Top 5 SEO Mistakes

There are many mistakes one can make in Search Engine Optimization, but listed here in no particular order, are the top 5 SEO mistakes which you should generally try to avoid!

#1 – Not doing any SEO at all!

The days when you could just throw a basic web site online and then sit back while the world rushes to see what you are offering, credit cards at the ready, are unfortunately long gone. It was good while it lasted but if you missed out on the first internet gold rush, don’t worry, there’s still a lot of gold in them there hills. However, if you want to mine that gold with your web site you now need to work for it – you need to build a functionally and aesthetically pleasing site and the you need to make sure it can be found, which is where SEO comes in.

You can build the best site in the world but if it can’t be found in Google then it may as well not exist at all unless you only plan to buy traffic. The reality today is that there’s masses of competition online now and those that succeed are the ones which use every tool and trick at their disposal, while those that just build a nice site and then neglect to market it will ultimately fail. Not doing appropriate SEO is effectively leaving money on the table and nobody likes to do that!

#2 – No Backlinks

Backlinks are simply links to your site from other sites such as blogs, social networks, news sites etc. Many moons ago Google decided to make the number of backlinks a site has a critical factor in ranking. In other words for a site to rank high in Google (high enough for anyone to see it which effectively means page one or two at most), it needs to have backlinks and the number of backlinks it needs depends on a variety of factors including the amount of competition and the quality of the link. If your competitor has more backlinks then they will rank higher than you, all other factors being equal.

SEO is generally split into two sides – ‘on-page SEO’ and ‘off-page SEO’ with backlinking falling into the latter camp (mostly). So while not doing any SEO at all is the biggest mistake, only doing one side of the SEO, such as just on-page SEO is another terrible SEO mistake. Failure to acquire backlinks will result in your wonderful site dropping into obscurity unless you happen to be in a niche with absolutely no competition. To get started on the right track, pretty much everything you need to know about building backlinks can be found in this definitive guide.

#3 – No Internal Linking

While backlinking is of paramount importance in ranking a page or web site, it is also highly important and hugely beneficial to adequately interlink pages within your site. Make sure every page links to another page and every page is linked to from other pages so there are no orphan pages with no way to reach them. A comprehensive internal linking structure helps Googlebot and other spiders to easily find all pages on a site and also the structure can help indicate to Google which pages are more important, in a similar way to external backlinks. It is wise to carefully plan your internal site structure to maximize SEO impact.

#4 – Missing or Unfocused On-page SEO

On-page SEO, as mentioned above is one large part of the SEO pie and extremely important to do right. One of the important on-page tasks which needs to be done is the site and page titles which basically describe the content of a page. Even today you can find sites which have useless titles such as “Index” or “Homepage” instead of something descriptive like “Blue Widgets in Kathmandu”. Google and other search engines rely on properly descriptive titles (amongst many other datapoints such as description and of course body) to understand the meaning or content of a page and rank it appropriately. Think carefully about what each and every page contains, what its purpose and meaning is, and choose a suitably focused meta tags, titles & sub-titles etc.

# 5 – No Outreach

Outreach to influencers means basically connecting with people who are important or influential in your market, relevant people who have have large social followings on various networks or high traffic blogs or mailing lists. These are authorities in the field and a link from them can very quickly propel your site up the rankings as well as drive a load of relevant traffic directly. Remember though that when working on outreach and connecting with people, that what goes around, comes around and just doing it in a selfish way will not be too successful – why should an influencer link or respond to you? Make sure to give back, even if what you can give now is small because you simply don’t have much yet, it’s the thought (and the action) that counts. Also don’t just limit yourself to the big dogs because today’s newbie could be tomorrow’s influencer!

#6 – No Social Signals

Ok this is a controversial one, given that Google currently say that social signals are not a ranking factor, but that of course doesn’t rule it out in future. Today the online world is all about the social network – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, even Google’s own social network and many more, so it should be no surprise when search engines take note when a page or site is mentioned on a social network. Such mentions can be in the form of comments or Facebook likes, Twitter tweets or retweets, Google +1’s or any other. People actually talking about or recommending a site is potentially a signal that a site is worth ranking higher.

It is widely debated how much these social signals affect ranking now and as mentioned above, Google has previously made their position reasonably clear, but it is logical to assume they do have some effect and it is of increasing importance. The effect may not be direct at this stage but by building a strong social footprint you will acquire natural backlinks from people you engage with and who hear about your service on their social networks and then mention you in a blog post, these kind of editorial links are considered high quality so it is very worthwhile to plan ahead and engage people, your potential and actual customers, on all social platforms wherever they may be found.

Yes I know the title says 5 and there are actually 6 above but it’s always good to over-deliver! 😉

Got any other SEO mistakes you’d like to add to this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

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