From time to time even the most accomplished SEO masters can slip up and make a few mistakes. This is to be expected – people are still human and there’s always a chance this will occur. But in order to minimise the potential of mistakes being made again, we thought it would be best to publish this quick five step lesson on what NOT to do when it comes to getting the Google Algorithm to pay attention to your site.
Most of our tips will revolve around linking, website design and the biggest no-nos in SEO, such as trying to buy links and cheat the system Google uses. There have been several famous examples of big media and news companies trying to do such sneaky manoeuvres in the past to get to the top of search engines, and the results for them were pretty disastrous. Read on to find out.
Mistake 1 – Low Quality Or Copy/Pasted Blog Content
Blogging and SEO make a really good team when it comes to generating traffic, but often people feel tempted to simply copy paste stuff from other sites for their blog. One of the easiest mistakes to make is forgetting that Google’s algorithm can find out instantly if your content is lifted from another better and more trusted source. Your content should always be unique, and if it has been scalped from another site it may leave your pages subject to penalisation by the Google system. There is little to no way to get around this because of course you are dealing with a system that is designed to spot keywords from the ground up.
Another aspect of content is that it can sometimes be lacking in style, substance and weight. Some sites put up huge paragraphs that say nothing useful to the reader, some opt to put up very little content at all – and both of these can often cause a drop in ranking. Remember for the best indexing potential with regards to content you’re going to want to put up dense, useful paragraphs which have links in them to other places.
Getting content right isn’t easy, but when it’s unique and interesting you are more likely to succeed with SEO. Marketers reported to Hubspot in 2018 that 55% of them prioritized blogging over everything else – and in 2019 the site reported that blogging can have a huge impact, potentially increasing return on investment by 13x. You can find these stats on this page.
Mistake 2 – Buying Links On The Cheap
This is a PSA: Good SEO blogs do not recommend buying links! Google will catch you and your website’s ranking will drop through the floor! Many have tried and failed.
Although the prospect of trying to ‘cheat the system’ for a small down payment seems tempting, the chances are your site will get caught out the moment Google spots those links have been purchased. The keyword scanning and website crawling abilities of the algorithm are really good at following where any link goes and taking note of the destination content. If the destination your new links head to is known to be involved with a link selling scheme, the system can find out fairly easily and issue a hard to remove penalty.
It doesn’t just stop at buying cheap links from shady sites though – according to Google’s own rules even the semi-legitimate practice of offering someone a product in exchange for a free review and a link back to the product maker’s site is considered a ‘link building scheme’. You can still get caught for this, and have your site penalised for doing so. Check out the full list of rules in the link above for more details on what the rules actually are.
Mistake 3 – Poor Quality, Few, Or No Links
The opposite of many paid links is the problem of having few or no links at all, or having a handful of links that are just downright bad. One of the biggest problems of building links is deciding where to link to and from – often for some SEO webmasters this can be a little daunting because of the prospect of accidentally linking to a competitor. A link from another page to your page is like a vote, according to this Hubspot article – the more votes you get the better your page will fare in search engine rankings.
Having a poor link can do even more damage than having terrible ones though – make sure you look where your links head to, and make sure the site you are linking to has all their bases covered. Do they have good credentials? Is the destination site’s SEO good or bad? Are their security measures in place? Would you yourself feel comfortable being linked out to this site? These factors can all be relevant. Linking to poor quality sites can have a negative effect on your site, so pay attention.
Lastly, don’t neglect internal links and adding categories which link to articles. These are your best bet to help Google flow through your site more easily on the internal end, and also improve the overall user experience. Make categories that make sense, but not too many, use hashtags on posts or your own internal categories, and above all, design an internal navigation system that makes things easier, not more complicated.
Mistake 4 – Bad Keyword Management
This one is sort of a no brainer – because Google searches work using keywords, it absolutely matters to have those keywords represented enough on your site. But don’t let that turn you into a keyword stuffing spammer who fills the page with the same keywords over and over and makes the site difficult if not impossible to read. This technique really doesn’t work.
Getting keywords right in SEO is part of what the pros do best. Embedding them in content and using them in unobtrusive ways is the best way to avoid costly mistakes for your site or brand. If you can create blog articles which incorporate keywords in well-written paragraphs as part of say, a list, you will do a lot better than smashing out 400 words with the same keywords represented in the messy text 10 times each.
A website that stuffs keywords also crosses into the uncanny valley of ‘fake or suspicious pages’ that the Google system frowns upon. As long as the end product LOOKS fishy, it probably will be marked as or given less of a priority. Legitimacy and content are the two best tools for keeping your status as a useful, well-made website.
Mistake 5 – Shoddy Website
Speaking of well-made websites, that’s actually one of the biggest mistakes to make sure you cover. Good SEO means good websites with good content and good formatting. Forget all the other advice out there you might see about ‘tricks for advanced SEO users’ – this is the foundation upon which both your company and website will be judged.
There are many factors that define if a website is good or bad, and the factors involved usually are to do with technology, usability, content and overall polish. Technology-wise, making sure the site’s protocols, coding and design are all up to date is a big factor, but a bigger factor is making sure it has a fast connection and runs well on all devices. Failure to do this can lead to search engine penalties.
As for the user experience the longer people stay on your site using it the better, as a rule of thumb. Many websites are too cluttered or ‘busy’ and some just plain don’t work. This feeds nicely into the next part, content and the site’s overall polish. You can attract users with good SEO but what’s the point if there are graphical errors, bugs, or just simply bad content.
How Do I Avoid Mistakes In The Future?
For our final rundown we’re going to compress the long content of this article into ten simple directives that you can try yourself right now. Hopefully through these ideas you can minimise those SEO mistakes.
- Don’t copy paste or cut corners with your web content.
- Make sure your content is as unique as possible.
- Avoid buying links or using link affiliate programs that attract unwanted attention.
- Use links that are relevant from trusted sources.
- Don’t leave pages isolated from the rest of the site – use internal links.
- Avoid leaving no external links on a page or article.
- Use plenty of keywords surrounded by content.
- Avoid stuffing pages with keywords and little content.
- Make sure your website is in top shape – for you and your users.
- Remember there are multiple platforms to view websites and make sure the site’s loading speed is adequate for each one.
If you need more hints and tips on web design, SEO, even more mistakes, or just need another primer on digital marketing in general – head over to Amazon and take a look at this blog’s companion book Digital Marketing For Professionals by Nick Bagga. As always, you can still contact us at the links above if you have any queries about our services and what we do.