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5 Common SEO Mistakes and How You Can Avoid Them

Profile photo of Jeff Miller Submitted by Jeff Miller November 22, 2016

SEO can be very straightforward, and it can also be extremely complex. A lot of times we are so focused on our rankings, metrics, and content that we overlook simple mistakes. Below are 5 of the most common SEO mistakes in 2016:

seo

1) Broken Links

Broken links are links on your website that don’t work properly. There are different types of broken links, the most common being a 404 error. A 404 error is a link that leads to a page on your website that no longer exists. Another example would be a URL that is incorrectly entered to the website, meaning the link doesn’t go to the right location. Broken links can be frustrating for users, and as a result, Google penalized websites with a lot of them.

A 404 error on the white house website
No website is immune to broken links. Here is a 404 error on the White House Website.

As time passes and a site grows, it is inevitable that some links will break. But if your site has dozens or even hundreds of pages and links, how are you supposed to stay on top of all of them? The best way to do so is to regularly perform web crawls of your website. Software like Screaming Frog uses a robot, or “spider,” to go through your website page by page and uncover errors such as broken links. Performing monthly, or even weekly crawls of your site is an effective way to prevent broken links and improve/maintain your rankings.

2) Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is exactly what its name would imply: content that is repeated on your site on more than one page. Search Engines want to give the user the best, most relevant content. When that content is repeated on multiple pages, Google doesn’t know which web page to pick and send users to. As a result, websites with duplicate content can be penalized in their search rankings.

But what if your website needs duplicate content? For example, many e-commerce websites need to link the same products across different web pages. There is a solution. That is to establish a 301 redirect hierarchy. This is a way of telling search engines which version of your duplicate content to send visitors to. That way, search engines know your preferred page, they aren’t confused, and you receive no penalties.

3) Non-Unique Meta Description/Title Tags

Meta descriptions are the short blurbs that show up on search engines giving a short description of your web page. The easiest way to explain meta descriptions is with an example. When I search “news” in Google, CNN is the top result. The short snippet that says “View the latest news and breaking news today for U.S., world, weather, entertainment, politics and health at CNN.com.”

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-5-25-56-pm
The highlighted region is the meta description.

Title tags are even shorter, and arguably, more important. They are the short description that gives a quick preview of what the page is about.

They are the blue text shown on search engine results pages. They are also shown at the top of tabs in web browsers. For CNN, their title tag is the blue text : “CNN – Breaking News, Latest News and Videos.” When I click into the CNN website, that same description is at the top of my browser in the tabs.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-5-33-42-pm
The CNN Title Tag.

A great way to check to ensure you don’t have duplicate meta descriptions or title tags is to use Screaming Frog web crawler. Not only can Screaming Frog find broken links, as mentioned above, but it can also find duplicate title tags and meta descriptions. And best of all, the software is free!

4) Not Allowing Search Engines to Crawl Your Site

How do search engines find and list your website? They use robots called spiders to sift through your website’s content, “crawl” it. After they crawl your content, they get a better idea of what you are writing on, how to categorize your site, and ultimately how to rank your website.

However, you as a website owner have to give Google and Bing permission to crawl your website. If you don’t do this, your site won’t ever be listed, as the search engines won’t even be aware that it exists. Google and Bing both offer “Webmaster Tools” for site owners to manage how their websites are doing on the search engines, if they can be crawled, etc. This link shows is a great guide for beginners on how to use Google and Bing Webmaster tools.

5) Having a Slow Loading Site

People are impatient. We don’t like waiting, and will actively avoid places that make us wait. This is as true for your coffee as it is for your website. Waiting for a web page to load can be extremely frustrating, and extremely annoying. This is especially true for people accessing your site on mobile devices. When this happens on multiple links on a site, the user may just give and leave the site. Not only does this cost you traffic, but search engines take note and will penalize you accordingly.

Fortunately, there are a couple of ways of improving page speed on your site. The first is to update your hosting. If you are using shared hosting, the servers your site uses are under considerably more strain and have less bandwidth to dedicate to your site. This results in longer load times for web pages. Although using dedicated hosting may be more expensive, it can be a worthwhile investment. It loads faster and can improve your search rankings.

Another way to improve site speed is to use plugins like Smush to compress images. This reduces your bandwidth and puts less strain on your servers. Another way is to enable browser caching. When a user visits your website, content of the site is temporarily stored on their hard drive, like the text and images of your site. If they visit the site again in the near future, their browser can use this stored information to quickly load the site.


