Search engine optimization (SEO) is not easy. You need a deep understanding of how search engines crawl the web, of how website indexing works, of the factors search engines use to evaluate webpages, of how users navigate and experience websites and more — and that’s not to mention the fact that you need to pay attention to search engine updates, which can occur every few months and cause radical changes to SEO strategy. And yet, if you are a small business owner, you have probably thought you can manage your company’s SEO independently.
Unfortunately, unless you have a qualified SEO expert on staff — or you are using services from high-quality SEO resellers — you are almost certainly making more than one grievous SEO mistake that is ruining your chances at a high ranking. Inarguably, the best way to eliminate errors in your SEO practices is to work with SEO experts, but you might consult this list to get a sense of what your SEO strategy could be getting wrong.
Content that is copied and pasted from elsewhere on the web is confusing and distressing to search engines and users alike. All content on your site should be completely unique.
Low Word Counts
Content is the backbone of SEO. If a web page is lacking in sufficient content, it will struggle to rank highly with any search query.
Slow Load Speed
Load speeds are notoriously important to both search engines and users. Your webpages should load in one to two seconds at most.
A 4xx code indicates that a page is broken and therefore unreachable. Not only can users not access these pages, but search engines can’t crawl them, either.
Pages might be unable to be crawled for several reasons. Some of the more common causes include a long response time for your website or a denial of access by your server.
Both internal and external links can lead to pages on your site that are broken or non-existent. This sends negative signals to search engines.
If an image URL is misspelled or the image file no longer exists, the image on a webpage will become broken. This harms the user experience and damages SEO.
Page redirects might be temporarily necessary, but you should try to replace broken links with links to live pages rather than maintain permanent redirects, which can harm SEO.
Duplicate Meta Tags
Every page on your site should have a unique title tag and meta description. This ensures that search engines accurately understand the relevance of each page.
Missing Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions help search engines and users alike understand the relevance of your webpages to their search queries. Missing meta descriptions will result in lower rankings and low click-through rates.
Missing ALT Attributes
ALT attributes on images are essential for visually impaired web users. Search engines tend to promote websites that are accessible to everyone, which means ALT attributes can have an effect on your ranking.
Too-long or Too-short Title Tags
Search engines have only so many characters to display in their search results. Title tags should have between 50 and 70 characters; any more or less will result in display issues.
Older links might direct users to HTTP pages, which are less secure and rank lower in search results. All website pages should be updated to HTTPS, and all links should be altered to match.
Search engines do not count no-follow links as valuable in determining a website’s authority, so they are essentially useless to SEO. You need all internal and external links to be follow links.
URLs With Underscores
Sometimes, search engines misinterpret underscores in URLs, which can result in improper indexing. You should try to replace underscores with hyphens when simplifying your site’s URL structure.
A sitemap makes it easier for search engine bots to crawl a website. Your business needs to provide a link to the sitemap.xml in your robots.txt file to ensure that every page is properly indexed.
Incorrect Pages in Sitemap
A sitemap that contains broken pages or convoluted redirect chains is a huge red flag to search engines. Sitemaps should be revised regularly to keep them up-to-date.
Multilingual websites can be confusing to search engines, which will not index pages that have conflicting hreflang attributes. All hreflang links need to match a page’s source code and utilize absolute URLs.
Missing Language Attributes
All multilingual pages on your site need to tell search engines exactly which regions should utilize which languages.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) load extremely quickly on mobile devices. Your website should follow AMP standards, which are highly valued by search engines.
The sooner you address these SEO mistakes, the sooner you can start seeing improvements to your search rankings. If you lack the technical skill required to fix your website’s problems, an SEO professional can help your company today.