With all the Google “animal” themed updates, you may slip from the top rankings and reach the bottom.
Let me tell you why:
It is because you are making some deadly SEO mistakes.
These SEO mistakes are the reason why you get penalized each and every time and sleep hopelessly thinking what to do to your website. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fix these mistakes.
In this article I will be showing in detail the 15 deadly SEO mistakes you are making and some methods to fix these mistakes.
So lets begin to explore these SEO mistakes.
1. Poor Website Design
Everything starts with how your website looks. If it is unattractive then you are in trouble.
Let me tell you:
A poor website design makes the content look ugly and users’ don’t usually share such content. Before they even read and share your content, they will just click back and open any other website.
This is called Pogosticking. It means moving back and forth between the SERPs and this really hurts your SEO.
So a poor website design can lead to many bad effects to your rankings and traffic.
This is how a poor website design looks like.
There are many more examples of websites with poor design. Make sure your website is not one of them.
Luckily there are many simple ways to fix this issue. I have mentioned some of these fixes to help you improve your website design.
1. Use A Clean And Simple Theme
This the most important to thing to make your website look better. There are many themes out there to choose from.
There are many marketplaces where you can find themes. My favorite is Themeforest.
Here you can find themes on almost all the categories.
2. Don’t Use Too Much Flash
Flash sites might look pretty. But you should not use it too much.
Avoiding too much flash is good for your SEO. But if your website is mostly based on flash content then you must learn how to optimize flash.
Boris Demaria explains how to optimize flash for SEO without experiencing a traffic decrease or getting penalized. But if I were you, I would still avoid flash because it’s a risky step.
3. Use Simple And Elegant Fonts
Even after using the best theme and avoiding flash, people make a big mistake that makes their site look ugly.
This mistake is using bad fonts.
I don’t know why but people still use weird-looking fonts that don’t look good on web pages.
Don’t use a font because you like it. Make sure to use a font your website readers’ can read easily.
Moreover avoid making your whole content in bold or italics. A lot of people do this just because they want to make their site look different.
Yes, it does make your site different because it looks ugly.
Always focus on using simple, clean and easy-to-read fonts.
So this was all about having a good website design. Always keep in mind that your website has a clean user-interface and provides great user-experience.
2. Slow Site Speed
Just remember this:
Every second counts.
With this in mind, you need to improve your website loading time. No one wants to wait for even a second to let a web page load(not even me).
It is very important that you improve your website speed so that you don’t lose your traffic to your competitors. A slow website load speed increases your page abandonment which is bad for SEO and must be fixed right away.
Now that you know this, it is time for you to improve your website speed so that it gets ranked quickly and help you outrank your competition.
But a question arises here:
How fast should my website load?
Well Shaun Anderson has answered this in detail by explaining how slow site speed can affect your rankings and the measures to improve it.
But let me show you some quick fixes to significantly improve your website speed.
1. Use a CDN(Content Delivery Network)
This is what a CDN means:
Using a CDN can significantly improve your site speed. There are many CDN providers and the best one is MAXCDN.
You will notice the change in your website load time. But this is not the only fix that will make your website extremely fast.
Let me tell you the reason:
Custom WordPress themes have different ways to optimize pages, minify CSS and many other things.
So you can’t just set up a CDN and expect your website to be very fast. You need to fix some other issues to make your website even faster.
2. Optimize Your Images
Apart from using a CDN, you need to optimize your images to make your website load faster. If you run a website that has too many images, it is important for you to optimize them.
You can do this by using simple tools like Adobe Photoshop. Use the Save for web option to optimize your JPG files. If you don’t know how to use Photoshop, then there are many online tools that will help you.
These online tools like this one will optimize your images to whatever the extent you want without reducing the quality of the image.
Removing unnecessary characters in your code will help you improve your website load time. Such unnecessary codes include white spaces, comments and other such elements.
These characters are not required in the code. They just make your web page load slower. You should minify them so that your web page loads faster.
There are many plugins that can do that for you. Better WordPress Minify does this job for you. But sometimes due to custom themes, these plugins cause nothing but chaos.
So in order to stay away from troubles, you can do this by your own.
This article will guide you on how to minify your css and html files. But if you have never done this, then it is better to hire someone to do this kind of stuff.
4. Enable Gzip Compression
You can reduce the sizes of your web pages by 70% if you enable Gzip compression. But before that it is important to know what is gzip compression.
You can use plugins to do this or simply enable gzip compression manually.
But what matters most is that this will reduce your website load speed which will improve your SEO and get you better results.
So if you’re done speeding up your website, lets move on to the next step.
3. No Responsive Design
If you are ignoring responsive design then get ready to be slapped by the Google algorithm updates.
According to GlobalWebIndex, 87% of internet users’ now have a smart phone.
