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Understanding Google is impossible for anyone but those who work directly on its algorithm. For those of us on the outside, we have search engine optimization, or SEO, to help us understand how it all works. The process of optimization is not an exact science, and it doesn’t guarantee results, but it surely contributes to them.
Furthermore, we know far more about what doesn’t work then what does. Today we’ll look at four SEO mistakes that are incredibly easy to make, but can have a huge detriment on your site’s rankings and ultimately its success. We’ll follow this with a quick look at how you can avoid penalties from Google so that nothing stands between you and the rankings you want.
4 SEO Mistakes That Are Easy to Make (And Easy to Avoid)
Regardless of how many SEO mistakes we discuss, it’s important to remember that Google’s ultimate goal is to provide a positive user experience. Everything you do for SEO purposes should be focused on your visitors and not solely the search engine spiders that crawl your site.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at four SEO mistakes that are easy to make, but also easy to avoid entirely:
1. Ignoring Local Search
If you’re a physical business, odds are you’ve known for some time that having a website or blog is important to reach new customers. Let’s assume for a moment you haven’t made one. If you have, you’ll still want to read this.
There’s an entirely different type of SEO called local SEO that is absolutely needed for businesses that have a physical storefront. The standard optimization rules apply here, but the localized version of search requires a few extra steps so your site ranks in your area and your city:
- Target keywords with your city or region in the name
- Add your NAP (business name, address, phone number) to every page
- Create a Google My Business page and completely fill it out (add images as well)
- Encourage customer reviews on Google, Yelp, etc.
- Make sure you’re listed (accurately) on local directories
- Earn backlinks by hosting local events or fundraisers
All of these things contribute to your business ranking in the local results box on Google’s SERPS. Ignoring your local SEO will allow you to lose out on countless possible conversions because customers won’t see your business when they search for something similar in your area.
2. Identical Title Tags/Meta Descriptions
The title tag and meta description make up the entirety of the information displayed in the SERPS. While Google has said they don’t take meta descriptions into account for SEO, don’t make the mistake of assuming they don’t matter.
If you don’t customize your title tags and meta descriptions, every search result for your site will look either the same or completely generic in its layout. It doesn’t matter where it lands in the rankings, people won’t click it if the one below looks more promising.
Google may not look at meta descriptions or title tags for SEO ranking, but they absolutely take CTR, or click-through rates, into account. If the people below you are getting more clicks, it could easily signal to Google that you’re not earning that top spot.
To avoid this mistake, make unique titles and descriptions for each of your pages and posts. Include relevant keywords and provide a unique and accurate description of the content on the page.
3. Using Generic Keywords (Or Keyword Stuffing)
Keywords have evolved since the dawn of SEO, but they still play a major role in SEO. The serve as a basis for content and topics. Furthermore, they help Google understand what your page is about. Your biggest mistake when trying to optimize content, is not researching proper keywords to use.
Even if you do the proper research through tools like Google Keyword Planner, using generic and simple keywords won’t give you the edge you’re looking for. You need to look for detailed keywords with and long-tails which are keyword phrases of two words or more.
By narrowing down and specifying your keywords, you’re capturing a larger portion of a more focused audience and ultimately getting more attention. If you’re still struggling with rankings, resist the urge to put more keywords into your content.
Known as “keyword stuffing” this is what happens when you use the same keywords constantly in the hopes of gaining Google’s attention. Instead, diversify with new and different keywords, or elaborate on the current topics you’re discussing in the content.
4. Not Fixing Broken Links
Whether it’s internal or external, broken links are easy to miss. The mistake here is not that they exist, because that’s going to happen. No, the mistake here is not looking for them and fixing them. Google doesn’t like to see broken links just as much as your visitors don’t like them.
When it comes down to it, bad links tarnish your reputation with Google and with your followers. It’s an immediate dead end for the user experience. To find these issues on your site, use a free tool like Broken Link Check
Once you’ve managed to pinpoint the location of bad links in your website, you can take the steps needed to fix them. It’s a simple and easy thing to do, and something you should monitor consistently as time goes on. .
How to Avoid Google Penalties
Certain SEO mistakes can result in a penalty from Google, and these are no fun at all. Avoiding the mistakes above is a great start, but you should also be aware of other common mistakes that can put you on Google’s bad side:
- Never duplicate content across multiple pages
- Avoid hidden text or links designed for indexing, but unreadable by visitors
- Use keywords in your content, not everywhere else
- Never exchange or purchase links
- Diversify your anchor text for internal links and backlinks
- Create social signals by participating on social media
- Send brand signals by optimizing for branded keywords
In the end, if you’re creating honest and valuable content, you have nothing to worry about. That being said, mistakes happen and certain SEO mistakes can easily slip through the cracks.
SEO mistakes are easy to make, especially if you’re not a veteran in the online world. By avoiding this mistakes and Google penalties, you can prevent any major setbacks as you seek success for your online blog or business.
What SEO mistakes would you tell people to avoid? Let us know in the comments!
Guest Author -Kevin Kilgore is an experienced blogger with over a decade of experience. He knows that headlines are at the heart of every successful post and seeks to help others write their own.