This post was originally published in http://seoteachers.com/index.php/2016/11/12/5-common-seo-mistakes/ by Jeff Miller

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I'm a professional working int the SEO industry for 5+ years. I recently started my own blog on the subject. However, I'm always learning something new. Check out my site http://seoteachers.com/
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22 Responses to “5 Common SEO Mistakes and How You Can Avoid Them” Leave a reply ›

  • Profile photo of steven Profile

    Hey Jeff,

    I have made one or more of these mistakes in the course of my online marketing. The truth remains that I never get to know of these mistakes until my traffic and sales starts to dip.

    Thanks for sharing this post. You not only pointed out common mistakes of SEO, you also recommended the solutions to them. The tools and links you shared make the post more practical!

  • Profile photo of Winford Moore Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    If mistakes are discovered in the process of doing online marketing then it becomes logical to avoid them.

    SEO mistakes are bound to happen because we are all humans and there is no perfection.

    However, identification of these mistakes should be ‘skill’ on its own, so that we are able to deal with them.

    Its helpful reading about these mistakes and the solutions thereof. At least, these 5 SEO mistakes can be corrected to start having better results!

  • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    There are lots of SEO mistakes that marketers keep doing. The important thing is for them to realize that what they are doing is mistake.

    SEO mistakes can be avoided, and the sooner it is done the better it would be for the website.

    The SEO mistakes discussed here and how to avoid them are common. They are everyday mistakes that most webmasters often ignore.

    The good thing is that you have listed these mistakes and suggested working solution for each of them.

    I personally find establishing a 301 redirect hierarchy solution for duplicate content revealing!

  • Profile photo of Black Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    SEO mistakes are numerous and could be ‘costly’ if not tackled. Mistakes of content creation and website performance are often ‘frowned’ at by the search engines.

    Marketers must ensure any mistake centered around creating the wrong content or making a website perform below par is avoided!

  • Profile photo of Amit Sharan Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    These mistakes are common and easy to make. Broken links, duplicate content, and linking to spammy sites are SEO mistakes that have affected me in the past. Now I know better and have dealt with them squarely!

    I will take your advise from this post and get deal other SEO mistakes! 😀 Thanks for reminding me of these 5 mistakes and for proffering the ways to avoid them!

  • Profile photo of David Profile

    Broken links suck. But broken anything sucks. The more a website appears to be non-functional, the more Google will assume that it is not being taken good care of.

    Since Google wants its searchers to be satisfied, it is less likely to send people to a website that is poorly cared for, because it A) might not be fully functional, B) might not be secure and C) might not have the best information.
    David recently posted…What’s it like to be a ghostwriter?My Profile

  • Profile photo of Paul Profile
    -1

    Hey Jeff,

    While I agree with all the SEO mistakes that are shared here. I am often guilty of duplicate content.

    Now, I know better and should avoid duplication on the pages, url, and other parts of the websites.

    Taking action now and avoiding these mistakes is the best thing to do!

  • Profile photo of Carl Profile

    Hey Jeff,

    Mistakes are bound to happen with the things we do. Sometimes it is from the results we get that we realize that mistakes have been made. SEO mistakes are common but in most cases these are avoidable.

    The tendency to cut corners with the rules and procedures of SEO is one major mistake that affect Internet marketers in the long run.

    So, every effort must be made and price paid to ensure a rewarding SEO strategy.

  • Profile photo of Celine Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    One of the top most SEO mistakes that MUST be avoided is doing SEO without planning. This could be disastrous. SEO should be strategic, hence, there is need to set goals and draw up plans before embarking on it.

    I think that strategic SEO neglect should be included as the number one mistake in this list! 😀

  • Profile photo of James Ling Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    I have done these SEO in the past but now I do better. Broken links and Duplicate content were my most weakness but its a good thing I have found ways to get around them.

    Thanks for sharing these helpful tips. I guess many newbies will reassess and reevaluate their search engine optimization strategies after going through this post!

  • Profile photo of Sarah John Profile

    Hello Jeff,

    The fact remains that mistakes are bound to occur. It would be important to be watchful so that we get the best from our search engine optimization techniques.

    Avoiding SEO mistakes is important. The 5 common mistakes highlighted here are in order.

    My best takeaway from this post is the fact that you listed plugins and tools that will help correct each of the mistakes made.

    Thanks for this reminder!

  • Profile photo of Krystsina Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    that’s a very useful list to read and remind yourself not to repeat such mistakes.

    Honestly, I made a few of them when I just started to work with SEO.

    Especially repeating the content: I didn’t really understand that there might be serious consequences because of doing it.

    I would definitely recommend your post for reading not only for SEO beginners, but for experts as well, just to refresh from time to time.
    Krystsina recently posted…Top 9 Invoicing Tips for Web DesignersMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Shamsudeen Adeshokan Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    Broken links are not only bad for SEO purpose, also gives users a terrible experience using your site.

