5 Common SEO Mistakes You are Making & How to Avoid Them

Mistake in math on chalkboardSEO is a challenging world – no one actually knows the specific rule of the game.  Google has an incredibly complex algorithm composed of hundreds of factors that no one knows precisely.  But, people do have an idea of where the boundaries lie for various SEO techniques.

It’s hard to know exactly when you are making a mistake, but if you follow these guidelines, then you will be setting yourself up for long-term SEO success:

Keyword Research

It all starts here.  You can target long-tail or short-tail keywords, but you have to be aware of the reality of targeting either.  Long-tail keywords (3 words or longer) have lower competition, are easier to rank for, and can generate sales now.  Short-tail keywords (2 or less) are much harder to rank, convert at a lower rate, but could offer much higher overall sales.

The most common mistake we see for keyword research is focusing on terms that are too broad.  A wise approach is to mix and match the two strategies.

Home Page Copy Only Focused on SEO

If your home page exists solely to “increase rankings,” it might have too heavy a focus on SEO.  Ideally, the keywords are difficult to pick out.  If you have keywords every few sentences or so, bold them to help the search engines identify them, and cram them in every subheader, they’re probably being placed in at too high of density.

Instead, the home page copy should focus on what you can do for the customer, and the keywords should be placed in where they blend in well and sound very natural.

URL Structure

It’s fairly common to see e-commerce sites with URLs like this:  https://www.test.com/gp/product/B0010WP3KY/ref=s9_qpp_gw_p23_d29_ir05?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1TWFB5B

Yikes!  Google won’t be able to make any sense of that, and it won’t help your users either.  Instead, your e-commerce site should have URLs like this:  https://www.test.com/category/product-123/  Google likes these URLs much better than others and gives them preference in its rankings, and they help your visitors understand how to find your products too.

Low-Value Links

Links range in difficult to build from very easy to very hard.  Getting one link on a site like NYTimes.com can be equal in value to thousands of low-value links you can get by posting comments on people’s blogs, opening forum discussions, and posting to spammy web directories.

If you’re not sure how valuable the link you will be building is, simply ask yourself, “How much work did it take to get this link?”  The more work it takes, the more reward you can expect.

Failing to Update Your Site with New Content

Searchers want fresh, relevant content.  Google wants to stay in business, so its algorithm reflects this desire.  No matter what industry you are in, you should have a blog and make at least 1 update to it per week.  If you think your topic is boring, it’s not.  You have customers who already love your products and services, so keep telling them how your business can help them.

Avoid These Mistakes and You’ll be Okay!

As long as you are being honest and working hard, Google rewards your efforts.  But, it rewards some more than others.  That’s why it’s not a bad idea to hire a professional or firm to assist you in your efforts.  On your own, however, you can do some basic SEO.

Last Updated on December 8, 2013 by Dan Stelter

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