6 SEO Mistakes You’re Probably Making
SEO is a wild world of complex algorithms that are always changing. Every change and update creates a new challenge to overcome, and there are so many that it’s not difficult to fall behind. In our haste to become the next SEO guru, many of us fail to master even the most basic SEO principles. Don’t get slipped up by these careless mistakes!
1. Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is content or images that are found on more than one page of a website. A search engine will view this duplicate material as an attempt to make a website appear larger than it really is. Duplicate content also affects search rankings because search engines can be unsure which page to show and which to hide, and which page is the original and should have all link metrics directed to it. Below are some ways to help combat duplicate content:
- 301 Redirect– Use a 301 Redirect to tell a search engine which page is the original. This way, the page will be ranked and receive all contributions to its link metrics. It will also take people from what is the duplicate content page to the original page.
- Rel=Canonical– A special tag inserted into the header of the duplicate page which still allows the content to be displayed, but passes all related link metrics to the original page. This is very useful for e-commerce stores, where one product can be found under several categories.
2. Keyword Stuffing
Yes, you want a common keyword theme throughout your website, but the days of stuffing a webpage with a certain keyword to secure a top ranking are long gone. Doing so now can result in your website being permanently banned from most major search engines, or at the very least being barred from results until the website is changed. Here are some ways to avoid keyword stuffing:
- Unique and Different Keywords- Use synonyms of your keyword to help add wording variation.
- Don’t Force Keywords- Avoid forcing the keyword into every other sentence. The keyword should be in places such as the title, meta descriptions and actual content, but don’t sacrifice readability for more keywords.
3. Blank Pages
Blank or empty pages are a major mistake commonly found on new or updating websites. You may plan to update an empty page eventually, but most search engines will view this as an attempt to make the website seem larger than it is. Some ways to fix this issue are:
- Delete the Pages- If you won’t be able to update the page soon, delete the page until you have content that justifies recreating it.
- Noindex Tag– Update your Meta Robots tag to “No Index” to keep search engines from indexing pages you don’t want to be indexed. The page won’t come up in any search results and your website won’t be punished for empty pages.
4. Not Using Image Alt Tags
A lot of websites—especially those that are picture heavy—don’t properly use image alt tags to tell a search engine what exactly is on the page. Search engines use the alt tag to find out what the image is and index it correctly in their database. Images without alt tags will be seen as an empty spot on a webpage, which can damage a page’s ranking. Fortunately, adding alt tags is very simple:
- A web CMS like WordPress will give you the option to add an alternative text to an image once it is uploaded to your Media library.
- If you are going right into the HTML, the following code will create an alt tag: <img src=”basketball.jpg” alt=”Basketball”>
5. Information Inconsistency with Citations
NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) is used to establish information consistency. While this mainly affects local search results, it’s important to keep your NAP consistent across all listings to create validity with search engines. Here are some suggestions to keep your NAP consistent.
- To fight inconsistencies, programs like Yext, MozLocal and Whitespark can help with directory cleanup and keep your future listings in line (check out this comparison of local citation services to help you choose one).
- Keep an Excel sheet with the details that should be used for every online listing. That way everyone knows exactly what information to submit to websites.
- Check your listings on a regular basis. Some directories pull information from others, so if there is outdated or inconsistent information in one place it may appear in another.
6. Not Using Google Analytics to the Fullest
Google Analytics is a powerful tool—when used correctly.
When you set up your Google Analytics, you’re presented with a ton of information from the get-go including user/session count, pages visited, session duration and traffic sources. It’s easy to get caught up in this basic information and neglect some of the features that require manual activation.
- Goals- You can set up 5 types of Goals to measure how well your site fulfills your target objectives. A competed Goal becomes a conversion and is indicative of your website’s success.
- Conversion Funnel- Setting up a conversion funnel will help you visualize the path taken by potential customers on your website on their way to becoming paying customers. It will pinpoint low conversion flow so you can take steps to improve it.
- Custom Alerts- This feature is a must for anyone dealing with a lot of clients. Set up alerts for the completion of specific events or when traffic takes an unexpected dip. Invaluable for situations that require immediate action.
The ever-changing nature of SEO means that we always must be ready to pick up new practices and leave behind the old ones. Making it a habit to learn—whether by reading blogs or watching tutorials—is worth as much as putting what you learn into practice. Check out this list of 55 resources put together by Kissmetrics for the latest SEO updates, tips and tools.
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