15 Most Common SEO Mistakes To Avoid

Feb 2014

Posted by: Category:Search Engine Optimization


Being in web design and development industry since more than a decade, Smartinfosys has handled hundreds of complex web development issues and through our vast experience in SEO, we come to know that more than 40% of business websites we get for Search Engine Optimization are poor at search engine rankings heavily due to few silly mistakes done by web developers which got even worse due to poor SEO campaigns by web masters.

It is a claimed fact that most of web development companies train their developers just to develop good looking websites, not to develop SEO-friendly websites. So, to help our web developer friends and web design enthusiasts, we decided to publish a post on some most common and horrible web development mistakes that could harm SEO potential of your business website. Cutting the crap, here are the most common mistakes done by web developers in Business Websites:

Mistake #1- Ignoring The Page Loading Speed

Have you ever seen a slow-loading webpage among TOP 10 of Google search results? Though there is no clear indication that page speed is one of the 200 factors to rank a webpage in Google, you can assume it to be a ranking factor by reading this post of Matt Cutts & observing Google’s top 10 search results manually.

So if your business website is slow enough to bounce the visitors (typically with loading time more than 4 seconds), it may be one of the reason why your business website is not on the top spot in Google search rankings. You can checkout your website’s loading speed in Google’s page speed insight tool.

Typical reasons for slower loading speed are:
-Excessive use of Javascripts & animations
-Non-optimized images
-Heavy use of media content
-& Too many server requests

So put important content above-the-fold, minimize use of media and Javascripts and reduce number of requests to server. This will help you reduce your site loading speed. You can also read this post by MOZ to know in detail about how you can reduce your site loading speed.

Mistake #2- Layouts Before Content

The very profound mistake in business websites we get for SEO is that their content is not suitable or tailored according to their pages and layouts. When we ask the owners about the issue, we find that in more than 80% cases, web developers had prepared layouts first and then added the content. The problem with doing this is that they had to tailor the content as per website’s layout which forced them to bargain with content quality, degrading the user engagement and overall feel of their business website.

So the solution is, build content first. Have well prepared idea of what content is going to be added on which page and create the most suitable and user-friendly layouts according to that. Also make use of alluring infographics in content wherever it’s possible.

Mistake #3- Unstructured Heading Tags

Another SEO mistake with our clients’ websites is the structure of heading tags. You might ignore it as it doesn’t has much to deal with user experience, but when it comes to site structure, wise usage of heading tag is often inevitable. We have marked that often top ranking business websites in Google have well defined header structure in terms of heading placement, hierarchy and length.

So here are some heading suggestions for better SEO of a business website:
-Use only one H1 tag per page
-Arrange all the tags hierarchically i.e. H2 inside H1, H3 inside H2 & so on.
-Keep heading text as short as possible
-Keep heading font size according to its place in hierarchy. i.e H1 tag should be larger than H2, H2 should be larger than H3 & so on.

This practice will make your business website looking professional in eyes of search engines and users as well and who knows, one day it might become one of the ranking factor too.

Mistake #4- Top Level Domain

Though domain name is not too serious consideration for prevailing brands, it is still important to have domain names including area specific top level domain for small businesses that are far less famous to be called a brand. For example, if you are a dental care clinic named “Sparkling Smiles” in California, it would be better if your url could be Sparklingsmile.us rather than Sparklingsmile.com.

This could directly affect your local search engine rankings & it is one of our favorite tricks to tweak local search results. Still if you want to run your business website with .com as your Top Level Domain , you can do it later once your website is popular over search engines.

Mistake #5- Creepy Links

Creepy links on your web pages can harm your business website a lot. No matter whether your link is external or internal, it could harm your website if it doesn’t meet certain criteria because search engines can crawl links and anchor texts.

So be sensible and remove creepy links out of your business website by doing following activities:
-Remove all the broken links from your website. (You can use tools like xenu link sleuth or screaming frog to identify broken links.)
-Avoid general words as anchor text. For example, “click here” and “click this link”. Instead of that, use meaningful words and keywords that are appropriate for the page. However, don’t stuff keywords
-Reduce number of external links on your web page, especially on the home page. And also no follow external links.
-Don’t link to poor webpages with low reputation.

Mistake #6- Poor Site Navigation

Though navigation is one of the most important user experience feature of a business website, many web developers ignore the importance of making website navigation user friendly. This may affect user experience and in turns SEO of your business website.

So assure the following:
-Make navigation arrows available on every page
-Provide links to similar posts below every post
-Make use of header and footer of your business website to provide direct navigation to important pages of your website &
-Provide breadcrumb navigation for every page.

Mistake #7-Poor Interlinking

Interlinking can be one of the strongest reason why your business website’s search ranking is down. As per Neil Patel, which is among Top Internet Marketers in the world, “The tactic of using non-rich anchor text is so effective that Mashable ranks on the first page of Google for terms like “YouTube” because of internal linking efforts.”.

So provide links to useful content in your website in other pages wherever it seems necessary and relevant. It can increase your website’s user engagement directly and in turns SEO of your business website.

