There’s no shame in wanting to be at the very top of Google’s search engine rankings. After all, over 95% of all searchers are going to look only at first page results. If they don’t see what they’re looking for, they’ll most likely try a new search term. The traffic is from the front page, and especially in the top three spots. If you can rank your blog or website there, the sky is the limit because you’ll be getting the lion’s share of the traffic.
This doesn’t happen by chance, and as much as good writers wish only large amounts of good quality information mattered, and as much as programmers wish only perfectly beautiful and functioning programming mattered, the truth is that the only way to get to the top is with a comprehensive SEO plan. That plan starts with avoiding the worst mistakes many websites make. If you’re not getting the results you want, scan ahead and see: are you guilty of one of these 10 SEO sins?
#1: Bad Content
This one can be tricky, because your definition of bad content might not match up with Google’s. There are a variety of reasons why Google may not like your content. Are you using PLR content or lightly re-written PLR? Not only is this not original (or barely passes as) but the quality is almost never up to par with what you get from a devoted blogger, writer, or professional freelancer. Google wants high-quality original content and that not only means proper sentence structure, paragraphs, language use, but also strong ideas, original content, and an entertaining voice. Even the best content isn’t considered good by Google if you’re the 20th person sharing the exact same thing.
Article spinners are just as bad. Just don’t use them. Google’s algorithm has become incredibly advanced and they can tell you’re cutting corners. If you choose to use freelance writers, quality matters 100 times more than quantity does. The days of getting rewarded for just throwing up enough words are long gone. Hire quality writers. The extra expense is worth it for truly top-notch original work, and you can avoid the duplicate copy penalty.
#2: Your copy shouldn’t sound like a parrot
Keyword stuffing worked a decade ago, and even in recent times keyword percentages were still seen as a critical part of ranking. While you want to mention a main keyword, and several long tail versions, don’t beat your readers over the head over and over. Parroting the same keywords or the same long tail versions isn’t going to help you, and it’s not going to read well. Google, and other search engines as well, are smart enough to know what your content is about. It doesn’t need to be told this over and over.
Stop parroting keywords – write for your reader, sprinkle in a few long tails, and focus on their needs first. You never want to repeat a keyword too much anymore!
#3: Ignoring internal links
There’s so much focus on externally driven backlinks but the truth is that many website owners completely ignore internal linking. Why? Not only can internal links make both individual pages and the overall website stronger in the search engine rankings, but internal linking allows especially large blogs or sites to connect useful content, keep readers on site, and the use of keyword backlinks can be much more liberal. Ignoring internal links means ignoring the easiest and safest way to give your website or blog a nice little boost in the search engine rankings.
#4: Not using your Google webmaster tools
Google provides a variety of free tools you can use to track just about every type of stat on your website that you can possibly imagine. This includes the famous Google Analytics that show you how many visitors you have, what sources they come from, and what keywords were used if they came from an online search.
Another tool that doesn’t get nearly enough attention is the “disavow tool.” You can see all the backlinks to your site that Google acknowledges and pick and choose ones to disavow, therefore stopping any bad neighborhoods from linking to your site and undoing the impact of any negative SEO.
#5: Not using other forms of media
You always want to have a picture with any page or any post. Make sure to use an alt tag with these pictures so that Google can crawl it and know exactly what the image is. This is also very friendly for the reader and helps immensely with any manual review. Even more important is using a video here and there if you can.
YouTube videos from your own account can be enormously beneficial, but any type of video keeps people on the page longer (good for SEO), keeps them engaged, and offers a unique experience. If the videos are from YouTube and link back, that counts as a good link both to and from your site, both of which are also good for SEO.
#6: Using old SEO methods
This is the most surefire way to stumble when it comes to getting traffic to your website. Whether the old methods you’re using are keyword anchored backlinks, keyword stuffing, or buying backlinks from Private Blog Networks (PBN), these old methods might have once shot websites to the top of the rankings, but those days have long since passed. Using these methods not only keeps you in the past, but many of them actually harm your search engine rankings now.
#7: Forget the meta keyword tags
Some will argue these still have a positive effect on SEO, but if there are any positive effects they are negligible. The problem is meta keyword tags are easy for anyone doing research to see what all your keywords are. So not only are they quite possibly not helping you, but your competition can see all your best long tail words when visiting your site. Not the type of information you should give away for free.
#8: Not linking out to authority websites
One of the interesting changes to SEO with the Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird is that websites actually get credit for linking out to authoritative websites whether YouTube videos, Wikipedia, or actual authority sites on whatever your topic or blog is about. By linking out you’re trying to provide the best content possible to your readers. Sites that do this while building their original content get pushed up in the search engine rankings while sites that don’t link out get penalized and fall in the rankings.
#9: Not updating broken links
This is a huge one. When a visitor finds a 404 not found error or a series of links that lead to articles that were moved or pages that aren’t there anymore, it leaves a bad taste in their mouth. This not only loses you visitors, but these are major red flags for Google when they are checking out your website. This not only indicates a possible lack of care and outdated information, but it makes it harder for search engine spiders to crawl your site and index all the pages there. Keep your links updated – there are WordPress plug-ins that can help with that very need!
#10: Not taking advantage of WordPress plug-ins
Most webmasters are using WordPress because it’s well-known, easy to customize, and allows even a non-technical person to build an exceptional website that’s easy to use and update. WordPress also has literally thousands of plug-ins available that can help with SEO. These range from setting up internal links naturally to taking care of non-functioning links and running analytics. If you have a WordPress site, there’s no excuse not to take advantage of the many excellent plug-ins that they offer!
In conclusion, if you avoid these 10 common SEO mistakes, you will find your website has a much easier time crawling up to the top of the search engine rankings.