This means optimizing your website for mobile is an important factor to get more traffic and high rankings. In fact Google now gives higher precedence to websites’ that are mobile friendly.
So now search engines favor websites that have a responsive design over non-responsive website design.
This means your website must be responsive in order to rank higher in the search engines. But still people are confused about this mobile-friendly update and how it affects the search engine rankings.
Cindy Krum explains it in detail why this mobile friendly update is something you need to worry about and what could happen if you don’t optimize for mobile.
So now that you know the importance of responsive design, it is time for you to make your website mobile-friendly. Here is what you have to do:
1. Use A Responsive Theme
Well this one is obvious.
To make your website mobile friendly, it is important for you to use a responsive theme. You can ask your website designer to do this for you.
Or you can search responsive themes on Themeforest and other such marketplaces. Now almost all the websites have a responsive web design.
If you don’t have yet, you are losing traffic and customers.
2. Use Responsive Plugins
This is what people don’t know:
Using a responsive design is not enough. You will have a mobile-friendly website which Google will consider good, but not your visitors.
How would you feel if you are reading blog post on your smart phone and then a sign-up form pops up.But you can’t close the pop-up because it is covering the entire area the webpage and there is no close button visible.
This is what I’m trying to tell:
All the plugins are not responsive. Even if they are, some of them might give a terrible user experience.
So now whenever you use a plugin, make sure its responsive and provides a good user experience.
If it is not responsive and you need to use it on your website, disable the plugin for mobile devices. Many plugins have that option.
3. Make Sure Your Website Is Fast On Mobile Devices
As I told you, having a responsive design is still not enough.
Your website needs to be perfect on mobile design. And to make that happen, you need to make sure your website is fast on mobile devices too.
These were some tips you need to keep in mind so that your website is responsive and provides an awesome user experience.
4. Using Free Hosting
Using a free hosting can hurt your SEO very badly. This is because of the many problems it brings with it.
This is why the official Google Webmaster Blog said,
If a free hosting service begins to show patterns of spam, we make a strong effort to be granular and tackle only spammy pages or sites. However, in some cases, when the spammers have pretty much taken over the free web hosting service or a large fraction of the service, we may be forced to take more decisive steps to protect our users and remove the entire free web hosting service from our search results.
This means you can’t just run your website on a free hosting and expect good results.
Let me tell you the downsides of using a free web hosting.
- Website Downtime: Free hosting services are not reliable and this results in website downtime. This means your website is not accessible to the users’. This is bad for your rankings and for your visitors. Ultimately, this lowers your website rankings and traffic.
- Slow Website Speed: We already discussed the importance of site speed in the earlier section. And using a free web hosting will make your website load slow. This is a very big SEO factor and you can’t just avoid it.
So using a free website hosting is bad for your website and you must avoid it. If you don’t want to spend money on hosting then no one can help you. Everything has its own value.
There are many web hosting services that provide hosting at very cheap prices. Bluehost has the most affordable hosting plan with a free domain.
You can try that. Still if you want to go for free then go for Blogger. You will not get the great features that WordPress has but your website will be hosted on the servers of Google.
That means there is no way your website will be down for even a second.
5. Not Using Google Analytics
Not using Google Analytics is the dumbest thing you could ever do.
Let me tell you why:
Google Analytics is a free tool that gives you details about your website’s visitors.
It provides information on who visited your website, how did they reach your website, which page they visited and the list goes on.
Not using such a great tool is nothing but a big mistake.
But you might be wondering:
How does this become a SEO mistake?
Well I have an answer for this question too.
With Google Analytics you can track our visitors’ behavior and take advantage of it.
You will be able to know the pages that are not visited on your website and later you can improve them. There are many other things you can do with Google Analytics.
KISSmetrics have curated a list of resources for beginners to get started with Google Analytics. This will help you understand Google Analytics and you will be able to get the most out of it.
Start using Google Analytics now because it is the holy grail for marketers.
6. Not Connecting Google And Bing Webmaster Tools
These tools are also completely free and if you are not using these tools, then start using them now. SEO is waste of time if you don’t have these tools in your arsenal.
Setting up these webmaster tools is very easy. If you are using WordPress then you can easily set up Google and Bing Webmaster tools.
Once you are set up, you can use these two tools to get information about your website. You can explore the search queries, links to your site, keywords and crawl errors.
Also don’t forget to connect your Google Analytics to your Google Webmaster tools.
7. Not Having An XML Sitemap
Not having an XML sitemap of your website is a big SEO mistake.
But first you need to know what an XML sitemap is:
An XML sitemap helps search engines to index your website more faster by creating a hierarchy of your site. Using an XML sitemap will help search engines and spiders to reach all the parts of your website and index them in an ordered way.
