New year, new me. Okay, we’re a few months late, but it’s never too late to start setting goals, especially for business owners. Implementing a solid SEO strategy is one of the best ways to generate traffic to your site organically. Searching Google for SEO tips and tricks yields thousands, if not millions of results, but applying those techniques correctly is much more complicated than business owners realize. Let’s dive a little deeper into these SEO mistakes.
In the words of Shakespeare, “Can one desire too much of a good thing?”. The answer is yes. What exactly is keyword stuffing? It’s the practice of shoving as many SEO keywords onto a page as physically possible. Back in the early days of search engines, one could easily manipulate a site’s ranking on SERPs, even if the keywords they used were unrelated and the site lacked any real content. Stuffing keywords isn’t one of the most common SEO mistakes these days, but keeping an eye out is important. Some people even got creative by matching the text color of the keywords to the sites background color, now that’s innovative. Naturally, this led to a terrible user experience so Google (and the other guys) beefed up their algorithm to filter these useless pages out of the SERP. In addition to that, Google started handing out penalties. Although the practice of cramming irrelevant keywords onto a page is rare these days, that doesn’t mean you can’t slip-up. There’s no magic number. Most people agree that 2-5% keyword density is considered safe, as long the words you’re using are relevant to the topic you’re writing about. Don’t be afraid to use long-tail keyword variations to mix things up or even use synonyms in your copies. Google prides itself on relevancy and they even tend to reward sites that implement them.
Like keyword stuffing, buying backlinks is considered a black hat SEO strategy. Have you thought about buying backlinks? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Almost everyone who does or has done SEO has considered buying links. I get it, it’s tempting to generate thousands of backlinks with minimal effort, but there are repercussions that come with it. Most of the time you’re not actually buying the link itself, you’re buying the process of link building. Services that offer link building generally link your page on sites that are low quality and don’t boast any domain authority or page authority. What that pretty much means is that the link is useless and isn’t passing any link juice. Now that’s not to say you can’t find a service that will generate high quality backlinks, but there are still risks involved. As with keyword stuffing, Google does not take kindly to black hat link building and will enforce manual action against your site. In short, that means your organic traffic will get slaughtered overnight. Try to avoid using Private Blog Networks (PBN) and if you are going to do guest posting, do it in your niche. There’s no secret to generating links other than simply writing good, meaningful content that a user is looking for. There’s a plethora of legitimate ways to build backlinks, link quality always trumps link quantity.
Overlooked Mobile Optimization
Unfortunately, this is common among SEO mistakes a lot of people make. You build a fancy website and set everything up perfectly only to find out that it looks terrible on mobile platforms. Aesthetics aside, sometimes usability isn’t as optimized as it should be. The number of mobile searches is exploding. In fact, 58% of all searches on Google are done on a mobile device, compared to 42% on desktop. Needless to say, mobile is the future of search, and that’s exactly why Google is overhauling their entire algorithm to prioritize mobile devices. Which is why they launched ‘Mobile-First Index”. What does that mean? It means Google ranks the search results based only on the mobile version of the page, which occurs even if you’re using a desktop. Luckily for you, Google offers two free tools. The first tool is located under ‘Mobile Usability’ in your Google Search Console (if you don’t have GSC set up, I highly recommend you do that ASAP). This tool will tell you if users are having trouble using your site, like readability problems (small font) or flash player issues. The second tool is Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Pop in your URL and it’ll give you a full report, highlighting any errors Googlebot encountered while crawling your site. It’s essential to have your site ready for mobile use in order to employ a definitive SEO strategy.
Improper Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
This is a big one, almost as big as keyword optimization. I see a lot of websites that have their company or site name as the title for every single page. This is way too common and can be very damaging. Every page should have a unique title, and not just for SEO purposes. Your site is usually shared on social media, bookmarked, shared in a text message, etc. It’s important to have descriptive titles before your company or site name so users know what they’re about click on, whether it’s a shared link or a link on the SERP. That brings me to my next point regarding Google SERP snippets: Meta Descriptions. Google announced in 2009 that neither meta descriptions nor meta keywords factor into Google’s ranking algorithms. Meta descriptions can however impact a page’s CTR (click-through-rate) which in-turn positively impact your ability to rank a page. Try to write a compelling description that will draw a user to your site while avoiding using duplicate copies. It’s important to note that Google and other search engines bold keywords in the description when they match search queries. This bold text can draw the eyes of searchers, so you should match your copy to search terms as closely as possible.
Avoid these unforgiving SEO mistakes and you’ll be well on your way to success. The SEO game is a long-term strategy that requires constant management. Stick to white hat practices and factor in your risk versus reward and you’re golden. You can read more about SEO on our service page if you need help understanding how it works. Good luck!