Just about every website owner knows the importance of a carefully-crafted Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. Without one, your site is unlikely to gain much traffic. However, while some techniques are actively encouraged, there are certain methods you should always avoid.
These methods are often effective in the short term, and can help you secure a high ranking within Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). However, they also come with a price. Implementing them can lead to some serious issues over the long term, such as penalties and even site-wide bans. Fortunately, SEO mistakes are easy to avoid – as long as you know what to look for.
In this post, we’ll explain the issues using certain SEO tactics can cause. We’ll also discuss some of the most commonly-made mistakes, and talk about how to avoid them. Let’s get started!
How Certain SEO Mistakes Can Harm Your Website
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the term used to describe a website’s attempts to rank higher with search engines like Google. A high ranking is vital to the success of your site, as it can bring in extra visitors by improving your visibility.
While optimizing your site for search engines is a smart move, it can be easy to make mistakes that set your efforts back. These come in varying levels of severity, from simple errors to more serious offenses that violate Google’s terms of service.
It’s very possible to make these kinds of mistakes without realizing it. Of course, some people implement these methods on purpose – a process known as ‘black hat’ SEO. Black hat tactics include keyword stuffing, link cloaking, the use of hidden links, and creating duplicate pages.
These tactics aren’t just bad for your online karma. If Google finds out that your website is using them, it might blacklist specific pages or even your entire site. This means you’ll lose your current ranking, and have to start all over again. Repeat offenders may also find that their sites are heavily penalized, or even banned.
Making minor mistakes, like the ones we’ll cover below, aren’t likely to result in such drastic punishments. However, they can negatively affect your site in other ways. An ineffective approach to SEO means that less people will see your site, decreasing your views, conversions, and other key metrics.
3 SEO Mistakes You Should Always Avoid
So, what kinds of mistakes should you avoid if you’re hoping to maintain consistently high rankings? Below, we’ll look at three of the most common issues, and talk about how they can affect your site. It’s important to note that you’ll want to make sure everyone who works on your site is aware of how vital it is to stay away from these tactics.
1. Overusing Keywords in Your Content
It’s hard to overstate how important keywords are to your SEO efforts. There are many keyword strategies out there – but not all of them are equally effective.
One common mistake made by many beginners is known as ‘keyword stuffing’:
This is when one or more target keywords are used repeatedly throughout your content, in order to try and secure high rankings for relevant searches. However, doing this will actually cause more harm than good.
That’s because Google prioritizes quality above all else. Keywords are only effective in boosting your SEO when they’re relevant, used in context, and spread out naturally throughout your content. Keyword stuffing is likely to appear as ‘spammy’ to Google’s bots, and push your pages down in the rankings rather than up.
It’s fine to use keywords, of course. You’ll just want to be careful and only include them when they’re relevant. They should also fit nicely into your content. If you read a piece of writing back, and it’s obvious which keyword you’re trying to rank for, you’ve probably included it too many times. Instead, it’s smart to focus your efforts on targeting fewer, higher-quality keywords.
2. Failing to Optimize for Mobile Devices
Today, over 50% of all online traffic comes from smartphones and tablets. In this mobile-driven world, it’s important to make sure your site works well on smaller screens and devices. Failing to optimize your site for mobile use won’t just harm user experience – it can also have a negative impact on SEO.
Google has made it clear that mobile-optimization is a must if you want to secure a high ranking. If you’re not sure whether your site meets this criteria, taking Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test is a good place to start. This will give you a good idea of how well your site is currently performing, and whether any further improvements are required:
If you encounter any issues, it’s time to get to work. Tweaking your site to perform well for mobile users usually centers around improving its design, but there are many ways to create a more mobile-friendly website.
3. Ignoring Broken Links
As time passes, it’s likely that some of your content will start to contain broken links. There are numerous reasons this can happen, such as when a page you linked to is moved or deleted.
Regardless of the cause, leaving broken links in your content can have an unfortunate impact on your SEO. Google uses ‘crawlers’ to assess how and where any given page should rank. When these crawlers run into a broken link, they stop exploring the page in question and move on to the next one:
Pages that haven’t been crawled won’t be indexed, or be eligible to receive a ranking. What’s more, Google uses the external pages you link to in order to understand your own content. If some of those links are broken, it won’t have access to all the information it needs.
Finding, and removing, broken links can be done manually – although this may take you a while. Fortunately, there are other techniques and tools you can use to fix broken links quickly.
Making mistakes with your SEO can result in all kinds of negative consequences, both large and small. It’s important focus on creating a strong SEO strategy where you pursue techniques that have been proven effective, and stay away from the rest.
In this post, we’ve explored some of the commonly-made SEO mistakes you’ll want to avoid. These include:
- Stuffing your content with too many keywords.
- Failing to fully optimize your website for mobile users.
- Leaving broken links in your content.