If you are using WordPress, you can easily generate your website’s XML sitemap using plugins like Google XML sitemaps.
If you are using the WordPress SEO plugin then you don’t need to generate your sitemap. You can find it by following these steps:
1. Go to the WordPress SEO menu and click on XML sitemaps.
2. Once you’re on the XML sitemaps page, you will find that your XML sitemap.
3. All you need to do now is to submit your sitemap to Google Webmasters Tools. Open the Google Webmasters tool. Click on the crawl tab and click on the sitemap button.
4. On the sitemap page, click on the Add/Test Sitemap button to add a new sitemap. Add the link of your sitemap there are you’re done.
The procedure to add a sitemap on Bing Webmaster tools is similar and you won’t face any difficulties.
8. Not Having A Robots.txt File
Just like an XML sitemap helps Google index your web pages faster, a robots.txt file will tell Google what pages should not be indexed.
If you do not have a robots.txt file, you are telling Google to crawl your whole site. But if you want some pages of your website to be not indexed by Google then you must use this file.
While not having a robots.txt file is not a big issue, but as Google is rolling out new updates it is better to have this file.
I would recommend you to generate a robots.txt file of your site to be on the safer side. There are many ways to install this file on your site.
If you are using a custom theme, then you might already have a robots.txt file. You can check your robots.txt file here.
9. Broken URLs
Broken URLs affect your website rankings greatly. These broken URLs upsets Google and your rankings directly slide to the bottom.
There are many reasons why your website has broken links. Some of them are:
- The website owner removed the page
- The web page slug was changed
- The website moved to a new domain without proper redirects
- The website no longer exists
These are SEO killers. And you will not believe me when I say this:
Broken links have many benefits.
Fixing broken links will improve your search rankings and will boost your SEO. And this is what you should do.
I will show you how to find broken links and fix them. All you need is Google Webmasters Tool to find broken links and fix them.
1. Open Google Webmaster Tools and go to the crawl section. From there, click on the crawl errors.
2. All your 404 page errors will be listed in the Not found tab. Now check each and every error to see where they came from. Some might be broken links while others may be pages that you removed.
3. Now click on one of the errors. It will give more details about the broken link. The linked from tab will show you where the broken link was found.
4. Click on the page where the error was found and see what caused it. It may be due to many simple reasons.
Now you just need to fix these errors. You can do this by setting up redirects.
But if you do not want to login to your webmaster tools and check for 404 errors regularly, you can use a WordPress plugin that will help you check your broken links and report it to you.
Broken Link Checker works great for me. All you need to do is to install the plugin on your WordPress site. Now you can check all the broken links without logging in to the Google webmaster tools.
10. No Proper Redirects
In the previous section, we discussed about how broken links can affect your SEO badly.
Well one of the reasons this happens is because of improper redirects.
This is a very crucial and you can lose your rankings if you have improper redirects.
This is what a redirection basically looks like:
Here are some tips on redirects that you should follow:
- Use a plugin for redirects. Redirection plugin works great.
- Don’t always redirect 404 pages to your homepage.
- Always redirect 404 error pages to a category or tag that is relevant for the user.
- Never forget user experience while doing redirects.
- Avoid redirect loops.
If you set up proper redirects and follow these tips, you will notice a change in your website rankings.
11. No Image Tags
Not optimizing your images for the search engines is another big SEO mistake. Images can bring in a lot of traffic to your website if optimized properly.
Image Tags will help search engines understand the image and rank them. So it is better to use image tags and alt tags to improve your SEO.
Always include your keyword in the image and alt tags of your images. These simple image optimization techniques will improve your rankings in the search engine rankings.
12. Using Same Anchor Text
It is important to optimize your anchor text for better search engine rankings. But using the same anchor text again and again is a big SEO mistake.
You need to diversify your anchor text so that nothing looks fishy. Using variations of a similar phrase is a better option.
One good way to optimize your anchor text properly is to use LSI(Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords in your anchor text.
Sounds crazy? No it doesn’t.
We normally use LSI keywords to avoid keyword stuffing. Then why don’t you use it to avoid anchor text over-optimization?
Finding LSI keywords is really simple. You can use Google to find them or use some tools.
One of the simplest tool to find LSI keywords is LSI Graph.
Let me show you how to find LSI keywords using this tool:
1. Type in the keyword for which you want to find LSI keywords.
I am using the keyword “content creation”. Lets see what comes up.
2. This is the list of LSI keywords this tool provided.
This way you can diversify your anchor text by using LSI keywords and avoid over-optimization of your anchor text.
13. No/Too Many Internal Links
This is another big SEO killer. And this is the reason why you make this mistake:
You don’t understand the purpose of internal links.
