Search Engine Optimization is the most solid and stable way to earn long-term organic traffic. Other traffic sources, such as social media, are the exact opposite.
They are unpredictable, their algorithms change regularly, and they’re often only good for short-term bursts of attention before they fizzle out into nothingness (anybody else feel the burn from Pinterest this year?).
While growing your blog or website’s traffic can be challenging and time-consuming, it is worth it to invest those precious hours into SEO. BUT, there is a right way and a wrong way, and it would be a shame to dedicate a considerable chunk of time toward wasted efforts and mistakes.
Here are 7 colossal SEO mistakes that could be ruining your website:
MISTAKE #1: Misunderstanding What SEO Is All About
First and foremost, it is incorrectly assumed that SEO is all about keywords and keywords only. That if you’ve done your keyword research, you’ll undoubtedly rank.
That’s wrong. Just wrong. There’s so much more to it than that.
MISTAKE #2: Using Keywords Incorrectly
Another common misconception is that SEO keyword strategy is all about using ALL THE WORDS in ALL THE PLACES.
It hurts to even think about how much website owners jam every last relevant (and sometimes irrelevant) word into their content until it’s not even real, valuable content anymore… just a painful attempt at sounding on-niche.
There is such a thing as using keywords the wrong way, and these days, the wrong way can be detrimental to your website in the long run. How can you misuse keywords?
One major example would be keyword stuffing. Gone are the days of excessive keyword use.
Today, Google values value, and jamming your content with repeated keywords is considered spammy and will get you penalized. Keyword stuffing is regarded as a black hat technique that goes against SEO best practices.
Let’s say a website wanted to rank for affordable used treadmills. They would be keyword stuffing if they used the term affordable used treadmills in several lines of their content, regardless of whether affordable used treadmills made sense in the context.
Affordable used treadmills are an enticing sell, but who is going to buy an affordable used treadmill when the seller is clearly trying to push their inventory of affordable used treadmills on them in such an obnoxious way?
You see what I did there? That paragraph had a whopping 11.63% keyword density, which is BAD and frowned upon by Google. Keyword stuffing like this is a fast track way to sink in the search engines.
Ok, maybe that was an extreme example but trust me, there ARE websites that do this and there is nothing productive about it!
In the ideal web world, keyword density should sit around 2% or less. To calculate this, you can use an online keyword density checker, or calculate it yourself. T
o calculate, divide the number of times you have used a specific keyword by the total number of words in your content. Multiply this result by one hundred to get your density percentage.
MISTAKE #3: Creating Content and THEN Implementing SEO Tactics
Why is this a mistake? Because with this method, you’re doing TWICE the work!
Rather than building your site, writing your website copy, creating content, and THEN implementing SEO tactics, why not implement them from the get-go and save yourself some valuable time?
Conducting keyword research before you write anything will allow you to structure your content around whatever you’ve concluded to be the best terms for your website.
Your keyword research should involve looking for long-tail keywords, finding their search volume, analyzing your chances of ranking based on your domain’s competition, and identifying other relevant keywords that would fit in well.
You can also perform keyword research to come up with content ideas if you’re lacking those creative juices.
If you go through this process after you’ve already written up your copy, you’ll just have to go back and edit your work until it is appropriately optimized. Don’t waste your time! Write with purpose.
MISTAKE #4: Not Optimizing Your Images
It doesn’t matter how high quality your images are; if they aren’t optimized for search engines, they aren’t helping your website.
Google isn’t a visual search engine like Pinterest. Because of this, your images should be named descriptively using your keywords so that search engines can understand what the content is about.
Your alt-text should describe the photo, your file name should be optimized with your keyword, and the description may contain variations of your keyword in list form if you are optimizing for several.
So, if your image file names look anything like this…
…you’re doing it wrong.
MISTAKE #5: Using Keywords You Can’t Rank For
No offense, but most small businesses have no idea that it would be near impossible for them to ever rank for their preferred keywords. It’s not for lack of quality, but rather a lack of authority.
Think of it this way: pretty much every roofing contractor in this country would kill to rank at the top of the SERPs for the keyword roofing contractor.
Understandably, but not realistically. There are thousands of other roofing contractors out there competing to get the coveted Page 1 title, but there are only ten slots, and they are reserved for the best.
This is not to say that some ad dollars couldn’t get you up there, because a little money can take you far, but the goal here is to do it organically.
If you search for the term roofing contractor, the most likely results will consist of the most reputable companies in the industry. Instead of trying to compete with huge marketing budgets, focus on long-tail keywords (3 to 5 words) to get a piece of the lower volume searches.
Targeting a handful of those rather than one seriously competitive seed keyword is more likely to reap effective results.
MISTAKE #6: Not Paying Attention to Your Analytics
Guys, if you aren’t using your analytics, you might as well quit. Seriously.
Google Analytics is the source of all information. It’s where you learn your audience demographics, it’s where you find out which content is getting the most views, it’s where you learn about interest, opt-ins, conversions and what keywords people are using to land on your site.
If your goal is to be SEO friendly and to get your target audience to convert, you need to dive deep into those analytics, understand your data, and use it for your future optimization efforts.
MISTAKE #7: Ignoring Your Website’s Functionality
Remember when we said that SEO isn’t just about keywords? We were referring to how your website works. When search engines crawl and index websites, they are looking at a variety of factors in addition to your keyword strength and relevance.
- Load Speed: A fast loading website is preferable to Google. If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, you may want to take a look at the size of your images and how many plugins you are using. If your images are HUGE, you can improve your page load speed by compressing them. If you are plugin-happy, go through your active list and deactivate/delete anything that you don’t need or use.
- Mobile Optimization: These days, search engines expect websites to be optimized for smartphones. The greatest percentage of website traffic comes from mobile devices, so a positive user experience is essential to Google.
- Broken Links: Part of the ranking process involves website crawls. Search engines send an internet bot through every website on the internet with the purpose of web indexing. If a bot comes across a broken link, it can’t properly index your site to rank in the search results.
If you are making any of these gut-busting SEO mistakes… please, do yourself a favor and address them immediately!