Search engine optimization has come a long way down a track of many twists and turns. With continuous changes to the landscape and what’s considered “best practices,” staying abreast of what’s optimal and – most importantly – ahead of the competition can be daunting and can make you do SEO mistakes.
As we head into 2022, the time is now to clear away any pesky SEO missteps or oversights holding back your rankings. Here is a look into common SEO mistakes you may need to fix now and certainly avoid going forward into the new year.
Ineffective Keyword Usage
Used by search engines to answer user queries, keywords are the target words and phrases with the highest search volume. If simply adding focus keywords to the page is your strategy, you’re missing out. A fundamental component of a well-performing SEO strategy is having highly researched keywords and using them effectively.
Including keywords that have high search volume and low competition, and best fit your content in terms of relevancy is important. Spamming readers with irrelevant words and phrases isn’t good for retaining their attention or for your ranking. Another mistake in this area is not having your target keyword in the domain or subdomain. Be sure to have these important locations properly designated.
Furthermore, not optimizing for local searches by using local keywords in the H1 tags, meta descriptions and page content is a way to miss out big. According to Google, more than half of all mobile searches involve local inquiries. Adjust your existing content or create new pages designed to target local searches to stay ahead of the game.
Obnoxiously stuffing keywords hurts rankings. Period. Many people think they can stuff content with copious amounts of keywords, but Google isn’t fooled one bit. Authentic content is what performs well, not overly saturated, keyword-dense copy. To rank in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page), a well-maintained density is essential in articles of any length. Keyword stuffing is one of the SEO Mistakes you should avoid.
Along the same lines is hiding focus keywords by changing font colors to match the background. Google and its sophisticated algorithms catch this trick and others like it so be sure to avoid these temptations to cheat the system.
Content Lacks Research or Isn’t Engaging
Quality content is key. Not only is it what brings customers to your website, but it also plays a major role in SEO ranking. Content needs to be well-researched and informative on top of being optimized for your target keywords. Typically, when content isn’t interesting, conversion is low and visitors click out. An article or page experiencing this is marked as low performing within Google algorithms.
Instead of concentrating on how the content can serve your purposes, create engaging and benefit-focused content centered on helping the readers. Taking an unbiased approach on a topic is also recommended, especially when weighing the pros and cons. Providing practical and helpful pieces helps build trust with the audience and increases the chances of a higher ranking.
Outdated or Duplicated Content
Avoid content duplication at all costs. At one time, reusing copy for similar items or pages was common. Now, however, it is detrimental to ranking. Unique and engaging content is what ranks best and having duplicated – or outdated – copy is not going to fly. Since practically no one has the time to update old copy, be sure to publish fresh material to make up for the old baggage.
Similar to this is uninteresting headlines. Quality content might not go far if it’s held back by a bland, boring headline. In addition to images, intriguing headlines and captions are what’s going to draw readers to a site. Include unique and attention-grabbing titles for best results going forward.
Everything Is Slow or Out of Date
Keywords, while still essential, are not all that go into SEO. Poor rankings can stem from slow page load speeds, high bounce rates and sluggish response times. When consumers face these hurdles, they’re less likely to convert and more likely to move on to a competitor.
Plenty of site speed testing tools are available to help identify issues. Once weaknesses have been found, simple adjustments can be made, such as clearing out unused CSS and plugins, reducing page load time by adding cache control headers and so on.
Other out-of-date aspects of a website are poorly designed landing pages and lack of a sitemap. Having clean and easy-to-operate design elements is a key draw when visitors click through your site. Implementing a clear visual overview of your website in the form of a sitemap can lead to better site understanding by consumers and search engines.
Website Isn’t Optimized for Mobile
Nowadays, more than half of all website traffic comes from people using their mobile devices. Not having a smooth experience for these users is a big SEO mistake and Google penalizes such a drawback. The answer is to invest in mobile phone user-friendly website design and optimization along with the SEO tools to match.
When streamlining your systems to better meet mobile-first demands, don’t make the mistake of leaving desktop users behind. Having – and regularly testing – compatibility across the different browsers is essential. For Macs, iPads, Android tablets and beyond, make sure your site works and looks good across all platforms.
Image Issues and Deficiencies
Effective imagery is paramount online. When sites use boring, inconsequential images, they don’t serve any real purpose. Use precise and to-the-point images on the page to successfully communicate to people what you want them to know about your business or the post. Additionally, click-through rates are negatively impacted when a user’s search turns up irrelevant images instead of the specific something he or she was looking for and you were offering.
Ideal images should not only be relevant, but they should also be engaging and descriptive, and direct the user towards an action. Don’t neglect renaming the image’s ALT and HTML tags. Search engines, as well as those using screen readers, won’t find the image compelling if it’s a series of digits or still says “Image2” in the description box.
Lastly, be sure each image is optimized properly to share on social media. Poor-quality images with bad coloring prevent the image from turning up in search results when users search it by image or hashtag. Users who want to share the image, ergo your content, need optimized images to do so.
Lack of Strategic Linking
Improper backlinking, interlinking and not linking to quality sites are major SEO mistakes in the realms of website ranking. Linking each piece of content to the other through tactical writing and backend links enhances the ecosystem of your site and works to increase organic traffic. Such forms of interlinking give pages more value by transferring authority to one another. Interlinking also helps users better navigate your site.
Invest the time to correctly interlink and be sure to link only to quality sites when linking out. Now more than ever, this comprehensive approach matters for SEO as Google sees elevated interlinking as a strong signal of authority. While you’re at it, be sure to replace broken links. Having an intact link structure can keep you from losing search engine traffic and from losing customers due to frustration.
Misusing CTAs, Meta Descriptions and More
Crafting and delivering the information your readers want has many elements. Neglecting to include bold tags, frequently asked question sections and other helpful details hurts your chances of being heard. Give them something to stop and read with clear and concise content.
This starts with crafting strong meta descriptions, calls to action (CTA) and beyond. Short blurbs such as these need to be well-written and well-defined to ensure that once users land on your page, they know what to do next or where to find what they’re looking for on the site.
Lacking in Audience Appeal
To be blunt, not knowing or properly researching your audience is a major drawback in terms of SEO and overall success. SEO’s purpose is the strategic placement of information based on what your audience wants. The audience algorithms in place cannot be successful if they are not using the best or most appropriate data.
One way to better understand your audience is to check out high-performing competitors. Be sure to observe their SEO techniques, compare their content and try to determine how you can do better.
See You in 2022
Changes in the SEO landscape are unpredictable for the most part and potential SEO mistakes like these are bound to happen. However, by correcting what you can by complying with the current standards, you can work to cover all the multifaceted dimensions and improve your ranking.
Cheers to what 2022 brings to the ever-developing world of search engine optimization!
About Author: Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, a Chicago-based Internet marketing company that specializes in SEO. With decades of marketing, sales, and management experience, Shorr has written for leading online publications including Forbes and Entrepreneur, and for the American Marketing Association.