Achieve SEO Success: 15 Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

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Practically every business owner wants more, relevant traffic visiting their website. Of course, there are several marketing methods that can be used to do this, from paid ads to driving traffic through well-planned social media campaigns.

Yet few options compare to SEO when it comes to bringing a stream of high-volume, sustained traffic to your site.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through 15 common mistakes that businesses make when they’re optimizing their websites for search engines. But most importantly, we’ll tell you exactly how you can avoid making these SEO mistakes for your own website.

Want more traffic to your site? Then read on…

What Is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization – it’s the act of optimizing your website to appear higher up on search engine search results. This is usually done through a mix of widely accepted techniques, from improving user experience to publishing regular, relevant content.

From searching for local businesses to finding something to entertain us, we have all used search engines to find the things we need. This is why it’s a powerful marketing tool. SEO helps businesses drive traffic from those who are interested in the products and services they offer.

Below we use an online baked goods company as an example – let’s call it The Happy Baker.

The Happy Baker creates a website to sell its delicious baked goods. As part of its SEO strategy it optimizes its website for the search term: 

“doughnuts delivered in New York”

They did a great job at SEO, so now whenever someone Googles “doughnuts delivered in New York”, they appear at the top of the search page. This drives hyper-relevant traffic to their website which results in multiple sales every day. 

But why does being at the top matter?

Well, because stats suggest that on average the top result receives a massive 27% click through rate…and 75% of searchers never scroll past the first page of results!

15 Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid

It’s clear that good SEO can make a huge difference to your online business. Now we’re going to walk you through 15 common SEO mistakes to avoid, and give you some actionable tips on how to steer clear of these SEO errors.

#1. No SEO Strategy

It might seem like a silly question. Yet if you fail to be specific about your marketing goals, it will be impossible to ever achieve them.

Your goal might be something as simple as “sell 100 more doughnuts every week” or “get 50 more inquiries each month.” Once you have an endpoint in mind, it becomes possible to create a strategy for achieving it.

Set your strategy first, before you begin any other SEO. This will ensure that you only ever invest time and effort in doing things that will truly have a positive impact on your business.

Your SEO strategy will detail everything you plan to do to achieve your end goal. This is likely to be a mix of tactics. Your strategy can also be used to forward plan time investment and responsibilities – offering you an easy-to-reference document that can be used to ensure you are always heading in the right direction.

Advice From Expert Mordy Oberstein

It’s very easy for SEOs to get lost in search volume and keyword difficulty, those kinds of metrics, without thinking about the business goals behind the keywords. But I think for the average site owner, getting too focused on the tools is a bad thing.

Graphic of three stripes and photo of Mordy on top
Mordy Oberstein Head of SEO Branding at Wix

Mordy Oberstein is Head of SEO and Branding at Wix, the popular website builder. With a wealth of experience under his belt, including 2 years at Semrush, 5 years at Rank Ranger, and 3 years at Wix, Mordy is an expert in the SEO community. We were lucky enough to sit down with Mordy and learn more about his work and his thoughts on SEO - you can ready the full interview below!

Full Interview With Mordy Oberstein

Mordy sat down with our writer Jac to discuss all things SEO, from his day-to-day at Wix, whether you need an SEO gteam to rank well, thoughts on AI writers and SEO, and tips on ranking.

#2. Slow Site Speed

We’ve all been there…

You open a website hoping to find some useful information, or perhaps even hoping to make a purchase. One second passes… two seconds… three… four… the website takes forever to load. So, you lose interest, close it and look elsewhere.

Slow site speeds won’t just frustrate users, many experts claim that it can also negatively impact how well your site will perform on search engine rankings.

Many factors can impact your website load times. However, some of the easiest to change include moving your website to a faster server, compressing file sizes (such as images), and removing unnecessary plug-ins from your website.

#3. Targeting the Wrong Keywords

Getting loads of website visitors might make you feel good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean anything positive for your business unless those visitors have an actual want or need for the product or service you offer.

This is why finding the right keywords to target is crucial to SEO success. The right keywords for your business will not only drive traffic but also include buyer intent. For example, someone searching “how to make doughnuts” is likely to be much less valuable to an online baked goods company than someone searching “doughnut delivery.”

We also interviewed Mordy Oberstein, the head of Wix SEO who talked about it being easy to become wrapped up in search volume and keyword difficulty metrics – and instead to focus on the business goals behind the keywords.

Make keyword research a key element in your creating your SEO strategy. You can use free tools like Google Keyword Planner to find keywords that are both relevant to your brand and have high search volumes.
google keyword planner
Google Keyword Planner offers you lots of insights into your keywords.

