business first and foremost therefor it only makes sense for them to reward websites with a stronger overall presence on Google+. That of course includes whether or not you have a verified business page, your number of followers, participation in communities and how many shares you collect with the Google+1 button. Although learning how to use all the various features of Google+ can feel a little overwhelming at first once you get the basics down it’s mostly smooth sailing from there. Remember Google+ is not just one social media option but THEE social media option you should be trying to take advantage of most when boosting your SEO ranking. Anyone who thinks all social media is created equal probably would not last long as a Google employee.
10. Poor Or Even Below Average Load Times: The speed of your website is essential as users want to access information they are searching for as quickly as possible. All major search engines today can easily detect a website’s average load time which now plays a bigger role than ever in your search results. A less than than desirable load time can happen for a variety of reasons whether it’s a low quality server, poorly optimized images or an overuse of plugins that serve no real purpose to your website. A web page hoping to pass the search engine speed test will likely need a load time of under two seconds to be considered fast or preferably closer to one. Luckily page speed is something you have full control over with a little time and research. If your site is still running too slow even after you’ve optimized it properly then it’s probably a sign you need to switch hosting plans. Don’t use a cheap or shared hosting plan in order to save a couple measly dollars a month. What you save in hosting fees you will surely lose through customers that leave your website.
11. Not Mobile Friendly: Having a mobile friendly website is no longer just a smart idea but a full on requirement for any website hoping to perform well in search engines. It is now said that over 50% of web surfers access the internet on their cell phone, ipad or other mobile device. Even if you have a website that looks fantastic on desktop computers if the mobile version is sub-par than you will risk losing a healthy portion of your audience. If you’ve ever wondered why your website’s bounce rate is higher than evaluating your website’s mobile performance is a great place to start. Any web surfer visiting your mobile website that finds it hard to read, navigate or worse yet slow to function will almost always make an immediate exit. Make sure you treat your mobile website with the same importance as your main website as there’s a good chance customers will find you there first.
12. Not regularly updating your website: Many webmasters will focus so much on the technical aspects of SEO that they forget about the power of just simply updating your website on a regular basis. Remember one of the strongest ways to get Google’s attention is to provide as much quality fresh content as possible. Search engines are always trying to draw their results from the newest up to date information first. If your website has been stagnant for months with no real significant updates it could be an obvious sign that it’s not generating much interest. A website however with regular activity that gives visitors a reason to return more often will get picked up by crawlers much better. Updating is not just limited to blog posts either, it’s continuously trying to improve all aspects of your website that improve a user’s engagement and overall experience with your site. An updated site also ensures people will be visiting your website longer and more frequently, both of which affect your SEO results in a positive manner.
13. Trying to do outsource things the easier or cheaper way: Ahhh….the most common kiss of death there is. The bottom line is SEO is a LOT of work so its human nature for people to look for a faster or cheaper way to do it. This temptation will lead webmasters into hiring more budget friendly “overseas” link builders or content writers (in training) who are willing to fill your blog with poorly written articles for as little as $2 a post. This is not to say there isn’t decent and affordable freelance help available but if it sounds too good to be true it usually is. Just to state the obvious for anyone in doubt it might not be a good idea to outsource your entire SEO project to a company that charges just a $100/month. They in all likelihood will engage in some very questionable “get rich quick” SEO techniques that might have some success short term but over time will do your website more harm than good. In most cases any company offering cheap labor will worry about taking your money first then delivering the promised results later. Once you are the victim of a penalty or Google puts you on their naughty list recovery time can be painful if not impossible.
If any of your websites suffer from the content covered in our 13 Top SEO Mistakes For 2015 it’s best to get on them now or risk future complications. The worst mistake in truthfulness (and not mentioned in this article) any SEO professional can make is knowing in advance what mistakes they should fix and doing nothing about it. You have been given fair warning!