SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of increasing the unpaid or organic traffic to a website by improving the visibility of webpages or the website in the SERPs (search engine results page). To achieve top ranking for your target keywords, you need to apply SEO to increase your rank.
While there are many online resources on how to improve your SEO practices or the best ways to implement SEO on-page and off-page strategies, the common SEO mistakes can't be overlooked. Here are some of these SEO mistakes which most professionals make and ways to fix them.
Let us now begin by looking into some of the most common SEO mistakes or perhaps the SEO problems and how to fix them.
Common SEO Mistakes
1. Slow Site Speed
Slow site speed can deter people when they try to access content on your page. Inevitably, slow site speed will cost you hard-earned SEO traffic. Having invested your time and efforts to drive traffic from SERPs is basically futile if the page takes too long to load.
You can measure your page speed by looking at the following performance metrics:
Page Load Time
This is the amount of time that passes between when the browser sends the request to the server when your page fully loads and renders. Page load time can be assessed using the following factors:
First Contentful PaintFCP is one of the metrics tracked in the performance section in a Google Chrome Lighthouse report. It measures the time (in seconds) it takes for your browser to render the first piece of DOM (Document Object Model) content after a user navigates to your page.
Here's an example of the time series of the FCP
Time to InteractiveTime to Interactive (TTI) is a metric that captures page load speed. In other words, TTI is the measure of the time taken for the page to become completely interactive. The TTI score is collected based on data from the HTTP archive.
Here's an example of the TTI time series:
Time to First Byte (TTFB)The amount of time between when a request is sent to the server and when the browser receives the first byte of data.
Run your webpage through the Google PageSpeed Insights to check the performance of your page to help you understand more about your site's speed. Several factors can cause the delay of your page load time, including:
- Image Size and Format: Set the image size to 72dpi with the help of picture editing tools and using image formats like JPEG 2000, JPEG XR, and WebP to help decrease the bandwidth used up by images.
- Redirects: Although some redirects are unavoidable, fixing them will increase serving speed. Prepare a site audit of all the internal URLs that are causing the redirects and repair them.
2. Bad Reviews on Google
When it comes to having reviews about a product or a service, one can expect both positive and negative ones. However, the total number of reviews increases the social proof for your business and contributes to localized search ranking factors. While positive reviews improve the credibility of your website, having only positive reviews makes it look very suspicious. At the same time, several customers expressing dissatisfaction about your website can even drive away traffic.
You can make use of negative reviews as a way to build relationships with your customers—helping you understand your audience and, in turn, gain a new audience. Posting on social media about the kinds of issues faced and the measures used to handle them will add to your website's credibility.
Also, with the help of industry-specific review sites and social media, you can encourage people to post reviews about your services, and openly acknowledge their questions to make you sound genuine.
3. Faulty Google My Business Verification Code
Encountering issues with the verification PIN you receive for your Google My Business account is a pretty common problem.
Change your "private" profile to "public" and try again. If this doesn't work, request a new PIN. The problem may arise after you update your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) details. To avoid this, make sure that your contact information is consistent with your listing.
The next SEO mistake is often made by webmasters, not targeting location-specific pages for their content.
4. Lack of Location-Specific Pages
According to a Google Report, searches consisting of location-specific keywords and "near me" have seen a rise, especially with mobile users. Between 2013 to 2017, for example, there was a growth of 900 percent growth in mobile searches for "..near me". Moreover, 76 percent of people who use their mobile device to search for something nearby visit the related business within a day, and around, and 28 percent of those searches result in a purchase.
An increase in the mobile consumer base has made local visibility critically important for many businesses. An essential component of global and local SEO is high-quality, location-specific, or locally optimized content.
Recognizing your brand with a local presence should make your ranking in the local search results much more accessible. The possible fix for this SEO mistake is to have well-optimized location-specific unique pages to help improve your ranking in local SERPs. Clear location signals are natural when you have a single location.
The next SEO mistake is having duplicate content on your site.
5. Duplicate Content
Duplicate content refers to content that is either similar or identical to other content on your site. Although Google does not impose a penalty for duplicate content, it is very likely to affect the ranking of the webpages. As search engines rarely show the same version of two content in the SERPs, it chooses the one which seems more relevant to the readers.
As content is king for any website, having unique content that enables the audience to get the exact information about your products or services can help you to get established as a trustworthy player in the market. So as a fix to this SEO mistake, before publishing any content on your webpage, ensure that it is not repeated anywhere. For example, with tools like Copyscape, you can search for copies of your page on the web and remove the duplicate content.
The next SEO mistake is not fixing the broken images in a timely manner.
