7 common SEO mistakes that affect ranking scores

It’s 2019 and SEO continues to be a bug-bearer for a range of brands and businesses. With Google rankings and organic search an essential part of business for most companies, we highlighted the seven most common SEO mistakes that we’ve seen which can affect search engine rankings.

 

NOT ADDING FRESH, HIGH-QUALITY CONTENT

Blog posts are a great way to provide fresh content that hits your target keywords in a way that avoids duplicate content. This is a great SEO tool, ideal for showing search engines what you are an expert in.

 

If you’re an ice cream vendor, lots of blogs around ice cream and ice cream related keywords will tell Google and other search engines that you are an expert in this subject. Be tactical with your keywords and remember to define them before you start writing any content. Don’t use your keywords a lot, just use them well; in your headings, in your alt-tags, in your meta-description etc.

And don’t forget! Monitoring your blog content is key to good SEO. Remove any posts that aren’t getting great on-page stats and refresh, refresh, refresh! There’s no point ranking first for your keyword on a blog post but all the information you’ve shared is out of date. This just means more on-page experience which, you guessed it, will affect your SEO score as your bounce rate gets higher and people click straight off from your website.

 

YOUR KEYWORDS ARE OUT OF REACH

It’s good to aim high for keywords on your website but a key step in getting good SEO, and quality traffic, is to select realistic keywords.

seo keywords

 

There’s no point targeting key phrases that you won’t have a chance of ranking for. Competition is a key thing to consider when looking at your SEO strategy and it may just be the case that your website just isn’t “big” enough to compete. If your website doesn’t have strong authority (that’s basically Google points for how good your website is), then you’ll find it hard to compete.

If your website is brand new, be as niche as you can with your keywords – the more the better, actually! Some people recommend targeting five-word key phrases when you’re starting out. If you’re relevant in your niche but not really well known as a brand, then aim for four-word phrases. The bigger you get, the smaller your keyword phrases can be.

Just because your keywords are longer doesn’t mean they’re less valuable. In fact, you can often find high search volume phrases with very low competition if you take the time to understand your customer and strategize what they search for.

 

NOT INDEXING YOUR CONTENT

This isn’t really an SEO error, more a gentle reminder to check your pages. A no-index tag tells the search engine spiders crawling your website to ignore the particular page it’s on meaning it won’t show up to users when searching relevant keywords online.

Although it’s sometimes necessary to remove certain pages from search engines, always make sure to check your key pages for that pesky tag so you’re not shooting yourself in the foot before you’ve already begun.

 

DUPLICATING CONTENT

Duplicated content generally refers to large blocks of content across domains that are either exactly the same or very similar. If you have multiple pages trying to rank for the same content, this isn’t a good start to your SEO strategy. Instead, build strong, simple pages for each keyword you want to rank for. Your link equity will only suffer due to it being diluted between two or more pages.

duplication content affecting seo

 

According to SEMrush who studied over 100,000 websites, nearly 66 percent of tested websites had severe issues with duplicated content. Although duplicated content may not necessarily result in penalties from search engines to your website, having a clear and easily navigable website is paramount to success. If duplicated content can’t be removed, then make use of the canonical tag so you can point to which page is preferred for indexing. For anyone wondering, a canonical tag is a way to tell search engines that a specific URL is the master copy of a page i.e. the preferred version.

Don’t get duplicate content confused with regular blogs or insights. If you have a landing page on the ice cream flavours your business sells, that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about ice cream flavours anywhere else. Just make it the sub topic as we want the search engine to choose your product page as the top result when a user is searching online.

 

IGNORING YOUR ‘GOOGLE MY BUSINESS’ LISTING

One key SEO error we see time and again is not claiming or properly managing your Google My Business listings. Location searches are prime searches on Google and other search engines, so optimising your listing for those ‘near me’ searches is key.

Add as much info as you can along with images and encourage reviews – with map searches often showing in the famed position zero (that’s higher than the top spot above regular results), they’re prime real estate to be seen, and it’s free!

This is a great way to make it clear to Google what your niche is and what you want to be ranked for, all by telling the search engine more about your service or products. Correlate this listing to your website and you’re onto a winner.

 

USING LOW WORD COUNTS

While there isn’t really such thing as an optimal word count to hit on each of your pages, search engines need a good amount of copy to chew through and are looking for E-A-T (that’s Expertise, Authority and Trust in case you didn’t know).

The more text on the page, the easier it is for search engine crawlers to determine what the page is about. We always say 300 words as a bare minimum but if you can increase the amount of relevant text on your key pages, then do! We try to aim for 1,000 words, which is easy to read and easy to navigate through.

Take a look at some research done by Backlinko. They assessed over 1 million pieces of content to see whether short or long form content performs better. As you can see, on average, long-form content is shared much more than short-form.

word count affect on seo

 

Make sure to use headers (with your keywords and phrases included in them) and your text with other high-quality content like photos, videos and infographics. Using a mix of content correlates with higher rankings on Google, especially compared to short-form content.

 

NOT OPTIMISING YOUR WEBSITE

Another obvious SEO mistake, but it still happens! Your website needs to work and look great across every single device and every browser. Check resolutions and graphic sizes across as many device and browser combinations you can access. From there, ensure your loading time is lightning quick to avoid viewers clicking off before you’ve even had time to sell to them.

seo analytics dashboard

 

When people start pogo sticking off of your website, search engines take this as an indication of your website being no good – a big red flag! If your website isn’t user-friendly, your on-page stats are going to fall and as a consequence, so will your rankings. Put your user first in everything you do and ensure their experience on your website is the best it can be – your results will quickly change!

And there you have it, seven SEO mistakes to avoid in 2019. We’re sure these will continue to fluctuate as search engines continue to learn and adapt to weed out the high-quality content from the not-so-great content.

If you’re still not sure on where to get started with your SEO strategy or want to get a full audit on your rankings and how you can improve, contact our digital team for advice and support.

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