Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has become a complex field where simply understanding the basics can be an enormous task.
Plus there’s the fact that the average SEO strategy covers a lot!
So if you are kicking yourself because of a recent SEO oversight. You are not alone.
There are keywords, meta tags, and off-page optimizations to take care of, as well as more advanced tips, tools, and tricks to learn and use to get the job done well.
Simply put it can be overwhelming.
Also, because of the metrics that are involved, it is impossible to hide from any mistakes or oversights because the numbers will show it.
It doesn’t matter whether you are the most detail-oriented, diligent professional out there but the fact is: there’s plenty of room for things to go wrong, or for you to slip up even when you’re at the top of your field.
My hat’s off to you if you’ve never messed up at least one little thing!
So in honour of all of the mistakes that have and will be made here are eight silly mistakes that even SEO professionals can sometimes make.
1. Leaving a Noindex / Nofollow Command on the Site Upon Launching
You can actually prevent a page, or even an entire website, from appearing in Google’s results by using a noindex meta tag in your site’s header code.
When the Googlebot reads that tag, the page is immediately dropped from the search results.
Firstly, this is useful if you are still developing your site, or if you don’t have root access to a server and want more control over who can access certain pages.
But if you forget to remove the tag before you launch your site? Oops
Another mistake can be putting a noindex meta tag into the site’s header code and then blocking the command with robots.txt.
You need to do one or the other. Not both.
2. Not Using Google Analytics and/or Google Search Console
Ideally you should be using both systems.
Analytics gives you all of the data to understand your website’s performance. This gives you data on traffic, demographics and how long your visitors hang aroudn before they leave.
Whereas Google Search Console gives you all of the information that you need to be able to improve your website. It will tell you about which sites are linking to yours, whether technical errors exist, and much much more.
You’re missing out on vital information if you aren’t using them.
Yet there are some professionals who forego them altogether.
That’s simple :
There are a lot of tools available that do the same if not very similar things. Many of them are proprietary and few of them are cheap to use.
Therefore, what tends to happen is that when we find a tool that we like to use, we tend to keep on using it.
While other tools will offer similar capabilities to Google Analytics and Search Console, at the end of the day they may not give the best results for what we are looking for.
Another common mistake that is common is that some professionals simply don’t spend enough time on Google itself.
A good SEO (Search Engine Optimiser in this case) can get everything that he or she needs directly from the search engine.
The only thing that SEO tools really do is make that information easier for you to access and read much quicker.
3. Optimizing for the Wrong Keywords
Did you know that some SEO professionals have keyword blindspots?
It might sound surprising because we do so much keyword research.
But doing this can lead to being too set in doing things a certain way, even when there could be a much better and easier way to do it.
Specifically, we can develop bad habits and end up optimising websites for the wrong keywords.
Did you know that SEO professionals have a blind spot when it comes to keywords?
It might sound surprising because we do so much keyword research.
Sometimes we end up optimising from the perspective of the business rather than from the perspective of the customer that is looking for the products or services.
Let me give you an example.
Company A sells shoes for people who suffer specifically with bunions (hallux valgus).
The content on the website reflects that the design of the shoe, which is evidence-based and rooted in the science behind the product.
The keywords chosen were “Hallux Valgus Shoes” and ” Science-based shoes for bunions”.
These are nice specific, long-tail keywords with low competition. In other words, they seem perfect.
That’s not quite the case.
A few weeks later the company starts to get phone calls from doctors offices asking where they can buy them for patients and the prescription requirements. So while that sounds great, the purpose of the website is to sell to the general public not to trade.
In other words, the keywords that have been optimised for search terms that the general public wouldn’t search for. Aka the medial term “hallux valgus”.
To break this habit it is a good idea to spend time researching the terms that people will actually use when they are looking for a solution.
While it is likely to not be official terminology, the language used will have a huge effect on whether you appear in front of your target audience or not.
4. Not Using Internal Links
Citing who your sources are with a lot of high quality and authoritative sources is a reallly good idea.
Not only does it help your readers take you seriously but it also sends a signal to Google that you can be trusted not to mislead your audience. After all it is one of the things that Google themselves specify in their search quality evaluator guidelines.