    And like you pointed out, too many broken links on a site is an indication of non-functional website or one that has been abandoned.

    And site speed is just a thing of necessity, and an integral part of overall site quality and SEO metrics.

    No one is ready to wait for 40 seconds for a single web page to load, the quicker it loads the better for users and even revenue.

    Thanks Jeff, nice read.
    Shamsudeen Adeshokan recently posted…9 Types of Content Marketing Ideas That Work For DummiesMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Sherman Smith Profile

    Hey Jeff,

    I been through the horror of 401 errors right after I changed my permalink. Luckily I found a 301 redirect plugin that took care of at least 80% of the bad links.

    Besides that I use broken link checker to find other bad links.

    The SEO mistakes you mentioned here are pretty common, but a lot of people tend to overlook them and keep blogging despite the fact it’s debilitating to their blog.

    Great thing you talk about what to do about these common mistakes. Many will appreciate it!

    Thanks for sharing!
    Sherman Smith recently posted…Thrive Content Builder Review: Best Drag And Drop Website BuilderMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Don Purdum Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    In addition to the list you’ve created, one other big problem I see is that people are stuck in a mold. Meaning, they don’t create different kind of content that is relevant to their audiences, and they many times write for the wrong audiences.

    What I mean is that we have two audiences at any one time:

    1. Those who are able, willing and ready to buy from us… or will in the future.

    2. Those who serve the same audience we do but in a different way and have influence to share and link to our content.

    Many only focus on #1. In our case, we recently started focusing on #2 and the impact has been HUGE!

    Not only do they drive traffic to us of those who are in audience #1, they are helping us significantly with our SEO.

    The problem with focusing on #1 is that the majority of them don’t have an audience and the majority are not inclined to share or link to us.

    Great post Jeff!

    Keep up the awesome work.

    ~ Don
    Don Purdum recently posted…How To Get Organic Search Traffic With The Ultimate Google HackMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Krystsina Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    it is an absolutely useful post! To be honest, I made some of these mistakes in the past, especially the one about the slow speed of the website.

    I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it, and it got really slow after uploading a lot of “heavy” images.

    Obviously, it made me loose readers, and I tried my best to boost its speed afterwords.

    I would recommend your post to not only beginners, but to advanced owners of websites to check it out from time to time.
    Krystsina recently posted…Everything You Need to Know about Your Balance SheetMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Janice Wald Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    I have heard mixed reports on whether Google cares about duplicate content. After all content curation sites would have trouble existing if it did. Just to make sure, though, I change the headline when I can.

    Thanks for the warnings.

    Janice

    Janice Wald recently posted…The Complete Pinterest Guide That Will Make You See More Traffic & MoneyMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Bruce P. Profile

    Hi Jeff,
    I found a lot of useful information through your post.
    Thanks!
    Bruce

  • Profile photo of Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha Profile

    Hello Jeff,

    This is certainly useful information and I have bookmarked them to enable me go through my site with a fine tooth comb hopefully.

    Thank you for sharing.
    Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha recently posted…What’s Your Blogging Purpose?My Profile

  • Profile photo of Hannah Edia Profile

    Hello Jeff,

    Great topic, and oh-so relevant.

    In addition to the mistakes you already cited, here are some more that online business owners and bloggers should take note of:

    1. Not surveying your audience to see which content format they resonate with. For instance, your audience may prefer video over written content

    2. No adequate tracking in place. At the very least install google analytics, check your site in search console regularly to ensure there are no spam links being indexed on your site.

    Take analytics a step further by installing Sumome content analytics to know how much of your content people are actually reading so you can include links in your articles at the appropriate places

    Which leads me to my third point

    3. Internal linking: There are three types of SEO and they are: Technical, Off-page and On-page SEO. You shouldn’t neglect one for the other.

    Each time you publish a post, make sure you do on-page seo [e.g. internally linking your post, adding keywords, etc] and off-page seo [e.g. link building through email outreach, etc]

    I hope this helps!
    Hannah Edia recently posted…How to make $1000 in 24 hoursMy Profile

  • Profile photo of John A Karnish Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    Thank you for sharing your article with us. I definitely will check out the “Screaming Frog” tool. Is it a free tool?

    I also wanted to learn more about google analytics and how to get the most use out of it, so I will certainly be checking out the guide you shared.

    I especially like your tip for the title tags. I haven’t given much thought about that.

    Thanks again for sharing, looking forward to interacting with you here at Kingged!

    Blessings,

    John

  • Profile photo of Brainy Versatility Profile

    Good to know this when I start looking more into SEO. Lots of helpful tips.

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