Are You Falling For These SEO Mistakes?

In the world of SEO, algorithms are constantly updating. Techniques that were considered common practice a few years ago could now face penalties. To this end, the most practical advice in avoiding any potential pitfalls is to keep up to date with the latest industry news and Google algorithm roll outs. Think you’re up to speed? Let’s check out some common SEO mistakes.

Content Related Mistakes

When it comes to content, quality over quantity is a priority. Creating multiple pages of content without any clear strategy does not guarantee ranking improvements. The key is to develop a content strategy that focuses on both topicality and keyword research. With each update that passes, Google aims to improve its understanding of the intent behind search queries. This underlines the need for marketers to publish high-quality optimised content.

So, now you know you need a content strategy. The next question is where to start? Begin with competitor research. This will help you to identify any readily exploitable ‘gaps’ (i.e. where search volumes suggest the need for content that does not currently exist). You may even spot an open goal where top ranking content is poorly optimised, all but asking to be leapfrogged by better work.

Here are some ‘content boosting’ tips:

  • Refresh your outdated content – look in analytics for pages with low page views or poor engagement and consider any improvements.
  • Expand your existing content:
    • If your content has a word count of under 500, think about expanding the content to around 600-1000 (but ensure quality is not compromised).
  • Image optimisation:
    • A basic part of SEO is optimising your images to ensure they have alt tags. This can help if you want them to rank in Google Images.
  • Utilise headline tags:
    • When making changes to content, try to include the correct heading tags (e.g. H1 and H2 tags). However, if the tags already exist, try amending the text to make better use of keywords.
  • Where a page is not performing, insert links to higher-performing pages. This can help with page rank.
  • Consider changing the format. Would some content work better as a graphic, a video, or as an interactive piece?

Ignoring Local SEO

If you’re not optimising your site for local SEO already, you could be missing an opportunity to increase your site’s ranking in local search (particularly if you are a local business). Next we will illustrate some examples of avoidable mistakes when optimising content for local search.

Duplicate Business Listings

Duplicate GoogleMyBusiness (GMB) listings create a bad user experience that could impact your NAP (Name, Address, Postcode uniformity). Moreover, user reviews could be split between your two GMB accounts. If you do have two listings (in error), contact GMB to request a merged singular listing.

Lack of Authoritative Citations

Citations (and indeed links) from recognised local sources play an important part in local search optimisation. This includes links from directories, local businesses, and local institutions (e.g. the council). In terms of local business directories, consistency is key – all the information distributed in the form of citations must match the business information in your GMB listing. Not having an accurate NAP listing on each directory is a negative signal. Ensure that your businesses details match the contact page, your GMB listing, and any external citations.

Schema Markup

Using schema language helps search engines to determine datasets within web pages. This can improve click-thru rates.

 

Google My Business Listings

A major part of local SEO optimisation involves creating and maintaining a Google My Business page. Once verified, you are able to allow customer reviews, upload images, and display vital information such as opening hours and upcoming events. A top tip here is to avoid keyword stuffing in an attempt to gain some kind of false SEO benefit.

Non Mobile-Optimised Websites

If you haven’t already gone ‘responsive’ (i.e. mobile and tablet friendly), you could be missing a trick as 63% of site visits come via mobile devices. Moreover, with Google having introduced mobile first indexing, it’s a clear sign Google is prioritising mobile devices over desktop.

Neglecting User Experience

Failing to focus on user experience when it comes to SEO optimisation is a common mistake. Building a website with only orthodox technical SEO tactics in mind (titles, metas, architecture, etc.) misses the wider picture of including UX elements such as layout, navigation, functionality, and design. A smooth user experience is therefore reliant on mobile optimisation, as load times and functionality are vastly improved. In order to gauge how well your site loads on a mobile device, there are several tools available. One is Test My Site. Another is Pingdom Tools, which evaluates site speed.

Content & URL Duplication

In the vast majority of cases, duplicate content creates a poor user experience (regardless of whether the duplicated content is internal or external). Having one of two internal duplicated pages of content should not create a huge issue, but duplicating key pages such as the homepage or category pages will have an adverse effect on your ability to rank. Sometimes this is unavoidable – where e-commerce is concerned, for example, you might have an individual page for a jumper in several colours (in this instance, you can use the canonical tag so that Google only indexes one version of the page).   

Another issue is duplicate URL’s. This occurs where there are two URL’s for the same page, typically involving uppercase/lowercase variations of the URL text. An example is where two URLs (such as www.example.com/example and www.example.com/Example) both direct to the same page. Aside from the obvious duplication issues, the link equity is split and crawl budget is wasted. In order to rectify this problem, simply redirect the uppercase version of the page to the lowercase version (or vice versa). You could also add a canonical tag if a redirect is not possible.

Conclusion

If you have been penalised by an algorithm update, or if you have implemented some SEO techniques that are now not working, recovery is possible if the right changes are made.

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Jamie Beatty

Jamie Beatty

Jamie has 2 years’ experience working within the digital marketing industry. After completing his A Levels in 2016, he headed straight into an apprenticeship focusing on marketing for an e-commerce business. Soon after completion, Jamie decided to move into an agency environment where he worked as a Junior Marketing Executive working on a variety of SEO clients.