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7 Common SEO Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Here are seven of the most common SEO mistakes–and how to avoid them.

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Google’s search engine has a simple aim: to connect users with useful information. 

That’s why they launch new functionality like Featured Snippets, which highlights results that are likely to contain what you’re looking for, or Autocomplete that helps you navigate through search quickly. 

The point is that Google continually innovates on its search engine experience. It’s why they roll out close to a thousand search algorithm updates each year. 

SEO is an evolving field where best practices quickly become standard. Keeping up can be difficult, and SEO mistakes happen along the way. 

Fix these seven common errors, and you’ll see more traffic to your website.

1. Slow Page Speed

Content marketers like to focus on things they can control, like blog posts, and link building. Since it’s hard to get developer resources to improve caching and page file size, technical SEO falls down the priority list. 

The problem is that page speed is one of Google’s oldest and best-known ranking factors.

Focusing on page-speed optimization is likely to have more impact than writing another blog, but it’s also a lot trickier to achieve.

Source: SEMRush

The good news is that PageSpeed Insights, a free tool provided by Google, identifies web performance issues on your pages. 

These problems can range from code that’s written poorly to images or large page elements. Here are three of the most common ways websites can improve page speed:

  • Compress your images: Large images are one of the most common reasons a web page has a slow load time. It’s also often the best place to start making improvements, as the increases in both load time and PageSpeed can be significant. If you use WordPress, one of the best ways to do this without spending much time is to use a plugin. WP Smush Image is something that we use on our website.
  • Minify code: When writing code, it is common for this to be done so in a way that uses spaces to keep it easy to read. Simply, minification removes whitespace and comments to optimize CSS and JS files. All you need to do is use a simple copy-paste tool such as Minify.
  • Use browser caching: Caching works by creating and quickly serving a static version of your site to users, as opposed to a dynamically generated page every time it’s accessed.

💡If you’re interested in learning more about improving your Google PageSpeed Insights Score, then check out this article from Neil Patel.

2. Ignoring Low Volume Keywords (or Long Tail Keywords)

Sometimes it pays big to go small.

While it’s always nice to see an article rank for high-volume keywords and drive tons of traffic, it usually leads to traffic with a high bounce rate and low conversion rate. Plus, if a keyword has high volume and buying intent, it can be prohibitively competitive.

It’s a frequent SEO misconception that articles only rank for one or two relevant keywords. Most posts we write rank for multiple keywords, and many can rank for hundreds of related variations. In aggregate, these low volume keywords can have a tremendous amount of volume and intent.

To give you an example, imagine you run an online surf store. You’d probably love to rank for a keyword like “surfboards for sale” with a monthly search volume of over 8K. 

However, if a keyword has strong buying intent—such as “surfboards for sale,” there’s a strong chance it’s a very competitive search term. A relevant target keyword for you could be “do foam surfboards need wax.”

Using an SEO tool like SEMRush, you can see that the related terms equal over 36K monthly searches. 

Once you capture this search traffic, the result of your digital marketing kicks in. Maybe you retarget these users on social media with an ad that directs them to an article on the reasons to upgrade from a foam surfboard to a hard surfboard.

If you’re someone that values a data-driven approach to the above, then we recommend using Keyword Opposition to Benefit (KOB) analysis to plan the keywords you target. While the concept is almost a decade old, it’s still valuable. 

You can learn how to calculate it here (skip to slide 13).

3. Not Optimizing Anchor Text 

Anchor Text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. In modern browsers, it is often blue and underlined, such as this link to the SimpleTexting homepage.

Anchor text helps search engines to understand the context and content of the linked website. For user experience, the point of anchor text is to inform the reader about the linked page, so they know what to expect if they decide to click. 

Unfortunately, anchor text often fails to achieve either objective. 

Internal linking is not the most exciting element of SEO, but it’s important. The next time you or someone on your team writes content for your website, consider the following most important best practices:

  • If possible, try to avoid generic and clickbait anchors such as “click here”
  • Don’t over optimize your anchor text by keyword stuffing
  • Make sure you explain what the linked website is about
  • Don’t just link to your homepage

4. Focusing on Quantity Over Quality

The magical marketing silver bullet doesn’t exist. Often when we talk to small business owners, we get some variation of the question, “How often should we update our blog?” 

One of the biggest SEO mistakes that people make is that of creating content just for the sake of it. Many websites end up falling into this trap of coming up with new content so that the site has something to post. That’s why there is so much generic and duplicate content online.

However, it’s essential to understand that you must do thorough keyword research and invest time into creating content that provides real value to your readers. The goal should be to become a great source of information and not a place where you can find tons of thin content. 

Writing useful content that people want to read is the key to success. As Intercom wrote, “The most successful blogs are usually very personal and tied to a particular worldview or area of expertise.”

5. Ignore Old Content

The average blog loses traffic as older posts lose visibility. To compensate for these losses, companies write new posts. 

It’s a leaky bucket approach to content, and it’s expensive and inefficient. There are three main reasons you should stop ignoring older posts:

1. You get results without having to spend extra money

2. Maintain your position at the top of Google’s search results

3. To prevent your search results from appearing outdated

We recently tried out a free tool from content marketing Animalz that provides you with a report on webpages in need of a refresh. They also came up with this useful graphic that explains the typical lifecycle of a piece of content.

You don’t need to gut content with declining web traffic. It may simply involve adding new quotes from experts or a new section to cover new developments. 

Think of content refresh as garden maintenance. You don’t need to rip out all your trees and plants–you might just need to give them a quick prune.

6. Writing Generic Titles

Too many sites err on the side of including keywords in page titles and not making them irresistible to searchers. Yes, you only have 55 characters to play with, but with a bit of creativity, you can do a lot (and still include relevant keywords).

Make it compelling, grab attention, trigger emotions.

It might not bump you up the search engine result page (SERP), but it will generate more traffic (especially if you’re on the first page for a given set of search terms). If you’re unsure of what works, then look at some of the popular content sites on Facebook like BuzzFeed.

These publishers rely heavily on click-worthy content, and you can find inspiration in the way they approach writing titles.

7. Not Using Google Search Console

Assuming that you already monitor web traffic from Google Analytics, we recommend that you also use the less commonly leveraged Google Search Console.

In Google Search Console’s Content Keywords reports, you’ll learn the most commonly found keywords on your site.

By clicking on a keyword, you can access more details, including the number of times the keyword appears in SERPs, semantic variations on the keyword which contributed to that figure, and the number of clicks on those keywords.

You may be surprised at the content keywords which Google registers as the most used—and most significant—on your website. If this is the case, you should consider refreshing your content or products, with a renewed focus on your original target keywords.


Alternatively, you can play into the keywords that Google associates with your website to take advantage of existing authority.

For example, if a bicycle store finds that it ranks for a lot of keywords around bike safety, they might consider creating and optimizing a new landing page focus on bike safety products. The landing page could include information on helmets and lights to make the most of the high significance score for that keyword on their site.

Prioritizing Your SEO Efforts

The next step to take is to think about which of the seven common SEO mistakes you want to tackle first. 

If you’re just getting started with SEO and content marketing, then it could be worth focusing on building a strategy that takes advantage of low volume keywords and optimizes page speed.

You might even want to start by focusing on optimizing your Google My Business listing or using Google reviews to help your ranking performance.

If you’ve been creating content for some time, it might be worth looking at old content, optimizing anchor text, and focusing on rewriting generic blog titles. 

Hopefully, all of the above gives you a good starting point for the focus of your SEO efforts.

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