If you’re treading on the path created by Google or other search engines, then you don’t want to make careless mistakes out of ignorance or poor guidance. After all, you’re not trying to game or trick the search engines. You’re reading this article because you don’t want to make mistakes that could hurt the chances of your websites in the SERPs.
There are a lot of common SEO mistakes that a lot of webmasters and SEO professionals make. No one – especially an amateur or small business owner – will know every detail beforehand. They will have to learn by trial and error. The goal is to minimize the trials and errors. Some errors can even get your sites penalized. Let’s look at some of the most common SEO mistakes so that your sites don’t get penalized or dropped from the SERPs completely.
Common SEO Mistakes
#1. Bad or Duplicate Content
Are you churning out as much crappy content as possible with the hopes of getting traffic to your website? That’s a mistake. Google will catch up with you. With the Google Panda update a couple of years ago (and successive updates to that update in the months and years afterward); Google is really taking out their anger on sites that don’t have high quality or unique content. In the past, there have been a lot of loopholes. Webmasters could copy & paste other peoples’ content and call it their own. That actually used to work, but not anymore.
The update, according to the Google Blog, was designed to lower rankings for sites with low quality content. Google did not want to reward sites that didn’t provide high value to users, or sites that copy content from other websites, or sites that are generally just not very useful. The update, at the same time, gave better rankings to high quality sites – sites with unique content and great information like in-depth reports, real analysis, and research. Google wants to give their users more than they asked for. Sites that don’t meet searchers’ expectations, and even underperform, are going to get penalized.
You shouldn’t copy other peoples’ work, and you should pay for original content that has real value for the user. Your site will be rewarded if you can do that. Take a cue from Google’s Blog and think about creating well-researched content that resonates with your audience, in-depth analysis, and multiple points of view.
#2. Going After the Wrong Keywords
This is a big mistake, and a lot of small business owners and even niche site owners make it. The gist of it is that people go after keywords that sound really good or are really popular, but might not be very relevant to their content.
The keywords should arise naturally out of the content. It shouldn’t be the other way around. Creating content that covers a topic from multiple points of view will automatically include the keywords that searchers want. If you choose to develop content around keywords, that is fine too. Just make sure that the content is relevant to the keywords.
As mentioned before, the Google Panda Update is intended to match the most relevant content to the searches, so if you pick and optimize for a keyword phrase that doesn’t fit in with your market, and your content doesn’t back up and support the keyword phrases you’re targeting, then your website is going to fall in the SERPs eventually.
Another problem is that some folks go after keyword phrases that you think match your content, but the phrase isn’t really used by searchers. Proper keyword research can really influence the outcome of a SEO campaign. It’s a smart idea to do a ton of keyword research before you ever get started. Now, don’t get too picky. That’s another mistake. Go after all those less popular keyword phrases. All those keyword phrases can add up, and there will be less competition. Google has to show something for certain searches where there are few results. There is a good chance that your web pages will come up if they are at least somewhat relevant to the search. Those keyword phrases will really start to add up.
#3. Keyword Stuffing
You’re not still doing this are you? You should know by now that not only does keyword stuffing not work – it can get your site penalized. Keyword stuffing is when an individual over-optimizes their text content with the use of repeating keyword phrases over and over again. Keywords are crucial in SEO, but overusing them can hurt your rankings and even get your sites penalized.
Repeating keyword phrases over and over again was something that used to work a long time ago, but the search engines have evolved, and they know that webmasters who use keyword stuffing usually don’t have high quality websites.
The ongoing practice of ding this can get your sites penalized or blacklisted. You won’t see your sites in the search engine results pages at all anymore, and it will have been cut out from their index completely.
If you are using the SEOPressor Plugin for a WordPress site right now, then you should be aware that this tool can get your site penalized or blacklisted if you use it for keyword stuffing. You need to know what you’re doing before you use the SEOPressor Plugin.
#4. Forgetting To Cross Link
Cross linking is sometimes known as internal linking, and it’s a way to link pages that are related to each other together. This easy method will help cut down on the bounce rate (something that Google takes into consideration) which will let search engines know that your website has important content, since they spend a lot of time on your site.
Cross linking is a tactic that will help boost the other pages within your site by letting some of that link juice pass on to other linked pages, spreading the love around. This is sometimes an overlooked task, but it should be very common. If you have mentioned something relevant where a link to a previous article would be appropriate, then link to it.
#5. Your Site Is Lacking In Authority
There are a lot of sites out there now that have a ton of content on anything and everything, but they’re not focused on a certain field. If you not an expert for any specific subject, then why would the search engines direct users to your site?
The search engines want to send searchers to experts that are designated as authority sites in the searched phrase. They don’t want to send visitors to an all-in-one site – unless, of course, that site is Wikipedia. Wikipedia, however, has an entry on every subject and topic, and each entry is considered well researched and informative. The site is an authority for everything. That is an exception.
If you find yourself writing about several different topics, then don’t think that you’re going to get that much traffic from the search engines. You might get classified as a personal blog or homepage, and not an authority site. If your goal is to get traffic for a wide variety of keyword phrases in a certain field, then you need to make an authority site that covers a single topic from multiple angles and viewpoints, e.g., weight loss apps for the iPhone, pet canaries, or jogging to lose weight. Those topics are a little specific, and you could choose to make a site on something as broad as weight loss. Just make sure that you have the resources to exhaust the topic completely. If you don’t have the ability to fill out the topic, then choose a narrower topic.
#6. Backlinks with Hardly any Value
Not all backlinks are good. You should know that by now. If you have too many backlinks, low quality backlinks, or backlinks that aren’t related to your site, it can harm your site’s rankings. Similar in importance to keywords, backlinks are very important for any SEO campaign. Backlinks from sites that are within your site’s topic area are the backlinks you want. You don’t want backlinks from unrelated sites.
Links are sort of like votes for your site, but not all votes are equal. Links should have anchor text that describes the page that the link is pointing to. This is a way that Google learns what your page is about. It is almost like having several human reviewers out there for your site, who are describing the content of your pages to Google. It is important that you don’t try to manipulate this though. You can get search engine penalties for trying to artificially influence the anchor text or backlinks to your site’s pages.
If you purchase backlinks for your site, then you could find your site blacklisted. Nothing would be worse than having your site blacklisted. You will lose the hard work you invested in the site, and you will lose all that money you put into buying backlinks.