Are These Rookie SEO Mistakes Costing Your Search Rankings?

30 second recap:

  • SEO has increasingly become a key practice area for businesses to gain exposure, however, if done poorly it can stagnate or even sabotage your online exposure.
  • From optimizing your website for the wrong keywords to putting too many keywords in the meta keywords tag or creating many similar doorway pages
  • We have listed the most common SEO mistakes to avoid and be prepared for the future

Through SEO, marketers can improve the ranking of their websites in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) and thus achieve the best results.

While doing SEO, however, there are some common SEO mistakes to avoid. In the event of making any of these mistakes, marketers could end up hurting their search ranking and reputation.

Below are seven of the common mistakes you need to avoid.

SEO error no. 1: Optimize your site for the wrong keywords

The first step in any search engine optimization campaign is choosing the right keywords for which you should optimize your site. If you choose the wrong keywords initially, all the time and effort you spend trying to get your site to rank highly will go down the drain. What good will top rankings do if you pick keywords that no one searches for, or if you pick keywords that won’t drive targeted traffic to your site?

The good news is that there are some warning signs that you may be optimizing for the wrong keywords. Among these, we find the following:

According to Neil Patel, an SEO expert and co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar:

If you try to optimize your site content for every keyword that comes to mind, chances are you won’t rank high on search engine results pages.

Worse, you’ll experience a high bounce rate, because search engine users who eventually find your website will walk away without doing anything you want them to do.

….In fact, not optimizing your site content for the right keywords will cripple your search engine rankings.

SEO error no. 2: Put too many keywords in the meta keywords tag

We often see sites that have hundreds of keywords listed in the meta keywords tag, in hopes that they will rank highly for those keywords.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Contrary to popular belief, the meta keywords tag has almost completely lost its importance in terms of search engine rankings. Google does not use keyword meta tags directly in its rankings.

So, just by listing keywords in meta keywords tag, you will never be able to rank high. As there is no correlation between keywords placed in a meta tag and search engine rankings. To get high rankings for those keywords, you need to naturally add the keywords to the actual content of the page body.

SEO error no. 3: Repeating the same keyword too many times

Another common mistake people make is repeating their target keywords endlessly in their page body and meta keyword tags.

Because so many people have used this tactic in the past (and continue to use it), search engines keep an eye on it and may penalize a site for repeating keywords this way.

Sure, you have to repeat the keywords a certain number of times. But how you place keywords on your pages needs to make grammatical sense. Simply repeating keywords endlessly no longer works. Also, a particular keyword should ideally not appear more than three times in the Meta Keywords tag.

SEO error no. 4: Create many similar doorway pages

Another myth prevalent among people is that since each search engine’s algorithm is different, different pages need to be created for different search engines. While this is great in theory, it’s counterproductive in practice.

If you use this tactic, you’ll soon end up with hundreds of pages, which can quickly become an administrative nightmare. Also, just imagine the amount of time you’ll have to spend constantly updating your pages in response to changes search engines make to their algorithms.

Also, while the pages are meant for different engines, they’ll actually end up being quite similar to each other. Search engines can often detect when a site has created similar pages and can penalize or even ban this site from their index.

According to Google,

“…they (Doorway Pages) can lead to multiple similar pages in users’ search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages which are not as useful as the final destination.

So instead of creating different pages for different search engines, create one page that is optimized for one keyword for all search engines.

SEO error no. 5: Using hidden text

Hidden text is text that is the same color as your page’s background color. For example, if your page’s background color is white and you’ve added white text to that page. This is considered a black-hat SEO practice.

Many webmasters, in order to get high rankings in search engines, try to make their pages as keyword-rich as possible. However, there is a limit to how many keywords you can repeat on a page without making it look weird to your human visitors.

Therefore, to ensure that human visitors to a page don’t perceive the text as strange, but that the page is still keyword-heavy, many webmasters add text (containing the keywords) with the same color as the background color. This ensures that while search engines can see your keywords, human visitors cannot.

Search engines have long since caught on to this technique and ignore or penalize pages that contain such text. They can also penalize the entire site if even one of that site’s pages contains such hidden text.

However, the problem is that search engines often end up penalizing sites that don’t intend to use hidden text.

For example, say you have a page with a white background and a table on that page with a black background. Also, suppose you added some white text in that table. This text will, in fact, be visible to your human visitors, i.e. it shouldn’t be called hidden text. However, search engines may interpret this as hidden text because they often ignore the fact that the table background is black.

In Google’s official guide, they state:

“Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google search rankings can be seen as deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”

So, to make sure your site doesn’t get penalized for this, you should go through all the pages on your site and see if you’ve inadvertently made such a mistake.

SEO error no. 6: Use page cloaking

Cloaking, which is against Google’s webmaster guidelines, is defined by Google as follows:

“Cloaking refers to the practice of presenting different content or URLs to users and search engines. Showing different results based on user agents can cause your site to be perceived as deceptive and removed from Google’s index”

People generally use page cloaking for two reasons:

  1. Hiding the source code of their search engine optimized pages from competitors
  2. To avoid human visitors need to see a page that looks good for search engines but not necessarily for humans

The problem with this is that when a site uses cloaking, it prevents search engines from being able to spider the same page their users will see. And if search engines can’t do this, they can no longer be sure that they are providing relevant results to their users. Therefore, if a search engine discovers that a site has been cloaking, it will likely ban the site from its index forever.

So, our advice is that you shouldn’t even think about cloaking your site and if you’re already cloaking and getting away with it, I guess you might need to watch out.

SEO Mistake #7: Spending too much time on search engine rankings

Yes, we lied. There’s another common mistake people make when it comes to search engine optimization: they spend too much time on it.

Sure, search engine rankings are the most cost-effective way to drive traffic to your site, and you need to spend some time each day learning how search engines work and optimizing your site for search engines.

However, you must remember that search engine optimization is a means to an end for you, it is not the end in itself. The goal is to increase the sales of your products and services. So, in addition to trying to improve your site’s position in search engines, you also need to spend time on all the other factors that determine the success or failure of your website: the quality of the products and services you offer, the quality of your content and so on.

You may have excellent search engine rankings, but if the quality of your products and services is poor or you’re not producing high-quality SEO content, those high rankings won’t do much good.

Jacob McMillen is a copywriter, marketing blogger and inbound marketing consultant.

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