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5 Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

Every business owner understands the value of search engine optimisation.
Ranking for competitive keywords attracts highly targeted visitors who are actively searching for the products or services that your business offers. This type of traffic tends to convert far better than other channels such as social media and even pay per click advertising.

But the search industry is constantly changing and evolving. Google alone changes its algorithm 500 to 600 times a year.

Practices that were once effective could now result in a ranking penalty and violating any of Google’s Quality Guidelines could get your site completely removed from the search index. Separating fact from fiction is absolutely essential as any missteps can get your site penalised. So it is better to start your campaign with a strong understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

Here we look at some of the most common SEO mistakes and how to fix them.

1. Blocking All Web Crawlers

One common SEO mistake is blocking web crawlers from finding and indexing your content. The robots.txt is the file that gives instructions to search engines on how to crawl and index your site. If you see the following in your robots.txt file, you are blocking access:

Blocking All Web Crawlers

You can learn more robots.txt here. If your site is not getting any traffic at all, it could be because search engines are unable to crawl it. Double check your robots.txt and make sure that it is not blocking access.

2. Considering SEO After a New Website Build

SEO is most effective when it is planned right from the start.

This means ensuring a proper site structure, search engine friendly URLs, a mobile friendly design, and fast loading times. Implementing each of these is far easier with a new website build than with an existing site. If you are investing in a new site for your business, be sure to consider and budget for SEO.

3. Skipping Keyword Research

Keyword research is one of the most important aspects of SEO. You need to target the right keywords or your campaign will fail to gain any traction. Use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to see traffic estimates and get additional keyword ideas.

kayword planner

Ideally you want to target keywords that have a decent amount of traffic with low competition. If your site is still relatively new, focus on long tail keywords as these easier to rank for and have better conversions.

4. Keyword Stuffing

One practice that was common and quite effective was optimising a post by including as many keywords as possible. Matt Cutts (former head of Google’s webspam team) warned against keyword stuffing years ago. It offers little value to your readers and will only get your site penalised sooner or later.

Instead, focus on providing engaging content that actually provides value to your audience.

5. Having Duplicate Content

The Panda update penalises low quality sites that provide little value.

Even a few pages of scraped or duplicate content is enough to result in a ranking penalty.

If you have any pages with duplicate content, take steps to either remove them or have them completely rewritten. The same goes for any title tags or meta descriptions that are duplicated. Go through each of your pages and note down the meta tags in a spreadsheet. Alternatively, you can use a tool such as Screaming Frog to identify instances of duplicate content and other issues that need to be addressed.

SEO is a vast field that is constantly changing. There are many other mistakes that could be sabotaging your rankings but these are the most common ones.