However, sometimes we can get really excited about the external links and begin to neglect the internal ones.
Citing your sources with lots of super high-quality, authoritative links is a really good idea.
It helps your readers take you seriously and it signals to Google that you can be trusted to provide good information. (It’s even one of the things they specify in their search quality evaluator guidelines.)
However, sometimes we get really excited about external links and neglect the equally important internal links.
Internal links are a brilliant way of boosting your position in the SERPs because they make it easier for Googlebot to crawl your site, help to signal important pages and topic clusters and they help to drive traffic to other parts of your site.
5. No Fresh Content
Google has a freshness algorithm. If you didn’t know that you do now.
If you are serving up stale content, you will probably notice that your page rank, and therefore your traffic starts to drop.
Stale content is content that is; outdated due to new statistics or market changes, incorrect because of newly available information, irrelevant due to changes in how Google itself views a keyword or has been devalued because of an algorithm update.
Content isn’t a post-it and forgets a thing.
Plus things change over time. Links break, files get moved or go missing and keywords fall out of usage.
Therefore you should keep an eye on your pages and remove old content or update anything that looks like it is beginning to slide.
Not only will your audience benefit, but Google will also appreciate it and reward you with better SERP positions.
6. Not Optimizing for Search Intent
Similar to using the wrong keywords, not optimising pages for the searchers intent can be just as devastating to your SEO strategy.
Fortunately, optimising for search intent has become a whole lot easier as Google continues to fine-tune its ability to deliver exactly on what people are looking for.
Generally, there are three categories that Google groups search into.
“Do” searches. These are transactional in nature, such as “buy a laptop online.”
“Know” and “know simple” searches. These are informative in nature, such as “best laptops 2020.”
“Go” searches. These are navigational in nature, such as “laptop seller near me” or “laptop return policy site:example.com.”
You want to optimise for each of these searches because they correspond to what people are looking for specifically as well as steps in the customer’s journey.
That maximises the chances of you getting the right content in front of the customers at the right time when they need it.
7. Thinking that SEO Is Only Concerned with Traffic
if you go onto any SEO message board or subreddit you will see post after post that looks similar to this;
“Why am I not getting more traffic?”
“How do I drive traffic to my new site?”
“Best SEO strategies to boost site traffic quickly?”
In other words traffic, traffic and more traffic.
Sure, as SEO partners, it is our job to drive traffic to sites and a good SEO strategy will accomplish this.
But if it’s not just about traffic what else is important.
You can have all of the traffic that you want but if you aren’t converting any of them into paying customers what is the point.
Remember, as with all things you should value quality over quantity.
Having a lot of website traffic but having low numbers of conversions means that you are attracting a lot of irrelevant traffic. Or, your product offering isn’t clear to those who are visiting and they are instead going to one of your competitors who are more clear but don’t have as much traffic.
A small number of highly-targeted customers is better than tons of look-a-likes.
8. Putting SEO ‘on Pause’
Congratulations, you’ve got your website.
You’ve loaded it full to the brim with super helpful information.
You’ve created your SEO strategy and let it loose on the search engine.
You’re rising in the SERPs.
People are visiting your site…
And then you let it all go.
You were doing well, that’s what happened.
You found that your strategy was doing well and working for you and then you got complacent.
Maybe you put your focus on other things like improving your product line, thinking that your SEO would be good for a while.
SEO is not like a light switch that you can just turn on when you feel like it.
It is more like a dynamo torch that you have to keep maintaining and improving, otherwise, it will just run out of energy.
If that happens then your ranks will degrade. You will start falling down the SERPs and eventually falling into Google obscurity aka page 2 of the search results.
Even when you know what you are doing plenty can go wrong.
Planning, implementing and maintaining a viable SEO strategy involves a lot of moving pieces.
It’s enough to drive anybody crazy.
It also means there are plenty of opportunities to make little oversights and mistakes that can devastate your position in the SERPs.
I’ve just covered eight things that are super simple (and seem silly) in hindsight, but professionals do by accident every single day.