Ricky is a content marketing consultant and blogger at rickywang.com.
As you take steps to grow search engine traffic to your website, there are dumb SEO mistakes you need to avoid.
You need to realize that Google is the most visited website in the world.
A position it is not about to relish, sparing no costs to be the default search engine in consumer devices and browsers.
Google just extended its search pact with its biggest rival Mozilla for an undisclosed amount, but based on previous figures, it is in hundreds of millions of dollars a year. If that figure sounds enormous, consider the Google and Apple deal. In 2018 Google paid Apple a jaw-dropping $9.46 billion to be Safari’s default search engine on Apple devices and computers.
To say the least, Google is ferocious at keeping its position as the most visited website in the world.
As a website owner, you have no excuse to ignore Google and other search engines in your digital marketing strategy.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For SEO to work for you, here are eight common dumb SEO mistakes to avoid.
1. Not Creating Keyword Optimized Content
Google is intelligent, but it still needs your help to learn your content.
The dumbest SEO mistake you can make is publishing content before optimizing it for search.
The process is straight forward; with any of the free keyword research tools, find the right keywords, your visitors are likely to query a search engine.
Use the keyword in the title.
Use the keyword in the URL slug.
Add the keyword in the meta description of the article.
Sparingly sprinkle the keyword in the article as you write.
That sounds easy, but most publishers are too lazy to spend extra minutes to polish their articles with relevant keywords.
Done right, keyword-optimized content will jump to the first page of SERPs in non-competitive niches without any extra SEO effort.
2. Not Creating Link Worthy Content
Backlinks are critical for SEO.
According to Moz, Domain-Level Link Features (20.94%) and Page-Level Link Features (19.15%) are the most critical Google ranking factors.
Domain-Level Link Features relate to quantity and quality of links to a domain.
Page-Level Link Features relate to the quality of the remote page from which you get a backlink.
To earn high-quality backlinks from high domain authority websites, you need excellent and relevant content.
Besides, quality content attracts and retains visitors. It matters less if you blog about intricacies of the currency markets or a secret hobby, without good content you won’t get backlinks.
Write relevant and insightful content that solves a problem or shines a light on a new perspective.
Pay attention to the mechanics of your writing.
Sloppy grammar, spelling errors, incoherent sentences, and other basic writing mistakes are a turn-off.
3. Having duplicate content
There’s much confusion among SEOs if Google punishes duplicate content.
Neil Patel has categorically come out that Google does not punish websites for duplicate content.
But here’s the thing, Google knows which website published content first.
In most cases, it prefers to rank higher the website that first published the content.
Besides that, good luck trying to outrank a high authority website with similar content.
SEO aside, you risk legal cease-and-desists for plagiarized content.
Find pride in being original. Don’t copy and paste other people’s work.
If you hire writers, check the work you receive with plagiarism checkers like Grammarly or Copyscape.
4. Ignoring Meta Tags
Metadata is the extra information that provides information about your web page.
It is what search engines use to not only understand your page but also to display your page in search results.
The most important meta tags you should always add to your content are the meta title, meta keywords, and meta description.
If you don’t specify a meta title, search engines will use the title field, and for the meta description, they will pick any portion of a page.
You benefit when search engines understand your content better and also from search clicks to your website when you add metadata to your posts.
If you publish on CMS like WordPress, install an SEO plugin like Rank Math or Yoast.
They will help you add metadata to your articles.
5. Ignoring Image Optimization
Driving 22.6% of search traffic, according to SparkToro, Google Images are a low hanging source of organic traffic.
If you are not optimizing images for search engines, you are missing out.
Add keyword-rich alt tags to all images.
Use descriptive text in the title and image names.
6. Buying Backlinks
The worst crime you can commit in your SEO is buying backlinks.
Some website owners think they can hoodwink Google with backlink schemes.
But Google is a lot wiser than these dumb website owners think it is.
The cost of walking back a Google penalty is not worth $5 you spend on 10,000 backlinks.
This is one of those cases where you should heed the counsel in the adage, “prevention is better than cure.”
Don’t be lazy; learn to build backlinks the right way.
Link building is about nurturing relationships, find the websites you covet links from and build relationships with the webmaster or owner or contributors.
It is slow and painful, but nothing beats free traffic from Google. Right?
If you don’t have the time, outsource link building to a reputable SEO company with a verifiable track record.
7. Not using Google Search Console
Google has many tools that can help with SEO: Google Analytics, Google Ads, Google Search Console, among others.
There is a lot to glean from the data in all Google tools, but for SEO, Google Search Console should be on top of the list.
Discover how your website is performing in search based on Google’s perspective.
Hook your website to Google Search Console – it is free.
Devote a few hours each week to do something about your website based on the data from search console.
Fix errors or update your content with the queries that trigger impressions and clicks on Google search.
8. Ignoring Site Performance
Most website owners would rather create and promote content than go under the hood to tweak the tech that powers their website.
Granted, only a handful of bloggers know their way around PHP code and servers to implement recommendations like eliminate render-blocking resources from a PageSpeed Insights test.
Still, there is no excuse to expect your visitors to wait a minute to load your website.
Google has always considered site speeds in its search rankings, but with Google set to roll out Core Web Vitals for ranking signals, you can’t ignore site performance anymore.
There is no quick fix for site performance, but: Host your website with a host that guarantees the best server performance.
Are you using WordPress or any other open-source CMS? Check for plugins/modules that can solve site loading issues.
If plugins don’t fix the issues, hire a developer. You can get them on the cheap from Fiverr or Upwork.
There is no luck getting to the first page of Google.
If you steer clear from these eight common dumb SEO mistakes, your website will be one foot on the first page of SERPs.
Ricky Wang is an online entrepreneur, blogger, and freelance content writer and marketing consultant. He writes to readers about profitable side hustle ideas and promotes the idea of turning an idea into a business on his blog, rickywang.com. When Ricky isn’t hustling, he’s probably either trying to do a handstand or reading about entrepreneurship.