There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for Search Engine Optimization. Every website or online platform has unique issues and requirements that need to be addressed before they can be shown at the top or near the top of the search engine result pages. Without getting too technical (and giving away our complete SEO secrets), we like to break our client website upgrades into technical and content-driven updates. Let's begin by dividing the site into perfunctory and highly important pages based on keywords that we have identified through our research and competitive analysis. Let's continue with the cobbled-together page titles, H1 tags, page descriptions, and meta tags with on-page content ensuring that the technical updates and the written content work together in harmony. So many secrets. Not enough time.
We pulled together a list of the most frequent search engine optimization mistakes that our clients have made, and we pulled the data together to share with you here. If you see yourself anywhere on the list, we hope that you can stop yourself committing these errors and start taking corrective actions.
Without further delay, here is our list of the “Top 8 SEO Mistakes Every Business Should Avoid in 2021.”
Businesses Use Terrible Page Titles
Your title is the most important thing on your webpage. It tells the search engine crawlers what your page is about. Your title is the first thing these spiders see when they land on your page, and everything they decide about your page and how to categorize it follows your title.
As the spiders scan your page, they look at the on-page content to see if it lines up with the title, and then they assign rank based on how the title and content fit together.
You must place the keywords for which you want to rank in your title and following the “leftward rule”, i.e., the closer the word is to the left of a sentence the more essential it is, you should place the keywords that you want to rank for as far left as possible.
Your title should tell the crawlers and your audience what the page references. You should get to your point quickly. Your title, description, meta keywords, and on-page content must be unique have a synergy. Whew, that is a lot to handle. No wonder we found so many mistakes in the setup.
Websites Use Duplicate or Bad Content
Your content must be unique and relevant to your message and the page to ensure that you have success with your SEO efforts.
Many times, a website will duplicate content from pages that are ranking well in the search engine results, thinking that lightning will strike twice and that the copied material will also rank well.
The truth is, search engines detest duplicate content and will not list your page in the search engine results pages, or SERPs, or will penalize you for copying content by placing your content in a “sandbox” where you and all of your content will play alone and unseen.
You will be better off with unique content written in your style and leveraging your underlying message.
If you cannot write this content yourself because you are too busy or if you don’t feel that you can put the words together as you want, you should hire someone to write SEO-rich content for you for a fee.
Websites Have Missing Links
No, we are not talking about Bigfoot. Links are connections from another website to your website. We are branching into another type of SEO here – off-page SEO because we are looking at SEO processes that happen “off” your written page. Links tell the search engine crawlers that your page has merit. Each link from another webpage to your webpage is a “vote of confidence” in your webpage. If the page linking to your page has a higher PageRank than your page, that vote has more importance and carries more weight. PageRank, named after Larry Page, one of the founders of Google, is an important ranking factor:
“PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites.”
The on-page work that we talked about in the first section is just part of the SEO path to success. Even if a page has unique content and is fully optimized, you are not guaranteed a high PageRank. To get the SEO success that you want, you need to create incoming links from pages, hoping that most of them have a higher PageRank. But you will want to make sure that the links that you get benefit your site. You don’t want to join “Link exchanges” where you give a link to a website in exchange for getting a link from a website because your net result is zero and if you happen to link to a website that has been blacklisted by Google or placed in a “sandbox” your site is also subject to a major penalty. And whatever you do, never spam links to your website in the comment section of another site’s blog post. It looks bad for your site. Almost no one follows the link back to your site, and you don’t want the traffic from the people that do. Search engines seriously look down on this process. Just don’t do it.
We don’t want to scare you, but we have spent countless hours cleaning up SEO messes caused by these practices. There are some things that you can do to help your PageRank through external linking. You can create content and post it on “online directories.” You can write articles and send them to content aggregators in your industry. You can post in related forums – again, not spam, but post content answering questions posed in the forum. You can even reach out to friendly webmasters and offer guest posts of your content on their site. The most foremost thing to remember is if you create great and unique content, people are going to want to link to it.
Websites Use Anchor Text with Improper Footing
We talked about how critical incoming links from external sources are for your SEO strategy, but something equally as important is how those external links anchor to your page. The link should be relevant all the way through. The website that you link from should have content related to the content on your page or should be industry-related. The words that you attach that link to on your page should be keywords that you are trying to rank for on your page or related to the title of your page.
