10 SEO mistakes every marketer should avoid
SEO is constantly changing to stay in line with the latest recommendations from Google. The tricks that may have bumped you up the search rankings five or six years ago are now considered spammy and might even get you banned. Yet surprisingly, so many agencies and in-house marketers still adopt those techniques! So what are the absolute sins when it comes to SEO? We’ve listed ten of the worst below:
1. Keyword stuffing
It’s fine to let Google know what your page is about, it’s even sensible. After all, why would you write a page on the benefits of exercise and then fill it with keywords about relating to video games? But adding your keyword or its variations into every other sentence is not going to do you any favours. It reads weirdly for the user and Google can spot that stunt a mile off and won’t give you any points for it. From our research we believe that Google likes sentences, paragraphs, articles to all read naturally, just like any human would when speaking to another. Just write naturally about your topic, and don't try to over-influence.
2. Buying poor quality links
This is a classic case of less is more. In the old days, there were SEOs who used to boost rankings by buying poor quality links from directory sites, gambling and even adult sites...anywhere they could get a cheap backlink. Thanks to Penguin (Google algorithm update), the focus is firmly on good quality links from relevant sites. Instead of throwing money at a load of rubbish links, put your efforts into getting one or two really good ones – and try to do it naturally!
3. Filling the meta description with keywords
Another SEO faux pas. Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past two years, you will have noticed that Google has been emphasising the importance of user experience recently. Filling your meta description with keywords and only keywords isn’t helpful to anyone. Your description should be a kind of mini sales pitch, letting the user know what the page is about and possibly adding a call to action.
4. Content duplication
This one drives me nuts, possibly because I’m a writer and content duplication is straight up plagiarism with a softer title. How would you feel if after spending a week writing copy for your new website, someone else came along and claimed it for theirs? Yeah.
That aside, Google doesn’t like it either. Your site is flagged as having duplicate copy and therefore not providing anything unique and relevant to the user. SEO points will be lost.
5. Writing sloppy content
Sloppy content laced with bad grammar and spelling errors is never going to do you any favours, with search engines or with users. It can be difficult to make sense of and won’t help you to rank higher. Shoving in a keyword where it doesn’t quite work in a sentence makes it really easy to spot what you’re trying to do. If you know your writing skills aren’t the best, hire a good copywriter to produce the text for you. You’ll thank yourself in the long term.
6. Hiding text on your website
Since I’m on a roll about text, let’s cover this one too. If you’re still hiding keywords and content on your page, shame on you! It’s considered a violation of Google’s Webmaster guidelines because – you guessed it – it can give the user a poor experience or serve them different results from the ones they expect. Some argue it still makes sense because a content rich page doesn’t convert so well. The answer? Figure out which pages you want to convert and which you want to use to provide a better experience and style them accordingly.
7. Using lengthy, untidy URLs
This is a site structure thing. Lengthy URLs with lots of numbers or unnecessary parameters don’t explain to the user, or to the search engines, what the page is about. Your URL should be as compact as you can make it and, if possible, follow the user journey. So if your user has clicked a product page for barbells, your URL might be something along the lines of domain.com/equipment/weights/barbells. Everyone knows then what the page is about.
8. Overusing links
As a user, I find this one irritating. Luckily you don’t see it quite so often anymore, but there are still those out there who do it. When you’re writing the copy for your homepage, it is not necessary to link to every other page on the site within your body text. It’s fine to link to the most relevant pages, sure, but if you have 100 pages on your site, linking to every last one of them in the text is annoying and spammy. As I mentioned, Google is all about the user these days.
9. Placing pages too deep in your site structure
The flip side of this is placing pages so deep within your site architecture that it takes about ten clicks to get to them. Again, you want to focus on usability. Assume your visitor is, to some degree, fairly lazy and impatient. After all, we are. How many people do you know who would wait for dial up nowadays? So make your useful, relevant, interesting content reasonably easy to find – no more than three or four clicks away if possible.
10. Forgetting your 404 pages
404 pages have gone from being a pain to an opportunity. Don’t ignore them. Implementing customised 404s lets your users know that they’re trying to find a page that’s unavailable, but that they’re still on your site and simply need to look elsewhere. Provide a friendly error message and some helpful links to get them back on track.
Let Whitefish Marketing check your website
Contact us and let us do a quick audit of your website. We can check all the salient points to ensure your website is meeting good standards of SEO practice for better visibility in Google.