Mistake #8- Mobile Responsive Design

The very first recommendation we do for our local business clients is to make their business website mobile responsive and there are few strong reasons for it.

With some proven examples with our own experience, we can say that local SEO is highly affected by mobile-friendliness of website. Most of people looking for local services are those surfing from mobile devices. So why not take advantage of rapidly increasing mobile web market?

By making your business website mobile responsive, you can make sure that your business doesn’t lose more than 50% of your local business prospects. Also It isn’t much costly to make your website mobile responsive.

Mistake #9-Not Integrating Social Media Properly

Ignoring social media is one of the biggest mistakes we find in our prospects’ websites. Though it wasn’t that much important previously, Google has now clearly signaled that they are also considering social media signals in their search rankings.

So provide sharing options for at least few popular sites like facebook, pinterest, stumbleupon, buffer and Google+. Especially businesses with more likes and reviews on their Google+ pages stand great chances for top rankings in Google. And it also increases user interactivity of your business website.

The good thing is that you don’t need dedicated developers to prepare sharing buttons for your business website, you can easily add social sharing widgets from websites like AddThis and ShareThis

Mistake #10-Non-updated Content

It is now a well-known fact that Google also considers the content freshness aspect of your webpage in ranking it. This freshness relates to frequency of updates in your webpage and the date the content was published. It is particularly important for business related websites.

Most of the business websites we get for SEO are ones those are less related with content production and very static in terms of content i.e. rarely updated. So one of the reason for poor performing business website can be highly static content in nature.

If your site is also the same, there is very simple solution to it. You can run an on-site blog in your niche on your website. The blog is important because it increase your website traffic and if used properly, could also increase your conversions. It will also keep your website regularly updated with useful content.

All in all, you can get more visitors and higher search engine rankings by updating your website time to time with high quality content.

Mistake #11-Poor Landing Page Design

Poor landing page design degrades quality of user experience with your business website. There can be dozens of factors affecting effectiveness of your landing page. A Good landing page means more visitors, more user engagement and overall, it can lead your webpage to higher search engine rankings. So tweak your landing page design to make it look more appealing and more intriguing to significantly increase your search engine rankings.

Mistake #12-Ignoring Local SEO Factors

Local SEO is highly recommended for business related websites but we find that most of the business websites don’t make proper use of local SEO signals on their webpages and result into poor local search rankings.

Business websites can embrace their local SEO capabilities by injecting local signals in their webpages. Here are few very essential things to consider about local SEO factors of your website:
-Add your business address on homepage.
-Have separate pages for different branches in different regions of your business.
-Link to Google+ page of your business from homepage of your website & get it verified.
-Add link to CONTACT US page of your website on every page &
-Markup locations and address in your website content with rich data snippets.

Mistake #13- Improper Meta Tags

Among most of business websites we get for SEO, we find that their meta tags are often mistreated with. The problems with meta tags include:
-Keyword stuffed title tags and descriptions
-Lengthy meta titles &
-Irrelevant meta descriptions.

So while writing meta title and description tags for any business, we advice the web developers and web masters to comply with following guidelines:
-Do comprehensive keyword research before writing meta title, description and page content and define 1-2 target keywords for each separate page.
-Write titles with maximum length of 70 characters & descriptions with length of 150 to 160 characters.
-Avoid overuse of keywords in titles and descriptions.
-Write descriptions highly relevant to page content. If needed, borrow phrases directly from the page itself.
-Provide meta titles and descriptions for every page
-Wherever it looks relevant, add location in title and descriptions

Mistake #14-Spammy Tactics To Keyword Density

Keyword density is of course one of the 200 ranking factors in search engines & probably would stay the same forever because it is important part of lingual characteristics in humans. However, since its inception, we have found that webmasters who don’t understand SEO at its roots, tend to stuff keywords in webpage content in order to rank their content higher in search engines. They should know that search engines are now smarter and such spammy tactics are now totally useless for search engine rankings.

So we advice to take following precautions to balance the keyword density on webpages of your business websites:
-Create a list of synonyms and spinned phrases for your targeted keywords and use them alternatively throughout the page. Don’t use the same keyword so many times on a single webpage.
-Add locations with your keywords to make them more targeted.
-Avoid overuse of keywords in anchor texts.
-Place keywords in headings (Only if it is relevant) &
-Place important keywords in title and descriptions too.

Mistake #15-Duplicate Content

Due to content heavy business websites, some webmasters tend to make a serious SEO mistake of using the same content on multiple different pages of client’s business website. For example, we had a client whose business website was having too less content with a same piece of banner text in all them. Making it even worse, the text was set as heading tag! If you know SEO even a little, you might be knowing that copied content is seriously harmful to website.

Also some websites use copied and spinned content from other similar websites. But search engines now have grown smarter enough to identify duplicate content and its original resource. So avoid the duplicate content at its best because it could result into drop down in search engine rankings. Investing in 500 words quality content can be much cheaper than investing in penalty recovery service which you might have to get due to duplicate and thin content. Choice is yours.

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