#4. Duplicate Content

Duplicating is not only unoriginal, but it can also impact how favorably search engines view your website. This is true whether you duplicate content from another site, or use your own content in multiple locations.

Repeat content is seen by search engines as creating a poor user experience.

Although it is fine to use other content as inspiration, it is crucial to ensure that your content is original. You can use free tools such as Dupli Checker to check your content for potential plagiarism.
dupli checker
Ensure you aren't publishing duplicated content with online checkers.

#5. Forgetting Meta Descriptions and Alt Tags

Meta descriptions and alt tags are an important part of telling search engines what your content is all about. Although search engines will typically assess your content in its entirety, your meta description and alt tags will make it clear what the key themes of your content are, making it easier to rank you for the right terms.

It’s simple. Remember to add a meta description and alt tags to each web page and blog post you create.

#6. No Linking Structure

Internal linking helps search engines like Google understand how your website is structured. By giving them a clear picture of the hierarchy of your site, it allows search engines to place importance on the most crucial pages.

For example, “The Happy Baker” may have one key page that is used to give information on its delicious doughnuts and allows customers to buy online. The website may also have a blog, where content is published around all things baking.

Ensuring that as many of these blog posts naturally link to the key doughnut page as possible will show search engines that this page comes high up in the hierarchy of your site.

Make a note of the most important pages on your website. Then, every time you publish a new piece of content, set a reminder to review that content and add links to the important pages where it is natural to do so.

#7. Forgetting To Optimize for Mobile

It is estimated that a massive 59% of all internet traffic came from mobile devices in 2022. This goes to show just how important it is to make your site work well on mobile.

Search engines also understand this importance and will penalize websites that don’t perform well when viewed on mobile. In practice, this means that when a user views your site via their mobile device it must look great and be easy to use.

Many platforms such as Wix and Shopify allow you to test your website on mobile before going live. Use this functionality to avoid making common mobile SEO mistakes such as creating buttons that can’t be clicked or using images that don’t fit on the screen.
WIX mobile view
Wix offers a simple way to check how your website looks on mobile.

#8. Not Utilizing Analytics

Website analytics can tell us a huge amount about the site itself, our business, and our customers. They are also really useful in helping us make SEO decisions, especially in the case of search dedicated analytics platforms such as Google Search Console.

These platforms can tell us key information on important SEO aspects of your site such as:

  • Which keywords you are ranking for
  • Mobile usability
  • Top linking sites
  • Site maps
Set a reminder to periodically check your Google Search Console and other analytic platforms to ensure you are making the best decisions in your pursuit of better search engine rankings.
google search console
Google Search Console provides you with lots of helpful data on your search performance.

#9. Making Things Difficult for Crawlers

Making it easy for search engines like Google to crawl your site will help boost your rankings. After all, if they can’t easily crawl your site then they cannot tell where to rank you – so are likely not to rank you at all. In short, if Google’s crawlers can’t index your webpages, then your website is basically invisible, and you won’t show up in search engine results.

Googlebots crawl your website following hyperlinks to discover new content, and it then adds these new pages to its index. If you’re not in Google’s index, you’re not in with a chance of being listed in search results. That’s why it’s so important to create pages that are easily crawled by Google!

You can request indexing via Google Console, which is a good idea when you’ve published new pages to your site.

Ways you can make your pages easier for crawling include:

  • Consistent internal linking between relevant pages
  • Adding pages to your sitemap
  • Building links from other, high-quality sites into your pages (called “backlinks”)
  • Avoiding duplicate content
You can make it easy for search engines like Google to crawl your site by ensuring you use proper site architecture and by submitting a sitemap via Google Search Console.

#10. Faulty Redirects

“404 ERROR”

We all hate to see these words, including search engines.

Faulty redirects are where a link, often connected to anchor text on a website, leads to nowhere. This creates a bad user experience and therefore leads to websites being penalized by search engines.

Google Search Console comes to the rescue again. Simply visit your console and run the “crawl error report” to find any faulty redirects on your site, then go in and fix them.

#11. No Location-Specific Pages

Location-specific pages are incredibly important if you run a business that targets specific geographical areas. This is because they will help you appear in searches for those looking for your products and services in those specific areas.

For example, The Happy Baker may benefit from creating a page that is focused on keywords such as “buy doughnuts in New York” and “New York doughnut delivery.”

Consider the main areas where your customers are based and create pages that target those locations.

#12. Lack of Optimized Title Tags

Your title tag is simply the headline that shows up for your page on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). This headline is what both search engines and visitors will see as the title for your content – so it is really important to optimize it.

