So you want to have a crack at doing your SEO?
You’re great at your business, and you’ve done some essential SEO homework/research and spoken to a few of your mates who gave you some tips and pointers.
If you think you are an SEO superstar and can start ranking for all your main keywords, beware as there are many pitfalls and mistakes you can make. Although SEO is a relatively simple science ( if you play by the rules ), some fundamental blunders are waiting for most people who attempt a DIY approach to SEO.
Most people can move the rankings dial a few notches throughout a couple of months, but this is where the frustration starts mounting for many as they can’t seem to get past pages 2,3 or 4. Obviously, they are not doing everything that professional SEO agencies can offer, which is where they fail. However, in most cases ( and this depends on the competitive nature of the niche ), you can correct the situation if you understand these common 10 SEO mistakes.
Here are the 10 most common SEO mistakes I’ve seen, as well as advice on how to correct them:
1) Ignoring Google Analytics
Many SEO agencies tell us that ranking is the key to SEO success. But, that’s not entirely true as you need to rank for words that drive qualified traffic ready to buy. It’s far too easy to become obsessed with trying to rank for one or two main keywords and get aggravated and stressed when you couldn’t get to the top three positions.
You should use your Google analytics to see which keywords are also driving traffic numbers to your website. Google explains that analytics is a super-useful tool to help you understand consumer behaviour. It’s free and lets you know what people are doing once they land on your site.
For example, you might be in the travel business and looking to rank the keywords Seminyak Villas which is highly competitive and dominated by other online travel agents. Using analytics, we can see that different keywords like luxury Seminyak villas to rent are less competitive and still have decent traffic numbers passing through.
The takeaway is that high traffic volumes are significant, but not all it’s cracked up to be. More often than not, you deal with tyre kickers and price shoppers who’ll waste your time and annoy you by bargaining. Google Analytics gives you the data to refine your keyword targeting and go after phrases or words that deliver better quality customers without wasting precious resources and energy on keywords that don’t have value.
2) Not Optimising for Local Search
Local search is a vital element in your SEO strategy as it targets local customers. There are pros and cons of local search, but I feel that the advantages far outweigh any disadvantages. Many businesses ignore Google My Business which gives your business more visibility when clients are searching locally. GMB shows your business name, phone number, website, and location as well as reviews.
You have to set the account up, which is easy, and Google will get you to verify this by sending you a code in the mail. A bit of a pain as you have to wait for this, but well worth it. HubSpot explains that 72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles. They also tell us that near me or close by type searches grew by more than 900% over two years. Businesses that want to capture a local market ready to buy should optimise for local search.
3) Not Optimising for Relevant Keywords
I often get customers asking me to rank 20 or 30 keywords thinking the more we target, the better their online presence. It’s easy to fall into the mindset of quantity over quality, and this is a huge issue.
Because SEO companies are trying to outdo each other to win, customers will outbid each other for the number of keywords they try to optimise when this is the wrong approach. As explained above, it’s essential to use Google analytics to choose the best and most appropriate keywords to target and not look at a too broad approach that yields poor-quality tyre kickers.
As you build trust in your website, all your keyword rankings should begin to improve, thereby putting the theory that you can target dozens of keywords to rest. Like a boat rising with the tide, your keywords will also increase as trust is built in your site. They should, in theory, all begin to increase.
The critical point here is not to feel that you have to go with an SEO agency that promises to rank for hundreds of words, which is just a sales tactic. If they are offering this, then they clearly don’t understand that you begin by working on a few words and work out later as the campaign progresses other terms to optimise. So try not to fall for these tacky sales tricks.
4) Not Having Unique Titles and Descriptions
I still find it amazing that businesses have no idea about titles and descriptions and how important they are. More often than not, they’ll ignore this and have the brand or business name as the title on every page. Every page on the website needs to reflect the content and intent of the page.
For example, if your business sells mobile phones, then the home page’s title needs to reflect this, such as the title below:
Mobile Phones | Samsung, Apple & Motorola | XYZ Company
The description should be 160 characters max:
Looking to buy your next mobile phone? Visit our Sydney showroom for a huge range of Samsung, Apple and more.
Every page throughout the site must have these kinds of titles and descriptions and be unique.
You can see that you can have your company name in the title but keep it at the end. Having catchy titles and enticing descriptions are powerful selling tools on Google’ search results and help customers identify your selling before clicking on your site.
From the SEO Sydney Experts site, you can see how our home page title and description explain what we do. I even managed to get a small emoji in the description to help us stand out. If you want the same emojis, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do.
