Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of getting a website to rank higher in search engines, therefore increasing its visibility to potential customers. The ultimate goal of this digital marketing practice is to increase both the quality and quantity of traffic on web pages.
SEO may feel like a daunting task for any business owner, especially those just starting to learn and play around with it. The reality is, SEO doesn't have to be a difficult or time-consuming process, it can actually be quite fun- if you avoid these 4 common SEO mistakes.
1) Duplicate Content
One of the most common SEO mistakes is having duplicate content on your website. This happens when you have multiple pages on your site with very similar or identical content. This can cause Google to rank your site lower because search engine crawlers view these pages as being unoriginal and not of value to users.
To avoid this, make sure all of your website content is original and of high quality. You can do this by writing fresh, new content on a regular basis, and by double-checking your work before publishing to ensure it's not too similar to other pages on your site.
Duplicate title tags
This happens when you have multiple pages on your website with the same title tag. Talk to your developer to make sure they've put in unique title tags for every page on your site.
Duplicate meta descriptions
This happens when one or more pages on your website have identical meta descriptions. While it can feel like a chore to craft a unique and compelling meta description for each web page, it's well worth the time invested. Just check out our blog here for some basic tips on writing effective meta descriptions.
Duplicate web page copy
This happens when you have the same written content within pages of your website. This may be less likely to happen compared to a duplicate title tag or meta description, but it's always important to make sure every web page is written in a unique and SEO-friendly way.
The bottom line: be original, and always check your work.
How to avoid duplicate content
Make sure you or your developer create unique SEO title tags and meta descriptions for every page on your site. Write unique web page copy for all of your pages, and always always double-check your work before publishing.
No matter how careful you are, mistakes happen. This is especially true when it comes to SEO, where even the slightest mistake can have a significant impact on your rankings. Remember to go easy on yourself, and not stress too much when this happens. Take a look at the error, make the correction, and continue to use SEO best practices as you move forward.
2) Missing Attributes
Another common SEO mistake is having missing attributes within your website. Attributes are written pieces of information that tell search engines what a particular page is about. If your site has missing attributes, your pages may not rank as high as they could.
Common examples of missing attributes
Missing alt text
Using alt text on images is one of the most basic yet important SEO practices. Alt attributes (alt text) tell search engines what your website's images are of, and help crawlers better understand your content and rank it accordingly in search engine results. When alt text is missing, search engine crawlers can't understand your content as well, which can damage the rankings for your website. For accessibility purposes, not having alt text can make your images inaccessible to people who are visually impaired.
Bad for search engine crawlers and user experience, missing alt text is never a good thing. To avoid this, make sure to always use descriptive alt text on all of the images on your site!
Missing meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are the short snippets of text that appear under your webpage's title in the search engine results. Meta descriptions are important because they help users understand what your landing page is about, and if it will answer their search query. Ultimately, meta descriptions have a large weight when it comes to users deciding whether or not to click on your link.
If your meta description is missing, Google will automatically pull random text from your website to fill that space in search results. This can cause confusion for users if the meta description Google writes is not an accurate representation of what your content is about, which can negatively impact your rankings. To avoid this, make sure to always include a descriptive and enticing meta description on all of your pages!
A note on meta descriptions: It's important to note that even if all of your web pages have optimized meta descriptions, Google will sometimes still rewrite your meta description for you in search results. Don't panic if you see this happen, it's actually more common than you may think. Read more about the shifting importance of meta descriptions in our recent blog post here.
Missing title tags (h1s, h2s, h3s)
A title tag is the text that appears throughout a webpage's content that serves as a title to break up the text. Title tags help guide search engine crawlers and users through your content and make it easier for them to understand. Title tags are encouraged for user experience, because let's be honest- who wants to read a 2,500-word blog post with no breaks between sections? They help users skim your content, find exactly what they're looking for, and leave your page satisfied. If they are missing, or if not properly formatted, your page may be ranked lower due to poor UX. To avoid this, make sure to use descriptive and SEO-friendly title tags (h1, h2, h3)s on all of your pages.
3) Keyword Stuffing
Keyword research is great, but the balance between the right amount of keyword optimization and giving a positive user experience is somewhat of a Goldilocks situation. Keyword stuffing is a frowned-upon SEO practice that can have lasting negative effects on your website traffic and credibility.
What is keyword stuffing?
Keyword stuffing is a black-hat SEO technique that involves using SEO keywords excessively on a page or across a website. The idea is that if you cram enough high-traffic keywords into your page multiple times, Google will rank it higher. Oh, if it were only this easy. The reality is, keyword stuffing can actually hurt your SEO rankings, as well as your user's experience.
How do I avoid accidentally keyword stuffing?
The best way to avoid accidentally keyword stuffing is to use SEO keywords naturally throughout your content. Don't force them in where they don't belong. Writing for the user-first rather than the search engine crawler is your best bet. Keep the keywords you've researched in mind, and implement them naturally throughout the content. You'll know you're keyword stuffing when the content is unnatural to read and seems forced.
4) Broken Links
Last but certainly not least, broken links are a common- yet easily preventable- SEO mistake that can hurt your website's ranking in search results. Broken links occur when existing internal or external link destinations on a web page have changed without a redirect put in place, or when the page they lead to has been removed. They are harmful to SEO, but can be easily fixed if you know what you're looking for.
How do I know if I have broken links on my site?
The best way to find out if you have any broken links on your website is to run a site audit. There are hundreds of SEO tools and extensions available on the internet to run a website audit for your site and check for technical SEO errors. Our personal favorite here at Eternity is Semrush. Semrush audits clearly break down the errors in your website by the level of urgency. Issues that fall under the category of needing immediate attention are noted as "errors", followed by "warnings" and finally "notices". Broken links would fall under the "errors" category, and Semrush actually explains exactly how to fix them.
Broken internal links
Broken internal links are just what they sound like- links within your website that are no longer working. This could be because the link's destination page has been deleted, or because the URL has been changed by your developer without a redirect being put in place.
Broken external links
Broken external links are links that go from your website to other websites on the internet. If the external link is no longer valid, it leads the user to a 404 page, damaging the user experience and hurting your SEO rankings.
How to fix broken links?
Redirects are the best way to fix broken links. We recommend implementing a 301 redirect for any page that no longer exists, or if you have made URL changes to your website. Implementing a redirect means having your developer go into the code of your site, and telling it to go to a new destination when someone tries to access a broken URL. Once you've confirmed all broken links have been fixed, run another SEO audit to ensure none of your SEO rankings were affected by the broken link issue.
These common SEO mistakes are easy to miss when you don't know what you're looking for. That's why doing your research is essential before going in and making changes to your website's SEO.
Even with the basics under your belt, there is always more to be improved upon when it comes to effective Search Engine Optimization. That's why working with an experienced SEO specialist or digital marketing agency is a wise choice if you're looking to truly improve your search rankings and conversion rates.
Let's Work Together
Whether you're dealing with broken links, keyword stuffing, or a lack of Search Engine Optimization in general- we've got your back. Our team at Eternity has the experience and know-how for any SEO (and digital marketing) problem that may arise for your business. Say hello today!