When it comes to web design and SEO, it’s important to recognise that the industry has changed a lot over the years. Many of the techniques and strategies which were once considered standard practice can now result in your website receiving a penalty and a loss in rankings. Unfortunately most people who use these techniques are doing so without being aware of the risks and consequences. To help you avoid falling into this trap, we’ve collated 5 of the most common SEO mistakes which we think you should avoid.
Buying Backlinks And Spamming Links
Whilst it’s true that backlinks are still considered a strong ranking factor for SEO, it’s important to realise that it’s their quality rather than quantity which matters. Having fewer genuine backlinks from high quality websites will have a bigger impact on your rankings than lots of spammy links from low quality websites. In fact, search engines have been clamping down on spammy links and have issued penalties to websites which they feel are abusing them.
In addition to spammy links, one of the cardinal sins of search engine optimisation is buying backlinks from unnatural sources. This may seem like an easy way to give your website a quick boost, but you can be guaranteed that it’ll backfire on you in the long run. There have been countless cases of companies who have bought links in the past only to be rewarded with a penalty and a huge loss in rankings, and while it’s not impossible to recover your search engine rankings if you are penalised, it is difficult and can be costly.
The bottom line when it comes to backlinks is to stick to the au natural route, and remember, if you’re creating quality and useful content people will naturally want to share it.
Another big mistake to steer clear of is duplicate content. Chances are if you’ve heard of Google’s Panda algorithm update then you know what I’m talking about, but if you haven’t, most search engines nowadays look at duplicate content as a negative ranking signal and may classify a website as “low quality” as a result. If you’re wondering what defines duplicate content, it essentially refers to any two or more pages which share the same content. This content can be an identical duplicate, i.e. word for word, or a near duplicate which has small differences. It’s also worth noting that duplicate content can be identified across multiple pages on the same domain as well as across separate domains.
Pro Tip: If you do have content or pages which appear in more than one location it may be a good idea to make use of the canonical tag (<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/original-page"/>). For more info regarding the canonical tag please click here.
Keyword Density, and keyword stuffing, is an SEO myth which has been around for almost as long as the web itself. The idea behind keyword density is that search engines put significant relevancy on the number of keywords on a page divided by the total word count. This myth is constantly being debunked, however it still remains a prominent SEO strategy throughout some circles and plugins. Now it is true that keywords do play an important role within SEO, and it’s probably a wise idea to include them (when appropriate) within your title, description and content, but focusing too much on their repetition will just hinder your content’s readability and overall quality. Obtaining a genuine backlink from a quality source as a result of good content is much more valuable to your rankings than cramming an extra 5 keywords into your text.
Low Quality Content
Another common SEO mistake which we see all too often is low quality, or “thin”, content. As you’ve probably already gathered, Google is obsessed with improving the quality of their search results and one way they’re achieving this is through the use of their Panda algorithm update which we’ve previously mentioned. As well as looking for duplicate content, the Panda update also looks for and penalises low quality and “thin” content which provides little or no value to it’s readers. A sure fire way to avoid this is to make sure you write content which is useful and appealing to your audience. A good way to gauge the quality of your website’s content is to measure your users satisfaction and engagement level. If your users are spending a significant amount of time on your website that’s often a good sign that your content is of good quality.
Pro Tip: Avoid using cheap copywriters and article spinners.
Forgetting To Track Your Progress
The final SEO mistake which many seem to make is forgetting to track your websites progress. If you’re serious about optimising your website and improving its rankings then you need to be regularly monitoring its performance. Making changes to your website without tracking the effect is a big mistake. It’s important to know which techniques are working so you can hone in on them and also which techniques aren’t so you can react to any issues which may occur. Two of the main website tracking tools, which are also free, are Google Analytics and Google Search Console (A.K.A Webmaster Tools). There are other tools out there, some of which you need to pay for, but the two we’ve just mentioned are a great place to get started.
To sum up, the five SEO mistakes we’ve mentioned above are by no means the only ones out there, but they are the one’s which we feel are widespread. To be successful in SEO, and to get your website climbing the ranks within the search engines, you need to keep it up to date and relevant, and be aware of new algorithm updates as they happen.