Search engines are smarter than ever at returning high-quality links to sites that deliver exactly what the user is searching for. Investing in SEO strategy is smart, but avoid these 12 mistakes so your optimization isn’t actually hurting your rankings.
Mistake #1: Choosing the Wrong Keywords
Too often websites target the keywords that they want to promote, rather than understanding what their target audience is looking for. Understand the keywords your audience is searching for to ensure you attract the audience you want.
Mistake #2: Keyword Stuffing Your Website
Once you’ve identified the right keywords, it can be tempting to cram them onto the page. Sacrificing quality in your content by stuffing your page with keywords is a sure way to get downranked by Google.
Mistake #3: Ignoring Meta Descriptions and Title Tags
The title tags and meta descriptions are what a search engine displays on the results page. Sure, the search engine is capable of generating them from the content on your page, but if you neglect these two tags, you’re missing a golden opportunity to grab your audience’s attention.
Mistake #4: Irrelevant Internal Linking
Link stuffing breaks up your content, and is just as bad for your ranking as keyword stuffing. Links should lead to relevant content, anchored with text that gives your audience a clear idea of what they will find at the end of the chain.
Example of Bad Internal Linking
Mistake #5: Having a Slow Website
A slow website kills your ranking in two ways. Google ranking takes into account the speed of your website and a website with a long load time is liable to have your audience bouncing rather than waiting for it to finish loading. Learn more about this in our article “Why website performance matters“.
Mistake #6: Ignoring Analytics
Google analytics tells you pretty much everything you need to know about your page, SEO strategy, and how well you are reaching your intended audience. Ignoring your audience will lose them in a hurry.
Mistake #7: Ignoring Content Quality
There is a longstanding debate about whether quality or quantity is more important. Yes, the more content you create, the more likely you are to get a hit. But if your content is rarely refreshed or you produce fluffy, repetitive content, your SEO strategy results will suffer.
Mistake #8: Not Optimizing Content Subheadings
When people read your page, they skim the headings to see what the page is about. Google does the same thing. Pay attention to those subheadings so the search engine knows what’s on your page and you get ranked higher.
Mistake #9: Using Free or Cheap Website Hosting
If your site’s IP address is associated with websites that are flagged as spam or poorly constructed it will hurt your ranking. Spending more money on your website hosting distances you from subpar sites and may boost your site’s performance.
Mistake #10: Not Using Alt Tags for Images
Many marketers forget about the images tab in Google, but your audience is searching for images. Using the alt tag in your images takes just a moment, and tells Google what your image is about.
Mistake #11: Not Fixing or Removing Broken Links
Think about your impression of a site after you click on a broken link. The lasting effect is that no one is updating your site. Google factors this in heavily. When links are broken, you will be downranked. If your site uses WordPress this plugin will monitor your blog looking for broken links and let you know if any are found.
Mistake #12: Writing Short Content
Short content is easier to generate, but longer content will rank higher, all other factors being equal. To figure out the perfect word count for your content, first ask yourself if you can write a long article while still maintaining a high standard of quality.