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9 SEO Mistakes to Avoid for Ranking in Search Engines

By: Gabriel Nwatarali

9 SEO Mistakes to Avoid for Ranking in Search Engines

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a top priority for plenty of business owners. That’s why 61% of marketers say that improving their organic reach is top-of-mind (Source: HubSpot).

But what if we told you that the biggest pitfalls in SEO are the common mistakes people make?

Most of the time, these mistakes can go unnoticed for a long time until an expert comes along to rectify the problem. Today we’re going to show you how to avoid these common SEO mistakes.

Your customers have gone mobile, and search is now their preferred method of finding and interacting with products and services.

In fact, there are over 6 billion searches performed per day worldwide and Google alone processes over 4 billion of them! Not to mention that the rapid growth of mobile technology has changed the way consumers behave.

More people are shopping online than ever before. According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, 79 percent of Americans now shop online. The same study found that 51 percent of them have bought something with their cell phones.

The message is clear!

If your website is not generating significant traffic online, you’re missing out on growth opportunities.

All right, let’s get to it. Here are some SEO mistakes that you should avoid if you want to rank in search engines.

1. Accidental Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing is the practice of over-loading a webpage with keywords or phrases in an attempt to manipulate how the page ranks in SERPs (search engine results pages).

Keyword stuffing is bad for SEO and Google has publicly stated this: Irrelevant Keywords

Yes, you want your webpages to rank but over placing keywords in your text is never a good strategy.

It doesn’t work because the majority of search engines see this tactic as spammy. It just makes you look untrustworthy to the visitor too. Your content quickly begins to lose its flow the moment you start over-stuffing keywords.

Instead, you want your content to sound and flow naturally. Writing content naturally is easy to do when you write for the user and with purpose.

Decide on the value that you want to provide with your content and focus on that. Mention your keyword targets about 1, 2 or 3 times (naturally) and include synonyms or other related terms throughout your content for best results.

2. Targeting the Wrong Keywords

Sometimes, organizations tend to target the wrong keywords.

Targeting the wrong keywords doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re targeting unrelated terms either. It just means that they’re targeting keywords that they can’t rank for due to heavy search competition.

Trying to target keywords you can’t target for is why many SEO professionals recommend targeting long-tail keywords. These are phrases containing three or more words. They’re easier to rank for because there’s normally less competition associated with them.

However, it’s better to have a mix of targets. Transform your short-tails into long-tail keywords to avoid targeting the wrong keywords.

Here’s a quick example, if you want to rank for something like “landscape design,” then you can go for a long-tail version such as “landscape design for small spaces.”

Obviously, ranking for short-tail keywords is a preference since they generate more search volume. But that’s a long-term goal for most websites without the page authority to outrank their competition.

Keeping this in mind, you can plan for your ultimate keyword goal by transforming it into a long-tail version. A long-tail keyword increases your chances of showing up on the first page of search engines for related queries.

3. Unfocused Topics

Can you target multiple keywords?

You can but keep everything focused on one topic. For example, if you’re writing about landscape design, you can also target “simple landscape ideas” as an additional keyword. The key is to keep your content focused on landscaping as the main topic.

Be sure you make your web pages about one main topic whether you intend on targeting multiple keywords or not. You want to make it easy for search engines to determine what your page is all about.

Remember that part of the goal of Google, Bing, and Yahoo is to show the most relevant result to searchers. Hence, why focusing on one topic per page is good practice.

4. Neglecting Backlinks

You’ve probably heard it before or maybe not.

Even so, there’s this thing floating around that backlinks (links pointing to your site) are no longer necessary. So are they?

Yes and no. In a low-competitive niche, links may not be as needed but they’re ultra-important for competitive landscapes. In fact, without them, you won’t make it to page one, and that’s the goal.

When it comes to external links, choose quality over quantity every time. Algorithms (a form of artificial intelligence) have gotten smarter, and links are no longer the be-all and end-all to rankings.