The sole purpose behind internal links is to help users’ navigate through the website. But since they spread link juice over the website and provide SEO value, people have started misusing it.
And this affects your rankings badly. Making too many internal links is a bad thing for SEO. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make any internal links.
You need to keep a balance between your internal links so that you don’t have more or less internal links.
14. Poor On-Page SEO
If you have a poor on-page SEO then your website will not rank on the top of the search engine.
Let me define on-page SEO for you:
On-page SEO refers to the things you do on your website to make your site rank higher in Google.
Some of the factors like image optimization and internal links were already discussed in the earlier section. The other factors of on-page SEO include title tags, body tags and meta descriptions. There are many on-page SEO factors that will help you rank higher.
This infographic by Brian Dean will help you learn about the most important on-page SEO factors and the ways to optimize them.
15. Bad Content
You might be wondering:
Ahfaz, why have you mentioned bad content at last. Don’t you know it is the most important factor to rank on Google?
Yes, you are right. The reason I have mentioned this at last is because:
Content is the most important factor for ranking a website. What experts tell you is:
Bad content is one of the SEO mistakes. What they don’t tell you is the reason why your content is bad.
And this what I’m going to explain to you in detail at last. Bad content no doubt is the barrier between you and the #1 position on the SERPs.
So improving your content will help. Actually no!
If you don’t understand why your content is bad, you will make this SEO mistake time and again.
This is why I have divided this mistake into different sections. Here are the reasons why your content is bad and how you can fix that.
1. No Keyword Brainstorming
Brainstorming keywords is a very crucial part of content creation and you can’t just skip it.
You should give time to content brainstorming so that you have a list of ideas on your plate. Then you can analyze what content is good for your readers and start writing on it.
Here is a simple way of keyword brainstorming:
The easiest way to keyword brainstorming is by using tools. And the way to do this is by using Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator.
All you need to do is to add three nouns and the blog topic generator will generate five blog post ideas for you.
2. Use Buzzsumo
Buzzsumo works great in finding content that performed well on social media. You can use this tool to find great content ideas.
3. Get Ideas From Content Curation Websites
Content curation websites help a lot when you need keyword ideas.
I often use Alltop to get some keyword ideas. You can enter your topic and see a list of websites and their recent content.
These are some helpful ways to brainstorming keyword ideas. But for me the best way to get keyword ideas is to first make a list the topics you know about very well.
Then use these tools to find what you can write on the topics you know about.
2. Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is bad for SEO and you must avoid it. It affects both your rankings and users’.
Keyword stuffing can sometimes be annoying to users’ and they will just simply click back. This will increase your bounce rate and hurt your SEO badly.
As I mentioned above, using LSI keywords will help you. This will prevent you from being penalized and you will also be able to rank the same content for different keywords.
Another great way to avoid keyword stuffing is by using long-tail keywords. And this is what the next section is going to be about.
3. Not Using Long-Tail Keywords
Not using long-tail keywords is the worst thing you are doing while creating content.
It not only helps in avoiding keyword stuffing, but you can also rank on keywords that can bring traffic to your website.
As you can see from this image, long-tail keywords tend to bring more traffic than popular keywords.
This is what you should learn from this:
Using long-tail keywords will help you rank for keywords that can potentially bring huge traffic and conversions to your website.
And using long-tail keywords in your content isn’t that hard.
4. No Content Promotion
The one and only question I ask when I talk about content promotion is:
For whom are you creating your content?
I think you understood what I meant here. Without content promotion, your website is nothing.
And if you think by sharing your content on your social media channels is content promotion, then you are wrong!
You need to promote your content out not just to a bunch of people. For high traffic your content should reach thousands of people and that too in your industry.
According to Derek Halpern, you should spend 20% of your time in creating content and the rest 80% in promotion.
Content promotion is very important if you want to grow your website audience and increase your revenue.
These were some of the reasons why your content is bad. Working on these mistakes will help you improve your content.
But there are more things you need to know. Some of them are:
- Make sure that your content is at least 2000 words long. Gone are days of 500-1000 word articles.
- Use as many images as possible in your content. Our brain processes visuals faster than text.
- Your content should be better than your competitors. This will help you outrank them.
- Don’t just write content to get ranked. Make sure it answers your users’ questions.
- Make sure your content keeps the reader engaged.
That’s it. Keep in mind these simple steps and you will start creating better and better content.
So these were the 15 deadly SEO mistakes that you need to fix right away. Just remember this:
Keep yourself updated with all the latest news in SEO industry to know the changes in Google search algorithm. This way you can keep track of your website’s performance and fix the problems before it’s too late.
If you have any questions regarding these SEO mistakes, feel free to drop a comment.
And if I forgot to mention any SEO mistake, do share it with me and the other readers’.