These days, a website’s success depends largely on how it ranks within a search engine – and that’s why Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is so important. But SEO can be a tricky thing to master. There’s so much to consider and remember, and if you get it wrong, your website’s Google ranking (and subsequent traffic) could suffer.
There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there about what to do (and what not to do) when it comes to SEO. So let’s take a look at three common SEO mistakes you might be making, and consider how to avoid them.
1. Creating duplicate content, or content that’s lacking in detail.
This is a big one. You might think that the more times certain content appears on your website, the more Google will pick it up, right? Well, that’s not the case. In fact, the more you do this, the more you risk facing automatic Google penalties and disadvantages.
Here’s how it works. Whenever you create duplicate content on your site – whether this is duplicating your own content, or the content of other websites – Google basically starts to ignore you. (Which, of course, is the opposite of what you want!)
Furthermore, when you create ‘thin’ content – that is, content lacking in detail, external links, or validated sources – you’re deemed similarly irrelevant in Google’s eyes. This means it’s not effective for you to pump out lots of short, overly simple content in an attempt to boost your SEO scores.
Luckily, there’s a fix for this easy-to-make mistake: simply focus on producing quality content. Most article-style content that ranks highly on Google is original, detailed and fleshed out (preferably over 2000 words); it also cites sources and utilises external links. If you ensure the majority of your content follows these guidelines, you’ll set yourself up for SEO success.
2. Using spammy links.
This is another hugely common mistake made by SEO hopefuls. A spammy link is a link to your site that’s posted in multiple other places in an unnatural, irrelevant or clearly paid-for manner. Spammy links even refer to things like sponsored posts if they contain low-quality content as a vessel for questionable backlinks.
Link farms, ‘ghost blogs’ and other exact-match domain names are other unnatural ways of implementing links. While these might once have fooled Google into upping site rankings, the truth of the matter is this: Google is a lot smarter these days. It recognises all different kinds of spammy links much more easily and no longer allows them to influence search engine results pages.
To ensure you aren’t making the mistake of link spamming, focus on developing an SEO strategy that revolves around high-quality content. By quality, we mean in-depth articles like the ones we mentioned above, and other shareable things like infographics. This sort of truly valuable and useful content will generate organic links to your site – which is what Google really likes.
3. Packing in too many obvious SEO keywords.
Making this mistake can put you in virtually the same category as the link spammers we mentioned above. While it is important to use pertinent SEO keywords throughout your online content, it’s equally vital not to overuse them.
When you start packing as many keywords as possible, without bothering to make your copy flow naturally, spam alarm bells start ringing in readers’ minds. Your content begins to sound forced and you’ll quickly lose readers.
To combat the urge to overuse the same keywords, keep in mind that Google’s Latent Semantic Indexing can recognise similarities in phrases as well as repeated keywords. It will pick up on the topic you’re talking about more easily than you might think! So there’s no need to cram in the exact same keywords again and again.
Instead, choose a few important keywords that you can work in as naturally as possible, and focus on making your content as in-depth, detailed and relevant as possible to your intended audience. Your search rankings will reap the results.
If you stay on your guard and watch out for these three common mistakes, your SEO strategy will improve out of sight. Take our tips on avoiding SEO missteps, and check out a resource such as Google’s SEO Starter Guide, and you’ll be a search engine favourite in no time!