For more information on how to create good titles and descriptions, see what Google tells us here.
5) Forgetting to Use Anchor Text for Internal Links
Have you gone onto a website and found links to other pages with words like click here or view special deals? While these are great for driving traffic to other parts of the site, they are a complete waste of time from an SEO perspective. They are nifty call-to-action buttons but a wasted SEO opportunity, in my opinion. On the other hand, tailoring your anchor text as an internal link is an invaluable SEO tool. For example, if you are writing a blog about dating agencies in Sydney ( as we often do for one of our clients ), we like to place internal links with appropriate anchor texts such as; dating agencies for men in the blog.
If you must have a call to action, perhaps add the anchor text in the CTA, such as click here for more information on dating agencies for men.
SEO Sydney Experts Tip: Don’t have the repetitive exact anchor text on all blogs and pages. Try to vary these as they will look odd and spammy. Readers won’t appreciate this, nor will the search engines. The rule here is to mix it up and make it sound natural. After all, as I’ve said many times, you have to write copy for your readers and not Google. In this way, it sounds and looks natural, which is the only way to create content.
6) Link Quantity V’s Link Quality
There is a massive difference between link quality and link quantity for SEO purposes. The easier it is to get a backlink, the worse it is for your Google rankings. Cheap, low-quality backlinks can and will harm your rankings, especially if they are part of a private blog network.
I don’t want to go deeper into why link quality is a far superior SEO practice over link quantity. But suffice it to say that if you are shopping around for SEO agencies that promise you to fast guaranteed rankings, they are part of a private blog network and must be avoided like the plague.
SEO Sydney Experts Tip: focus on
i) obtaining backlinks from relevant blogs or websites.
ii) never pay for backlinks.
iii) never get links from adult or gaming sites.
iv) never allow SEO agencies to handle your website if they say they will get you X amount of links per month and you have a limited, small budget.
v) try to get links from relevant industries or trade sites to your business.
vi) make sure all backlinks are aged and have some level of authority. Ahrefs has a good tool for this purpose.
7) Poorly Worded Content
Google’s Panda Update eliminated poorly worded pages from the search results, according to Search Engine Journal. Businesses could previously scoot by without creating compelling, informative or exciting content and have these pages ranking. Nowadays, you must have each web page and blog article written far better than your competition if you want to rank on the search engines. The reason is, Google wants to display the best and most informative results to its readers, and your website needs to cut the mustard to make it to page one.
I have outlined How to Write Content For People and Optimise For Google, pointing you in the right direction.
SEO Sydney Experts Tip: If you are too busy to write content, you can outsource this job to a copywriter or an agency like us that will write content specific to your business. Watch out for agencies that charge you next to nothing for an article. These are rehashed articles commonly used by article spinners, which will land you with a Google penalty.
Content is a critical component of your SEO and internet marketing, so don’t skimp at this stage. According to Neil Patel, if anything, you should invest heavily in copywriting, as it does help improve conversion rates by up to 113%.
8) Not Creating Link Worthy Content
You spend days and days writing a fabulous blog, but will anyone read or link to it at the end of the day? You have to create content that people want to read, such as lists, what not to do, creative infographics, explainer videos, articles, etc. In this way, people will want to reference it in their blogs, as I have done in this post.
9) Free web templates
A client recently asked us to do their SEO, but the only issue was the WIX website platform he used for design. Unfortunately, free web templates like WIX are super-popular, and because it’s free, there are limitations when it comes to updates and SEO plugins. I suggest building your site on WordPress or another well-known CMS platform.
10) Too many on-page dead links
Having too many dead links that go to pages that have been deleted or no longer exist drives people to pages with no content and lead to a pooper user experience. Google will penalise pages for this so make certain you audit your website and check any dead or broken outbound links. Use Ahrefs broken link checker for this exercise and you might be surprised by what you find.
There are lots more SEO mistakes you can make; there are hundreds. Google is not making our job any easier by constantly refining its algorithm. You have to comply with their rigid rules. And to make matters worse, they rarely publish these rules. They will tell us about their main algorithmic rollouts, but they are still very cryptic in their press releases, usually via Twitter. It’s a constant guessing game, but we know for sure that you should have consistently better rankings if we follow a set of SEO protocols. I always tell my clients so long as we focus on developing great content and building high-domain authority links, we are doing the right thing. And, yes, you need to have a great-looking website as well for the user experience.