Here are some key pointers to help you do this:

  • Keep it concise (50-60 characters)
  • Make it descriptive of the content on the page (keep it relevant)
  • Include the keywords your page is targeting, with the most important one at the beginning
  • Ensure it is unique
  • Write it in a way that is easy to read and enticing to click on
Google results page for search term "image optimization guide" showing four page results
The blue linked headings are the title tags - you can see why it's so important to optimize yours so that searches will click on your page rather than any of the other results!

When you neglect to optimize your title tags you are missing a big opportunity to boost your pages search engine performance and could result in lower rankings and click through rates.

Consider your title tag as a headline to an ad for your content. Tell them what it is, why they should click, and get them excited about what the page contains.

#13. Overlooking Image Optimization

Website images are often overlooked as an important part of SEO. Yet your image descriptions and keywords can provide additional context and drastically improve your search engine rankings.

Here are some ways to avoid this mistake:

  • Optimize your file names using descriptive keywords to help search engines understand the content of the image
  • Use alt tags to provide an alternative text description for visually impaired users (this is also used by search engine crawlers)
  • Reduce image file sizes to reduce load time, you can use a free online image compressor
Ensure your images are optimized. This can give you a competitive edge over those targeting the same keywords.

Find Out More

#14 Neglecting User Intent and Search Intent Optimization

Creating content which perfectly meets the needs of your users will help you drive more traffic from search engines. To do this you will need to understand the types of intent that a searcher might have. These are typically categorized like this:

  • Informational intent – when a searcher is seeking out specific information, answers, or knowledge about a particular topic or query.
  • Navigational intent – when a searcher is looking for a specific website, brand, or online destination.
  • Transactional intent – when the searcher is ready to complete a transaction or engage in a specific online activity such as making a purchase or signing up for a service.

When you understand intent, you can then create content which offers searchers exactly what they are looking for. This makes for a better user experience and helps increase authority with search engines.

When it comes to ranking well on search engines you should always be thinking about how you can best serve your visitors.

#15. Ignoring Backlink Quality and Relevancy

Backlinks are an important part of building your websites search engine rankings. However, focusing on quantity over quality can be a bad idea.

Instead work to build backlinks from high quality websites that are both authoritative and relevant to your own content. Why? Because this carries more weight with search engines like Google.

A diverse range of natural backlinks from these types of websites will help you drastically improve your domain authority, and your rankings. In contrast, you should avoid gaining backlinks from low-quality or spammy backlinks, as search engines may penalise your site for this.

You can use tools such a Moz’s free domain authority checker to identify the quality of a website.

SEO Mistakes to Avoid: Summary

SEO is a powerful tool. When a business is able to rank highly for key search terms which are relevant to its offering, it will benefit from high volumes of traffic with at least a certain level of buying intent.

Use the advice we have outlined in this guide to avoid some of the biggest SEO mistakes businesses make when trying to gain more traffic. All of this is especially important when doing a website update.

FAQs

It is simple, when your website performs better on search engines, you receive more traffic from them. This traffic can then be leveraged to generate more sales for your business. So, SEO = more profit.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the process of optimizing a website to increase the chances that it will appear at the top of search engine results. SEO can help businesses drive high volumes of relevant traffic to their site with no or very little financial investment.
There are countless mistakes that people make when conducting SEO for their websites. Some of the biggest include not optimizing files, not considering user experience, not targeting the right keywords, and failing to use the tools available to improve their chances of success.
The content of your website is a huge part of your SEO, so it needs to be good. Common mistakes include:

  • Not focussing on keywords enough – or keyword stuffing, which is just as bad!
  • Poor quality copy such as incorrect grammar and typos
  • Not delivering the answers your visitors want to find, or meandering on about unrelated topics
  • Linking out to spammy websites
  • Not structuring content properly using headings and paragraphs

The list goes on! The main thing to consider is, does your copy serve your visitors? Is it easy to read and understand, and does it clearly answer their search query for the keywords the page is targeting? Google cares about user experience, so if you do too, then you’re on the right track!

Written by:

I’m a content writer for Website Builder Expert. I’m a bit of a business and marketing nerd and love sharing my knowledge and experience to help others achieve their business goals.
From complex engineering and brewing to international events and brand design agencies, I’ve worked in marketing roles for well over 10 years now. During this time I developed a skill for turning complex (and occasionally dull) information into exciting, easy-to-understand, and actionable content. I also set up my own content marketing consultancy and launched my own ecommerce business on Shopify.

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