To help give your website a helpful traffic boost, you’ve probably tried to do at least a little SEO. Fortunately, even minor SEO improvements can have a big impact, but unfortunately, making SEO mistakes may not only waste time and money, they may also cause penalties that can negatively affect your rankings. Are you making any of these rank-affecting SEO mistakes?
1. Focusing on the wrong keywords
Although SEO has changed some over the years, an effective SEO strategy still revolves around keywords. But sometimes the best keywords aren’t always the most obvious choices. A common mistake many people make with their keyword strategy is that they ignore search volumes and ranking difficulty.
Depending on the value of a conversion for your website, low-volume keywords may not attract enough site visitors to be worth focusing on. High-volume keywords have much more potential to attract site visitors, but they’re often very difficult to rank for due to high amounts of competition in the search rankings.
To get the most out of your keyword strategy, try to achieve a balance between high volume and low difficulty. That way, you can justify spending time and effort into ranking for a keyword but still have a reasonable chance at getting results.
In the old days of SEO, Google and other search engines’ algorithms were much simpler and included much fewer ranking signals. This made it very easy for savvy SEOs and webmasters to game the system with low-effort, high-reward optimization tactics like:
- Keyword stuffing
- Keyword-rich anchors
- Footer keyword spam
- Non-relevant keywords
- Too many internal links to top-level navigation pages
With today’s more sophisticated search engine algorithms, these old tactics not only don’t work, they can also incur a penalty for your website. Google will actively “punish” websites that attempt to game their algorithm by causing their rankings to drop. Fortunately, the damage from these penalties can be repaired, but you can’t get back the time spent implementing these tactics and the potential traffic lost during the penalty period.
3. Buying low-quality or spammy backlinks
Backlinks are one of the most influential ranking signals in Google’s algorithm, so it can be tempting for some website owners buy large amounts of backlinks to try and give their rankings a boost. Many backlink vendors on the internet charge unbelievably low prices—as little as $5—for dozens of backlinks, which makes it easy to “try it out.”
Unfortunately, these strategies rarely pay off, and they may end up costing you even more down the road. If Google notices that your website has a large amount of low-quality links that are intended to manipulate the search engine rankings, you may receive a link penalty until you manually disavow them.
4. Ignoring on-page SEO best practices
On-page SEO is a crucial part of SEO strategy, and not only because it is the only part of the process that can be completely controlled by the site owner. Even though Google’s algorithm has added more ranking signals over the years, the basics of on-page SEO are still critical for ensuring that your pages can be easily accessed by both crawlers and search engine users, alike.
At the very least, make sure that every page has:
- Title tag of appropriate length
- Meta description of appropriate length
- H tags
- Outbound and internal links
- Alt tags for images
5. Failing to promote your content
The web is more crowded than ever, with over 1.24 billion websites live as of 2017. Although great content will put you above most of the competition, it’s still hard to push through all the noise out there.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your content will bring lots of traffic without some help actively promoting it. Sometimes, it only takes a few key social media shares or high-quality backlinks to get the ball rolling for your content. Other content pieces might take a concerted effort on multiple channels. Either way, don’t let your content languish in obscurity by neglecting active promotion.