Originally posted on July 23, 2014; Updated on July 30, 2021
Everyone who has ever managed their website’s search engine optimization knows that it’s a complicated field with many nuances, rumours, and
changes, which makes it hard to define what really works. Some experiment for months before they realize that SEO is not bringing the
results they desire. Quite often, the reason is a deviation from basic SEO truths. Everything starts with learning, so let’s cover the
most common optimization mistakes. Get in touch with our Edmonton SEO company today
for a free marketing check up.
SEO Mistake #1 – Your Website is Not Crawlable
Is your website indexable? Google Webspam team manager Matt Cutts has said that the most common SEO mistake by volume is having a
website that is not crawlable. When Google cannot find your website and define the content, how can your website show up in search
SEO Mistake #2 – Optimizing for Keywords Based on the Wrong Indicators
It’s quite amazing how easily the keywords are chosen for SEO. Obviously, every business associates their products/services with certain
terms used in internal circles. The question is whether a regular person would use those keywords in their search queries. Google Keyword
Planner will help figure that out. This free tool shows the keyword search volume by country and language, even suggests related
keywords. Find out what terms your customers are searching. Don’t underestimate keywords with low search volume as they are easier to
optimize and can bring more specific traffic to your page.
Another mistake is evaluating keywords only by search traffic without considering conversion rate. It’s easy to generate traffic,
but it’s a completely different thing to actually make that traffic earn you profit. The traffic you get on your site may be completely
irrelevant if you are targeting keywords that can have different intent than the content you are providing causing your site to have a high
bounce rate. So instead of giving credit only to the most popular keywords find out the ones that are really valuable for your business.
SEO Mistake #3 – Ignoring Meta Data
Even though several SEO-minded communities have claimed that meta data has lost its SEO value, meta data is critical. If not so much for the
ranking factor, the usability remains as a substantial reason to still use meta data. Page title (i.e. tag) appears in search
results and is an important signal for Google to determine ranking. A page’s meta description can appear as a search result
description. Stand out from your competitors with thought-out descriptions including call-to-actions, keywords, and benefits of your
Mistake #4 – Too Focused on Link Building
Focusing on link building is a mistake made by many businesses. As Matt Cutts has mentioned, thinking about link building alone limits
your mindset. It’s true that in the end of the 90s linking was as popular as the Backstreet Boys, but now the game has changed. Linking
is still one of the major ranking factors for Google but the circumstances have changed. The focus is now on quality instead of quantity.
Google algorithm changes fight against webspam and link schemes. These methods often result in a boost for a short-term and drop
significantly when Google discovers the scam. Do not buy links. Matt recommends focusing on other things like
quality content and marketing to earn links. This way natural links are generated that improve your site value for Google. Linking
is an extra bonus for creating compelling and quality content, not a goal of its own.
SEO Mistake #5 – Ignoring Google Guidelines
Google offers free resources for webmasters to improve their SEO, including Google Search Console and Lighthouse. These tools should be the
handbookfor every SEO specialist. Not knowing the basics may cause you a lot of wasted time and resources. These tools outline
exactly what Google wants you to do to achieve better rankings, providing you with important data to help you better understand what’s
going on with your site and how to solve common problems.
SEO Mistake #6 – Using Shady Techniques
Google resources define some SEO tactics as dishonest methods to improve your site ranking. Those methods are considered low quality and are
forbidden by Google. Using the prohibited methods may cost your good reputation and get you banned from Google if discovered. Low
quality tactics include:
Buying backlinks: as mentioned in SEO Mistake #5, buying links is never a good idea. If Google catches you
doing this, you will be penalized, and your rankings will tank. So seriously, just don’t!
Keyword stuffing: keywords should be naturally scattered throughout your content in places that it makes
sense to use that phrase. Over-using your keywords in awkward places in hopes of ranking higher for that phrase will actually do the
opposite. Optimal keyword density is only 1-2% per piece of content.
Duplicated content: Duplicate content confuses Google. Rather than ranking both pages like someone employing
shady SEO tactics may hope, it actually just cancels each other out, because Google can’t decide which page is better.
Irrelevant content: Irrelevant content is, well, irrelevant. Traffic will be minimal because that content is
not being searched, and therefore will not index well. It also will have a high bounce rate because it is not what users are looking
for. They will immediately leave the page, also lending to a poor ranking.
Cloaking: According to Google’s SEO guides, “Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or
URLs to human users and search engines.” This is in violation of Google’s guidelines because is gives users different results than they
Hidden texts and keywords: This refers to placing keywords at the bottom of a webpage in the same colour as the
background of the page, hiding them from human eyes. It allows the words to be integrated into a website without affecting the
visual appeal or article quality. So shady! These hidden keywords skew search results and misrepresent search intent, and you will not
only be penalized, but possibly banned from search engine results pages!
Doorway pages: Doorway pages are created to rank highly for specific search queries, but they lead to
multiple similar pages in the search results, taking a user to the same destination. Examples are having multiple pages targeted for
specific geographic locations that funnel users to one page, or other pages that exist just to funnel users to the relevant
portion of the site. Google does not appreciate this trickery, and it will definitely hurt your ranking.
Google bowling: “Bowling” in SEO terms is building a massive number of unnatural (i.e. purchased – see #1 in
this list!) backlinks to a competitor’s website, in an attempt to get them flagged. You will never make yourself look good by
trying to make someone else look bad!
Trying to outsmart Google is dangerous and will end with poor results. Why waste your time and money on suspicious methods instead of
focusing on quality SEO? Think further ahead and invest into long-term results instead of practicing low quality SEO and facing the
dangers of dishonest optimization.
SEO Mistake #7 – Doing SEO Without Ongoing Education
It is entirely possible to tackle SEO on your own, but is it feasible? Google’s algorithms and ranking criteria are ever-changing and
keeping up with the constant updates requires you to be constantly learning new techniques and evolving the ones you thought you already
knew. As a business owner, it may not be in your time budget to run your business and keep on top of SEO best practices. This is where an
SEO agency like Smart WSI Marketing comes in for reinforcement, leaving you to focus on the other parts of running your business.
Your Edmonton SEO Agency
Search engine optimization can be complicated, especially when it’s not your main focus. Rather than worrying about making these mistakes,
trust the local SEO experts at Smart WSI Marketing! Reach out for a free digital marketing check up.
Lynne Motkoski, Digital Marketing Strategist
Specialty: Digital Marketing
Strategies Education: MA Communications
& Technology, BComm [U Alberta]
Lynne is known for her strategic approach to marketing communications, technologies, and lead generation. She has a passion for education,
keeping up with current marketing trends and practices, and helping clients keep ahead of their competition.
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