It’s no longer about how many links you acquire but how authoritative those links appear to be. For instance, an editorial link from BBC news weighs more than one from Facebook.

The main differentiator here is that one is a site that anyone can get a link from (Facebook) and the other is not. So naturally, the algorithm should find the link on BBC as a stronger signal.

Pro tip: It’s a popularity contest, and it doesn’t stop at links; brand mentions, social mentions and citations all play a role in improving search visibility.

5. Not Enough Internal Linking

Another common SEO mistake is focusing too much on external links without enough emphasis on internal link flow (links between pages on your site). Internal links help a search engine understand which pages you want to rank.

By pointing your blog pages to important web pages that you want to rank in the SERPs, you’re effectively using your site’s overall “link juice.” One more reason why having a business blog is important.

Link juice is what SEO nerds like this author calls the flowing of link authority from one page to another.

Here’s a quick example:

If page “X” is about “entrepreneur values” and you have a landing page about “learning how to become an entrepreneur,” then it’s within reason to point page “X” to the landing page.

Think of it like saying, “We like this page, but we want you to rank this one.”

Pro tip: Use appropriate target keywords when you point links to other web pages on your site.

6. Duplicate Titles or Descriptions or Content

First and foremost, there’s no such thing as a duplicate content penalty!

There are a lot of people who think this is a problem. Yes, it can hurt your rankings when you have duplicate content internally, but having the same piece that is on another website won't.

We are not saying that you should be spinning or plagiarizing content because that’s pretty much detectable these days and the search engines will penalize you for this type of action.

The reason why you want to have different titles, descriptions, and content per page is that you don’t want them competing with each other for the same keywords.

When search engines are unsure of what to rank, they’ll often drop your web pages to a lower position in the SERPs. So it’s critical that you specify the keywords that identify what you want the search engines to tag each page with your content.

7. Forgetting Mobile

77 percent of U.S adults and 67 percent of Canadians own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center.

So what does this mean for your business?

It means that you can’t ignore mobile. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on opportunities, and search engines have made this clear.

Look, 60 percent or more of Google searches are for mobile devices. We can only assume that this number has gone up.

As you can see on the chart above from Smart Insights, people spend quite a bit of time on their smartphones monthly.

8. Outdated Content

You’ve probably spent hours upon hours writing amazing content for your business (pat yourself on the back) but is your content too old?

Here’s the thing, you’re likely missing opportunities to convert prospects because they’re not reading your content.

Some people pay attention to the date of publications. They want to ensure that they’re reading valid and updated information.

However, content written a few years ago doesn’t mean that it’s outdated. There are many examples of timeless content out there that are still useful & relevant today.

But some Internet users don’t think that way.

So to avoid losing readers because of the date of your content, you should update it every couple of years, ensuring that you change the date after each refresh.

You may be able to hide or remove publishing dates depending on the nature of your business. Especially, if you’re writing high-quality content that’ll always be useful and relevant to searchers (topic matters here). Topics were information and facts are rapidly changing will require updating more often.

9. Slow Website Load Time

Site speed is very important and will keep increasing in importance as the Internet continues to penetrate additional parts of the world.

Thanks to the United Nations, we know that 47 percent or more of the world use the Internet. The problem is that most users expect websites to load under 3 seconds regardless of where they’re in the world.

Website loading speed creates a unique debacle for websites because sometimes users are just too far away from your server to load your site quickly.

For instance, if someone from Africa tries to access a site hosted on a North American server, it’ll take longer to load. Unlike if that user was requesting the site from the server’s location.

A good rule of thumb to host your website in the location that you think most of your customers will be accessing your site.

Bottom Line

9 SEO mistakes to avoid that will help you get more and better quality traffic to your website that you can easily implement.

Tech Help Canada sponsored this blog post

About The Author

Gabriel Nwatarali is the founder of Tech Help Canada and a digital marketer. He is super-passionate about SEO. Connect with him on Twitter.

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