For example, our agency offers SEO services in the greater Houston area. We would link from other pages that talk about SEO techniques, changes in the Google algorithm, or link to a Wikipedia page that talks about PageRank. (We chose wiki because it is a Web 2.0 property that has a relatively high PageRank.)
Getting links from a site talking about TV sales on Black Friday would do nothing for us. People coming from that link would wonder why they landed on a page about SEO mistakes. The crawlers would see a disconnect between our content and their content would not give our page a boost even if their page had a higher PageRank. The time and effort in building the link would be wasted. Use logic when looking for and utilizing links from other pages.
Websites Get Lost in the Internal Link Maze
When we were talking about external links, we bet you wondered if something like “internal links” existed. The short answer is: “Yes, they do.” Internal links are links that go from page to page within your website. These links help your on-page SEO, but only when utilized effectively. The anchor text linking to other pages on your site should be related to the targeted page, and the relevant title tag must be filled in for each link.
The written copy on the page should also match the keywords on that target page. You will not get the benefit of PageRank with internal links, but proper connections will help get your pages indexed faster and help build your authority in your business space. The more relevant written content you have about a subject, the more views you will get.
Higher views and engagement tell the search engines that you are delivering meaningful content, and they will show your content to more people. This will, in turn, boost your PageRank and cement your authority. But none of this happens overnight. Just make sure your connections are tight.
Business Owners Lack Patience when it comes to SEO
“All you need is patience. Yeah, Yeah.” Sure, we definitely dated ourselves here, but Alex Rose’s words speak volumes about the SEO process. Search Engine Optimization does not happen overnight. SEO is an ever-changing process that requires testing, ongoing competitive analysis, and onsite tweaks to your website.
For search engine optimization to work, you need to produce unique content, check it, make sure gets indexed, check rankings, see what your completion is doing so that you can overcome their process, and several other things that we won’t list here. SEO is not static. It is not something that is done once and forgotten, and there is no peak SEO-optimized site.
Even if you were able to do everything right and get your website to the top of the SERPs for a critical keyword, without additional work, it will not stay there. Search engines are continually coming out with new ways to rank and rate websites, and once you reach number one, your completion will be gunning for your top spot. You will always need new content external links, and “cutting-edge” strategies to “win” at SEO. You will not get there overnight or in a week or quite possibly in a few months, but if you see it through with an SEO agency that understands what it takes to be successful, you will get to the top and most likely stay there. “Yeah…Yeah”
Picking the Right Keywords
Before you choose the keywords that you want to rank for, you need to do a lot of research. You should pick your keywords based on what your audience is searching for to find your products or services and not the keywords you “think” they are using. How do you find these keywords? There are plenty of keyword tools that you can use online. Google provides one tool that is used by many SEOs, Google Ads Keyword Planner, or if you want to use another keyword tool our favorite is SemRush.
These tools are mostly used in the Pay Per Click service space but feature prominently in the SEO space because they provide the monthly search volumes for keywords and related keywords. There is a monthly cost to get exact data from these tools, but it is better to pay this cost upfront for the tool instead of later on when you rank for keywords that no one uses to search. From these tools, you will get an upper limit for the keywords for which you can rank. Some keywords will be out of your reach because they are highly competitive and there is a lot of content already created for those terms.
You will rank for other keywords easily, but these keywords have low search volumes and little competition because they provide little return from SEO efforts. You will want to pick keywords that have “medium” to “medium-high” search volume to get the best performance from your list, and you will want to spread the keywords that you pick liberally over your page and other content pages to ensure that your content gets seen by your audience. You want to be specific to your offerings, but also expansive enough to capture those leads.
Keyword Stuffing - Just Don't Do It
Let’s qualify what we said about being liberal with your keywords on-page. If you are a dentist, you do not want every one of your pages to have “dentist” in the title, page description, or meta tags. You lose the effect that you are going for and, the search engines think that you are spamming content. Instead, pull from your list of keywords with “medium” to “medium-high” monthly search volumes and limit your on-page content to a single keyword phrase like “best dentist Houston” or “dental cleanings near me” or “emergency crown service.” You will want to create content and pages around keywords with buyer intent and for services that give you the best revenue relative to your SEO efforts. This is a more advanced SEO process, but we threw it in for free.
There are plenty of SEO mistakes that our clients make on a daily or even monthly basis, but these eight mistakes are the ones that stick out the most. If you see yourself making these mistakes and would like guidance on how you can avoid these mistakes going forward or if you are looking for a team of SEO experts to help you grow your business organically, contact us today. We would love to help you with your SEO strategy.