6. Broken Images and Missing Alternative Texts
Alternative tags, or alt tags, are HTML attributes of images that help describe the content. With regard to on-page SEO problems, alt tags need to be addressed. There are instances when the image component on your website does not render well due to improper filename, incorrect file path, or the wrong extension used. In these cases, an alt tag for the image will describe its contents and functions on the page. It also reinforces the desired keyword by helping crawlers understand the information on the page. Broken images or missing alt tags are common errors made.
Fig: Broken image with an alt tag
It is quite simple to implement alt tags. In your HTML code, find the image component and add an alt tag to it. Here is the example of such an image source:
<img src=“image.jpg” alt=“image description” title=“image tooltip”>
You can add these to your images easily if you have a WordPress blog.
Let us next look into yet another common SEO mistake related to the content, Having outdated or irrelevant information on-page.
7. Outdated Content and Information on Site
The old content on your website can drag down your site's authority. There are a lot of search results found on the SERP for a particular query, but not everything is relevant to the readers. If the search engine finds that your content is outdated or irrelevant, your site will get filtered out. You will, in a way, be wasting your site's crawl allowance on crawling and indexing pages that are no longer relevant. It can even cost you the traffic leading to your site as the bounce rate for such pages could drastically increase.
As a fix to this SEO mistake, ensure that the content you post has high quality and relevant information. Always give search engines your best, well optimized, and useful content.
The next most obvious SEO mistake is not having a mobile-friendly site.
8. Not Optimizing Your Website for Mobile
Living in a mobile-first world now, many users rely on mobile devices rather than computers. There are several advantages to having mobile-friendly websites as they make up more than half the search results on Google. At the same time, you will likely lose viewers if your page is not optimized for mobile. If you haven't made use of this feature, then your site is also missing out on the most advanced types of design.
A study by Perficient Digital shows the percentage of visits sites get from mobile vs. desktop between 2016 and 2018:
Source: Perficient Digital
Having a mobile-ready site enables you to rank higher on SERPs. A mobile-optimized website is by far the most advanced type of design. By being mobile optimized, the site will reformat itself completely for different devices. Site speed and design structure are also improved when you optimize your website for mobile.
You can leverage the Mobile-Friendly Test tool to check if your page is mobile-friendly or not. If you find your site is not mobile-friendly, then choose a reliable web host, optimize your site's loading time, enable Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), and redesign your pop-ups for mobile devices.
The next SEO mistake which we don't pay much attention to is having contact forms that don't convert.
9. Contact Form Isn't Converting
According to Formisimo, only 49 percent of the 1.5 million visitors who see a form fill it out. Moreover, only 16 percent of those viewers complete it. There are several reasons why contact forms don't turn into conversions, including:
- Too many form fields
- Unclear or non-functioning submit button
- Too few or too many options in the dropdowns
To optimize your contact form, make it engaging and simple to fill out. Also, as a fix to this SEO mistake, provide fewer form fields that help boost conversions.
- Keep your contact form simple with no more than five required fields
- Focus on the form alignment
- Use a catchy CTA that's unique
- Perform A/B tests on your form for design aspects like color, position, size, required fields, etc.
- Enable auto-fill in for your form with the Google autocomplete plugin
- Ensure that your form is optimized for mobile
- Don't use CAPTCHA
The next most obvious SEO mistake is having broken landing pages.
10. Broken Links
When users access your site through a search engine and encounter a 404 error, it leaves a bad impression. The broken links on your website will even cost your crawl budget, or how many times Google bots will crawl your page in a given timeframe. When search bots encounter multiple broken links, they will move to other websites, leaving some of your important pages neither indexed or crawled. It also has a negative impact on your page's domain authority.
Using the crawl stats feature in Google Search Console, you can identify which pages are throwing a 404 error on your site
You can even make use of Ahrefs to find broken links. The following path helps you in finding broken links using Ahrefs:
Site Explorer -> yourdomain.com -> Pages -> Best by Links -> add a “404 not found” HTTP response filter
The broken web pages need to be resolved at the earliest to improve your SEO. To address broken links:
- Either replace or recreate the content on the page
- Make use of 301 redirects to divert your audience to a similar piece of content on your site
- For external links, reach out to the website for a quick fix. If the domain is no longer functional, you can just remove it or replace it with a different source.
11. Low Text to HTML Ratio
According to woorank, a good text to HTML ratio is anywhere between 25 and 70 percent. A low text to HTML ratio indicates deeply rooted problems with your website's on-page technical SEO, considering that Google also uses this metric to check the relevancy of a web page.
Low ratios could indicate:
- Slow-loading websites, as a result of excessive code
- Hidden text—a red flag for search bots
A low text to HTML ratio is a critical indicator to improve page load times as an HTML heavy webpage can adversely affect the loading times and user experience. As a fix to this SEO mistake, add relevant on-page text where necessary, move inline scripts to separate files, and remove unnecessary code. Make sure to use simple text on-page so that the size of your webpage is as minimal as possible.
One of the most often made SEO mistake is not checking if you're pages are getting indexed by Google or not.
12. Pages Not Indexed
Indexing means including your webpages to the stack of pages that are searchable on Google. Google can't rank what's not crawled by its bots. Some of the valid reasons why your pages are not indexed include:
- 404 errors
- Instances where your pages have meta tags with the following source code -> <META NAME=" ROBOTS" CONTENT=" NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW"> will not get indexed
- Your sitemap is not up to date
- Duplicate content
- Low popularity or authority
The best way to solve Google indexing issues is through Google Search Console. When you submit a URL inspection, you will see if the webpage URL is indexed or not
With the help of the Deepcrawl tool, the comprehensive website crawler, you can simulate how search engine bots crawl your website. You can dig deep without affecting website performance and get a comprehensive report of every URL
Allowing pages in robots.txt. Once this is done, wait for some time, while allowing Google bots to recrawl your pages
Use the Screaming Frog tool to crawl your website with the user-agent set to "Googlebot," "Bingbot," "Slurp," "DuckDuckBot," "Baiduspider," "YandexBot." Check the "Indexability" column to ensure that any page currently excluded from the index can be indexed
Optimize your XML sitemaps so that it isn't cluttered with multiple redirected or broken pages
13. Improper Length of Title Tags and Meta Description
The meta title, or the title tag, is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. The meta description tag is a tag that provides a summary of what the content of your page is about. These are displayed on the SERP for a given result.
The optimal format for writing the meta title is: Primary Keyword | Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
The optimal length of the meta title is 50-60 characters or depending on the width of the characters (Google displays titles that are around 600 pixels).
Along with being displayed on the SERPs, meta titles are even shown in the web browser and on social media.
The optimal length for a meta description is 50 to 160 characters. Although meta descriptions do not affect SEO directly, it does affect the CTR, and in turn, the rankings. In other words, meta descriptions could impact SEO indirectly.
Problems that arise with meta description include:
- Duplicate meta description tags
- Missing targeted keywords due to lengthy meta descriptions
- Using alphanumeric values in your meta description
Add clear CTAs in your meta description. Use your targeted keywords and ensure that the meta description and title tags are well within the optimal length to avoid the loss of keywords due to truncation by Google.
- Don't over-optimize title tags with your SEO keywords. Use pipes (or vertical bars) to separate your keywords in the title tag. Ensure that your titles are easily understood by the viewers and are not just a bunch of keywords that don't make sense
- Even if you don't add the meta description tag, social sharing sites may register the first text found on your page, and this may not create a good user experience. Also, make sure that your meta descriptions and title tags are unique for all of your pages.
The next less thought of SEO mistake would be having long URLs that are not reader/search engine friendly.
14. Long Messy URLs
A URL, or the uniform resource locator, is a web address that specifies the location of a web page on the internet. When it comes to character limits, URLs should ideally be shorter than 2083 characters—or 512 pixels—to avoid truncation by Google, or render correctly in all browsers.
URLs can benefit SEO by providing a better user experience and more search visibility.
Here are some of the major factors that make your URLs less readable and, in turn, make your audience lose interest in opening your link:
- Using too many connectors or stoppers
- Including special characters like <space>, %, #
- Using HTTP instead of HTTPS
- Including more than 2 folders in your URLs
As Moz points out, a well-crafted URL is beneficial to both readers and search engines.
The illustration below shows the significance of URL readability:
- Readable URLs can make your links more clickable on social platforms
- Shorter URLs tend to rank better as compared to longer ones, helping to drive direct traffic
- HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) is a secure version of HTTP. This means that information on a website is encrypted, which heightens security significantly
- URLs must contain relevant keywords
- Hyphens must be used to separate keywords in the URL and not spaces
- The characters in the URL must be in lowercase
The next SEO mistake is something most people at the beginner to advanced level would make, having faulty redirects.
15. Faulty Redirects
Placing redirects could lead to loss of SEO value and traffic. If your redirects provide little or no value, you should consider cleaning them up. Many 301 redirects, which build up over time, often don't produce the SEO value they once did. Ultimately, this will increase your load time and the bounce rate.
- Redirect the HTTP version of your page to HTTPS (if not done already)
- You can run your site through the Screaming Frog. By using the All Inlinks report under the Bulk Export menu, you can clean all your internal links that have 301 redirects from your sitemap.
- Fix all the broken redirects on your site
- Find and fix all redirect chains and loops
- Redirect 404 pages
When it comes to SEO, always focus on delivering high-quality content and increasing user engagement. While some of the SEO mistakes can also be seen as human errors, having a regular site audit will help you ensure that your site is in good health.
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